FALL RIVER — MIKEL’s building in Fall River’s Industrial Park looks like any other. But inside, engineers are crafting underwater warfare technology for the Navy, helping submarines collect vital information that can be crucial during times of war.
The company celebrated its new facility in Fall River with a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Monday.
“It is certainly a proud day in Fall River,” Mayor Paul Coogan said during the ceremony.
MIKEL’s first offices were in Fall River when President Kelly Mendell’s father started the company in 1999. Its main campus is now in Middletown, RI. The company expanded into its new facility in Fall River’s Industrial Park right before the pandemic started, so they hadn’t gotten a chance to fully celebrate the new space, said Mendell.
“This celebration is long overdue, in more ways than one,” she said.
Mike Dyson, MIKEL’s chief operating officer, said the Fall River location currently has about 25 employees, but they are actively hiring and hope to expand to 75 workers at the facility over the next year and a half.
The company developed and produces technology for the Navy including electronic beacons that are placed thousands of feet below sea level, which Dyson described as “mailboxes” for submarines. Passing submarines can transmit information, like the locations of other objects like mines and submarine detecting-equipment placed there by potential adversaries, to the beacons, which then later transmit it to other U.S. submarines.
The devices also help submarines navigate in deep ocean waters, which could become crucial if an enemy combatant targets a U.S. GPS system, Dyson said.
“It’s the next layer of defense for if our adversaries take away our GPS,” he said.
Coogan said it was an honor for the company, which works closely with the Navy, to choose Fall River for its newest location.
“It’s very, very important to this community,” he said, adding that it was a testament to the city’s “diverse and impressive industrial spirit.”
The ceremony coincided with National Submarine Day, which commemorates the day in 1900 that the Navy commissioned its first modern submarine, the USS Holland. Jay Donnelly, a retired Navy vice admiral, spoke during the ribbon-cutting ceremony and said submarines are a big part of why the country’s Navy is the most powerful in the world.
“MIKEL and all of you who work here are key to maintaining that supremacy going into the future,” he told a gathered group of MIKEL employees.
Donnelly pointed to the crucial role that submarines played in helping the U.S. to victory in World War II and the Cold War. Submarines can be deployed stealthily to any part of the world, to help gather intelligence that puts the U.S. at an advantage in any conflict before it even begins, he said.
“They go where nowhere else can go,” he said.
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