SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Jan. 11 to mark the completion of upgrades to Bravo Wharf at Naval Base Guam, providing the capability to host the Navy's newest guided missile class (SSGN) submarines.
In addition to marking a significant infrastructure milestone, the ceremony served as an opportunity to welcome USS Ohio (SSGN 726), the first of four Navy submarines in the SSGN class, and her crew who arrived in Guam Jan. 10 for a scheduled maintenance period.
The $50.7 million military construction (MILCON) project, awarded to Black Construction Corp. in 2006, entailed dredging of the channel and turn basin at inner Apra Harbor, strengthening of existing wharf foundations, extending the wharf to accommodate SSGNs, as well as upgrading the fire protection, lighting, anchoring and water distribution systems. The newly improved wharf can also accommodate ships as large as the Ticonderoga class cruiser.
With the Ohio visible in the background, Naval Base Guam Commanding Officer, Capt. Scott Galbreaith, related the importance of Bravo Wharf relative to the nation's maritime strategy.
"Our ability to provide forward presence, deterrence, sea control, and power projection has always been strong; Bravo Wharf makes it stronger," said Galbreaith.
The maintenance period on Guam marks the middle of Ohio's maiden deployment following retrofit and reconfiguration. The capability to host and provide a complete range of shore services to the SSGN on Guam allows for longer-term submarine presence, as well as a more robust range of sub-surface mission packages available in the Pacific theater of operations.
"This event is not just the addition of a wharf; it is the commencement ceremony for the nation's newest addition to the security and stability of the region and the globe," Galbreaith said.
The requirements and funding for the wharf were developed by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific in Hawaii, and the project was executed and managed in Guam by NAVFAC Marianas.
Cmdr. Matt Suess, a civil engineer corps officer and operations officer for NAVFAC Marianas spoke about the MILCON project as it related to his personal military experience.
"I began my career in the Navy as a submarine officer 19 years ago, and I chuckle to think back on how much I took for granted about the infrastructure and effort it takes to support a submarine. Having a safe place to tie-up, to receive utilities and communications, to be able to load food, parts, and ammo was just assumed," said Suess. "Now that I'm on the delivery end of that infrastructure, I have a whole different perspective. This project represents the culmination of years of work by dozens of committed facility professionals at NAVFAC, working side by side with the Fleet to satisfy operational requirements."
Lt. Cmdr. Rich Massie, executive officer of Ohio, related the importance of the wharf project in Guam from an operator's perspective.
"This capability allows us to do our job more effectively with fewer disruptions. We're glad to be here, and SSGNs in the Pacific will look forward to stopping in Guam for the foreseeable future," Massie related.
A complimentary Alpha Wharf improvement adjacent to Bravo Wharf is scheduled to be completed in summer 2008.
For more news, from Naval Facilities Engineering Command, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/navfachq/.