Journal Staff


Capt. Timothy C. Liberatore, commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas is responsible for all U.S. Navy construction as well as some projects at Andersen Air Force Base, such as the hangars.

While he said the pace of military construction in the region is due to continue to fiscal 2029, he expects the peak of construction to occur in 2023. “It may peak a little to the right, as we’re seeing,” he said.

At its peak he expects $600 million in construction work to be active under NAVFAC Marianas, and that the total amount of construction in Oceania will be about $1.6 billion. That figure includes military construction in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and beyond. “We’ll likely manage the Air Force project in Palau — if it comes to fruition,” Liberatore said.

Construction is managed between NAVFAC Marianas and the Officer in Charge of Construction for Marine Corps Marianas, whose commanding officer is Capt. Steven Stasick. “There’s some Australia projects here,” he said, but which office will eventually manage them is not certain.

To put it in context, he said military construction for the entire Navy was $935 million in fiscal 2010, when Liberatore was managing military construction for the Navy at the Pentagon. “We’re seeing that in one year on these islands. That’s pretty significant in comparison,” he said.

The Tanker hangar at Andersen Air Force Base is a $100 million project constructed by Core Tech International. Core Tech is also building the Strike hangar at Andersen. Both projects are nearing completion and are overseen by Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas.
Photo courtesy of Core Tech International.

Along with that comes guaranteed work for small businesses and other groups.

“We have goals that we set and we monitor those,” Liberatore said. … “Within our region we have exceeded our goals.”

Logistically, Guam is “in the middle of nowhere,” he said — a situation he’s familiar with from his previous posting of Hawaii, but that does not affect standards. “Everything from the quality of construction to the level of expertise I see on par. I think that’s great.”

Climactic circumstances do bring more of a challenge for cost, Liberatore said. “You have to design and build them to withstand typhoons, so it is a little different.”

The commander is familiarizing himself with ongoing work on the bases.

“One of the first projects that I went out and saw was these hangars that we’re building,” he said — referring to the Tanker and Strike hangars awarded to Core Tech International, each worth $100 million. “They are more impressive than any hangar I’ve ever seen,” he said. “There are phenomenal projects that are being built here at a very high level of quality and designed to withstand lots of things, not only high winds.”

As to other projects, Liberatore said aside from permanent fixtures for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD being added now, it is possible Guam will see the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System assets stationed on-island.

“We’ll see. It’s still very early in the planning. Certainly, planners have been here to visit and look at where it would go, or how many different sites — that’s about the extent of it.”

As to any timeline, Liberatore said, “Could that accelerate? Sure. Could that come sooner rather than later? We’ll see.”

Such a decision would mean an allocation of time, nevertheless. “With a project of that magnitude, we’d still need about two years of planning. That’s the environmental and the designs and the other initial planning.”

Liberatore arrived in July, in time to see the $48.58 million first phase of the Navy’s $545.31 million eight-year Base Operating Support services contract awarded in August to DZSP 21 and proceed unencumbered, with DynCorp’s protest after the award withdrawn.

“It’s a nice feeling,” he said. The $8.7 million Andersen Air Force Base BOS contract awarded to Invicta Defense LLC as the first phase of a $22.3 million two-year contract for logistics and transport is now under protest. Liberatore said a short bridge contract will be awarded to DZSP.

There has been some impact by COVID-19 on construction, he said. The Andersen Hangar is about 95% along, he said and was initially impacted as was construction at Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz. “Fortunately, the whole industry was not impacted, which was my worry,” Liberatore said.  “It’s been very well contained.”

He said a letter had gone to all contractors reminding them to follow protocols. “We consider health and safety — not only our employees but the whole community — as a priority.”

Due to his education, which includes an engineering degree and a master’s in ocean engineering, Liberatore has had a varied career.

His appointment as commander of NAVFAC, Liberatore said, has plusses. “I’m closer to the field, closer to the action.” The ocean engineering background is relevant in Guam. “We’re building piers here, so it comes into play … the underwater inspections that we do; I’ve worked in that field.”

The name of his command has “systems” added in November, which he said, “clearly articulating our technical authorities — our design and construction authority, the engineering component and other elements like real estate.” Liberatore said the command always was a systems command, it just was not named as such. The short version will remain NAVFAC.

His own aims, or “tenets” are firstly, he said, on delivering operational effects — projects that affect critical infrastructure; to perform to plan — meeting schedules, costs and delivering on schedule.

“The last one is really about our human capital, our workforce … making sure we continue to recruit the best and the brightest, that we retain and continue to train those and all the way through,” Liberatore said. Despite advantages of working for the federal government, “Local or stateside hires is always a challenge once you get further away from the States. Even in Hawaii we saw a challenge,” he said.

There is competition for talent, he said, especially in some fields like engineering. Aside from benefits, he said, “What’s nice about NAVFAC is you can move throughout the world.” Opportunity is there, he said. “We give a lot of responsibility very early on.” mbj