By U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen
When the USS Nimitz sails into the Puget Sound and takes up its new home at Naval Station Everett today, Snohomish County will be welcoming 3,000 sailors and their families into our community. It will be a proud moment in a long history of working to secure the future of Naval Station Everett in our community.
We have good cause to be proud of Naval Station Everett. Everett has some of the most modern facilities in the Navy, and is known as the “Sailor’s Choice” of bases. The community’s steadfast support of the base and its sailors is a major reason why.
The Navy’s decision to bring the Nimitz to Everett, replacing the USS Abraham Lincoln, reaffirms Everett’s vital role in the Navy. That was made even clearer last month when I and Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson were able to announce that the Navy has further expanded its commitment to the base by replacing the three aging frigates with new or modernized destroyers.
There is a lot of talk in Washington, D.C., about scaling back some defense programs as part of the effort to tackle our growing debt. Military communities across the country are concerned about what that might mean for them. I am a strong supporter of taking bold action to tackle the debt. Part of that must be finding ways to make the Department of Defense more efficient, and cutting programs we don’t need. But even given this debate, I believe the future of Naval Station Everett is secure.
The base is a critically important strategic location for our national security. Last year President Obama announced a strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. This region, with its fast-growing economies and as a source for a huge amount of U.S. trade, will only grow in importance in the 21st century. The Department of Defense’s strategic review details how the United States Navy is going to invest more in the Pacific region. While big bases at San Diego and Pearl Harbor are important, the Navy also wants to spread out its ships across the region to bases like Everett. The decision to bring the Nimitz and the new destroyers is a clear sign that they are committed to Everett.
Not only is Naval Station Everett important in our national strategy, but it is a critical component of our local economy. The new ships will bring thousands of new sailors and their families into Everett, meaning thousands of new residents in our communities and customers in our businesses. Our ship repair industry and the many businesses that serve the needs of Naval Station Everett will all be boosted.
I am looking at even more ways we can continue strengthening our base. Naval Station Everett boasts a deepwater port that never needs to be dredged and has unimpeded access to the Pacific. Everett is ready, willing and able to support more and larger ships. I look forward to continuing to work with local leaders making that case to the Navy.
But for now, I join the entire Everett community in welcoming the sailors and families of the USS Nimitz. I know you will enjoy all that we have to offer.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Everett) represents the 2nd Congressional District and serves on the House Armed Services Committee.