NAVFAC Contingency Engineering Unit Trains in Jacksonville

By Earl Bittner, NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs           

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Lt. Cogan Semler and Lt. Cmdr. Robert McDonald, NAVFAC NR CEU, load equipment into a vehicle prior to their designated team departing for areas on base affected by a simulated storm surge, onboard NAS Jacksonville, Fla., April 1. Photos by Jeff Hamlin

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Contingency Engineering Unit (CEU) Contingency Engineering Response Team (CERT) conducted damage assessment team training and certification exercise at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla., March 22 – April 3.

The CEU is a Navy Reserve unit based out of the Washington Navy Yard, D.C. Their mission includes maintaining a trained and ready-to-deploy CERT to provide facilities engineering support for disaster recovery at military installations, as directed by the Department of Defense.

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Lt. Cmdr. Michael McSweeney, Lt. Cogan Semler, Lt. Cmdr. David McCoy and Lt. Cmdr. Paul Bridges, NAVFAC NR CEU, inspect a hangar affected by a simulated hurricane during a CERTEX onboard NAS Jacksonville, Fla., April 1.

“You have to be prepared for a lot: tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding. We have a global reach,” said Capt. Fred Ray, readiness officer.

During the two weeks, the CERT trained on performing rapid building assessments of facilities that experienced simulated damage due to a hurricane. The team evaluated and documented structural stability and safety of the buildings, and repair needs that NAS leadership would use to help regain operational capability in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The team worked closely with and provided direct support to NAVFAC Southeast Disaster Preparedness Officer Lt. Cmdr. Ken Vargas.

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Lt. Cogon Semler, NAVFAC NR CEU, discusses possible convoy routes prior to his team departing to inspect various structures affected by a simulated hurricane during a CERTEX across NAS Jacksonville, Fla., April 1. 

“A key for us is creating awareness of our capabilities to FECs (Facilities Engineering Commands) to ensure we are utilized as a resource as the need arises,” said Cmdr. James Marapoti, officer in charge.

“Multiple commands at NAS Jacksonville provided direct support to ensure our training was successful, including NAVFAC Southeast, Naval Operational Support Center (NOSC) Jacksonville and NAS Jacksonville Naval Hospital,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Michael McSweeney, training officer for the CERT.

Coordination and collaboration made the exercise a success and resulted in a CERT that is ready to support naval disaster recovery operations at any time. Lt. Kevin Darmody of the CERT commented that the most important part of the evolution was teamwork. “We’ve formed a solid team,” he said.

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Lt. Cmdr. Paul Bridges, Lt. Cmdr. Michael McSweeney, Lt. Cogan Semler and Lt. Cmdr. David McCoy, NAVFAC NR CEU, inspect a hangar affected by a simulated hurricane during a CERTEX onboard NAS Jacksonville, Fla., April 1. 

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