Guam will not get the aircraft carrier to be stationed in the Pacific.

However a source within Naval Forces Marianas said speaking only on condition of anonymity the island can expect to see — within two years— U.S. Marines at Andersen South and the stationing of five amphibious warfare ships on Guam. Amphibious warfare ships carry a U.S. Marine force.

While the Base Realignment Commission has not yet made a firm announcement on its recommendations military watchers say Guam can expect the importance of its geographic location to be affirmed. (See “Guam anxious about word from BRAC ” on Page 12)

Naval Forces Marianas officers were unofficially given the news of the redirection of American Navy assets during the visit of Adm. Vern Clark outgoing chief of Naval operations during his visit to Guam from May 6 to 8. Adm. Mike Mullen presently in Europe will replace Clark on July 22.

Outside of the U.S. approximately 30 000 U.S. marines are stationed in Okinawa in Japan where relations between residents of the city and U.S. forces have been strained by a variety of incidents. Because of the surrounding population base training opportunities have been limited in Okinawa. U.S. marines have already a history of conducted urban training exercises at Andy South.

Marine forces in Hawaii are based at the Marine Air Corps Station in Kaneohe Bay Oahu but train in other areas of Hawaii.

The Navy source could not state where Marines to be stationed in Guam would come from. but understood from the CNO that U.S. Marines would eventually leave Okinawa.

According to the U.S. Navy’s Web site “Twenty-first century expeditionary warfare no longer focuses on direct beach landings and assaults. The site says “The need to land vehicles directly on a beach from a ship has been replaced by over-the-horizon assaults and ship to objective maneuver. The last Navy tank landing ship the USS Frederick (LST 1184) decommissioned in Pearl Harbor Hawaii Oct. 5.”

LST amphibious tank landing ships were known as “Gator freighters ” and the amphibious tracked vehicles carried by the ships as “Amtraks.”

The first LPD replacement to the LST was christened during a ceremony July 19 2003 at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans. “The USS San Antonio and its class are also the first to feature the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor system that replaces conventional masts protecting radar and communications antennas from weather and allowing their electronic signals to pass through ” the Web site said. The San Antonio was scheduled to be commissioned in 2005 and homeported in Norfolk Va. Northrop Grumann is reportedly building sister ships to the San Antonio.

“The site goes on “The LPD 17 San Antonio class replaces many of the LST’s functions retaining mission flexibility while being able to operate from over the horizon. LPD 17 will fully support the Expeditionary Warfare triad of Landing Craft Air Cushion the modern way to transport tanks; Marine Corps’ new Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle; the full inventory of Marine helicopters; and the new vertical take off and landing aircraft the Osprey. The San Antonio class can also make more than 22 knots and can transport nearly 800 troops anywhere in the world.”

The San Antonio class ships are 648 feet long 105 feet wide and carry a crew of 361 sailors and up to 800 Marines.

The admiral met Gov. Felix P. Camacho during the visit and also the source said toured Naval facilities on Guam including the Guam Shipyard.

Lt. Arwen Consaul public affairs officer for Naval Forces Marianas said “There is no confirmation that they are coming here. If Marines are coming from Japan or the U.S. it is not something that you can do in two years. There are no plans for that as far as I know.” She said Naval forces on Guam were working on military construction and projection that has been fiscally mandated as much as five years ago. “Planning is a great indicator and there has been no indication from higher levels. I hope I would be privy to that information. Captain Boone has no information to change his milcon projects for any new force structure. He’s been instructed to build for the last five years which is a steady state of what we have now.”

Consaul said that there was a possibility that the Journal’s information might be connected to the Base Realignment Closure Commission. Al Cornella chairman of the Overseas Basing Commission visited Guam at the end of January.

“It’s still going to be a couple of months before we know who gets what and who gets realigned. We’ve given our input to the BRAC commission and hopefully we will get realigned.”

“Whatever decisions go forth we are confident the Defense Closure and Realignment Commission and our top officials will make the right choices in ensuring the Air Force is more capable efficient and effective ” Lt. Genieve N. David spokesperson 36 Air Expeditionary Wing at Andersen Air Force Base said.

Madeleine Z. Bordallo Guam’s delegate to Congress continues to work with military and congressional leaders to reiterate Guam’s strategic role in the region. However she stopped short of commenting on the possibilities of an increase or decrease in military presence on Guam. Bordallo said she was hopeful that the Department of Defense’s recommendations for Base Realignment and Closure will reflect ongoing efforts to highlight the island’s strategic value. The congresswoman also said she anticipates working with BRAC commissioners on issues of infrastructure improvements in the territory.

“I have worked with the government of Guam and the Guam Chamber of Commerce through meetings in Washington at the Pentagon and by bringing leaders to Guam to showcase the military value of our defense installations. After the list is announced the BRAC Commission will conduct meetings with the affected communities over the next six months to evaluate DoD’s recommendations and send a final list to the President. I look forward to working with the BRAC Commission to highlight Guam’s improvements in quality of life and infrastructure to meet DoD requirements ” Bordallo said.

Where an aircraft carrier can expect to homeport in the Pacific is still a matter of expectation particularly in Hawaii. Sen. Daniel Inoue of Hawaii a member of the House Armed Forces Committee has publicly lauded Hawaii’s suitability for homeporting of a carrier and according to media reports has praised the State’s infrastructure and attractions.

However Yokosuka in Japan is also seeing the construction of a nuclear emergency control center necessary when the reactor plant of a nuclear-powered ship such as an aircraft carrier develops problems. Consaul said “Nuclear submarines are already stationed in Yokosuka. There is a resistance in Japan to nuclear assets but the Navy is looking at replacing the Kitty Hawk with a nuclear aircraft carrier. As of May 9 no decision had been made on whether Guam or Hawaii would get an aircraft carrier.” Consaul said that information had come from the staff of Adm. Walter Doran commander of U.S. Naval forces in the Pacific.

The Navy can also look forward to continuation of phased work on its piers and wharfs. While this may limit the number of vessels that can enter the harbor during that construction the work will eventually make way for the possibility of more submarines to berth. SSGN nuclear attack submarines are also on the drawing board for Guam (See “Guam slated for guided missile submarines ” in the Oct. 4 2004 edition of the Journal). Consaul said “There are going to be SGGNS making extended port calls and cruises to Guam. We will see an influx of those ships in the future but it is not on the table for them to be homeported here.”

Consaul confirmed work on the wharfs and piers had already begun. “Some of the work is already completed which is internal work that you don’t see such as wiring and communication lines and fireproofing.” Kilo Wharf she said will be extended for carrier porting. “At Victor Wharf we have completed a lot of work with communication lines and hardening for typhoons. At Alpha Bravo we are planning on extending the pier there for arrival of SSGNs and port calls of SSNs.” What submarine assets Guam would receive in the future was still uncertain she said. “SubPac hasn’t confirmed if we will get more or we are not going to get more.” MBJ