PORTSMOUTH – After years of planning and renovation, the nuclear refueling warehouse, Bldg. 260, is now one of Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s most modern and well-designed facilities.
It all began late 2011 when multiple complaints started rolling in about facility issues inside the refueling warehouse. The building was old and the environment made it difficult in getting jobs done.
“The building was in really bad shape. The floor was sinking and the ceiling was leaking, there was no climate control. It wasn’t meeting the standards of being clean which was a challenge when it came to nuclear equipment that needed to meet required cleanliness before going back to the boats,” Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic (NAVFAC MIDLANT) Construction Manager Thomas Uliana said. “After research, it was more cost-effective to have the building redesigned and brought up to standards by one of our architects and went from there.”
After taking a good look at the deteriorating building, Renee Russell, architect and design manager, immediately went to work. She focused on creating a more efficient and productive design that would change how the refueling warehouse would function, improve the quality of life for the workers, and make a positive impact on the shipyard.
“We needed to make the 65,000 square foot project meet all codes and standards,” Russell said. “The warehouse is vital to the shipyard because it exercises precise control of components, assemblies and systems critical to the repair of nuclear-powered naval vessels.”
The project cost $8.3 million and took more than three years to complete. Its transformation has made refueling warehouse personnel very happy. “We have been waiting a very long time for this. It is hard to explain how nice it is to have a place you can work that is safe, upgraded, functional and offers everything we need to do our jobs and then some,” Code 930 Refueling Equipment Supervisor Carlton Boyd said.
The renovation has brought workers into the high technology of the 21st century. “One of the needed things in our job was equipment control and accountability. We can now take care of that problem with the state of the art Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). This capability is really going to make a big difference in how we do business here in the shipyard, and how we do business for our customers and our daily operations,” said Jorge Aladro, Code 970 Refueling Equipment Zone Manager.
As part of the renovation, the employees are able to cut their man-hours and increase proficiency by using their newest piece of equipment, a tablet. It has already proven to be a valuable asset with its real-time status of hot jobs and tasks at hand.
“Having Wi-Fi throughout the building and using the tablets saves time and makes it easier to have control and have accountability of all of the equipment that comes in and out of the warehouse,” Code 2370 Nuclear Engineer Tim Dumminger said. “It gives the refueling team the ability to look at equipment drawings, check email, see paperwork electronically, which cuts down man-hours. What had taken them maybe 20 minutes is now cut down to a couple minutes. That change is huge. With that, we can better serve our customers and produce better products to the fleet.”
The building features a climate-controlled cleaning room, new office and break room, wire gated controlled environment, “dirty room” for hot work, welding machines, a highly efficient sprinkler system throughout the building, calibration lab, and state-of-the-art windows and insulation.
“Bldg. 260 sets a standard for durability, life safety features, safer environment, accessibility, force protection, historic preservation, and sustainability,” Russell said. “It also provides a new substation that serves multiple buildings and operations.”
Instead of waiting for people and equipment to come across the shipyard to do hot work, everything is now here. We can get things done quicker than we used to and it has really changed the way we work every day, and our quality of life,” said Derrick Smith, Code 938 Refueling Equipment Supervisor. “Before the renovations, people didn’t want to come to work because of the working conditions. Now, it is completely opposite and they look forward to coming to work. I mean, really, look at this place … it’s pretty cool.
“Looking around, this is what America’s Shipyard is supposed to look like. This building is the vision for the whole shipyard,” Shipyard Commander Captain Scott Brown said. “For refueling efforts, we need buildings like this to operate in and be the best for our customers. The transformation of Bldg. 260 is incredible from the floor to the ceiling.” The ceiling has become a vital part of the everyday operations with its new metal decks and high tech overhead hot rail crane that cuts man-hours by moving large and heavy equipment around the warehouse.
“All of the upgrades and new equipment is really great and important to our jobs,” Aladro said. So is everyone who works here and helped us get to where we are now. We could not have been able to do it without them. They took a dream and turned it into a morale-boosting reality. Where else can you say you are working in a tip-of-the-spear nuclear refueling station and tracking your work on a tablet … it’s awesome!”
For more news from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnsy/.
Source: April Brown | Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs