San Diego, not Guam, to get USS Carl Vinson
ARLINGTON, Va. — The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson will be based in San Diego, not Guam, the Navy announced Friday afternoon.
Guam and San Diego were among the four sites considered as the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier’s new home. The others were Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Bremerton, Wash.
“After a thorough review of prospective homeports, the secretary of the Navy selected San Diego as the preferred alternative after evaluating a number of factors, including its existing infrastructure, family support facilities, and proximity to training areas,” a Navy news release says.
Now undergoing maintenance in Newport News, Va., the Carl Vinson is expected to move to San Diego in early 2010, the news release says.
The move marks the carrier’s return to the Pacific. The ship was based in Bremerton from 1997 to 2005. Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter announced last year the ship would return to U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The Carl Vinson will be the sixth U.S. carrier in the Pacific. The U.S. Navy has carriers based in Yokosuka, Japan; Bremerton and Everett, Wash.; and San Diego.
“Having six of our aircraft carriers in the Pacific greatly enhances our nation’s security,” Winter said in Friday’s news release. “It will help protect our vital interests, reassure our friends and allies, and maintain unfettered access to sea lanes.”
Guam has undergone a buildup in recent years, with plans for many more U.S. troops to be stationed there.
Beginning in 2008, Marines from the III Marine Expeditionary Force will begin moving from Okinawa.
The military expects to use its existing landholdings on Guam, which should be enough to hold additional military operations and housing, but more land might be needed to accommodate military training and housing for the civilian and contracted work force expected to grow with the military buildup.
In fiscal 2004, construction began on a number of projects, including renovation of the first of several Navy wharfs. Other projects included a new high school at U.S. Naval Base Guam and an Army and Air Force Exchange Service complex at Andersen Air Force Base.
In January 2001, the Navy proposed homeporting up to three fast-attack submarines on the Pacific island of Guam to get the ships closer to their operating area.
Submarine Squadron 15 includes the USS Corpus Christi, USS Houston and USS Frank Cable, the only submarine tender in the Pacific Fleet.
The USS Buffalo is slated to join Guam’s sub fleet sometime in 2007.
About 12,000 military personnel are stationed on Guam, home to 166,000 residents, according to a 2004 census report.