The U.S. Coast Guard officially broke ground on two new buildings at Woods Hole Station Thursday morning. However, work actually began in June, according to Capt. Richard Schultz, commander of Sector Southeastern New England.
Heavy machinery, utility work, and building demolition prevented safe access for a public event until recently, he said.
One building will house the sector’s aids to navigation team, plus sector support — the sector’s naval and civil engineers, according to Chief Warrant Officer Steven Simpson. The other building will be the new station, and include, among other features, a barracks. Sector administration and the communication center will remain in their present building, adjacent to the future station.
The buildings are engineered to be flood-resistant, Officer Simpson said. The ground floors have grated openings resembling garage doors that allow water to pass through. Other than pilings, nothing is behind the openings. The occupied portions of the buildings are a story or more above the openings. Storms regularly send seawater over the bulkhead and across the grounds of the station, he said. The design of the new buildings is meant to hedge against that and general sea level rise, and to adhere to executive order floodplain standards. The brick and clapboard exteriors of the buildings are meant to echo local architecture, he said.
Officer Simpson said he expects the $22 million project to be complete by Nov. 1, 2018.
The Woods Hole Station has long been a site for nautical service, starting with organizations that eventually joined together to form today’s Coast Guard, according to Commander Shultz.
“The Coast Guard has been at its location in Woods Hole since 1857,” he wrote in email, “when the service eventually to be known as the U.S. Lighthouse Service (established August 7, 1789) purchased the property here as a maintenance facility to support the service’s buoys, lights, and lightships. In 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service (founded on August 4, 1790) and the U.S. Lifesaving Service (officially established in 1858) were merged to form the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Lighthouse Service was absorbed by the Coast Guard in 1939.”