Thursday, February 11, 2010

Compromise deal on carrier berthing problems proposed

Compromise deal on carrier berthing problems proposed

Monday, 08 February 2010 04:25
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

NOTING the community’s concern over the aircraft carrier berthing plan, Sen. Judi Guthertz said the solution is to moor the ammunition ship at one of the deep draft buoys in outer Apra Harbor where the Maritime preposition ships moor, whenever there is an overlap in their schedules in Kilo Wharf.

In a detailed comment paper submitted to the Joint Guam Program Office, Guthertz said this alternative was not studied in the draft environmental impact statement.

“The DEIS states that the current scheduling overlaps are manageable, but fears that with enhanced carrier port visits and increased ammunition ship visits that the situation will become more difficult. I assert that this cannot be proven,” said Guthertz, chair of the committee on the Guam military buildup and homeland security.

Guthertz said her suggestion is a “feasible fall back option to the DEIS’ preferred option,” which is to use Apra Harbor.

The location for the ammunition ship would only be needed for those days when the air craft carrier is moored to Kilo Wharf, she said.

The air craft carriers would still be able to visit Guam at an “enhanced frequency and duration compared to now,” said the lawmaker.

No dredging of coral will be required, said Guthertz. Extensive dredging has been done around Kilo Wharf, primarily to clear rock and coral under and next to the extension itself.

The draft study proposes the dredging of about 36 acres of coral in Apra Harbor to accommodate a new pier for berthing nuclear aircraft carriers.

The impact report claims that if aircraft carrier visits are extended to total 63 visit days a year, that the munitions mission will suffer if the current Kilo Wharf is continued to be used for the aircraft carriers.

Kilo Wharf, located near the tip of Orote Point, near Gab Gab Beach, is currently used for aircraft carrier visits while its primary purpose is to moor ammunition ships, said Guthertz.

Guthertz’s paper states that the assertion that the situation will become too difficult is not proven. It’s a matter of having a scheduling challenge.

Guthertz asserts that the draft study’s position to destroy 36 acres of coral reflects a viewpoint of maximizing the satisfaction of the military needs.

“I believe that a firestorm within the civilian community has begun over the coral destruction issue,” she said. “A compromise is needed that provides for the core-interests of both sides being protected. My solution does that.”

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