Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic, in conjunction with Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) and Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the new Submarine Universal Modular Mast (UMM) Maintenance Tower onboard NAVSTA Norfolk, March 31.
Capt. Tres Meek, commanding officer, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic; Capt. Dianna Wolfson, commander, NNSY, and Capt. Vince Baker, commanding officer, NAVSTA Norfolk participated. Due to ongoing COVID-19 safety protocols, attendance for the ceremony was limited.
“The project made good use of naval design and construction expertise, while also welcoming invaluable input from the end user, our tenant commands, who will ultimately meet and achieve the Navy’s mission,” said Meek. “This new facility will provide great support directly to our warfighters and helps us to increase fleet readiness.”
Built by Norfolk-based Tazewell Contracting, the new 55 foot tall, 1,300 square foot tower will have a major impact in servicing the Navy’s modern, state-of-the-art Virginia and future-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines. The contract was awarded in May of 2018 and construction finalized in January of 2021.
The overall Project Manager was Carl Tarkenton, from Public Works Department (PWD) Norfolk. Design was led by architect Robert Frank (NAVFAC) and construction was managed by Michael Van Dyke (PWD Norfolk), with input from NNSY and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) technical expert team led by Richard Csernelabics (NAVSEA).
Prior to this project, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Naval Submarine Base New London were the only two sites in the Navy that could perform repairs and maintenance to the UMM, which is an integrated system that houses the submarine’s periscope, antennas and sensors. This meant repairs for submarines homeported in Hampton Roads could take – on average – two weeks maintenance time per assembly. The new facility, which will be operated jointly by the Navy, Fleet Maintenance Submarines and NNSY, will ultimately save the Navy both time and money for repairs.
“This facility helps us to reduce costs. As one of NAVSEA’s five core principles, affordability is extremely important to the work we do,” said Wolfson. “We have been challenged to reimagine our business processes to ensure we get the most from our resources within all areas of our complex business and throughout the lifecycle of the ships, submarines and systems we maintain. We do that by being relentless in finding ways to improve our business and making every dollar count.”
At its core, the project is a testament to the important and longstanding partnerships between NNSY – America’s Shipyard; Naval Station Norfolk – the world’s largest naval base; and NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic design and construction team members.
“This was a great initiative and stands as a monument to the outstanding collaborative efforts exhibited between multiple commands and organizations,” said Baker. “Having a shared common goal helps Naval Station Norfolk to improve our capabilities, and continue to generate combat power at sea from the pier and the runway well into the future.”