A cost saving measure by the Department of Defense (DoD) will give a well-needed boost to Aquidneck Island, resulting in the creation of 863 new jobs.
In 2005, Congress established the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), which provided military base consolidations recommendations. According to BRAC, the program would save federal taxpayers $4.2 billion dollars annually.
Although these realignment projects meant several closures across the country and included loses to Newport Naval Station as well, the impact to the Newport Naval Station was net positive for job creation. Of the 863 new jobs, 719 are military and 233 are civilian. Eight-nine contractor jobs will be lost to other bases.
As part of this program, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), celebrated the opening of a $11 million dollar facility in order to consolidate the testing, refurbishment and maintenance of towed arrays.
According to John H. Woodhouse, Jr., Communications Specialist at NUWC, this new facility will add 125 contractor jobs, most which have already been filled. The contractors are provided by Lockheed Martin, many of whom relocated from Virgina, where this work was conducted before the facility was constructed.
In addition to the permanent number of jobs that have been added, the construction of facility also provided a temporary local stimulus for general contract work as it was completed by H.V Collins Company from Providence.
The arrays that the facility supports are towed behind submarines and are used to detect ships and submarines through their passive sonar receptors.
“Unlike a regular ceremony of ribbon cutting, where we just celebrate a building, we are also celebrating enhancements to the defense of our country,” said Congressman David Cicilline during the ceremony.
Woodhouse said that although many people are familiar with the traditional active sonar systems that send out a series of beeps, these arrays are called passive, because they continuously and quietly listen for other ships.
According to Woodhouse, Newport was chosen because it already had the facilities, expertise and mission to support the consolidation, as it already had been producing these types of arrays, and this facility just expanded the capacity.
“The men and women who work here are the very best,” said Senator Jack Reed at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday morning, “and that’s why the facility was relocated from another Navy Base to Newport.”
Woodhouse said the NUWC, which conducts research, training, development and evaluation for the Navy, employs from 4,000 to 5,000 military, civilian and government contractors at any given time.