New Naval Training Building Transforms Recruits Into Sailors

December 1, 2007

Dudick, Inc. wins ENR’s award for Institutional Project of 2007 as one of Battle Stations 21 suppliers. Dudick, Inc. supplied all the Seamless Floor Systems using Steri-Flake, an epoxy based, vinyl flake filled floor as well as all the Containment coatings for the salt water “ocean”, water tight flood compartments as well as the high temperature wall and floor systems (Shock-Crete) in the fire control rooms. Walls in high traffic areas used Dudick’s Sealer 25 high gloss abrasion resistant wall coatings over epoxy based sealers.

Dudick’s ability to supply architectural as well as heavy duty systems was a key component in being sole specified for nearly all the work. During installation, one of Dudick’s field technical reps was on site periodically to instruct the applicator in the various systems.

Quietly rising under the radar and chaff of today’s architects and signature structures is a revolutionary ship-shaped building within a building that marks the beginning of a new genre of naval military training. Built around technology, theatrics and special effects, the project is the product of imaginative teamwork.

Mission Control

Battle Stations’ contracts and construction are managed by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. “This is a pilot project— never been built before,” says Peter G. Livas, NAVFAC project engineer. “This is unique in the way it is managed from concept to punch-out. It involved two separate commands — NAVFAC and Naval Air Command (NAVAIR). Usually they come in after we build the box, but on this job, they partnered with us from the beginning.” NAVAIR is responsible for all simulators in the Navy and Battle Stations is one giant simulator.

From the beginning, value — added was a key component. The team also had to design in permanence and chaos. “We had to devise a complex route through the training system while creating chaos in the schemes and the longest possible routes in order to push the boots,” says Mark S. McVay, SmithGroup design principal. “If the recruits developed a cognitive map of the plan, we would have failed because we need to keep them off-balance, convey a sense of chaos and maintain emergency stress levels.”


New Naval Training Building Transforms Recruits Into Sailors Interactive ship module tests sailors under high-tech fire…combination of Alucobond composite panels and a lighter-weight foam panel. Scenic elements, such as hatches, watertight doors, lifeboats, bits and chocks are either replicated or salvaged from decommissioned ships.

Few projects have integrated this degree of high-tech pyrotechnics and special effects. “We have multiple roles,” says Hilde A. Varah, GlobalSim program manager. “We do the computerized training management system, which scores and tracks recruits. Then we handle the closed-circuit safety TV system to monitor potential problem areas. Then we manage the recruit phone communication network. Later, we took on the system integration effort to provide a communication platform, data base and documentation for the Navy.”

All special effects are controlled by a master system that is run by the GlobalSim system. “We’re using commercial equipment for all the hardware,” says Varah. “But we developed the software.” Durabilty. Materials used in the ship will have to stand up to repeated disasters.

Varah has done other integration projects but nothing this extensive. “Over 12 years, we have done a number of training projects for the Navy and Coast Guard and delivered at least 88 crane trainer systems and 30 to 40 driver training systems. But Battle Stations is a bigger version with special effects,” she says. The firm received about $4.2 million for both contracts.

Creating realistic special effects was a challenge. Sheridan notes that flooded compartments are coated with a nine-part heavy-duty epoxy, which required special ventilation and temperature control to install. Fire posed other issues. “We have a fire room where flames reach 1,200°F and we had to design it so it did not turn into an oven,” says McVay. “It&rsquos like designing a new thermal envelope — contain the heat but not leak it to the rest of the trainer. To do that, we did thermal modeling and pushed the data into a shipboard design that included a flame bar located under a grilled floor reminiscent of a bilge.” Thermal coating materials, Shock-Crete and Ameron, were applied to concrete block walls to provide a thermal and waterproof barrier.

Another challenge was fabricating battle-damaged rooms. “We have four environments called mass casualties, which replicate a torpedo hitting berthing rooms and a galley,” says John Stapleton, Scenic View executive producer. “Basically each one is a series of mazes in a 7,800-sq-ft room where the floor is pushed up and the ceiling is hanging down. Everything is fabricated to get the realism right, but it complies with standard fire codes and is safely constructed so that there is nothing sharp or protruding. The recruits’ challenge is to find injured shipmates in smoke, fog and strobe effects of a very confusing environment.”

Scenic View also provided two pier scenarios—one for entering the Trayer and one for exiting. “They start out at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and end up at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in Virginia,” says Stapleton. “We did that by using a series of hinged, sliding and escalating scene changes on the steel-framed 192-ft-long pier.”

While the building will not be LEED certified for technical and financial reasons, it still meets many “green” building guidelines because it recycles the ocean water and project waste and uses low VOC materials. The building also complies with anti-terrorism force protection requirements with setbacks, bollards, blast-resistant glass and other items.

But the Trayer is power hungry. “We&rsdquo;re coming in with a 12,000-Volt feed for the whole building but we split it 25% for the admin center and 75% for the trainer,” says John E. Fialkowski, McHugh MEP coordinator. “We use a lot of energy replacing air because we have to purge various scenarios, which requires additional heating or cooling.”

“Truthfully, its been one heck of a ride,” says Livas. “The design, systems and building components are noteworthy and I don’t believe any other delivery system could have produced it in a timely manner,” he says, adding that the project is on time and budget.

The Trayer is setting the stage for a new wave of trainers. “Other navies are interested in what we are doing,” says Moran. “Even the Air Force is interested in the concept.”