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Navy seeking nuclear experts to work at Guam shipyard detachment

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

New ship repair facility needs more than 570 personnel

Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) cast off lines from a pier aboard Naval Base Guam, May 6, 2022. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua M. Tolbert

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan


The Navy is hiring more than 570 civilian and military personnel to staff the new shipyard detachment on Guam, which will be in full swing by 2025 to support the naval fleet reinforcements in the region.


According to Naval Sea Systems Command, the Guam detachment at Polaris Point in Piti will need more than 170 civilian employees and 400 service members. Most listed job positions require expertise in the nuclear fields.


“The naval base is home port to five nuclear-powered fast attack submarines – vital assets in the U.S. intelligence gathering operation in the region – support vessels and a number of Pacific Command, Pacific Fleet, Seventh Fleet and Naval Seabee units," the job announcement reads.


Hiring for Guam
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The Guam Detachment, which was officially approved in December 2019, is an extension of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. It was established “to close the existing maintenance gaps in executing submarine maintenance in Guam.”


The Navy is offering an annual compensation of up to $113,000 plus a “negotiable” relocation pay incentive equivalent to up to 25 percent of annual salary under a two-year contract. Other incentives include a tax-free cost of living allowance at 12.62 percent of annual base pay, locality pay set at 15.95 percent of annual base pay and non-foreign post-differential set at 12.38 percent.


The lucrative offer comes with a caveat.


“Guam is called the ‘tip of the spear’ due to its proximity to regions of the world that are at risk of conflict such as the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, Yellow Sea and North Korea,” the announcement read.


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“The primary workforce will consist of active-duty sailors who have transferred from the ship tenders to the shipyard detachment, as well as expeditionary maintenance support needs and additional issues associated with Guam’s remote location,” Alex Desroche, director of the Guam Implementation Team, said in an article posted on the Naval Sea Systems Command’s website.


According to the command, civilian employees will provide management, guidance, training, mentoring, and development of sailors, who will be the primary wrench-turning workforce.


“The training program is crucial in developing sailors to execute necessary maintenance work. Because the detachment is an extension of PHNSY & IMF, the Guam activity will have reach-back capabilities for support as needed,” the naval command said.


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Until last year, the Navy had only two submarines homeported in Guam. The number has since increased to five. The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis was the latest to homeport in Guam. It arrived in March 2022, joining USS Asheville (SSN 722), USS Key West (SSN 758), USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) and USS Springfield (SSN 761).


In an Aug. 3 report on Guam readiness, the Congressional Research Service said the U.S. Congress is evaluating the need to invest more in naval infrastructure, such as building additional ship repair facilities including a dry dock in Apra Harbor “to support additional surface ship and submarine operations.”


Congress is also considering investing in additional fuel storage capacity for Guam in light of the closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii.


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According to the Navy's 2024 budget summary, the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan construction is one of its key projects on Guam.


Noting that shipyards are “essential elements of our national defense,” the Navy said these facilities “require recapitalization and infrastructure improvements to meet the needs of the fleet.”


“The department’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) will deliver efficient and modernized shipyards through upgrading existing dry docks and building new ones, reimaging the physical layout of the shipyards, and replacing antiquated capital equipment with modern machines,” the Navy budget summary said.


“Successful implementation of SIOP will ensure the four shipyards are ready and able to support the class maintenance plan for the Navy’s current and future submarines and aircraft carriers.”


Officials at the Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Command said the security of the Indo-Pacific requires that the U.S. Navy station the most capable ships forward.


"This posture allows rapid responses for maritime and joint forces, and brings our most capable ships and submarines with the greatest amount of striking power and operational capability to bear in the timeliest manner," the submarine command said.


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