Future of carrier in isles unclear with Navy report
A study of future needs suggests more subs will shift to the Pacific
The Navy might increase the number of submarines in the Pacific, but its assessment of future needs does not specify whether an aircraft carrier will be stationed at Pearl Harbor.
Guam or Pearl Harbor could get four more nuclear submarines, as stated in the Pentagon assessment sent to Congress yesterday.
The report also suggests shifting more submarines to the Pacific from the Atlantic but gives no specific numbers. Pearl Harbor has 16 subs and Guam, three.
The report does not tackle the issue of basing one of the Navy's 12 nuclear carriers at Pearl Harbor, but U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said he believes "it remains under consideration."
The 92-page report, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review, carried few specifics.
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said because the report contained no specifics, "it is a completely useless document."
Abercrombie, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was looking for anything related to the cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan -- "but I wasn't able to find anything," he said.
Sen. Daniel Akaka also noted, "The review did not include any specifics to the timing or the details of the Navy's posture in Hawaii."
He said he will be seeking further clarification by the Pentagon over the next few weeks when the Senate Committee on Armed Services begins its hearings on the Department of Defense's budget and the Quadrennial Defense Review.
But Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary for policy, said in a Pentagon news release that the study represents "a common vision of where we need to go and what we need to do."
The Pentagon said the review charts the way for the next 20 years.
The report said the Navy should split its carrier force of 12 evenly between the West and East coasts.
Although the Navy has advocated positioning a new carrier in the Pacific -- in either Guam or Pearl Harbor -- no date when such a decision would be made has ever been disclosed.
Abercrombie added that the recommendation to place six carriers in the Pacific "doesn't make any sense, since that is the case now."
However, U.S. Rep. Ed Case said he was optimistic that the Pentagon's military plan holds a rosy future for Hawaii's economy.
In a two-page written statement, Case said that he believes the report "clearly highlights Hawaii's expanding role in our nation's defense and affects a range of military and civilian operations in the islands ranging from shipbuilding to a more mobile force ready to deploy to trouble spots around the world."
Case said that he interprets the document to say that another carrier will be stationed in the Pacific.
The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan are currently berthed in San Diego, while the USS Carl Vinson, USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Stennis are home-ported in Washington state.
The USS Kitty Hawk, one of the Navy's two remaining non-nuclear carriers, is based in Yokosuka, Japan, but will be retired in 2008 and replaced by the USS George Washington, now berthed on the Atlantic Coast.
Case believes the report could mean stability for the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard since he believes the Pentagon plans to build a bigger Navy.
Inouye said, "The QDR notes that we now face challenges in a post-9/11 world marked by unpredictability and uncertainty, and that conflicts are no longer solely 'traditional.' If circumstances change in the volatile Asia-Pacific region, the need to base a carrier in Hawaii will take on greater urgency."