Archived Story

A somewhat fitting end

Published 7:20am Saturday, January 26, 2013

In the end, it was much ado about nothing.

The Navy’s search for a place to have its carrier based propeller planes conduct touch-and-go landings has ended where it should have began, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. And the Navy, by announcing it would begin training there this summer, brings to an anticlimactic end a two-year quest that caused significant controversy, many hard feelings and the end of at least one political career.

The shame is, it never should have come to that.

The Navy has made a habit in recent years of leaving carnage in the wake of bungled attempts to secure training facilities outside of the metropolitan Hampton Roads region. An attempt early last decade to locate an outlying landing field for naval jets to practice in northeastern North Carolina resulted in a lawsuit and the Navy pulling the plug on the project.

A similar attempt in Western Tidewater five years ago led to stiff local opposition that partially caused the Navy to put its plans on hold indefinitely. The effort in 2011 to acquire the use of Franklin’s airfield was messy as well.

The Navy’s one consistent mistake, among many, was that it seemingly refused to look at options for using existing government and military facilities to expand its training operations. Opponents of each failed attempt suggested the Wallops as an option.

The Navy said it was unsuitable each time. A lot of time, money and energy were wasted only to fin out that, in the end, it was all along.

  • nadawa

    Traveling around in Southampton County, one can see the deteriorating ‘NO OLF’ signs which were placed in an effort to dissuade the Navy from locating in their pre-chosen sites. I am not excluding Sussex or Surry County, nor for that matter, the two sites in NE North Carolina; it’s just that I don’t travel those areas regularly.
    I agree whole-heartedly with ‘allsites’ that we must remain vigilant to the Navy’s next move. Having said that, sequestration, which will put new burdens upon the military through budget restraints, may, sadly, have to become our next savior.

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  • allsites

    By reading the documentation the Secretary provided for this search to use Wallops, it was mentioned that this will be a temporary solution to use Wallops or Emporia.

    I do not see this as being a done issue. I see this as a building block by the Secretary to show how he now has to have this additional OLF.

    Soon, the Secretary will send the same group of folks with a new study concerning the JSF and how it will need an OLF beyond the capabilities that Fentress will be able to provide.

    The comment that the Secretary made at the Mason meeting of any site would work will be forgotten in their attempt to generate a need based statement for this new OLF.

    Until the East Coast JSF home basing study for the Navy is finalized, I would recommend vigilance towards what the Secretary is doing regarding his air forces. He mentioned before that he intended to find a temporary location as a stop gap measure and that once the decision for the west coast JSF was finalized, he would start to work on the east coast. Wallops is that stop gap solution. He is doing exactly what he told us he would do.

    Still, it does show that this OLF was not required and the Secretary did put a lot of unneeded stress on communities for something that he said was not required, but highly desired for efficiency and surge support capacity.

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