This Military Installation Resilience Review (MIRR), undertaken from August 2020 to August 2022, created an implementation action plan to ‘protect and preserve military readiness and defense capabilities’ while supporting continued community economic development. The Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport's tenant command missions and operations depend on the resilience of its critical infrastructure and that of three host communities: Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, all situated on Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island. These communities provide water, energy, transportation, housing, emergency/medical services, and other critical infrastructure and services for the military base and its population. While the municipalities have individually addressed hazard concerns within their plans and procedures, they have not explicitly addressed issues within NAVSTA Newport. At the time of this MIRR, NAVSTA Newport did not have a resilience plan of its own.
The project used a participatory approach led by a multidisciplinary team of modelers, social scientists, landscape architects, and engagement specialists from the University of Rhode Island, NAVSTA Newport, the Naval War College, the Naval Post Graduate School, and the City of Newport. Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation.
Produce a Military Installation Resilience review and implementation action plan to ‘protect and preserve military readiness and defense capabilities’ while supporting continued community economic development
Model feasible current and future storm scenarios (e.g Nor’easters, hurricanes) and scenarios combined with projected seas level rise
Assess the impacts to infrastructure assets and consequences that could potentially adversely affect the installation related to key infrastructure and services.
Develop a decision-support tool that can be used for real-time preparedness and response, as well as longer term planning.
✔️Military Installation Resilience Review Report that outlines the MIRR process, its tools, and its recommendations for resilience building of NAVSTA Newport together with the municipalities of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth.
✔️ Decision-support tools for modeling, data collection, and communication that can be used for real-time preparedness and response, as well as longer-term planning. The tools and the MIRR Coastal Hazards, Analysis, Modeling, and Prediction (MIRR-CHAMP) system created in this project have a variety of applications that extend beyond the life of this resilience review.
✔️Twelve modeled storm scenarios, with three different sea level rise events to aid in short- and long-term planning, preparedness, and response in the face of both acute storm impacts and chronic sea level rise.
✔️ Assessment of the impacts to over 150 critical infrastructure assets (within 86 facilities) and consequences that could potentially adversely affect the installation’s mission (within and outside the NAVSTA fence line) related to key infrastructure and services.
✔️ Knowledge exchange and collaboration for military and community resilience. A Tabletop Exercise utilized a military gaming approach for subject matter experts to discuss priority concerns and resilience enhancement strategies for NAVSTA Newport and surrounding municipalities. Senior decision makers met at project end to discuss key recommendations and prioritize next steps for implementing the MIRR.
Tools developed through this effort for the MIRR analysis are available for use in implementation and are applicable to other initiatives in Rhode Island and beyond.
Storm Models using ADCIRC(ADvanced CIRCulation) – The modeling scenarios developed for the NAVSTA MIRR comprise three different events:
1. Calm conditions (astronomical tides only)
2. High impact hurricane based on the 1938 Hurricane with a modified track
that results in a direct landfall for Rhode Island
3. Superstorm Sandy (2012), a hybrid storm with hurricane and nor’easter
characteristics. Each event was modeled using the present mean sea level
and three sea level rise projections, 1 ft, 3 ft, and 5 ft.
Hazard Consequence Threshold (HCT) Data Collection and Methodology – This approach was applied to construct a dynamic database of geo-located assets at risk and concerns of asset managers and stakeholders. In total, subject matter experts representing approximately 90 facilities identified over 150 HCTs for assets, of which 66% were impacted by flooding, 19% by wind and flood, 12% by wind, and 3% were unknown.
Online Dashboard Tool for Viewing Storm Modes and Consequences – The interactive dashboard integrates ADCIRC storm model results with HCTs to summarize complex analyses and distill results into actionable information for emergency management planning and response. Users can see information regarding threats, vulnerable locations/assets/sectors, and consequences of storm or flooding impacts related to the mission and operational integrity. Information on impacted assets appears on screen in ‘pop-ups’ or through the dashboard’s “Consequences Triggered” pane, where users can review hazard consequence and level of impact (i.e., how much the modeled storm exceeds the asset’s flooding and/or wind threshold).
3D Visualizations for Communicating Risk and Storm Impacts – 3D visualizations were created to help stakeholders and Tabletop Exercise subject matter experts understand the extent of potential flooding resulting from the modeled scenario events.
Hurricane Evacuation Models from Naval Postgraduate School – This tool supports evacuation decisions associated with future storms. Historically, evacuation plans for Aquidneck Island communities were developed separately, such that each municipality had its evacuation plan and military evacuation plans for NAVSTA Newport ended at the installation fence line. New models for island-wide impacts related to future storm scenarios provide hazard information to support integrated evacuation planning across these communities.
Figure: Dashboard available for decision-makers showing the assets impacted (Red points) and summary of assets impacted (on the right column) from a simulated storm.
In addition to identifying measures to enhance the resilience of critical infrastructure assets, the MIRR process generated five recommended strategies for increasing the collective capacity and collaboration needed to build greater resilience to storms and rising seas for NAVSTA Newport, the City of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. These recommendations aim to address the challenges identified through the 2-year project:
● Establish an overarching mechanism and framework for resilience for
NAVSTA Newport and the three municipalities and other stakeholders as
● Enhance emergency management collaboration.
● Enhance collaboration for resilience through infrastructure planning and
● Develop a strategic communication plan.
● Develop partnerships to support collaborative funding and grant
management that leverages DoD and municipal capacities.
As of June 2023, a collaborative effort is underway to restore the Elizabeth Brook watershed. Naval Station Newport, the adjacent municipalities, and other community leaders has moved forward with efforts to advance assessment, planning, and initial design to reduce flooding, that impacts vulnerable neighborhoods, critical road networks, NAVSTA Newport Gate 2, and critical electric infrastructure.
Figure: Emergency managers representing both the municipalities and the Naval Station participate in a training exercise.