NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —
As COVID-19 continues to impact the nation, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) continues its mission to service the fleet. To aid in that mission, a newly established team has come together with a common purpose – ensure America’s Shipyard’s civilians and military have the proper tools to protect themselves and minimize the spread.
The COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleaning Supplies Team was formed as the virus struck the Hampton Roads community, the urgent needs for supplies bringing a call to action in developing an inventory and getting what’s needed into the hands of our shipyard team. The Job Readiness Cell (Code 530) took charge following its initial startup and was quickly outgrowing its conex box with the amount of supplies being developed in-house and shipped to NNSY. In May, the team was officially moved into Bldg. 298 with their own COVID-19 Fight Supplies Warehouse to store all collected inventory and act as a base of operations for the team to assemble and deliver to the workforce at both NNSY and off-yard.
“We’ve got thousands of supplies that are constantly getting cycled through on a daily basis. We have different types of face masks, face shields, gloves, tech wipes, hand sanitizers, disinfectants and more – and we’re constantly restocking the shelves with what the shipyard is requesting,” said Code 530 JRC Lead Mark Ragsdale. “We want to bring America’s Shipyard the tools needed to fight the invisible enemy, supporting our workforce and our Navy.”
The team takes orders through representatives from each shop or code, building their orders and getting it into their hands as quickly as possible, aiming to have those items in-hand with the customer the same day.
"We have refillable stations for hand sanitizer and disinfectant all throughout the shipyard as well as Naval Station Norfolk. Folks can bring their refillable bottles to the stations or we can help them get them filled,” said Boilermaker Darin Spradling, who was assigned to be a control point with the COVID-19 PPE and Cleaning Supplies Team. “We’ve also been sending supplies to Kings Bay, Charleston, Philadelphia, and New York so that all our commands have what they need to keep them safe.”
“We’re currently a first shift crew; however, we are always ready to help our customers,” said Ragsdale. “If folks on backshift have requests, we will have a team in place to help them. Safety is our top priority at the shipyard so we’re going to make sure everyone has the tools to succeed.”
Code 950 Electrical/Electronics Production Manager Krystal Middleton is one of the team’s many customers coming through the pipeline. “It’s been a very positive experience working the with COVID-19 PPE and Cleaning Supplies Team. I coordinated with them and the team was very professional and caring in tending to the urgent needs for Code 950. Quick to display the use of C.O.R.E. values, the team ensured we received our supplies as timely as possible. Within hours we had everything we needed. Their sense of urgency definitely displayed the commitment that this team has in maintaining a safe and healthy environment at America’s Shipyard.”
Code 136.2 Quality Assurance Specialist Cheryl Key also shared her experience with the team. “Throughout this pandemic experience, there have been several personnel throughout the shipyard who have placed their best ‘feet’ forward and showed admirable behavior in a critical moment in time. The COVID-19 PPE and Cleaning Supplies Team has shown to go above and beyond for America’s Shipyard. I reached out to the team in hopes to replenish our hand sanitizer and within minutes I received a response. They verified our location and set up a delivery time. Throughout the entire process, they were upbeat, professional, and kind. My request was taken, evaluated, and answered within a few hours. I’m very thankful for their help and for their willingness to help protect our workforce.”
For Spalding, each day consists of multiple delivery runs around the shipyard, fulfilling the orders requested. “Our group has an important mission to uphold – supply our workforce with the tools they need to keep each other safe. We have folks working nonstop to refill supplies, go through requests and build the deliveries. And we’re happy to do it. For me, I’m ex-Navy and it’s very important to me that we keep our fellow teammates safe. We’re all going through a hard time right now so if we can help even a little bit it’s worth it to me.”
“We’re a well-oiled machine in the COVID-19 PPE and Cleaning Supplies Team,” said Material Handler Contractor James Wideman. “I joined recently and have been very impressed with how we operate here. Our team truly is a testament that the shipyard aims to keep everyone safe. I’m proud to be part of this initiative.”