JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM—Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, in partnership with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 Seabees, worked together to overcome COVID-19 restrictions by performing innovative virtual site visits on Tinian.
In early April, NAVFAC Pacific issued solicitations for the first two projects in the U.S. Air Force’s Tinian Divert program and scheduled in-person visits to Tinian for May 2020. However, all flights to Tinian stopped in April due to COVID-19 restrictions. This prevented any government employee or contractor from traveling to Tinian for in-person site visits. With flights cancelled and Tinian not having a military installation on it, there were no Department of Defense employees on-island to facilitate a virtual site visit.
“Site visits for the cargo pad with taxiway extension project…along with the maintenance support facility…project, were critical because Tinian is a remote island…with very little recent construction activity,” said NAVFAC Pacific project manager Kemper Thrun. “It was important for the contractor to see the site conditions and understand the surroundings on the island.”
NAVFAC Pacific was aware that the Seabee Battalion was on-island for unrelated efforts and reached out to 30th Naval Construction Regiment, which connected NMCB 5 detail to assist with the virtual site visits. Without hesitation, NMCB 5 Seabees were immediately onboard to work with the NAVFAC team to acquire up-to-date video and imagery of the site, haul route, and seaport.
“Our deployment to Tinian encountered struggles that we were unable to avoid, so when we received the call to assist NAVFAC Pacific, we did whatever we could to assist because we knew it would help out the Department of the Navy and the local population,” said NMCB 5 Detail Tinian officer-in-charge Lt. Patrick Daniele.
The virtual site visits consisted of the Seabees capturing video and imagery based on maps provided by NAVFAC Pacific to give contractors comprehensive existing site conditions. The video and imagery files were posted for contractor download on DoDSAFE, which allowed the NAVFAC Pacific Acquisition office to track when contractors downloaded the file to simulate taking attendance on an in-person site visit.
“The uniqueness of this virtual site visit was that the island of Tinian was shut down to incoming traffic and there is no base or DoD office/representative on island, but by good fortune, the Seabees were there for a separate project and were willing to assist,” said Thrun.
The partnership between NAVFAC and the Seabees avoided lengthy project delays and enabled more accurate and reasonable bidding from the contractors because they were able to see the existing site.
“This really was a team effort and a perfect example of the Seabees ‘can-do’ mentality,” said Thrun. (USN)