Good news for the future of the sub base
Beyond the headline, The Day's Sept. 26 story on the future of submarines at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton and elsewhere ("Fewer Submarines to call Groton home") had a great deal of good news for Connecticut's base.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), said the Navy is planning to maintain the base - along with two other East Coast bases - when the new submarine basing plan is fully implemented in 2020 and beyond.
The CNO also confirms that the Norfolk Naval Station does not have the capacity to accommodate submarines from Groton, and that it would be too expensive to move the Navy Submarine School, not to mention the 70 other tenant commands on base.
It's encouraging to see the Navy's top officer stressing the very same points that were key parts of Team Connecticut's arguments in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round - logic that would be central to our case in any future BRAC.
The CNO's comments confirm that even as the number of subs slowly and temporarily dips in the next decade, the Groton base will remain the center of gravity for the nation's submarine force. All that the state, our congressional delegation and surrounding communities have done in recent years to improve the base is clearly paying off.
We have demolished more than 12 percent of the base's archaic infrastructure, creating modern new capacity and room for growth. We have invested more than $150 million in projects to enhance the base's military value; more than $11 million funded by the state. And negotiations are ongoing with the Navy for additional transformational projects.
It is important to note that BRAC is something Congress will likely authorize in the next few years, and an independent BRAC Commission can impose closures and realignments, even those not requested or desired by the Navy.
So we must continue our efforts to improve the base infrastructure and its military value.
Connecticut's hard-learned lesson is that we thought we were safe after we successfully avoided a partial closure in the 1993 BRAC. We let our guard down.
Then, we were placed on the list again in 2005 for total closure and had to wage another hard-fought battle. We won't make that mistake again.
Our unprecedented partnership with the Navy to transform the base into a modern high-tech campus and peerless undersea center of excellence will continue full steam ahead.
Robert T. Ross is executive director of the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs.
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