NSA Crane to continue ‘mission-critical’ programs
Rear Admiral Chip Rock, Commander of the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic Region, hosted a virtual press conference Friday to discuss precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic being taken among the region’s installations, which includes Naval Support Activity Crane.
Rear Admiral Rock started by explaining some of the precautions taken throughout the entire Mid-Atlantic Region, then answered some of the Greene County Daily World’s questions specifically about Crane.
“The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is something that we’ve never seen before and it is unprecedented and a new reality that requires an all-team effort here in our response,” Rear Admiral Rock explained. “I want to let you know that my priority and indeed the priority of the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense is number one to protect our people. We are very proud of the efforts of our sailors, civilian workforce, families, contractors and the entire Navy-Marine Corps team, and what they have done thus far to keep us all safe.”
Rock said his main focus right now is mission readiness, and preserving their capability to maintain national security.
“From a Navy installations perspective, I think it becomes much more personal when it comes to protecting our workforce -- our sailors, our civilians, our families. We must maintain that Naval readiness. I look at it three ways: physical health, mental health and the spiritual health are all the focus when it comes to combat readiness,” Rock explained.
Rear Admiral Rock said one of the first steps was to reach out to the Centers for Disease Control for guidance.
“We follow the same guidance that you all are doing ... We are in lock step with the CDC on these measures,” Rear Admiral Rock said.
“While the entire world is forging new grounds to contain and mitigate the effects of COVID-19, I thought it would be interesting and appropriate to share what those mitigations look like for us.
“First and foremost, we are ramping up our communication efforts, starting with our internal efforts -- our workforce, our sailors, civilians and their families, and that certainly includes our government partners, to include state and local officials as well.”
The Navy Mid-Atlantic Region is curtailing gatherings to avoid crowded areas in an effort to implement social distancing. One of the events that has been canceled is the Navy bootcamp graduation ceremony across all bases.
“We have also restricted at the DOD (Department of Defense) travel -- both official and personal travel. We enhanced our cleaning protocols and standards to include hand washing and personal hygiene,” Rock said.
He explained they have also implemented a “distributed workforce model,” which means they have begun allowing telework and work-place flexibility in an effort to ensure social distancing wherever possible.
“We also are committed to supporting our families, and that includes ensuring that our workforce still has various childcare options, and ensuring continued access to healthcare and other vital services,” he said.
The leave policy has also shifted during this time, especially for those who don’t feel safe or are high-risk. Those individuals can speak to their supervisors to learn more.
When gaining access to base, visitors will notice a new policy put in place for the guards at the gate.
“We have implemented a no-touch policy for our military identifications at our gates, so our security forces are no longer handling the IDs. They are looking at them and scanning them, but not touching them to reduce any risk of transmission,” Rear Admiral Rock said.
Tour groups and public visits will be suspended for now, and some non-mission-essential activities are closed, such as fitness classes, intramural sports and bowling. Food establishments are remaining open to support the workforce, but are operating on takeout services only.
“We are doing the best we can to keep our chapels open but we do have a couple of installations that have curtailed services or are offering services in a different way,” Rear Admiral Rock said.
With all of these changes in place, Rear Admiral Rock stressed the work done at NSA Crane is imperative.
“Although we’ve certainly scaled back our non-mission-critical functions and have much of the workforce teleworking from the safety of their homes, the mission of NSA Crane continues. We still have service members deployed around the globe who depend on the men and women who work at Crane for that support. The mission-critical activities of the base are still continuing,” Rear Admiral Rock explained.
Rock also addressed a question about access under the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows service-disabled veterans, former prisoners of war and Purple Heart recipients, in addition to VA-designated caregivers, access to most MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) facilities and programs on base.
“No changes have been made to access. We will continue to allow access under the NDAA to all that are eligible,” Rock said.