PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - During a ceremony here Nov. 9, Picatinny officials broke ground for a new Naval packaging, handling, storage and transportation facility that will house Navy operations being transferred to Picatinny as a result of 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations.

The Weapons and Armaments Packaging, Handling, Storage and Transportation Center, or PHS&T Center, is the first facility to relocate to Picatinny from Earle Naval Weapons Station in Colts Neck as part of BRAC recommendation 186 to create "an integrated weapons and armaments specialty site for guns and ammunition."

The Naval PHS&T Center has existed since the 1950's when a small engineering function moved from Natick, Mass., to the Earle waterfront location at Leonardo Pier.

The organization grew in size and importance as weapons became more sophisticated and susceptible to damage during handling. PHS&T is recognized as an important part of the weapons and armaments life cycle.

"Today, the PHS&T Center is home to approximately seventy engineers and technicians that design, develop and provide life-cycle support for weapons and armaments. It is a recognized world leader in container and material handling and equipment design recognized nationally and internationally for its work," said David Rogers, BRAC Transition Manager here.

To install the PHS&T function in a proper facility at Picatinny, the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers New York District, Picatinny Garrison, and architectural and engineering firm HDR of Alexandria, Va., collaborated on the building's design.

During the ground-breaking ceremony, Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, Picatinny Senior Military Commander, Dr. Joseph Lannon, director of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center here, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen and other key personnel each tossed a shovel of dirt signifying the official breaking of ground for the new facility.

"We are grateful to the many that have supported this project. We look forward to the day in the not too distant future when we can gather here again for an official opening," Maddux said.

According to Rogers, the PHS&T is scheduled to be completed by May of 2011 and will be the first of four facilities built that will bring more than 200 jobs to Picatinny.

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