Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dedicating a New Satellite Communications Facility in Hawaii

By James Johnson, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs

WAHIAWA, Hawaii (NNS) -- Development of the first global third generation (3G) cellular communications network reached an important milestone March 3, with the dedication of an antenna site at Naval Computers and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Pacific (NCTAMS PAC) in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

The Hawaii site is the first of four antenna installations that are part of a state-of-the-art satellite communications program called Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). The system is intended to improve ground communications capabilities for U.S. forces on the move by adapting a commercial 3G wideband cellular phone network with geosynchronous satellites. It was developed by a partnership that included the Navy Program Executive Office (PEO) for Space Systems, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and General Dynamics Corporation.

"We're all really excited about providing this 3G capability to the warfighter," said Wayne Curles, PEO Space System's MUOS program manager. "It will provide a significant improvement of communication [resources] to the warfighter. Think about the special operations guys in Afghanistan getting more communications than they get today. Sailors, Soldiers in the field, and Airmen can get the services they so desperately need, and really we all hope that translates into saving lives."

Site preparation was completed by Watts Constructors, LLC, a local Hawaii contractor. Work included the building of three "Earth Terminals" used to support the new antennas, and renovating other buildings. They also poured large concrete pads to support the structures, and built a security fence around the facility.

The $10.8 million firm-fixed price contract was awarded to Watts Constructors, LCC, by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific in March 2007, and the contract was administered by NAVFAC Hawaii Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, Wahiawa.

"I wanted to remark on the absolutely outstanding partnering effort between the contractor, the Navy and everyone involved in the project," said Construction Manager Vince Fragomene, Watts Constructors, LLC. "To look at how [the facility] looks right now, it's just incredible."

The Wahiawa site was the first to be completed; it boasts three large antenna dishes that are 60 feet across and weigh approximately 500,000 pounds each. The antennas will eventually be interconnected by satellite with antenna sites in Virginia, Italy, and Australia.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg, what you see here," said John Weidman, vice president, General Dynamics, referring to the antennas. "You don't see all the software and the millions of lines of code that have been written that go behind it."

The dedication was led by Capt. Jack Nicholson, deputy program manager, Navy Communications Satellite Programs, and attended by representatives from Lockheed Martin Corporation, General Dynamics Corporation, the Navy Program Executive Office for Space Systems, Watts Constructors, LLC, and NAVFAC Pacific and Hawaii.

A traditional Hawaiian blessing was given by Rev. William Kaina.

The MUOS is scheduled to provide initial on-orbit capability in 2011 and achieve fully operational capability in 2014.