Naval Academy breaks ground on Farragut Field sea wall climate resilience project

Last October, the United States Naval Academy experienced historic flooding from a combination of seasonal high tides, a full moon and a tropical storm stalled off the Eastern Seaboard. Now, it’s embarking on a series of climate resilience projects to protect the storied institution.

Academy officials held a small ceremony along the Farragut Field sea wall Wednesday to break ground on the first project to protect against future sea level rise by repairing and raising the height of the sea wall, according to an academy news release.


In September, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Washington awarded a $37.5 million contract to Cianbro Corporation of Pittsfield, Maine, to repair portions of the sea wall along Farragut Field and Santee Basin. The project is expected to address high tides and minor storms until 2100.

The Naval Academy is implementing an Installation Resilience Plan that uses the most recent projections recommended by the USNA Sea Level Rise Advisory Council and the Department of Defense Regional Sea Level database.


“The [Naval Academy’s Installation Resilience] Plan is a perfect example of the proactive measures we are taking across our Navy and Marine Corps to combat the climate crisis and make us a more lethal, flexible, and capable force,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in the release. “Our Department of the Navy Climate Action 2030 strategy recognizes that there is not a trade-off between addressing the climate crisis and combat readiness. ... The Navy and Marine Corps do not have to choose between leadership in warfighting and leadership on climate change. We can — and must — do both.”

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Several guests connected to the project attended the groundbreaking, including members of Maryland’s congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland’s 2nd District, along with Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and Navy brass.

“This sea wall is the first in a series of climate-related improvements from the Naval Academy’s comprehensive Installation Resilience Plan that I am personally committed to,” Del Toro said. “And this is just one achievement among many more past, present, and future.”

Sea levels in Anne Arundel County have been rising about an inch every seven years, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Climate Central analysis. To begin protecting the county against this threat, Anne Arundel County and Annapolis last year established a resilience authority, a quasi-governmental agency that will invest in projects to combat climate change.

The city is planning a private-public partnership to redevelop the downtown waterfront area. The $40 million project, set to begin construction next year, will include an elevated green space along Dock Street, a raised bulkhead and movable flood barriers.

With nearly 3,200 miles of shoreline and regular storm activity, Maryland is “ground-zero” for sea level rise on the East Coast, Cardin said in the release.

“This investment will help future-proof the U.S. Naval Academy, and I will continue looking for additional ways to help our military installations build additional resilience to climate change,” Cardin said.