BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA
Guam can look forward to a maintenance facility for submarines at Polaris Point.
Alexander Desroches, executive director of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility told the Journal that what is known as the Guam Detachment of the Hawaii shipyard and facility is moving full steam ahead.
“We have already started hiring people,” he said. However, securing the total workforce needed won’t be immediate, he said. “It will take a while to build up.”
The Guam Detachment will consist of a total of 185 civilian jobs as well as military personnel.
Estimates by the Navy in 2018 put the number of military personnel to be permanently assigned to the shore-based Guam Detachment at 400.
As well as providing a stable workforce, the recruitment effort may have some positive effects on the island’s population. “We are finding people that are working in the shipyards that have some Guam ties,” Desroches said. “It’s an opportunity to bring those people home.”
The Guam Detachment would have an additional benefit, Desroches said. “Long term, there’s a great opportunity to provide good jobs in Guam.”
He said the Guam Detachment is a couple of years away. “We’re looking at standing this up and being fully functional in 2025,” he said.
The Polaris Point location will not only have space for equipment, offices and storage according to the U.S. Navy. A pier will be added, so that Detachment Guam can have its own docking spaces.
Desroches anticipates Detachment Guam staff being fully occupied with work on Guam’s homeported submarines in Submarine Squadron 15. “Once they get that finger pier, I expect they’re going to have a steady workload,” he said.
Guam’s five Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines are the USS Springfield, the USS Key West, the USS Ashville, the USS Jefferson City and the USS Annapolis.
As to opportunities for Guam businesses when the Guam Detachment opens, Desroches – who most recently visited Guam in September – said his office has some understanding of the local economy.
“We certainly need to look for those opportunities,” Desroches said. “The more we can build those links and be part of the economy, the better for everyone.”
In related news, a new partnership was established between the University of Guam, University of Hawaii at Mānoa and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard that “provides a pathway for engineering students at the University of Guam to transfer to UH Mānoa after their sophomore year and earn a bachelor’s of mechanical engineering, then gain possible employment with the [Hawaii] shipyard and potentially transfer to the Guam [Detachment],” according to an Oct. 11 release from the University of Hawaii.
Lee S. Yudin, interim dean of the School of Engineering at UOG; told the Journal, “It is an amazing opportunity for young men and women to take the option to get a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Hawaii with a job capability of working with the Navy Shipyard in Honolulu, and then to come back to Guam and be employed at home by the military at a well-compensated salary.”
UOG offers a bachelor’s of science in civil engineering. mbj