Navy Yard task force focusing on return to normal

A month after IT contractor Aaron Alexis gunned down a dozen colleagues at the Washington Navy Yard, the Navy has assembled a team of experts to handle every aspect of the recovery effort, from restoring operations at the facility to continuing to care for those affected by the tragedy.

“We’re able to call on whatever expertise that we need to make this recovery sure and rapid,” said Dennis McGinn, the assistant secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installation and Environment (EI&E) in a recent interview on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus appointed McGinn, a retired vice admiral, to lead the Washington Navy Yard Recovery Task Force earlier this month.

Dennis McGinn (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

“We are positioned to respond very rapidly to a whole variety of requests and we are doing that,” McGinn said. “But we also have an agenda, and that agenda is to make sure that relocated personnel have everything they need to do their job; to make sure that families and those affected by this tragedy are getting the kind of of medical and emotional health care that they need; and we’re making sure that if there are any financial difficulties or any legal aspects that need to be tended to, that is ongoing as well. ”

The site where Alexis opened fire, Building 197, remains shuttered. The building, which served as the headquarters for the Naval Sea Systems Command, housed about 3,000 employees who had to be relocated to alternative work sites.

“We have found locations for them to be well-connected to each other and the mission needs,” McGinn said. “Just about everybody has been repositioned, and it’s amazing how quickly we’re recovering to full mission capability.”

On Oct. 1, the Navy awarded a $6.4 million contract to Colorado-based CH2M Hill Constructors Inc. to conduct a damage assessment and come up with designs for repairing and restoring Building 197.

McGinn, who cited the restoration of the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said the redesign of the building will also include an “appropriate memorial” for the victims.

“After 9/11, we rebuilt [the Pentagon]. We put the fires out, we cleaned it up and we rebuilt,” he said. “And it is stronger … It is more safe and secure than ever. And that’s the same type of vision we have for the entire Navy Yard and for Building 197.”

McGinn said there are no hard timetables for when work would be completed but that it would likely be a matter of months and not years.

“Life is becoming a little bit more normal. It’s going to be a long road, a long journey, but we are getting there,” he said.


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