By Sue Brink, NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs Office
Jacksonville, Florida (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast dispatched six civilian personnel to the United States Navy's Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), located on Andros Island in the Bahamas, from NAS Jacksonville Oct. 11, as part of a Contingency Engineering Response Team (CERT) after Hurricane Matthew made landfall there.
The team of six consists of engineers and a geographic information system analyst who volunteered to be a part of this team.
The Navy's facility in the Bahamas, part of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) headquartered in Newport, R.I., is a laboratory that performs integrated three-dimensional hydrospace/aerospace trajectory measurements covering the entire spectrum of undersea simulated warfare - calibration, classifications, detection, and destruction. Its mission is to assist in establishing and maintaining naval ability of the United States through testing, evaluation, and underwater research.
Heavy wind and rain pounded the Bahamian Island when Hurricane Matthew passed over as a Category 4 storm. Many roads and buildings aboard the center were flooded causing erosion and wash-outs. Other potential damage is yet to be determined.
"With the 2016 Hurricane Season in full swing, and having witnessed a very active Atlantic storm season thus far, the preparation of a CERT deployment was very fresh on our minds," said NAVFAC Southeast Production Officer and Disaster Preparedness Officer Lt. Cmdr. Craig Peck. "Our continuous planning for contingencies like this made the preparation of the deployment of the CERT go extremely smoothly."
"These engineers will work directly with the staff on the ground there," said NAVFAC Southeast CERT Officer in Charge Cmdr. Joe O'Sullivan. "The team will perform assessments to help get the center back to normal operations as soon as possible."
In conjunction with AUTEC's staff, the team will prioritize the review of each facility/infrastructure on the island that is part of Navy property. The team will also deploy Disaster Assessment Teams (DATs) to identify and quantify damage caused by the storm. They will then record the damage to a sufficient degree to allow for cost estimations to be generated for the repairs.
"The team from Jacksonville will be working hard to assist AUTEC to set priorities and support them with whatever they need to get the job done," said O'Sullivan. "I am proud to be a part of group of fine men and women who volunteer to go out after disasters such as this and help by utilizing their knowledge and expertise to help others."
Sending engineers around the world is not new to NAVFAC.
"We always have a trained CERT ready to go at a moment's notice," said Peck.
Peck explained that the CERT has DATs which consist of structural, electrical, and mechanical engineers, architects, roofing specialists, community planners and construction contract specialists that deploy to begin Rapid Damage Assessments. It is during this phase that debris is removed and basic functions are restored such as opening roadways, sanitation, water, electricity and communications.
Typically, these teams are deployed to assess hurricane or other storm damage to military installations such as was the case in April 2014 when teams deployed to NAS Pensacola after heavy storms rolled through the area and again in August 2012 when teams deployed to Gulfport, Miss. and New Orleans, La. in response to Hurricane Isaac. They are also called upon to deploy for humanitarian efforts such as a tsunami or the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.