BY JIM KOHLER, OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER NORFOLK
Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk Regional Transportation Office (RTO) staff was recognized as the command’s “work center of the quarter” for coordinating the move of the Navy’s single largest collection of Navy artifacts for the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), Aug. 27.
The team moved artifacts from three different warehouses located in Williamsburg, Virginia, Memphis, Tennessee and the Washington Navy Yard to a single 300,000 square-foot warehouse in Richmond, Virginia.
The consolidation allows the Navy to centrally locate more than 250,000 artifacts, which will translate to improved care, management, accountability and oversight of the collection.
The refurbished building in Richmond will ensure improved environmental controls for high risk artifacts, proper shelving and storage, and an area for conserving and preserving the artifacts.
[caption id="attachment_4035" align="alignleft" width="316"]
USS John Hancock (DD-981) Underway, circa the 1980s or early 1990s. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The move was executed over a period of approximately 10 months and used 135 trucks to transfer the artifacts to the Defense Logistics Agency-managed facility in Richmond. The whole process was completed nine months ahead of schedule, which translated to a savings of more than $400,000 of the projected cost. The project was orchestrated by a small RTO team of civilians who work in shifts around the clock, seven days a week, coordinating more than 1,700 shipments a month.
According to NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Transportation Director Pam Young, who led the move, the biggest challenge to the mission was weather.
“No antiquities were trucked if there was a chance of snow or ice,” said Young. “I watched for impending storms to coordinate with the curator and the carrier during the winter. We also took a break during the holiday season, and also between January and March.”
Noteworthy items moved to the new facility include the stern plate from the destroyer USS John Hancock (DD 981), which includes a replica of the famous statesman’s iconic signature. Also moved were the cannons that were used to sink the CSS Alabama and an experimental auto-loading rocket launcher.
Many of the artifacts consolidated into the storage facility in Richmond have been and will be loaned to museums throughout the United States from time to time. The NHHC collection contains tons of material. Some of it is priceless, and nearly all of it is irreplaceable.
According to Karen France, head of NHHC curator branch, thanks to the hard work by the RTO staff and others, future generations will be able to learn about what the Navy has meant to our country since its inception.
“The task of moving this artifact collection was monumental. Without the expertise and support of the NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Regional Transportation Office staff it would not have been possible to accomplish what we did in such a short period of time.”
“Pam’s understanding and appreciation for the unique nature of the move, and the importance of the material to the Navy and to future generations was key to our success. We could not have done this without her support and the support of the NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Regional Transportation Office staff,” France added.