By Debra Smith Herald Writer
EVERETT — The SBX radar platform is 25 stories tall and looks like a gigantic floating golf trophy.
It might be motoring to Everett’s waterfront sometime soon.
The U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency are talking about bringing the Sea-Based X-Band Radar to Naval Station Everett for repairs.
If the radar platform came to Everett, its visit would be temporary, said Naval Station Everett spokeswoman Kristin Ching.
“The homeport is not on the table,” she said.
The $900 million platform is part of a national defense system designed to track incoming ballistic missiles.
Everett and San Diego are the only military ports on the West Coast deep enough to accommodate the mobile radar station for repairs, Ching said.
In 2003, the Department of Defense considered permanently anchoring the SBX at Naval Station Everett.
The idea didn’t go over well.
People worried about the potential health hazards associated with operating a powerful radar station in port. They also feared the platform’s electromagnetic radiation could disrupt communications for local police, fire, hospitals and airports.
Everett neighbors formed a group called Concerned Citizens Against the SBX. They gathered hundreds of signatures and started a legal fund. Everett’s City Council asked the Defense Department to drop Everett from its list of sites.
Pentagon officials decided instead to homeport the SBX in the small Aleutian Island town of Adak, Alaska.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen opposed anchoring the SBX in Everett seven years ago. Today he’s concerned about how a visit to Everett might affect the Naval Station’s core mission and pier space for Navy vessels.
“It’s just important as the Navy and Missile Defense Agency are going forward that they listen to the view and concerns of the community,” he said.
Mayor Ray Stephanson doesn’t see the advantages of even a temporary visit. “There’s not a lot of economic value to the community,” he said. “My understanding is they bring contractors from out of the area.”
Naval Station Everett’s spokeswoman said officials are just beginning to discuss the idea now. They still don’t have a clear picture of the scope of the work and how long it might take, she said.
If the SBX did come to Everett, it would likely be moored near where the USS Abraham Lincoln ties up now.
Ching said there would be ample public notice and information meetings on the matter.
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, firstname.lastname@example.org