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RAF MILDENHALL, England — The Navy’s two remaining U.K. bases and its last major command in the United Kingdom will close this year as part of transformation in the U.S. European Command, military officials announced Friday.

Commander, U.S. Naval Activities United Kingdom will be disestablished in October, and RAFs Daws Hill and West Ruislip will be handed back to the British government as the Navy completes its administrative pullout from the region, said Steve Dechant, spokesman for COMNAVUK.

“We were here to support the facilities in the London area, and because those facilities are being handed back to the United Kingdom, the responsibilities for [COMNAVUK] have gone away,” Dechant said.

Since 2004, the Navy systematically has been drawing down its presence in the U.K. after the European headquarters were shifted to Naples, Italy, triggering the decline of its longtime support command in the London area.

By the time Friday’s announcement was made, only about 30 to 40 active-duty personnel were stationed at the two bases, Dechant said.

West Ruislip had already been announced as being handed back to the U.K., but was included in Friday’s Department of Defense announcement because the Navy had retained possession of several buildings, including the chapel and portions of the housing, Dechant said.

Operations at RAF Daws Hill — in the town of High Wycombe west of London — also have been in decline over much of the past year as first Army and Air Force Exchange Services and then the Department of Defense Dependents Schools announced they would vacate the premises.

About 500 sailors remain in the United Kingdom spread out across various smaller commands and working in ones and twos with organizations such as the British forces and the U.S. Embassy, said Capt. Dave Dittmer, COMNAVUK commander.

But as far as Navy facilities go in the United Kingdom, Daws Hill and West Ruislip were the last. Everything else has been handed back to the U.K. or administratively taken over by the Air Force.

“This is the closure of all U.S. Navy real estate [in COMNAVUK],” Dittmer said.

The command unit will terminate with the end of the fiscal year, Dittmer said.

“My command will cease to exist on 1 October 2007,” he said.

To that end, almost all the sailors under COMNAVUK already have orders to various other duty stations and severance with the 100 or so local national employees has been in the works for months, he said.

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