June 15--A recently awarded construction contract will break ground aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River in approximately three weeks.
The contract, which totals more than $29.5 million, will begin in early July and will consist of a CH-53K helicopter maintenance training facility and a regional communication station. The training facility is being built in order to ensure Marines are properly trained for when the Corps fields the new Kilo model of the CH-53 in 2017. The communications station is being constructed to serve as a backup in case the main communications center aboard Camp Lejeune is inoperable.
The funds for the construction were congressionally appropriated and awarded in 2014. Due to the tight confines of where the facilities will be constructed, the contract was awarded to only one contractor, the Waldridge Aldinger Co. of Detroit.
"The (maintenance) facility will teach flight control repair, composite component repair ...and everything necessary to keep a CH-53K operational," said Doss Comer, the facility manager for New River. "We can't field the aircraft for the Marine Corps without this facility. If we don't build it, we can't train to maintain it. We must have a this new building to tend to the new aircraft."
The training facility will provide classrooms, administrative space, general offices, hydraulic and mechanical rooms, tool rooms, training areas, avionics, wire repair and more. Four CH-53K simulators will be on site at a cost of more than $60 million each. The simulators will allow training for all Marines at the squadron level excluding pilots. Funding for the simulators was authorized through a separate appropriation.
The communications station will be roughly 20,000 square feet and will work as a "secondary point of presence," or backup, for the main station aboard Camp Lejeune. It will allow telephones and computer networks to operate without delay if something were to jeopardize the main station's ability to provide communications aboard the bases. No other backups exist aboard local bases, he said.
"Both of these projects were higher headquarters requirements," Comer said. "These projects are important to New River because our current telephone exchange has no more capacity ...and it's important to the region because it's our only (backup.)"
Comer said the contracts also allow the Marine Corps to field the new CH-53K.
"The individual Marines stand to benefit by being trained properly to successfully accomplish the missions they are given," he said.
Copyright 2014 - The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.