Sunday, July 05, 2009

Navy's Newest Helicopter Hangar Opens At NAS Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE (NNS) -- Numerous dignitaries, military personnel, contractors and their families turned out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the Navy's newest helicopter hangar at NAS Jacksonville June 30.

The state-of-the-art facility will be home to five Helicopter Maritime (HSM) squadrons from HSM Squadron Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. It will house approximately 57 MH-60R "Romeo" helicopters, the newest aircraft in the Navy's fleet and house more than 1,400 personnel.

"The $77 million that was invested in this project will serve the Navy's Helicopter Maritime Strike Force Wing Atlantic and its' multimission, agile and very sophisticated MH-60 Romeo helicopter, the newest aircraft in the Navy's fleet, for decades to come," said NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Jack Scorby Jr. "It will provide our warfighters with the very best in modern infrastructure, including being the second 'green' hangar in the Navy and aboard our installation."

Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), a member of the House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, underscored the importance of building infrastructure in support of the mission now and in the future.

"This is a fantastic example of the growth and modernization that is taking place at Naval Air Station Jacksonville," remarked Crenshaw. "In addition to housing the five Romeo helicopter squadrons, the hangar project includes required maintenance support, administration and building support spaces for each squadron."

Commander, Navy Region Southeast Rear Adm. Townsend Alexander also praised those involved accomplishing the historic milestone.

"It's not easy to pull these things off," Alexander said to Capt. Doug Morton, commanding officer, Naval Facilities Command Southeast. "Your team did a fantastic job on this outstanding facility."

The first squadron to move into the new facility will be HSM-70 and their fleet of new MH-60R helicopters. The squadron was established at NAS Jacksonville in February 2009.

"More than 10 years ago, the Navy developed the Helicopter Master Plan, which was an acquisition strategy to develop a helicopter force that was combat effective, easy to support with global logistics and provide commonality across the Navy and Department of Defense. The result of that initiative is the MH-60R," stated Commander, HSM Wing, U.S. Atlantic Capt. Glenn Doyle. "It is designed to be deployed as either part of the carrier air wing on an aircraft carrier or in traditional HSL detachments on frigates, destroyers or cruisers."

The 204,931-sq.-foot facility will consolidate five helicopter squadrons into one hangar resulting in a smaller footprint and reducing energy cost.