$18.2 million contract awarded for construction of Maritime Center of Excellence at Coast Guard Academy
New London — The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association announced Thursday it has awarded A/Z Corporation, based in North Stonington, an $18.2 million construction contract for the Maritime Center of Excellence.
The center will be built along the waterfront at the Coast Guard Academy. The demolition of Pine Hall — which Randall Hogan, chair of the Campaign for the USCGA Maritime Center of Excellence, has described as "aging and decrepit" — is scheduled for May 24.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new center is scheduled for July 29, with construction slated to be completed by October 2022. It will be the academy's first LEED-certified project; LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a green building certification.
The Alumni Association said in a news release the 20,000-square-foot facility, designed by the architectural firm SmithGroup, will offer seminar space for up to 150 people. There will also be spaces for vessel maintenance, offices and an atrium.
It will include a Science and Engineering Innovation Laboratory featuring a 3D printing workshop, wood and metal fabrication shop, and stability testing tank.
"This laboratory will encourage collaboration in the areas of digital processing and robotics, equipment design and construction, alternative fuels and emissions, environmental and coastal resiliency, among many others," Hogan said in the news release.
The facility will provide year-round maintenance capability, with a boat bay that will accommodate the vessels used by the academy's sailing and professional maritime studies programs.
Hogan said the center will be used for initiatives such as cadet summer programs, swab summer sailing training, coastal sailing training and more.
Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. William Kelly said that as Coast Guard missions become more important to national security, there will be an increasing need for more people to serve at sea, which is why the center "has never been more important."
"This state-of-the-art facility will serve as a focal point in our mission to 'instill a liking for the sea and its lore' for the future leaders of the world's best Coast Guard," he said.
"This is by far the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association's largest campaign and is a culmination of recent successes that has seen the Alumni Association give back nearly $50 million to the Coast Guard Academy over the last decade," said retired Vice Adm. Manson Brown, chair of the alumni association's board of directors.
He said the funds raised are mostly donations from alumni, parents of cadets and alumni, and friends of the academy.
According to the Campaign for the USCGA Maritime Center of Excellence's website, $20,083,012 has been raised in donations and pledges, with a goal of $23.5 million.
In early 2016, in his first year as superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy, Rear Adm. James E. Rendon said he was interested in creating a Maritime Center of Excellence that would replace Pine Hall, a prefabricated building, at the waterfront. He said at the time he was in talks with the alumni association to put together a design concept and was "pretty optimistic that we're going to move toward making that a reality."
The campaign said the alumni association board "conducted a feasibility study in the fall of 2017, which revealed that alumni, parents and friends are ready to support the Maritime Center of Excellence."