Bill would add to local Navy bases

EVERETT – A key U.S. Senate committee Wednesday approved $10.9 million to build a regional training facility at Naval Station Everett.

The move would advance by several years the construction of a center to train sailors at home, rather than sending them off to places such as San Diego for training, base executive officer Cmdr. Donald Leingang said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., pushed the measure through the subcommittee on military construction.

It’s one of several state military construction projects included in the authorization bill working its way through Congress.

It also includes $23.9 million for hangar modernization and equipment for new “Growler” EA-18G radar-jamming jets, which should start arriving at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station next year.

The subcommittee approval was a first but important step toward speeding up construction of the Naval Station Everett training facility, which will be built within walking distance of the ships stationed there.

“When the commanding officer, the chamber of commerce and community leaders told me this was a top priority, I got to work in the Senate and now that funding is moving forward,” Murray said in a statement. “We’re going to ensure our sailors have the best training, and together we’re going to keep Naval Station Everett a world-class facility.”

The naval station does not have adequate training facilities to support the ships based there, and sailors frequently are sent out of state to receive training.

The cost of sending sailors to other locations is more than $3 million a year, according to Murray’s staff.

The need to leave Naval Station Everett for training also means that some sailors don’t get full training. It also hurts the local economy and disrupts the quality of life of sailors and their families, Murray said.

The new facility, called the Fleet Regional Readiness Center, will cover about 28,000 square feet and will provide training for sailors in Everett and throughout the region.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who also pushed for the funding, said the center will increase the effectiveness of sailors throughout the Northwest.

Stephanson said getting the funding now will “pay tremendous dividends for our sailors and our community.”

Although the measure still has a long way to go through Congress, Leingang said the facility would be a big win for the sailors.

Training would include engineering and electronic instruction and even courses to prepare an admiral’s staff, he said.

“This facility will allow our sailors to get necessary training right here at home in a day’s work,” Leingang said.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or haley@heraldnet.com.

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