>BSU New Orleans Moves Into New Facilities

>Story and photos by PA3 Elizabeth Bordelon

Base Support Unit New Orleans crew members cut the ribbon to their brand new facilities Thursday, May 20, 2010. The crew began moving in this past week. Boxes lined the halls as crew members moved into their new offices and cubicles.

“I was an Ensign here with the Integrated Support Command,” said Lt. Cmdr. Travis Carter, the executive officer for Naval Engineering Support Unit New Orleans. “The difference is night and day. Everyone’s really excited.”

The 16 month construction project began on January 30, 2009, with a groundbreaking ceremony at the Naval Support Activity New Orleans, La. However, the new ISC facility has been five years in the making.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, BSU New Orleans operated out of a facility adjacent to the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (Industrial Canal) in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. The former facility was flooded and severely damaged by the storm, forcing the BSU to relocate to temporary facilities at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility.

Following the devastation of Katrina, there was work to be done and no time to waste. Since Sept. 2006, the BSU has called a group of modular trailers home as they awaited the completion of the new facilities. Space was tight and operations were cramped. However, with almost 150,000 square-feet between the two new buildings, there will be plenty of room for the crew to stretch and grow.

The $80 million facility sits on 26-acres and represents the largest single facility contract in Coast Guard history. BSU is responsible for financial, personnel, work-life, civil rights, housing, industrial, facilities engineering, and medical and dental support to the more than 900 personnel assigned to the region’s various units.

The nearly 100,000 square foot administrative building houses offices, a medical unit, dental facilities, a galley and class rooms for the Gulf Regional Fisheries Training Center. The GRFTC trains law enforcement agents from the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies ranging from Brownsville, Texas, to Key West, Fla. There is also berthing space, a gym and a soon-to-be-opened Coast Guard exchange.

The 49,000 square foot industrial building is home to an engine and electric shop, an air conditioning and refrigeration shop, a carpentry shop, and a welding shop. The industrial building also has an additional 7,200 square feet of covered storage. Waterfront facilities are still under construction and consist of a pier, a wharf and a floodwall gate, which will be used to transport vessels and buoys to the industrial building. The floodwall gate will be completed in early June (just in time for hurricane season) and the pier is scheduled to be completed in October.

The crew in the engine shop has gotten right to work. A 41-foot utility boat was already suspended in the brand new 50-ton travel lift Wednesday morning, ready to be serviced.

“The new hoist can hold 100,000 pounds of boat weight,” said CWO4 Quincy T. Merriweather, Naval Branch Chief. “We can conduct haul-outs for underbody repair, painting, blasting and inspections on everything from RBM’s to 55-foot Aids to Navigation boats.”

Another exciting feature in the engine shop is the “Dyno Room.” Here the mechanics can load test engines after they are rebuilt. Currently, all the 87-foot patrol boats are being rebuilt at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Md. The crew here is hoping to take on all the remaining 87’s. With almost one third of all the 87’s already based in the Gulf region, the shop is in the right place at the right time to provide this service to the fleet.

The crew at BSU New Orleans has hit the ground running. Once everyone has settled into their new space, it is safe to say that the Coast Guard can expect some pretty great things to come out of Michoud. And they are just getting started.


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