On June 17th members of the SERDP Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and SERDP office toured the NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia and learned firsthand about how the naval facilities in Hampton Roads are coping with rising relative sea levels, as well as successfully addressing a number of other environmental challenges.

Sea level rise is a measurable reality that the Navy must deal with either by mitigating its impacts or adapting. Commanding Officer Capt. J. Pat Rios noted that, other than New Orleans, the Hampton Roads region will experience some of the most significant impacts from rising sea levels. The most urgent problem for NAVFAC is building and redeveloping structures that will be resilient to a two-foot rise in sea level by 2050 in conjunction with severe storm events. Current disturbances associated with flooding already create frequent interruptions to operations for the Navy.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Brady led the SAB members and SERDP staff on a tour of the base. The first stop was to view the new double-decker piers where aircraft carriers and other large Navy ships dock while in port. The bi-level design allows the ship's utility services to be elevated by several feet compared to historic designs, while still leaving the upper deck free for cargo and traffic flow. Although the double-decker piers were not originally designed to address sea level rise, they have proven to be advantageous for mitigating the impacts of higher sea levels. 

The second stop on the tour was to view a groundwater treatment facility near the Camp Allen landfill, as well as a site which is now capped with playfields. The treatment plant, with a capacity of up to 130 gallons per minute, is remediating contaminated water from the Camp Allen site and also treating water from other projects on the installation.

The tour and the discussion of the real-world problems being addressed by the Navy on a daily basis will help ensure that SERDP continues investing in high-priority requirements encompassing a wide range of Department of Defense environmental challenges.