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Letterkenny facility faces major upgrade

November 22, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Letterkenny Army Depot's aging ammunition shipping facility will be getting a $6.3 million upgrade, according to an announcement Friday by two members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation.

The money for the Letterkenny Munitions Center was included in the Military Quality of Life Appropriations Act, according to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.

"This funding will provide the resources necessary for upgrades and maintenance to a facility that was built in the 1940s," said Shuster, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

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"This most recent BRAC round confirmed the importance of the depot to meeting our national security requirements," said Santorum, referring to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's decision in May to expand operations at the depot, which is Franklin County's largest employer. "This military construction project will enable the depot to better operate and meet the needs of the men and women who wear our country's uniform," he said.

The new building at the Letterkenny Munitions Center will have stronger blast walls between loading areas and spacing appropriate to safely handle a variety of ammunition and missiles, according to depot spokeswoman Kim Russell. The new building also will be designed to accommodate modern loading equipment and trucks, she said.

For example, the height of the existing loading docks, built in the early 1940s, is no longer compatible with the height of truck beds now used to transport munitions, she said.

Called a "less-than-truckload" facility, the shipping building will be designed to handle small shipments of munitions destined for national guard and reserve units and military bases in the Northeastern United States, according to Russell.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, security requirements for the shipment of munitions also have changed, she said. Loads of ammunition in transit must be stored in secured facilities such as the center when not on the road.

The depot also recently signed a $5.1 million contract to upgrade the blast doors on about 100 of the 902 ammunition storage igloos on the 17,000-acre installation, Russell said.

The depot is probably about a year away from contracting the shipping center project, Russell said.

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