A catwalk system allows instructors an overhead view of training operations at the P-918 Special Operations Forces Close Quarters Combat facility at Naval Base Coronado Coastal Campus in Coronado, California.

March 20, 2023

Communication, Innovation Keys to Award-Winning U.S. Navy Project

Haskell exhibited 'operational excellence' in designing and building the award-winning P-918 Special Operations Forces Close Quarters Combat facility.


Some missions performed by the U.S. Navy require intensive training that calls for highly specialized facilities. It was a distinct and solemn honor when Haskell was chosen to design, engineer and build the P-918 Special Operations Forces Close Quarters Combat facility at Naval Base Coronado Coastal Campus in Coronado, California.

It was also a tremendous challenge. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest is renowned as a demanding client.

Matt Ferguson, Haskell Director of Project Development, and the rest of the team assigned to P-918 faced the challenge head-on. Their first step was hiring a consultant to spend a half day working on team building with people from Haskell and the Navy.

“We told them right up front, ‘We know that you’ve been struggling with contractors and contractors have been struggling with you. Tell us what the issues are so we can try to avoid them,’” Ferguson said.

He said the Navy appreciated that direct approach, which propelled the project out of the gate. “Then, we put the right people in the right place and kept the dialogue open,” he said.

Planning for the 25,204-square-foot facility required precision to keep everyone safe. For example, the structure had to be designed to make sure the live bullets fired inside didn’t go through the outer walls. The interior ballistic paneling system drove the design because safety depended on how the panels fit together and were oriented. For similar ballistic protection, there couldn’t be more than two doors in a line of sight.

Award-Winning Innovation

After the wall system was in place, Haskell’s team moved on to the mechanical ductwork, fans and sprinklers above. Components were painstakingly arranged – sometimes moving a few inches at a time this way and that – until everything fit. The catwalk system, where instructors observe everything that is going on, had to be hung from the ceiling.

A catwalk system allows instructors an overhead view of training operations at the P-918 Special Operations Forces Close Quarters Combat facility at Naval Base Coronado Coastal Campus in Coronado, California.

It was important that ventilation be able to clear heavy smoke out of the rooms in three minutes. Ferguson said Senior Mechanical Engineer Chris Nobe suggested engaging an outside firm to ensure the room could be cleared of smoke within the government’s three-minute time limit.

“And wow, it paid off tenfold,” Ferguson said.

On testing day, the Haskell team explained to Navy officials how the system would work: Large fans would push the smoke down, which would cause it to curl toward the outside walls and go back up and then out of the room. And it worked perfectly. When the test was completed, the smoke cleared the room in two minutes and 43 seconds.

“We trounced the three minutes,” Senior Project Manager Robert Felix said, with a laugh.

Much of the project took place under COVID conditions, and procurement issues were common. In some cases, Felix said, they juggled the order of the work. In other cases, they could only wait.

The issue caused Felix to take some late-night walks.

“My poor wife,” Felix recalled. “She would say, ‘What’s bothering you today? They’ll come through. They always do.’”

‘Sustained Commitment’

NAVFAC Southwest officials were effusive with praise for Haskell’s safety program, which focused on open communication with subcontractors, its overall performance and the finished project.

“Haskell has demonstrated sustained commitment to efficiently and transparently managing the overall construction process and overcome various challenges encountered by effectively partnering with the Government and to the Government’s benefit,” said Rafael Enriquez, Supervisory General Engineer, FEAD Coastal Campus, NAVFAC Southwest. “Haskell's performance exceeds many contractual requirements to the Government's benefit via effective and proactive corrective actions taken to navigate unforeseen challenges. Haskell's entire team worked diligently to provide a facility that supports operations which are critical to national security."

The 25,204-square-foot facility received 2022 Excellence in Construction Eagle and Innovation awards.

John Paul Saenz, Haskell Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, congratulated the P-918 team for earning exceptional ratings on crucial project metrics of safety, quality, cost and schedule while delivering the work profitably for the company.

“Truly amazing! This is what we call operational excellence,” he added. “This is exactly what we are capable of on federal projects.”

P-918 has received the National Eagle Award and the National Innovation Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and it was named Project of the Year by the ABC Florida First Coast Chapter. While winning awards was far from the team’s mind at the time, Ferguson said it was meaningful after a long and sometimes challenging project.

“They relied on each other to do their part all the way through,” he said. “Everybody has been just happy as all get out. They’re very proud of the facility, and it’s gratifying that we were recognized for the way we approached the project.”

Haskell is hiring! Explore the many options available to join a growing company where the Core Values of Team, Excellence, Service and Trust inspire everything we do.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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