The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, is a research, development, test, evaluation and engineering laboratory with a scientifically-oriented workforce. Over the past several years, many of the Division's personnel have embarked on an outreach program designed to bring their enthusiasm and skills to local efforts to preserve and protect the environment.
The beginning of Division Newport's coordinated volunteer environmental efforts was in September of 1995, when a small group of volunteers participated in Rhode Island's eleventh annual state-wide beach clean-up. The volunteers, along with some of their family members and friends, provided necessary equipment and instructions, cleaning up a sizable area of the beach and properly disposing of the collected trash.
The success achieved in the 1995 clean-up resulted in the Audubon Society requesting that the Division's volunteers take responsibility for coordinating the entire 1996 clean-up effort of one of Rhode Island's major shoreline areas, Moonstone Beach. 33 Division employee volunteers were joined by 25 family members, a Cub Scout Pack, a college fraternity and employees of a nearby Navy Facility, as they conducted a highly productive clean-up effort.
In addition to clean-up efforts, Division Newport's employees use a three-pronged attack to increased community environment awareness and involvement. They begin with the "environmental adoption" of a sixth grade class at a local middle school, teaching students basic facts about pollution and other environmental issues. They expanded involvement in local beach clean-up drives. They also joined forces with the state's Department of Environmental Management, the Audubon Society and other environmentally sensitive organizations to increase employee participation in activities across the state.
An outstanding example of the volunteer's spirit of community was their response to an environmental disaster that occurred on January 19, 1996, on Rhode Island's shoreline. A barge ran aground and leaked 800,000 gallons of home heating oil into the coastal waters. Volunteers from the Division responded to the call for help by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Save the Bay, by assisting in the retrieval and treatment of numerous oil-soaked birds. The Division's divers later provided volunteer services, spending almost 12 hours in the polluted waters to survey, document and videotape the spill site. The information obtained during the dives was instrumental in the state's overall effort to assess the damage caused by the oil spill.