BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA
Journal Staff

An F-15C Eagle from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, refuels at the Tinian International Airport as part of an exercise held April 2019.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific in Hawaii has confirmed that a September physical site visit to the site of the Tinian Divert Airfield will go ahead.

NavFac Pacific and the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 Seabees coordinated a May virtual site visit, but no virtual site visit is an option this time.

Krista Cummins, director of public affairs for NavFac Pacific, said, “As noted, an actual on-site visit is scheduled for 17 September, 2020 for those that expressed an interest in attending. Therefore, a virtual inspection is not planned.”

No other options or transport arrangements will be considered, she said. “It is the responsibility of all participants to coordinate their own transportation to the site visit.”

To attend the site visit, participants from outside of Guam will have to get themselves to Saipan on a United flight via Guam. In Guam all arrivals are currently subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Individuals traveling to Saipan from Guam are subject to a five-day quarantine in Saipan on arrival, with testing on arrival. Assuming they test negative on arrival, they will be tested again on the fifth day, and then released. Flights from Saipan to Tinian are not daily.

Clearly, itinerary timing will be crucial.

However, the stakes for work on the Divert Airfield are high, with the total project valued at $350 million.

According to Journal files, estimated amounts for these projects are $109 million for airfield development and $98 million for the parking apron.

NavFac has also encouraged the site visit.

“Site Investigation and Conditions Affecting the Work will be included in any contract awarded as a result of this solicitation. Accordingly, offerors or quoters are urged and expected to inspect the site where the work will be performed,” relevant documents say.

Bids for Phase 2 (listed as the second part of Phase 1) of the Tinian Divert Airfield were pushed back to Oct. 22 from Aug. 6.

Phase 1 – for which bids were due June 16 at Naval Facilities Engineering Pacific – covers the Cargo Pad with Taxiway Extension and Maintenance Storage Facility and Phase 2 covers the Airfield Development and Apron (See “At your bidding; military projects continue in play,” in the July 6 issue of the Journal). According to Journal sources, three bids were entered for Phase 1.

No request for proposals has yet been issued for the Fuel Pipeline and Tank Installation.

Delays on moving forward with the airfield work are due to the original design being overbudget, according to Journal files.

The Sept. 17 visit will offer representatives a chance to see the fenced area for the runway, and what is considered a remote location with limited resources that the project and military projects in general demand. Photos will be permitted.

 “The site visit will be unescorted,” according to notes.

 Cummins confirmed to the Journal that representatives of bidders or potential bidders will make the journey. 

“We have received requests to attend the site visit,” she said.

The Commonwealth Ports Authority, the Northern Mariana Islands government and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a 40-year lease agreement worth $21.9 million for the project in May 2019, according to Journal files. The Record of Decision for the Divert Activities and Exercises Environmental Impact Survey was signed in December 2016.

In July, the Journal reported that projections by NavFac Marianas show work being awarded in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.

The U.S. military does currently have Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seabees in Tinian.

Those personnel are “supporting a survey for the Tinian port construction project,” according to the Office of the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands.

One of their number tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 1 and was transported to Saipan to be placed in isolation. “… the remainder of the team and two additional sailors identified as close contacts were placed into quarantine at the designated government quarantine facility at the Kanoa Resort for close monitoring,” according to a Sept. 2 release. mbj