HAGATNA, Guam — The U.S. Navy awarded a contract Friday for utility construction and site improvements for a future Marine Corps base on Guam.

The announcement came amid heightened tensions between North Korea and the U.S. just days after the North considered a preemptive missile strike on the strategically important U.S. territory of Guam.

“This effort is a big step in strengthening Guam, as part of the Marianas strategic hub, ensuring the Marine Corps’ ability to sustain a forward presence within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” Lt. Gen. David Berger, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, said in a statement. “Historically, the Marine Corps has played an essential role in our nation’s ability to deter adversaries and defend, as well as strengthen the capabilities of our partners and allies within the region. We are as committed as ever in maintaining that role and responsibility.”

The Navy said the $164.9 million Japanese-funded contract was awarded in support of an international agreement between the U.S. and Japan. The relocation of Marines to the island has been in the works for over a decade.

The contract includes construction of utilities, roads and infrastructure as well as removal of unexploded ordnance and munitions.