- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 17, 2007

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Construction cranes on a campus as steeped in tradition and history as the U.S. Naval Academy signal not so much change as rejuvenation.

The 338-acre campus on the banks of the Severn River is bustling with construction as the venerable institution undergoes one of its periodic face-lifts.

The building program includes new construction, renovations and modernization, the outgoing superintendent, Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, said recently. He added that some projects were accelerated after damage from Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003.

“It is probably the most [construction] we have done in a concentrated period in 40 years or so,” said Adm. Rempt, who left office Friday.

The federal government is spending $47 million to build the Wesley Brown Field House and $24 million to renovate King Hall, the dining facility.

Donors are building the Academy an $18.5 million indoor tennis and hockey center across the Severn River on Greenbury Point.

In addition, the Academy has spent close to $105 million on renovations in the past five years.

On the books are plans to modernize and possibly expand Nimitz Library in 2012 and give Rickover Hall a two-phase overhaul in 2014 and 2015. There are also plans to overhaul Preble Hall, home to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.

Even the chapel, completed in 1908 and expanded in 1939, is being considered for another expansion to include choir practice rooms and a social hall.

“Part of getting the money is showing you have a long-term plan,” said Mark Smith, director of the Academy“s facilities management division, describing how each project is interconnected as officials coordinate construction timetables.

Despite the ubiquitous signs of construction, midshipmen and visitors to the campus may see a campus locked in tradition. Old-timers, on the other hand, say they are amazed at the changes.

“Seventy years have made many physical ‘improvements” to the Naval Academy,” said retired Navy Capt. Jack Carmichael, of the Class of 1936.

“As we toured the yard [last year], the few buildings that I remembered were overwhelmed by new construction. It was hard to locate them. Much of what was water then is dry land now,” he said.