Fleet vertical lift squadrons can expect their assets returned more quickly now that Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSW) new 100,000-square-foot helicopter maintenance facility opened for business Jan. 21.
Located aboard Naval Air Station North Island, California, the nearly $50 million building is the Navy’s first and only facility dedicated to the support and service of H-60 Seahawk multi-mission helicopters.
The new hangar is the result of a collaborative effort among Naval Base Coronado; Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest (NAVFAC); and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopter program office (PMA-299), said FRCSW Commanding Officer Capt. Timothy Pfannenstein.
“This building is a generational leap forward in supporting our aviation fleet,” Pfannenstein said. “It sets the tone for the future of FRCSW and is a physical representation of one of our four pillars within the FRCSW command strategy—that of infrastructure renewal.”
The facility will significantly improve the readiness of H-60 aircraft.
“With 30 bays, we will perform maintenance without aircraft waiting for spots,” he said. “Reducing wait generates readiness. The building will consolidate our integrated production team, which will reduce transit time for talent, skills, materials, and tools and generate efficient use of all of our resources. Doing so reduces costs and improves speed. Doing both generates readiness.”
Rear Adm. Paul Sohl, commander, Fleet Readiness Centers, challenged the FRCSW H-60 workforce to exceed previous production levels.
“You produce nearly half of the H-60s that the fleet needs,” Sohl said. “That number last year was about 50. With this new hangar, that capacity can grow to 80.”
Along with increased capacity, the facility was able to consolidate three buildings into one, co-locate all vertical lift employees in one facility and improve energy efficiency.
The facility’s energy efficient design uses natural light as much as possible and features exterior building skins, which sandwich the insulation for both cool and heat reducing energy costs, Sohl said.
“Across the FRC enterprise we are seeing more products through less expenditure of electricity, water and fuel, and that really translates directly into readiness,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Dennis McGinn. “This building is an example of getting product out while expending less energy, by being smart in how you design it and the processes.”
Construction of the new facility began in December 2012 and resulted in the demolition of 10 buildings, three of which were used to maintain H-60s.
Jim Markle is a public affairs specialist at Fleet Readiness Center, Southwest, in North Island, Calif.