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May 27, 2010

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Navy prefers to base eight F-35 squadrons at Cherry Point

May 26, 2010 5:19 PM

Drew C. Wilson
Freedom ENC

HAVELOCK — Cherry Point air station would get eight squadrons of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters
under the preferred basing plan proposed by the Navy.

The Navy released its draft environmental study on the basing options for 11 operational squadrons and two fleet replacement squadrons of F-35s on Wednesday.

The F-35 is eventually scheduled to replace the current Marine Corps fleet of AV-8B Harriers, EA-6B Prowlers and F/A-18 Hornets.

Cherry Point currently has three operational Harrier squadrons, one training Harrier squadron and four squadrons of Prowlers at the base.

The Navy prefers to place the other three operational F-35 squadrons and two fleet replacement squadrons at Beaufort, S.C. That Marine Corps air base currently has seven squadrons of Hornets.

With up to 16 jets in each squadron, the Navy’s preferred alternative would increase the number of aircraft at Cherry Point from 140 to 174. Cherry Point would also see nearly 1,200 additional military personnel stationed at the base.

The Navy has scheduled public hearings on the report for 4 to 7 p.m. June 15 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center in Havelock, June 16 at the Emerald Isle Community Center and June 17 at Fred A. Anderson Elementary in Bayboro and will also take written comments on the plan through July 12 before issuing its final basing report this fall, most likely in November. The Navy is expected to make its final decision in December.

“Cherry Point has always been and will continue to be a superb base for Marine aviators to train for our nation’s battles,” Col. Douglas Denn, commanding officer at Cherry Point, said in a statement. “I think the recommendation to station eight squadrons at Cherry Point is a tribute to the outstanding support we have received from our local community throughout the environmental impact process.

“This new aircraft will be a critical tool for Marines to use in our nation’s defense with MCAS Cherry Point offering unique training airspace and ranges. Additionally, if the proposed basing is approved, it will provide a tremendous economic impact to the region with the associated military construction necessary to support the new capabilities.”

The Navy’s second preferred option would be to place all 11 operational squadrons at Cherry Point, while placing the two replacement squadrons in Beaufort, S.C.

“I’m a greedy sort. I would have preferred 11,” said Havelock Mayor Jimmy Sanders, who is also head of Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow, a lobby group for the base. “We’re still going to work on 11, but eight is good.”

The Navy calls its preferred alternative the basing option that best “balances environmental impacts with mission requirements.”

If the placement of the eight squadrons at Cherry Point happens, area officials believe it virtually assures a long future for Cherry Point. The F-35 is expected to be operational for the next 50 years.

“If we get those eight squadrons, things will be good for a really long time,” Sanders said. “It’s certainly an exciting time. This is a major transformation of Cherry Point. We’re been with the Harriers for 40 years. The F-35 is going to be the next phase of Cherry Point.”

The Fleet Readiness Center East rework and repair facility at Cherry Point has already been tasked to be the major engine overhaul facility for the F-35B and will also handle airframe repair for the jets.

“That would be additional work. For the next several generations, this will be the key part of this region’s economy,” said Jim Davis, executive director of the Craven County Economic Development Commission.

Regional officials had been anticipating the release of the study for months.

“This will be fantastic,” Havelock Commissioner Danny Walsh said. “We look forward to the increase. I will be tickled pink if all this comes about.”

Officials are already pushing for a large turnout at the public hearings as a show of support for the base.

“You need to mark your calendar. You need to make sure that the Navy and the Marine Corps are welcome in this part of North Carolina,” Sanders said. “We can’t sit back. This is an opportunity. The public hearings will be our chance to say that we want these aircraft to be part of our
community. They’ve been part of our community for the better part of 70 years.”

The Navy’s preferred basing option would result in an 8.5 percent increase in Cherry Point’s workforce, according to the report. That would result in a long-term gain of $46.9 million in annual payroll income.

Four hangars would have to be demolished and eight new modular hangars would be built for the jets. Cherry Point’s control tower would be demolished and rebuilt, and aviation armament, machine shops and instructional facility would also be constructed.

Total construction costs over seven years are estimated at nearly $508 million, and about 1,500 construction jobs, producing $53.5 million in labor income, would be needed, according to the report.

The impact on Havelock could be significant as well, with 2,323 new dependents, including 675 school-age children, coming to the area.

“I think it’s great that there are going to be so many jobs created and that our commissioners are getting our infrastructure ready for this,” said Stephanie Duncan, executive director of the Havelock Chamber of Commerce. “I want them here yesterday. It will be great for us once we get
them.”

Havelock is in the planning stages to construct a new sewer discharge pipe that would increase sewer wastewater capacity by 260,000 gallons per day by 2012. The Navy report estimated an additional 244,000 gallons of sewer capacity would be needed to handle the additional personnel.

“We’re looking at a 30-month window for completion,” Sanders said. “I think we’re going to be more than ready to accommodate.”

The earliest the new jets are expected to arrive at Cherry Point is 2014, according to the report. However, replacement of all Harrier squadrons is not anticipated until 2020, and Navy calls for a nine-year implementation of the basing option, which would run through 2023.

Construction associated with the new squadrons is anticipated to start next year. The Navy also anticipates deactivating Cherry Point’s Harrier training squadron in 2011 as well. The F-35 training squadrons are already in place at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The Navy report estimates that 3,337 more acres would be exposed to noise levels of 65 decibels or greater. However, it does not anticipate louder noise over any Havelock area school.

