Decision on carrier site due soon

EVERETT – The Navy will decide soon whether it will place a second Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in Everett or send the USS Carl Vinson to one of four other locations.

Adm. Gary Roughead, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, said there are five locations in contention for the Vinson, which now is undergoing refueling and a major overhaul at a shipyard in Newport News, Va.

Everett, Bremerton, San Diego, Guam and Hawaii are in the sweepstakes for the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

“The (Navy) secretary will make the decision soon,” Roughead said. “I don’t get out in front of my boss. These are hard decisions. They really are.”

Everett, Snohomish County and local Navy officials have assured Navy brass that the Everett base can accommodate a second carrier alongside the USS Abraham Lincoln. The Everett-based Lincoln has been at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton undergoing an overhaul since September.

A second carrier would add about 3,000 more military personnel assigned to the base, which now has more than 6,000.

The Carl Vinson had been stationed in Bremerton until 2005, when it went on a deployment and then continued on to the East Coast for the current work. The USS John Stennis, another Nimitz-class carrier, replaced the Vinson in Bremerton.

Top Navy officials started looking at where the Vinson would go as early as 2005, when brass visited Naval Station Everett to learn what work would have to be done to place a second carrier here.

Pat McClain, Everett governmental affairs director, said the city can accommodate a second carrier and crew. It also has been lobbying for additional smaller combat ships, guided missile destroyers or a new generation of ships that can fight in or deposit troops in shallow waters.

The decision on the Vinson comes as the Navy has begun shifting some of its forces from the Atlantic to Roughead’s jurisdiction, the Pacific. The Navy is focusing on a 60-40 force split, with the bulk based in the Pacific to meet possible threats to shipping lanes.

Shifts of aircraft carriers and submarines have started, and smaller surface combatants will be addressed later, Roughead said.

Roughead was in the area visiting sailors on the Lincoln, at Naval Station Everett, at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and in Kitsap County. He’s scheduled to address maritime interests at a U.S. Naval War College-sponsored “Conversation with the Country,” one of numerous symposiums being conducted around the United States.

The event starts this morning at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle.

Besides ships and planes, Roughead said he and other Navy brass are concentrating on “people decisions,” such as limiting how much time sailors must spend away from their families. Deployments and training often require lengthy stays away from home.

“The bottom lines on that is to make sure when someone comes back from deployment they have time to recharge, be with their family and train before they go away again,” Roughead said.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or

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