The Navy plans to more than double its planned P-8A Poseidon basing at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and will accelerate planned basing of destroyers at Naval Station Everett, Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, announced today. Larsen was briefed today on the Navy's strategic laydown plan for 2013-2020 which outlines the changes.
"If there was any lingering concern about the future of our naval bases, this news will lay it to rest," Larsen said. "I have worked for over a decade with local leaders to make the case to the Navy why Northwest Washington is the best place to base these assets. The Navy clearly agrees.
"The additional basing of P-8As makes Naval Air Station Whidbey Island the preeminent maritime patrol, electronic warfare and surveillance site in the Pacific. The additional P-8As will bring hundreds of new military families and will create hundreds of local jobs in the next few years as the base constructs new facilities.
"The Navy knows that Naval Station Everett is the sailor's choice. Today's news means there will be no breaks in basing ships in Everett and the community can count on keeping the Nimitz and her crew."
Pending the completion of the environmental impact review process, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island will be home to all seven Pacific squadrons of the P-8A Poseidons. Instead of the planned 24 aircraft, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island will now be home to 49 aircraft. The additional aircraft will come from a canceled plan to base three fleet squadrons in Hawaii. Larsen announced in November that the Navy was considering increasing its P-8A presence on Whidbey Island.
The Navy will accelerate the basing of destroyers at Naval Station Everett, which will replace three frigates due to be retired in the next few years. The destroyers will now arrive in sync with when the frigates are retired, instead of allowing time to pass between the homeportings. Larsen announced the Navy's intent to homeport the destroyers at Everett in February 2012.
The Navy also confirmed it will keep the U.S.S. Nimitz homeported at Naval Station Everett through at least 2020.
The schedule for basing P-8As at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island by fiscal year (FY) is as follows:
FY 2015: Two fleet squadrons
FY 2016: One additional fleet squadron (three total)
FY 2017: Three additional fleet squadrons (six total)
FY 2018: One additional fleet squadron (seven total)
At Naval Station Everett the destroyers will replace frigates in fiscal years 2015, 2017 and 2019.