As change in ships approaches, Everett’s Navy base is busy

EVERETT — With the USS Abraham Lincoln sailing away and the USS Nimitz headed into port this year, Naval Station Everett is busier than usual.

One of the challenges for the summer will be to find housing for Navy families attached to the Nimitz. Many Lincoln families won’t be leaving the area immediately when the aircraft carrier departs, and so a housing wait list is growing, said station commander Capt. Michael Coury.

Meanwhile, the naval station, commissioned 17 years ago, is working hard to maintain its ranking as the “greenest” Navy complex in the world. In addition, the navy port plans to host its Freedom Festival for the public on July 2, then a farewell for the Lincoln and later a welcome party for the Nimitz.

Coury, along with members of the Everett Area Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Ray Stephanson and other elected officials shared in a Navy love fest Thursday when Coury delivered his State of the Station address in the Commons ballroom at the base.

“There is a reason that Naval Station Everett has been and remains the sailor’s choice,” Coury said. “Because of the community here, we have more requests to serve at Everett than any other location.”

Coury, a decorated officer who took over the job of running the naval station last year, said running a base is much different than any other command he’s had.

“The many services I took for granted during my first 25 years in the Navy, that’s what we do,” he said. “I am proud to work alongside the thousands of sailors and civilians who make it happen.”

Coury also praised the accomplishments of the crews of the Everett-based Navy ships.

“I like to brag about our significant accomplishments,” Coury said.

The Lincoln Carrier Strike Group returned home late last month after nearly seven months of overseas deployment. During the deployment, the Navy recognized the Lincoln as the best Pacific-based carrier for 2010, Coury said.

The aircraft carrier Lincoln and its group conducted exercises with many allies, hosted dozens of dignitaries and, in many of the group’s ports of call, did community service projects. The destroyers USS Momsen and USS Shoup also provided assistance to more than 10 vessels out in the ocean, and the Momsen played a key role in anti-piracy work in the Gulf of Oman. In recent months, the Everett-based frigates Ingraham, Ford and Rodney M. Davis have helped seize cocaine from boats run by drug cartels and have helped with disaster relief in the Pacific, Coury said.

The Lincoln is scheduled to head to Virginia at the end of next year for a midlife refueling of its two nuclear reactors. The refueling job is set to start in 2012 and is scheduled to be complete in 2016.

Coury also is working at the naval station to implement procedures that will continue to reduce waste and rely on alternative energy sources.

“Our challenge is to show that we have made drastic energy savings and continue to be good stewards of the environment,” Coury said.

Along with Freedom Fest in July, other Naval Station Everett summer events including hosting California-based Navy ships that are arriving for Seattle’s Seafair and participating with Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in the celebration of the centennial of naval aviation, he said.

“With the help of this supportive community, we can meet our worldwide mission far into the future,” Coury said.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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