Posted on: Friday, August 31, 2007
Work starts on national security center in Wahiawa
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Central O’ahu Writer
Mike Stramella; Cynthia Dearfield; Rear Adm. T.G. Alexander, commander of Navy Region Hawai’i and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific; U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye; Army Lt. Gen Keith Alexander, director, National Security Agency/chief, Central Security Service; Gerry Majkut; Navy Capt. Jan Tighe, commander, National Security Agency/Central Security Service; Theron Holloway; Navy Capt. Clifford Maurer; Cary Sparks; and Henry Lee break the ground with ‘o’o sticks during a ceremony for the new Hawai’i Regional Security Operations Center at the U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific in Wahiawa. The building, which is scheduled for completion in late 2010, is part of the largest construction contract in the history of the Naval Engineering Facility Command.
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Hawai’i yesterday broke ground on its new operations facility in Wahiawa that security officials said will help strengthen the nation’s intelligence capabilities.
The new 234,000-square-foot, two-story building adjacent to Whitmore Village is expected to be completed in September 2010. It’s part of a 270,000-square-foot complex built on 70 acres at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific.
The $318 million project also includes an access road and improvements to Whitmore Avenue and Kamehameha Highway.
The new Hawai’i Regional Security Operations Center – to be located at a previously decommissioned circular antenna array known as the “elephant cage” – will replace an aging underground facility in Kunia.
NSA officials said it’s unclear how many personnel will work in the new facility and how many will be new positions. They said most of the 2,700 current personnel at the Kunia facility building will move to the new structure and that the agency also expects “limited hiring” for specific skills starting in 2009.
The Kunia Regional Security Operations Center, now known as the National Security Agency Hawai’i, performs intelligence gathering and analysis missions supporting U.S. interests in areas including the Pacific, Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Security officials yesterday expressed high expectations for the new facility.
“This state-of-the-art facility will enable us to strengthen our intelligence support to the nation’s policymakers and combatant commanders,” said Navy Capt. Jan Tighe, commander of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, Hawai’i. “It will provide NSA/CSS Hawai’i with an open, flexible, collaborative work environment allowing us to respond to new threats in an agile and timely manner.”
The new facility was initially planned to be a 350,000-square-foot, three-story building, but NSA Hawai’i spokeswoman Liz Egan said it was scaled down because of construction costs in Hawai’i.
In addition to the complex, contractor DCK Pacific LLC, will build an 8,000-foot access road connecting the facility to Whitmore Avenue that officials said will help divert traffic away from homes.
The project also includes improvements to Whitmore Avenue, including additional turn lanes, traffic signal upgrades at the Kamehameha Highway intersection and a sidewalk extension from Kamehameha Highway to Kahi Kani Park. Officials said improvements also will be made to Kamehameha Highway at and around the intersection with Whitmore Avenue.
The road construction work will be done around rush hour periods to reduce the impact on the community, said Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawai’i spokeswoman Denise Emsley.
Alena Pule, president of the Whitmore Community Association, said she supports the project.
“I feel a new era for the community and the military,” she said.
Pule also said the access road will help alleviate traffic in the area “so there is safety for our kids … and the community.”
An NSA spokeswoman said officials have yet to decide the future of the existing underground Kunia facility, also known as “the Tunnels.”
The 250,000-square-foot Kunia facility, adjacent to Schofield Barracks, was built in the 1940s following the Pearl Harbor attack. Military officials wanted to have an aircraft assembly plant less vulnerable to enemy attack.
Reach Lynda Arakawa at email@example.com.