W3C Valid XHTML 1.0
Navy plans more people, new planes and ships for Washington

Sequestration or not, the Navy will increase its presence in Washington state, with more people and more capable ships.

This was the assessment offered by Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a talk Sept. 24 at Seattle’s Rainier Club.

The talk was coordinated by the Slade Gorton International Policy Center, a unit of the National Bureau of Asian Research in Seattle. Former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., attended.

The context of Greenert’s comments was the Navy’s shift of its presence and equipment to the Pacific region, with a particular focus on balancing the rising power of China. By the end of the decade, about 60 percent of the Navy’s vessels will be in the Pacific, versus half now, Greenert said.

“The ships you will maintain at least; aircraft will grow and the infrastructure behind it,” he said, referring to the impacts of the larger shift on Washington state.

Currently the Navy has a significant presence in Washington, with 21,000 active-duty people, 12 submarines, six surface ships and four bases, according to a Navy spokesman. Greenert was not specific about how many new Navy personnel might be added in the state.

With the Navy focusing more on the Pacific, Greenert said he expects that all the Washington bases will remain active, and indeed will attract new investment to support new and upgraded equipment. That’s in spite of the sequestration, or automatic budget cuts, now being implemented at the federal level.

Washington is first in line for several Navy aircraft upgrades. The state will receive the first P-8A Poseidons, a submarine attack aircraft being built by Boeing, and the first Navy versions of the Global Hawk, a robot aircraft.

Greenert added that Washington shipyards will continue to be busy with Navy work, pointing to work in Everett being done to finish converting a former tanker into a semi-submersible cargo-carrying vessel.

“They are at max capacity … They won’t be laying anyone off that I can see,” he said about Washington shipyards.

In his talk, Greenert said the Navy is strengthening its presence around the Pacific Rim with groups of vessels established in certain areas so that ships won’t have to be rotated in, which is a less efficient practice.

While the number of large ships will remain the same in Washington, including destroyers, frigates and two aircraft carriers, the Navy will replace older models with more advanced versions of the ships, he said.

One area where sequestration is causing delays is in replacing the Ohio-class missile-carrying submarines at Bangor on the Kitsap Peninsula. Greenert said he is trying to keep that project in motion by annually reallocating the money left after sequestration, in order to get replacement submarines built and ready by 2030.

“This region … is a pretty big priority. There’s this period of adjustment that takes place,” he said about the reallocation process. “It’s inefficient, but by the end of the year, we intend to get things back where they need to be.”

Steve Wilhelm's picture
Status: Offline
Member Since: 9-24-2013
Post Count: 22