By Sue Brink, NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs Office
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (NNS) -- Members of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast Regional Call Center (RCC) are headed to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola Sept. 8, to relocate operations before Hurricane Irma reaches the Jacksonville, Florida area.
"The team is relocating to keep the center operational as Hurricane Irma is expected to impact the Jacksonville, Florida area later this weekend," said Luke Gutherie, NAVFAC Southeast Public Works Business Line Coordinator.
The RCC is a 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week operation that supports over 16 naval installations located throughout the Southeastern United States centralizing the unplanned facilities maintenance work reception process. It also provides after hours service for Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii.
"We can't just shut down due to weather, even when a hurricane is bearing down on our primary operating location aboard NAS Jacksonville, Florida," said Guthrie.
Because the Southeast is experienced in dealing with multiple hurricanes, the team is prepared and has a plan to pack up and relocate at a moments notice.
"It is what we plan for," said Guthrie. "Our team is ready, understands our mission and won't let our customers down."
The team typically has plans in place 48 hours before a hurricane approaches the area so they can easily make the decision to stay or relocate. As Hurricane Irma's forcasted track remained focused on most of Florida, a decision was made to execute the RCC's Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan. That plan entails relocating the RCC to NAS Pensacola.
"The RCC's COOP plan was established in 2012 when we initially stood up the RCC as a centralized operation," explained Guthrie. "The COOP calls for the RCC to relocate full operations to NAS Pensacola during emergency events that prevent the RCC from maintaining continuous operations aboard NAS Jacksonville."
NAS Pensacola is considered to be a prime location to relocate the RCC because there are existing facilities available that provide easy relocation and set up and it's within a reasonable driving distance from Jacksonville. With Hurricane Irma, the projected path does not show it as likely to impact NAS Pensacola.
"The initial planning to relocate operations occurred about four days ago," said Guthrie. "Initial planning included picking the team that would deploy first, communicating with the Public Works Department (PWD) Pensacola support personnel, submitting travel orders and modifying the RCC shift work schedule."
Today, a portion of RCC team members are headed to NAS Pensacola while the remaining team members will stay back in Jacksonville to maintain call center coverage and support during the transition of the phone lines to and from Pensacola.
Upon the team's arrival tonight, the deployed RCC team and NAS Pensacola PWD personnel will work together to get the laptops hooked up, obtain access to the network and test the phone lines.
When the COOP plan was initially designed, PWD Pensacola designated a temporary space set up with eight workstations and telephone hookups so everything will be in place when the team arrives.
For the next 48 hours, the deployed RCC team members worked tirelessly to provide continuous coverage and support for all 16 installations, working incredibly long hours.
"During our last COOP, for Hurricane Matthew earlier this year, the team processed more than 60 emergency facility maintenance calls and countless routine emails from the temporary RCC location at NAS Pensacola.
The RCC team members who stay in Jacksonville will remain on standby, ready to jump into action at a moment's notice after the storm passes Jacksonville so that they can bring RCC operations back online in Jacksonville.