Inouye holds off
shift of isle
It's called the Inouye provision.
As several states worry about base closures, Sen. Daniel Inouye has successfully blocked the Navy from moving the command of its submarines at Pearl Harbor to another state for at least another year.
Inouye inserted that proviso in an $82 billion emergency war-spending bill passed unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday and sent to President Bush. The House had earlier approved the bill by a 368-58 vote.
Inouye also prevented the Navy from moving control of aircraft and vessels from San Diego to the Atlantic for the same period.
Three years ago the Navy began to restructure its Pacific Fleet, headquartered at Pearl Harbor. Plans included shifting operational command of its three subcommands to Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 1.
But Inouye objected.
"Such a move would send the wrong message to the international community at a time when the North Koreans are boasting of having nuclear capabilities, when Japan-China relations have hit a rough point and when the United States and Japan are negotiating a mutual defense pact," he said last week.
"Given the current situation in Asia, and given that the Pentagon's base realignment and closure recommendations have not yet been released, we should wait at least one fiscal year before making a decision of this magnitude," the senator said.
Adm. Walter Doran, as head of the Pacific Fleet, is responsible for the world's largest combined fleet command, encompassing 102 million square miles and more than 190 ships and submarines, 1,400 aircraft, 191,000 sailors and Marines and 30,000 civilians.
The Navy has not released information on whether the proposed shift would mean a loss of jobs or facilities at Pearl Harbor, despite repeated requests from the Star-Bulletin.
The Navy wants to move the operational command for the Pacific Fleet's Submarine Force, which has 40 submarines, 17 based at Pearl Harbor. The Naval Air Force and Naval Surface Force in San Diego also would be affected by the proposed shift.
Three years ago, Inouye forced the Pentagon to reverse itself and allowed the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith to continue to control the U.S. 3rd Fleet in San Diego and associated Marine units on the West Coast, as well as military units in Alaska instead of shifting the authority to the U.S. Northern Command.