By JESSE LEON GUERRERO
Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs
SANTA RITA, Guam—A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of the first two U.S. Marine Corps relocation projects was held on Naval Base Guam yesterday.
The USMC-funded Apra Harbor Wharf Improvement and the Government of Japan-funded utilities improvements and USMC Welcome Center will directly support the USMC relocation to Guam and provide immediate utility to forces currently stationed in Guam or transiting the region. The projects, which cost more than $180 million, are part of a broader effort to expand the military’s capabilities of receiving U.S. Marines who are relocating here.
Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne, commander, Joint Region Marianas, joined Principal Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment Roger Natsuhara, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Infrastructure Strategy and Analysis Joe Ludovici, Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), NBG Commanding Officer Capt. Mike Ward, USMC Headquarters Pacific Division Director Bryan Wood and other dignitaries in cutting the ribbon in front of Government of Guam representatives, military officials, civil service employees, and dozens of other guests.
Payne spoke about the facilities as being just the tip of the iceberg of revitalization efforts that can accommodate larger vessels and new missions.
“This capability is critically important as our nation rebalances our forces to the Pacific, and it makes every inch of our wharf space a commodity that is in high demand,” he said. “It benefits Guam directly through increased supplies coming through the commercial port to support the increasing military requirements that we will have.”
Natsuhara said the projects are indicative of the partnership, support, and commitment between the U.S. and its allies.
“Each subsequent year we expect the amount of military construction to increase and bring more jobs and economic benefits to the people of Guam,” he said. “Each year we are taking larger steps toward having the third Marine forces (III Marine Expeditionary Force) and their families call Guam their new home.”
Cmdr. Jonathan Witham, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas Defense Policy Review Initiative program manager, said he and his team were responsible for working with the Marines to successfully execute the projects.
“In the case of the Apra Harbor Utilities and Site Improvements project, which is funded by the Government of Japan, we worked closely with GOJ Ministry of Defense personnel to provide project oversight and reporting information in accordance with international agreements,” he said. “We also coordinated with Joint Region Marianas and Naval Base Guam to ensure that existing operations and processes are compatible with future use.”
These wharf improvements provide infrastructure and utilities that allow cold-iron berthing for transient ships such as amphibious readiness groups and its combatant escort ships. The facilities now have new, concrete pavement as well as an upgrade to the structural integrity of the subsurface soils.
The welcome center will be able to provide shelter for service members and their families and friends at Victor Wharf and features restrooms, a pay phone area, vending machines and an automated teller machine.
Other USMC-funded projects already in progress on Guam include the construction of the North Ramp parking area and associated facilities at Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB) for military aircraft and improvements to Routes 1, 8 and 11. Other GOJ-funded projects include the construction of a new gate to AAFB and utilities and site work for the North Ramp.