credit: Burns & McDonnell

Senator Reed and Secretary Raimondo to Lead Special Groundbreaking Ceremony on May 6 at Naval Station Newport

In a significant move for maritime research and operations, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Operations Center – Atlantic (MOC-A) is set to shift its base from Norfolk, Virginia to Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island.

The MOC-A plays a pivotal role in coordinating NOAA’s fleet activities across the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes regions. It serves as a hub for several flagship research vessels and has been slated for consolidation and facility upgrades for some time. Spearheading this transition is U.S. Senator Jack Reed, leveraging his influence to secure Rhode Island as the prime location for MOC-A’s relocation, alongside four major NOAA research vessels.

On Monday, May 6 at 11 a.m., Senator Reed will join U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo; the head of NOAA, Rick Spinrad, Ph.D.; NOAA Corps Rear Admiral Nancy Hann, director of NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps; and other special guests for a groundbreaking ceremony on a 5 acre site at Naval Station Newport.

The transition gained momentum in December with the announcement of a $146,778,932 contract awarded to Skanska USA by the U.S. Navy on behalf of NOAA. This funding will facilitate the construction of a state-of-the-art facility, slated to become the headquarters for NOAA’s Atlantic fleet. Upon completion, the facility is expected to generate approximately 200 jobs, with many entailing extensive sea voyages.

Naval Station Newport already hosts two NOAA vessels, namely the Henry B. Bigelow and the Okeanos Explorer, both actively engaged in fisheries research and oceanographic exploration. Joining them will be the Thomas Jefferson, a deep-water hydrographic survey ship, aimed at enhancing data acquisition crucial for various marine management endeavors.

Adding to the fleet’s prowess is the impending arrival of the Discoverer, currently under construction in Louisiana. Set to be a cutting-edge oceanographic research vessel, the Discoverer will further bolster NOAA’s capabilities upon its expected deployment in 2026.

The new NOAA facility, funded in part by the Inflation Reduction Act, promises comprehensive amenities including a pier capable of accommodating four large vessels, a floating dock for smaller crafts, repair infrastructure, and ample shore support facilities.

With these developments, NOAA’s commitment to advancing oceanic research and safeguarding maritime interests stands reinforced, marking a significant stride towards bolstering scientific exploration and environmental stewardship in the Atlantic region.




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