U.S. ADMIRAL GIVES HAWAII NOD FOR CARRIER GROUP

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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, April 30) - U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Walter Doran has told Hawaii business leaders that Pearl Harbor is the most logical place in the Pacific to base an aircraft carrier and its accompanying air wing, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported yesterday.

Doran reportedly told the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii business that Pearl Harbor has the edge over Guam because of the high cost of developing facilities on Guam.

Hawaii and Guam are both competing for the homeporting of a new carrier strike group which the U.S. plans to deploy to increase its presence in the increasingly volatile Asia-Pacific region.

However, Doran was also quoted as saying that there are still a lot of issues in Hawaii that need to be resolved, including jet noise pollution at Kalaeloa, a site being considered for the air wing.

Jon Yoshishige, Doran’s spokesman, said the Navy and Pacific Fleet are always examining where forces are homeported and distributed and that no decision has been made to locate a carrier strike group in Hawaii.

"The admiral left us with a positive impression that if all things being equal, we have a lot more going for us than Guam," Honolulu Star-Bulletin quoted Bill Paty, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii military affairs council emeritus chairman, as saying.

As this developed, Sen. Jesse Anderson Lujan yesterday introduced Legislative Resolution 167 which argued that the cost of relocating to Guam should not be the overriding factor in denying the forward deployment of a carrier strike group on Guam.

"Given global terrorism and its threat to the United States, the security that U.S. citizens will enjoy through the forward deployment of a carrier strike group will far exceed any investment that the Department of Defense will make in Guam," said Lujan, R-Tamuning.

He added that transit times from Hawaii and the West Coast substantially impact the availability of ships deploying along the Pacific rim and that homeporting ships on Guam will allow ships to spend more time "on-station" in the Western Pacific.

"Guam, given its location with respect to the Far East and the aftermath of Sept. 11, has shown that the homeporting of attack submarines here by the U.S. Navy has allowed these submarines to make shorter deployments more frequently, thereby increasing the number of mission days they can perform," Lujan said.

He added that there are ample Navy family housing units on island and a generous overseas housing allowance for military personnel who choose to live off-base.

The Navy plans to deploy a carrier group with 3,000 sailors and an air wing with an additional 9,000 sailors in addition to the carrier group already based in Japan.

May 3, 2004

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

 

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