Image credit: NOAA

NOAA breaks ground on new Marine Operations Center Facility in Newport

The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for its new facility at Naval Station Newport, slated to become the future home of the NOAA Marine Operations Center-Atlantic.

In December, the U.S. Navy, acting on behalf of NOAA, awarded a staggering $146,778,932 contract to Skanska USA for the construction of the cutting-edge NOAA facility. This endeavor, funded in part by the Inflation Reduction Act, forms a crucial part of President Biden’s historic climate investment initiative, reflecting his overarching agenda to Invest in America.

The facility’s design and construction, anticipated to conclude by 2027, will include a pier capable of accommodating four large vessels, a floating dock for smaller vessels, space designated for vessel repairs and parking, and a multifunctional building for shoreside support and warehouse facilities. Importantly, this project will operate under a Project Labor Agreement, aligning with Executive Order 14063 issued by President Biden.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo praised the transformative investments facilitated by President Biden and Rhode Island’s elected leaders, emphasizing the profound impact of Biden’s Investing in America Agenda on critical climate and ocean research, as well as cementing NOAA’s relationships with the Navy and the Newport community.

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., highlighted the facility’s forward-thinking design, incorporating considerations for future climate changes. Dr. Spinrad emphasized its LEED certification and its role as the homeport for one of NOAA’s newest, lower-emissions vessels, contributing to NOAA’s commitment to minimizing its environmental impact.

An illustration of the new NOAA marine operations center planned for Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island. (Image credit: Burns & McDonnell)

Rear Admiral Nancy Hann, Director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, underscored the vital role of the new Marine Operations Center-Atlantic facility in NOAA’s mission and its commitment to regional and international partnerships.

NOAA’s fleet of 15 research and survey ships, operated, managed, and maintained by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, serves diverse marine activities, ranging from fisheries surveys to ocean and climate studies. The relocation of the Marine Operations Center-Atlantic to Rhode Island represents a significant enhancement of NOAA’s capabilities and partnerships.

Rhode Island’s congressional delegation also lauded the groundbreaking ceremony. Senator Jack Reed celebrated the relocation of the NOAA center to Rhode Island, emphasizing the economic benefits and job growth it will bring to the Ocean State. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse echoed these sentiments, recognizing Senator Reed’s dedication to securing the center’s relocation.

Congressman Gabe Amo highlighted the national security and economic advantages of hosting NOAA’s operations center, expressing gratitude to Rhode Island’s leaders and partners for their commitment to climate-resilient infrastructure.

Governor Dan McKee expressed Rhode Island’s pride in being selected as the home of the new NOAA Marine Operations Center-Atlantic, stressing its role in bolstering climate-resilient infrastructure and supporting the state’s blue economy.

The groundbreaking of the NOAA Marine Operations Center-Atlantic facility signifies a significant step forward in advancing NOAA’s mission and reinforcing Rhode Island’s position as a hub for climate research and economic growth.




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