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New U.S. Military Fleet Readiness Center East Being Built at N.C.'s Global TransPark

Tue July 09, 2024 - Southeast Edition #15
Naval Air Systems Command


Leaders and stakeholders break ground for a new Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) maintenance, repair and overhaul complex at the North Carolina Global TransPark. (L-R) are North Carolina Global TransPark Economic Development Region President Mark Pope; Fleet Readiness Center East Commanding Officer Captain James Belmont; Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Chief of Civil Engineers Rear Adm. Dean Vanderley; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Sustainment Erica Plath; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Facilities Brenda Turner-Johnson; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment Robert Thompson; United States Senator for North Carolina Thom Tillis; North Carolina General Assembly Senator Jim Perry; North Carolina Global TransPark Authority Chairman Tom Hendrickson; and North Carolina Global TransPark Executive Director Preston Hunter.
Photo courtesy of NAVAIR
Leaders and stakeholders break ground for a new Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) maintenance, repair and overhaul complex at the North Carolina Global TransPark. (L-R) are North Carolina Global TransPark Economic Development Region President Mark Pope; Fleet Readiness Center East Commanding Officer Captain James Belmont; Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Chief of Civil Engineers Rear Adm. Dean Vanderley; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Sustainment Erica Plath; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Facilities Brenda Turner-Johnson; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment Robert Thompson; United States Senator for North Carolina Thom Tillis; North Carolina General Assembly Senator Jim Perry; North Carolina Global TransPark Authority Chairman Tom Hendrickson; and North Carolina Global TransPark Executive Director Preston Hunter.

Leaders and stakeholders from U.S. Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) and the North Carolina Global TransPark gathered at the latter's Kinston facility in late June to mark the groundbreaking for a new aviation maintenance complex set to house the depot's incoming military aircraft workload.

A news release from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on the FRCE website noted that groundwork on the 75-acre site began in April to prepare the area for new construction. When complete, the multi-structure, purpose-built facility will provide more than 700,000 sq. ft. of space to support FRCE's work on the Navy and Marine Corps C/KC-130J Super Hercules and C/KC-130T Hercules transport airplanes and the Air Force's HH-60W Jolly Green II rescue helicopters.

FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. James M. Belmont said the start of construction represents years of preparation and determination by dozens of stakeholders within the Navy, the Global TransPark and the state of North Carolina.

"It's so gratifying to see years of planning and effort come to fruition at this moment," he noted at the kickoff event. "Bringing this new workload into FRC East will allow our team to continue supporting the nation's warfighters well into the future by doing what we do best: providing our military aviators with the best quality products, delivered on time, and at the best cost.

"Through this service to the fleet, we'll be able to directly impact mission readiness and results, and we're proud to shoulder this responsibility," Belmont continued.

Project the Result of Unique DoD Collaboration

NAVAIR reported that the initiative is an innovative partnership between North Carolina and FRCE, the first of its kind within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Leaders anticipate it will offer economic growth opportunities in the eastern region of the Tarheel State and save millions of taxpayer dollars that fund military aircraft maintenance.

Belmont noted that the alliance with North Carolina would not have been possible without support from various naval stakeholders organizations, including Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command and the offices of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and the Environment, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition.

Stephen Barrow, head of FRCE's Centralized Coordination Department, also played an instrumental role in securing the partnership between the depot and the state.

He said the additional workload is planned to provide FRCE with up to 616,000 additional labor hours per year, which translates into a considerable economic impact in the region.

"It's a big win for the local economy," Barrow explained. "High-paying technical jobs aren't easy to come by in Eastern North Carolina, and FRCE will be looking to fill positions to support these additional labor hours. In addition to the payroll impact, this initiative will bring in additional revenue from a tax perspective, which could entice retailers and other commercial entities to move to the area as well. All of these factors can help the community grow."

The initiative is already making a positive impact within the Naval Aviation Enterprise, he added.

"Bringing the C-130 workload back into the naval enterprise will provide more visibility, control, a higher level of service, and ultimately an increase of readiness. Additionally, the move will save significant amounts of funding, thus increasing the ‘buying power' of the fleet. With these projected savings, the naval enterprise will be saving millions per aircraft, tens of millions per year, and hundreds of millions over a five-year period."

In his remarks, Matthew McCann, the head of FRCE's Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Logistics Department, said housing the additional workload at Global TransPark will benefit the community well into the future.

"Current projections have the aircraft service lives stretching until 2064. That means we're looking at about four decades of workload coming through, which will allow FRCE to provide long-term economic impact in the area and continue serving the warfighter for generations to come."

Increasing Global TransPark's Aircraft Capabilities

While the facility represents the largest partnership to date between FRCE and the Global TransPark, the depot already has a footprint on the campus. FRCE leases buildings from the Global TransPark to house its Huey UH-1N light-lift utility helicopter production line, where it services the aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. The relationship that developed between the command and the Global TransPark during this process helped pave the way for the new initiative.

NAVAIR noted that the project is part of a $350 million state investment in Global TransPark, one of the largest single items in North Carolina's current budget. The Kinston complex is a multi-modal industrial and business park that holds an array of aviation industry and manufacturing entities, in addition to the depot's UH-1N line and the future aviation maintenance facility.

Navy officials announced FRCE's selection as the designated repair point for the C-130 in March 2023, and the Air Force selected the depot as the HH-60W's designated repair location in December 2022. Work on the C-130 is scheduled to begin as soon as the end of fiscal year 2026, NAVAIR reported, with the HH-60W workload coming as soon as the start of fiscal year 2027.

The Marine Corps uses the KC-130J Super Hercules for multiple mission types, including refueling, personnel and cargo transport, tactical medical evacuation, imagery reconnaissance and close air support.

As the Air Force's new combat rescue platform, the HH-60W Jolly Green II is tasked with a primary mission of conducting personnel recovery operations in hostile environments to ensure rapid retrieval of downed aircrew and other isolated personnel.

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy, including Naval Air Systems Command, and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.




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