Coast Guard inaugurates Curtis Bay yard warehouse

New $12.6 million facility has latest gear to track, store 3 million parts

October 04, 2003|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

A new warehouse able to hold 3 million parts opened yesterday at the U.S. Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, ending a decade-long effort to consolidate all the inventory that keeps every one of the service's vessels in action.

The new building will use fewer workers but run more efficiently and more cheaply by putting all parts from nuts and bolts to 50-foot shafts in the same place - at the fingertips of the Coast Guard's only shipbuilding and repair facility. About 690 people, mostly civilians, work at the yard.

Until yesterday, millions of parts were divided between Curtis Bay on the Baltimore-Anne Arundel County line and a warehouse 23 miles away in Columbia, rented since 1993 at a cost of $1.4 million a year. That inventory had been moved from New York.

The new 115,000-square-foot building cost $12.6 million, and workers will take the next seven months to move the inventory into it.

"Those not in the business struggle with what is `logistics,' but it is critical," said Rear Adm. Erroll Brown, the guard's assistant commandant for systems, during a dedication ceremony yesterday.

Brown said that when workers at the yard or out in the fleet need a part, staff in the state-of-the-art warehouse will be able to get it to them faster.

Among other advances, the warehouse, with metal shelving 35 feet high, is equipped with electronic scanners that can better track inventory, said Lester Swanson, a civilian inventory management specialist who has worked at Curtis Bay for 23 years.

Those shelves will be stocked with about $12.5 million in parts, from propellers and electronic circuit boards that operate radios to basic nuts and bolts.

The new warehouse will mean a worker will not have to drive to Columbia to obtain a part or spend valuable time searching the shelves for the right item, said Norman Lee, a former Army Ranger and 27-year veteran of the Curtis Bay warehouse operation.

"Before, we had to do a lot of walking and picking," said Lee, a civilian general foreman at the warehouse.

The warehouse will employ about 48 workers. Twenty-three Coast Guardsmen who work in Columbia will be transferred to other positions, said Cmdr. Tom Barone, chief of the Materials Management Division of the Coast Guard's Engineering Logistics Center, which employs about 600, mostly civilians, at Curtis Bay.

The center operates the warehouse and is one of many divisions housed in dozens of buildings at the 104-year-old yard. The new facility, named the Moore Warehouse Complex, is dedicated to Capt. John C. Moore of the United State Revenue Cutter Service, the predecessor to the Coast Guard. He established the Curtis Bay facility in South Baltimore in 1899, so that the service's cutters could be maintained and repaired.

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