Seabees Help U.S. Air Force Save More Than $3.75 Million

By Tech. Sgt. Markus M. Maier, 55th Wing Public Affairs 

Construction Electrician 2nd Class Luke Timmerman, a member of the U.S. Navy Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) team, tests a low voltage power circuit breaker at the U.S. Strategic Command facility, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Oct. 30. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Markus M. Maier

After nearly two years of supplying the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) facility with electrical power, members of the Navy’s Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) team ended their mission at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Nov. 1.

In December 2010, a ruptured water main flooded the basement of the STRATCOM facility, damaging the building’s transformers and resulting in the loss of electrical power to parts of the facility.

Initially, the 55th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) responded by renting several commercial mobile power generators to supply electricity to the facility. However, due to the high rental and fuel costs the civil engineers searched for a better solution.

The answer came in form of the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center sending two mobile 2,500-kilovolt amp electrical substations, along with a Seabee MUSE team to install the transformers just a few weeks after the flood.

The center, located in Port Hueneme, Calif., supports worldwide Department of Defense utility shortfalls and emergencies by providing mobile critical power equipment. The center also sends Seabee MUSE team personnel who are trained in specialized power generation to install the equipment.

“Our mobile substations allowed the facility to be tied to the existing power grid as opposed to having to use generators to create electricity for the building,” said Steelworker 1st Class Shawn Herr, Seabee MUSE technician. “Now that the building’s permanent transformers have been repaired and are back on-line, our mission here is complete.”

Herr also praised the 55th CES for doing a great job maintaining the equipment for 21 months.

“Our mission would not have been as successful without the cooperation and support of the 55th CES and their outstanding maintenance team,” Herr said.

“The Seabee MUSE team offered a low-cost alternative to renting commercial generators which run on diesel,” said Douglas Wendt, 55th CES exterior electric and power production flight supervisor. “The commercial generators were costing us $70,000 per month in rental fees. On top of that the generators burned almost $4,000 in fuel each day.”

He added that these figures don’t include costs associated with the manpower needed to refuel and maintain the generators around the clock.

“In short, the Seabee MUSE team helped save the Air Force more than $3.75 million,” Wendt said. “But more important than that, through the delivery of reliable electricity, they enabled zero degradation of STRATCOM’s mission, defense posture and warfighter support.”

This is not the only time the Seabee MUSE team assisted Offutt. In July 2011, Seabees provided the Air Force Weather Agency with a 3.2-megawatt power plant in conjunction with a 5000 KVA substation for almost three months as part of the agency’s contingency plan in response to potential flooding associated with the Missouri River.


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