The USS Stennis arrived in June at Pearl Harbor, which could be a permanent home for an aircraft carrier someday.

Admiral supports
second Pacific carrier

The Pacific should get another aircraft carrier to augment the USS Kitty Hawk in Japan, according to the four-star admiral who commands all military forces in the area.

Adm. Thomas Fargo, who retires this fall as commander of U.S. Pacific forces, said in a recent speech, "I believe I've stated pretty clearly we need to move another carrier strike group to the Pacific that can operate on the same model as the Kitty Hawk -- co-located with its air wing and funded to level readiness."

Fargo's statements were made as the United States faces a nuclear-armed North Korea and a potential crisis across the Taiwan Strait.

Lt. Col. Jay Steuck, Fargo's spokesman at Camp Smith, said his boss made the comments on June 10 in a speech to a symposium of the Naval Submarine League here, but the comments were only picked up this week by the media in Asia.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and Gov. Linda Lingle have long advocated basing a nuclear carrier at Pearl Harbor and its accompanying air wing of more than three dozen jet and propellor-driven aircraft. But Fargo is the highest military leader to endorse a second carrier in the Pacific. Fargo has not expressed a preference on where to base it.

In April, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Walter Doran, who heads the Navy in the Pacific, told local business leaders that Pearl Harbor is more logical than Guam to base an aircraft carrier and its accompanying air wing at Kalaeloa -- the home of Navy jets and P3-Orion sub hunters until it was closed.

But Doran, meeting with members of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, acknowledged that there are many issues to be resolved, including jet noise pollution at Kalaeloa or what was once the Barbers Point Naval Air Station, at the site being considered for the air wing.

Recent economic studies by Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., estimate that Hawaii could reap $333 million in personal income if a carrier was based here. The naval base at Norfolk is the home port for five Navy carriers.

Doran told the business delegation that Pearl Harbor has the edge over Guam because of the high cost of developing facilities there.

Cmdr. Matt Brown, Pacific Fleet spokesman, said yesterday that "nothing has changed," and no decision has been made on home-porting an aircraft carrier here.

The Navy started a year-long $1.8 million internal study last fall on what additional improvements would be needed to base a carrier with 3,000 sailors and an air wing with additional 9,000 sailors.

The last time an aircraft carrier was berthed in Hawaii was during World War II.

Currently, the Navy splits its 12 carriers between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Three of the Pacific Fleet carriers are at San Diego, two in Puget Sound in Washington and one in Japan. Six carriers are assigned to the East Coast.

Fargo's statement also was picked up by ABC News, which said Fargo wants the carrier to be maintained at a "high state of level readiness."



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