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Energy & Environment

Naval Academy breaks ground on seawall project to protect campus from rising sea levels

The U.S. Naval Academy, viewed from across the Severn River. Photo by Matthew Tighe/stock.adobe.com.

By Jack Moore

The U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis broke ground Tuesday on a major project to repair and upgrade its seawall — an effort to “future-proof” the campus against rising sea levels and other potential threats from climate change.

The $37 million project includes raising the height of the academy’s Farragut Field Sea Wall to address daily high tides and minor storms through the year 2100, according to a news release.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro called the project “the first in a series of climate-related improvements from the Naval Academy’s comprehensive Installation Resilience Plan that I am personally committed to.”

Future plans include adding earthen berms to protect against storm surge.

Del Toro was joined by a number of officials for the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, including Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

“As we saw last October — when the Naval Academy experienced historic flooding from just a small amount of rain — the issue of climate change is an issue of national security,” Ruppersberger said, referring to the slow-moving storm that moved up the Eastern Seaboard and led to extreme flooding in Annapolis.

“I was proud to have helped secure the federal resources needed to repair the Farragut Field Sea Wall and protect against sea level rise for another 75 years,” Ruppersberger added.

Cardin said Maryland is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, noting the state’s 3,200 miles of shoreline.

“Annapolis, and by proxy the Naval Academy, is ground-zero for sea level rise on the East Coast,” Cardin said, pointing to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which  shows Annapolis experienced nine high-tide flood days in 2021 and which predicts the city will see up to 115 such days by 2050.

“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.

Construction is being carried out by Cianbro Corporation of Pittsfield, Maine, to repair portions of the seawall along Farragut Field and Santee Basin.

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Jack Moore. Click here for the WTOP News website.