Inouye confident
of carrier base
in Hawaii

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says he is confident that the Navy will base a nuclear aircraft carrier at Pearl Harbor.

Inouye also suggested that the best home for its accompanying carrier wing, with nearly six dozen jet fighters and supporting aircraft, can be Kalaeloa, which was Barbers Point Naval Air Station until it was closed by Congress in 1999.

The last time a carrier called Pearl Harbor a home port was in World War II.

Speaking to reporters after a speech at Pearl Harbor yesterday, Inouye said that if he were a betting man, he would wager that an aircraft carrier will be based here.

The Democrat senator used almost the exact phrase earlier this summer when he predicted that Hawaii will be the home of one of the Army's newest fighting units, the mobile Stryker brigade.

The Army is expected to announce this summer its decision on where the last two Stryker brigades will be located. Inouye said he does not believe a decision on an aircraft carrier will be made until next year.

He also expressed confidence yesterday that Pearl Harbor's civilian work force of 4,700 will grow.

In a speech to 114 graduates of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard-Honolulu Community College four-year apprenticeship program, Inouye predicted that the Pentagon's current evaluation of its forces worldwide will result in more forces based in the Pacific.

"This is because of the growing awareness of what the Asia-Pacific region represents in the future," Inouye said.

He said that seven of 10 largest armies of the world are within Pacific Forces commander Adm. Thomas Fargo's area of responsibility.

"There are many potential adversaries that must be kept in check," Inouye added.

Without referring to the ongoing talks being held by the United States, Japan, China, North and South Korea and China, Inouye said one of the problems now is to halt nuclear proliferation in Asia and the Pacific.

"It is very clear the Navy is staying here," Inouye added. "Pearl Harbor is not only going to stay here, but the Navy will expand its workload."


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