by John Verrico
NAVFAC Washington Public Affairs
When work began on the new Maryland Army National Guard Readiness Center at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, more than just the soil was shaken-up. New partnerships and ways of doing business were defined, and the new facility will be at the leading edge of military transformation.
"This project is the epitome of transformation," said Maj. Gen. Bruce F. Tuxill, The Adjutant General of Maryland. "Here, we have the Navy working with the Army Guard to build a facility for state units on a federal installation using a whole new project delivery process that will get the job done faster and for less money."
The National Guard needed a newer and better-located armory facility in Southern Maryland and approached the Navy to use some of its land at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
To make the readiness center a reality, government officials took one of the military's greatest strengths - teamwork—and applied it to the construction project. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington used a "design build" approach and sent out a request for proposals to meet the project goals, rather than a list of specific requirements. This enabled bidding companies to be creative in meeting the government's needs in a way that was both cost effective and efficient.
"This has been a very positive relationship on many fronts," said Lt. Cmdr. Dan Hutchins, NAVFAC Washington's Resident Officer-in-Charge of Construction for Patuxent River Naval Air Station. "The Guard has been very involved in this project right from the start and the more involved a customer is, the better the project turns out. Plus we have a good contractor, one that we've worked with in the past and has a good reputation."
NAVFAC Washington awarded the Design-Build contract to Barclay White/Coakley Construction Joint Venture in September 25, 2003. During the following seven months Barclay White/Coakley's architecture and engineer firm Hayes, Saey, Mattern and Mattern, Inc. designed the new facility. In May 2004, Barclay White/Coakley began construction of the new Maryland Army National Guard Readiness Center on the south side of NAS Patuxent River near gate three on Pine Hill Run Road.
The 30,000-sq. ft. readiness center will provide administrative, training, storage, food service areas, and a large high bay area that will be used for National Guard functions and community activities on a rental basis. The facility is outside the base gates, making it accessible for use by the community.
The design-build process and partnering with the Navy are not new to the Maryland Army National Guard. "The Maryland Army National Guard design team has completed or has in process, five other design-build projects in Maryland and has acted as consultants on a project in Oregon and two large projects on the island of Guam—partnering on Guam with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific," said Albert Schweizer, design team member with the Maryland Military Department. The Maryland Guard has also spearheaded a partnering with the Design-Build Institute of America to provide 48 hours of instruction to members of the National Guard that will lead professional certification for Guard personnel throughout the United States.
"After Maryland's very successful partnering with the Navy in the Pacific, it seemed that it would be a natural to again partner with Navy to design and construct the Armory at Patuxent River. Combining the extensive design-build experience of both the Navy and the Maryland Army National Guard has proven to be a very complementary team effort," said Donald Frankland, design team member with the Maryland Military Department.
Once finished, the center will be home to members of the Maryland Army National Guard who will be equipped with the new Shadow 200 drone aircraft. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are at the cutting edge of Army technology. The Shadow 200 UAV is designed to provide day/night reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and battle damage assessment over a brigade's operating area. It is launched using a hydraulic rail catapult and recovered using an arresting hook and cable system similar in concept to those used by carrier-based aircraft.
For Patuxent, the new unit is a good fit. The station already hosts the Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, and the Air Test Wing Atlantic.
The presence of a UAV-equipped Army unit will both help expose Navy fliers to the UAVs they can expect to encounter over current and future battlefields as well as give the Army troops experience in working with their Navy counterparts.
And while the Guardsmen, a number of whom will work at the readiness center fulltime, will further contribute to the local economy, the new facility represents more than just jobs and dollars to communities in southern Maryland. As the only National Guard facility in St. Mary's County, the Patuxent River Readiness Center will significantly enhance the state's ability to respond to emergencies and natural disasters in the area.
"Having a unit in the local area is a big plus," explained Tuxill. "Having trained troops - and equally as important, their equipment - available in the immediate area decreases reaction time and gives the Governor greater flexibility in the event of an emergency."
The facility is expected to be completed by October 2005.