Friday, December 04, 2009

Is price tag for carrier wharf worth it?

Is price tag for carrier wharf worth it?

Posted: Dec 03, 2009 2:54 PM
Updated: Dec 03, 2009 6:53 PM

by Heather Hauswirth

GUAM - In the name of national security, the environment will likely take a back seat if JGPO green lights its plans to construct a pier, called a berthing, for a nuclear transient aircraft carrier in either Apra harbor or the ship repair facility located on Big Navy.

You've heard it time and time again, Guam is the tip of the spear. The draft EIS revealed by the Joint Guam Program Office just two weeks ago includes the hypothetical blueprint for the way millions of dollars in construction projects could be spent on land and on sea. The ranking Naval Officer for naval facilities, captain Scott Galbreaith says the navy would like a greater air craft carrier presence on U.S. soil.

"It's a very potable and potent striking force and engagement force for the U.S. Being out here – forward deployed in the Western Pacific where the aircraft carriers often operate. This transient pier would give them flexibility in having a place to come and do maintenance and a little bit more training."

What is to become of the habitat with increased sedimentation, and permanent damage to the coral reefs?

Shawn Wusstig co–leads the Guam sea turtle recovery program for the Department of Agriculture.

According to Wusstig, "Here on Guam one of the greatest threats we have to sea turtles both hawksbill and green is habitat loss. What was once suitable for nesting may no longer be suitable and that would also depend on what type of best management practices that are in place that will keep that shore in tact."

Yet Captain Galbreaith says the threats from the neighboring Philippine sea, the People's Republic of China, and North Korea all make it necessary for the U.S. to establish an aircraft carrier pier in the Pacific.

"It is a floating air station really and it carries about 70 aircraft many of them capable of performing strike missions, refueling airborne, early warning and helicopter asw and other multi–mission capabilities," Galbreaith elaborates.

The Guam Shipyard and Polaris Point are the two proposed locations for an aircraft carrier pier. This would provide the Navy with a third location for an aircraft carrier pier in addition to the ones that exist in Hawaii and Japan.

Building this wharf requires

• up to 1,325 ft in length

• deck height of + 12 ft

• pier strength: 800 lbs per sq. Ft.

• mobile crane load: 2,140 ton

"The nuclear carriers are deeper than Kitty Hawk so in the past when we brought in nuclear carriers they had gone to our kilo wharf out by Orote Point, but that is really a wharf meant for ammunition movement so whenever we brought a carrier in that meant we couldn't do our job of ammunition movement so we want a dedicated wharf for the carrier," Galbreaith explains.

although not yet factored into the military budget for this next fiscal year, Captain Galbreaith says it is likely to be included in Fiscal Year 2012 at which time it will be up to Congress to approve or amend this project.

Carrier berthing carries huge costs

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