Future unclear
at Pearl Harbor

A base closure panel's expected
message raises talk of a meeting
among shipyard brass

More than 5,000 workers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the state's largest civilian employer, learned yesterday that their future could be affected by a federal panel considering the fate of military installations throughout the country.

Several union and shipyard officials have been advised that Capt. Frank Camelio, head of the shipyard, might hold an "all hands" meeting this morning in front of the headquarters building to discuss the shipyard's future.

Camelio's meeting is based on the possibility that the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission could make an announcement today affecting the shipyard. The possibilities range from shutdown to realignment of jobs.

Jason Holm, spokesman for Camelio, would only say last night that "nothing is scheduled as of right now. That may change tomorrow. I am not a fortuneteller."

He would not comment on a meeting that Camelio held yesterday with Pearl Harbor shipyard managers and union officials.

Camelio's meeting this morning appears to be contingent on an expected announcement from the commission, which has been under intense pressure to amend the May 13 Pentagon recommendation to close Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and not the Pearl Harbor shipyard.

In its recommendation to the BRAC commission, Pentagon officials said it was a tossup whether Pearl Harbor or Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine should be closed. Pentagon officials said Portsmouth was selected for closure because that would mean elimination of "excess capacity and satisfy retention of strategically replaced shipyard capacity."

In its report to the commission, Pentagon officials said that the closure of the Portsmouth facility could result in Pearl Harbor getting 111 more shipyard workers.

But some Hawaii union officials noted the irony in the Pentagon's recommendation.

On May 11, Portsmouth shipyard workers were told that they had won the Navy's meritorious award for outperforming the three other repair installations, including Pearl Harbor.

Since then, Portsmouth workers and politicians have rallied to prevent closure of the 297-acre facility, which straddles the border between Maine and New Hampshire.

Under the May Pentagon recommendation, 213 civilians at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service on Ford Island and another 65 civilians at Pearl Harbor's Human Resource Service Center would lose their jobs.

The commission has until Sept. 8 to submit its recommendations to President Bush, who has two weeks to accept or reject the recommendations.

Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard

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