Firms bidding for $3 billion of Japanese-funded work on the island of Guam were unnerved by a cryptic U.S. Navy announcement released just before the original May 16 proposal deadline saying that it was delaying the procurement “indefinitely.”

Participants feared that after Japan’s devastating earthquake the delay was linked to the country’s ability to fund the “mamizu” multiple-award construction contract (MACC) that would support Japan’s share of projects needed to transfer thousands of U.S. Marines and other U.S. military personnel to Guam from Okinawa over the next several years.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, which is managing the multibillion-dollar construction program, says the Japanese funding already is in place for several starter projects under the mamizu contract and that the agency would issue amended contract documents within 60 days.

But NAVFAC acknowledged there were multiple changes in bid documents and that it was unsure of a new bid closing date. Task orders to be competitively awarded under the mamizu contract range from $15 million to $300 million.

One prospective bidder among those competing to win a task order says “there are substantive scope changes to the MACC that will have a material impact on the submittals.” The executive hints that the delay and Japan’s prospective workload now at home could open more opportunities for non-Japanese firms to bid.

NAVFAC is set to select as many as seven prime contractors to bid the mamizu MACC, says one published report in Guam. One contractor source says awards may still happen by September.

Separately, the Navy broke ground May 6 on an $86-million project to improve Apra Harbor to expand ship loading capacity. The project’s task order was awarded to Guam MACC Builders, a joint venture of Watts Constructors, Obayashi Corp., Healy Tibbitts and Webcor Builders.