Guardian of the Week – LCDR John F. Barresi

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LCDR John F. Barresi meets with Senator Thad Cochran during a visit to Gulfport, Miss. on May 16, 2009 to tour the new United States Coast Guard Station. The previous U. S. Coast Guard Station was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of LCDR John F. Barresi.
LCDR John F. Barresi meets with Senator Thad Cochran during a visit to Gulfport, Miss. on May 16, 2008 to tour the new United States Coast Guard Station. The previous U. S. Coast Guard Station was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of Sen. Cochran's office.
Photo taken during the flooding - Hurricane Katrina.  Photo shows the Industrial Navigational Canal Lock (center - bottom) and the Lower Ninth Ward (upper right).  The old Coast Guard's ISC NOLA facilities are located on the lower left corner.
Photo taken during the flooding – Hurricane Katrina. Photo shows the Industrial Navigational Canal Lock (center – bottom) and the Lower Ninth Ward (upper right). The old Coast Guard's ISC NOLA facilities are located on the lower left corner.

It takes vision to conceive of a project, but it takes perseverance, skill and hard work to bring it to completion. LCDR John F. Barresi was named the 2010 Coast Guard Engineer of the Year for successfully combining these traits in carrying out every aspect of the Hurricane Katrina reconstruction effort for the Coast Guard facilities damaged or destroyed in the Gulf Coast region.

“It’s very exciting (to have won the award),” said LCDR Barresi. “It was particularly rewarding that people I work with trusted me to be nominated for this prestigious award,” Barresi said.

Stationed at Facilities Design and Construction Center (FDCC) Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., LCDR Barresi has been in the Gulf Coast region since August of 2006 and has overseen all Coast Guard onsite project planning, construction coordination and inspection, as well as liaised with local federal and state government and elected officials in carrying out several high visibility construction projects totaling $112.7 million.

New Coast Guard Integrated Support Center Administration Building at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility installation, New Orleans, La. The new LEED-certified Administration and Industrial buildings will be available in January, 2010. Six months ahead of schedule. Photo courtesy of LCDR John F. Barresi.
New Coast Guard Integrated Support Center Administration Building at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility installation, New Orleans, La. The new LEED-certified Administration and Industrial buildings will be available in January, 2010. Six months ahead of schedule. Photo courtesy of LCDR John F. Barresi.

These projects include the rebuilding of USCG Integrated Support Command New Orleans (pictured left), a $76 million construction project  and the largest of its kind in Coast Guard history.  LCDR Barresi also facilitated two other major projects for USCG Station Gulfport and USCG Sector New Orleans.

“When I arrived in the Gulf Coast, it was just about one year after Katrina and the recovery was still underway,” Barresi said. “There was devastation almost everywhere you went. People were still struggling, but working. I just decided, ‘Let’s get to work.’”

In completing these projects, Barresi and his team overcame their fair share of challenges, including changes to account for new missions, increased staffing (to accommodate 40 additional personnel), and changing operational requirements that arose after completing the design phase. Barresi also ensured that Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles were incorporated to improve sustainability, reduce future utility expenses and receive formal certification.

Barresi credits his staff and the contractors for the success of the projects. “This didn’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. “I had a lot of help. I just happen to be the instrument for bringing it all together.”

station gulfport
Completion of the new building for Coast Guard Station Gulfport was completed in May of 2009. Station Gulfport was destroyed in 2005 by a 26-foot wave during Hurricane Katrina causing the crew to work out of temporary building facilities until completion of the new station. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer Jaclyn Young)

Barresi and his staff also set new standards for future construction in the Gulf Coast region. For example, the newly constructed Station Gulfport (left) is the first USCG facility built to sustain Hurricane Category 4 winds and storm surge up to 25 feet, serving as the model for future construction projects along the Gulf Coast. In addition, his field experience contributed to strengthening design and construction practices for more than $250 million in future projects to repair damage sustained from Hurricane Ike in Houston and Galveston, Texas.

When asked about his accomplishments, Barresi says he doesn’t have much time to think about it. “I came down here with a purpose and there is a sense of closure in completing these projects,” he said. “It’s great to see it get done and get done in the right way.”

LCDR Barresi will be honored for being selected the Coast Guard Engineer of the Year at an awards ceremony to be held in Washington, DC in February, 2010. He will also be nominated by the Coast Guard for the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Federal Engineer of the Year Award.

Bravo Zulu and Semper Paratus to LCDR John F. Barresi for earning the 2010 Coast Guard Engineer of the Year Award and his extraordinary accomplishments in managing the Coast Guard’s Hurricane Katrina reconstruction efforts in the Gulf Coast.

Do you know someone in the Coast Guard that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations for Guardian of the Week using the submit button at the top of the page.

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