Larry Lombardi

CURRITUCK — Currituck officials hope a survival training facility will make the county a key destination for training workers in the offshore wind and oil industries. 

A Virginia-based company has announced plans to build an indoor offshore survival training facility on a 25-acre tract at the Maple Commerce Park. The lot is located off Terminal Road and within blocks of Currituck Regional Airport. At last week’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners voted to sell the land to BEI LLC. for $401,700. 

BEI, or Brotherhood Enterprises International, is a small, service-disabled veteran-owned business located in Chesapeake, said Larry Lombardi, the county’s economic developer. Lombardi discussed the project during a public comment session prior to commissioners casting their votes. No one else spoke during the open session. 

The training facility will feature a 1.4-million-gallon pool and 110-foot-long cargo ship, plus equipment to simulate high winds, waves, fog and rain, to provide safety training to workers in the wind and offshore oil industries. It’s also expected to benefit military personnel, law enforcement and other first-response workers, according to BEI’s website,

“’Providing a harsh maritime training environment, in a controlled indoor facility’ is why BEI exists,” states the website. “Whether military, government, commercial or recreational, the ocean does not discriminate. BEI’s facility will provide the atmospheric effects to simulate these conditions, offering users a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach to government, military, or commercially regulated training requirements.”

The facility will also include a helicopter underwater egress trainer, Lombardi explained. Workers often use helicopters to access oil platforms and offshore vessels, and this training is essential in the event the helicopter lands improperly and winds up in the water. 

Training and certifications will adhere to U.S. Coast Guard standards, plus standards set by the Global Wind Organization and Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization, Lombardi said. 

One phase of the construction project includes plans by BEI to also build a fire training facility, which could benefit the county, Lombardi said.

“If they get to that point, because we have the public safety building being built out there, it could be utilized by our fire and EMS personnel at no cost,” he told commissioners. 

Lombardi was referring to the $18 million, 47,600-square-foot public safety facility Currituck plans to build at Currituck Community Park. Construction is scheduled to begin this year and be complete in late 2020.

Lombardi said a BEI facility in Currituck providing training to wind industry workers would be a first of its kind in the U.S.

“Right now all that training is done overseas,” Lombardi said. 

BEI’s plans also include building an 80-room hotel on site to house students, the company’s website states.  

The economic potential the training facility presents is significant, Lombardi told commissioners.

“It’s going to have a tremendous impact and Currituck County will be known as the center of excellence for survival training,” he said.