Noise had been a concern, especially surrounding Bogue Field, an auxiliary landing field in Carteret Carteret just north of Cape Carteret where some complained about loud jets disrupting the coastal setting. However, the Navy report mentions flights at Bogue Field would be reduced under the preferred basing alternative.

Billy Keyserling, mayor of Beaufort, S.C., said he was just getting into the heart of the Navy’s report.

“Of course the good news is that Beaufort remains in the mix, that we have a longstanding partnership with the (Department of Defense),” Keyserling said. “We enjoy a very special relationship through which we have created unique partnerships to protect airspace and room for MCAS Beaufort to grow.

“I think it is fair to say the community will be very enthusiastic about what they read.”

The Navy’s second choice is to place 11 squadrons at Cherry Point and two in Beaufort, S.C., while the third would place five squadrons at Cherry Point and the fourth would place just two at Cherry Point.

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April 22, 2010

Posted by allthingshavelock in MCAS Cherry Point.
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Organization suggests basing 11 F-35B squadrons at Cherry Point

 

Navy’s impact study yet to be released

April 21, 2010 6:53 PM
Drew C. Wilson
Freedom ENC

A draft report created for North Carolina’s Eastern Region Development Commission says that the Marine Corps should consider placing 11 squadrons of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters at Cherry Point air station.

RTI International Center for Technology Applications prepared the report for the commission, which received a $115,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation to pay for it. The N.C. Eastern Region, a regional economic development partnership of eastern counties, promotes the region and its business opportunities.

The F-35B is currently being tested, and production models of the plane will be replacing the Marine Corps’ aging fleet of AV-8B Harriers, EA-6B Prowlers and F-18 Hornets.

The Navy is conducting an environmental impact study that will detail basing options for the 168 aircraft that make up the 11 squadrons. That draft study could be released as early as next month.

Five basing alternatives are being considered between Cherry Point and Beaufort, S.C., with Cherry Point receiving as few as 40 or as many as 128 jets.

Citing the huge and long-term economic impact, local officials have been lobbying for as many jet squadrons as possible to be located at Cherry Point. The estimated economic impact per squadron is $30 million to $35 million annually.

The RTI draft report states that Cherry Point would have continued base health with all 11 squadrons and protection from any Base Realignment and Closure process. It also reports that the alternative would increase military readiness and have high community support.

The report also lists Fleet Readiness Center East as another reason to base all the jets at Cherry Point.

“Locating operational squadrons at the same location as a repair depot can greatly support readiness for the squadron,” the report states. “Ensuring an active base by locating new squadrons at Cherry Point to replace retiring squadrons will keep support infrastructure utilization at good capacity and work toward BRAC-proofing the base.”

FRC East has been designated the depot repair facility for the F-35 lift fan and will have shared responsibility for the F-35B airframe.

“Engineering and depot support in close proximity to the operational units can support on-site Engineering Investigations and repair activities,” the report states.

An advantage for Cherry Point is that FRC East is already the Department of Defense designated Vertical Lift Center of Excellence. The F-35B is a STOVL, short takeoff or vertical landing aircraft.

According to the report, Cherry Point reaps the benefits of regional partnerships formed to support the region’s military installations, like the Military Growth Task Force.

Cherry Point, the report states, benefits from a close relationship with Havelock and Craven County.

The first F-35B production models were expected to be based beginning in 2013 but that date may be slipping more toward 2015 or 2016 due to cost overruns and delays.

One disadvantage, the report states, is Cherry Point’s poor scores in the area of civilian encroachment as it relates to Bogue Field in Carteret County. Mariner’s Bay, a proposed multi-family development, is located at the end of the runway. Cherry Point has attempted several times to purchase the property to stop the development, but the air station has been unsuccessful, according to the report.

There has also been a history of noise complaints in Carteret County and Emerald Isle near Bogue Field.

The report also states that crowded airspace around Cherry Point and its bomb ranges are a concern.

Once the Navy releases its report on basing options, a 45-day public comment period will take place that will include public hearings. The Navy will then use the information gathered to create a final report, expected in the fall.

The Navy is expected to make a final basing decision in December.

March 25, 2010

Posted by allthingshavelock in MCAS Cherry Point.
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Marines crack down on Catfish Lake Road commute

March 24, 2010 6:08 PM
Drew C. Wilson
Freedom ENC

HAVELOCK — Marine Corps officials issued an order limiting active duty personnel from using Catfish Lake Road.

The commanding generals of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations East prohibited Marines and sailors from using the unpaved road except when they have a legitimate reason for being there, like hunting, fishing, or other lawful recreational activities in the Croatan National Forest.

Catfish Lake Road has been a popular shortcut between Havelock and Jacksonville but the road has been the site of numerous crashes involving both military personnel and civilians.

Nearly all wrecks have involved single vehicles sliding off the gravel road and in many cases overturning with serious consequences.

“Two recent mishaps involved the death of a Marine and serious injuries to another,” the order states.

Maj. Gen. Carl B. Jensen, commander of MCI East and Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, commander of the 2nd MEF, signed the order jointly.

“Both generals have always said their number one priority is the force preservation and the safety and welfare of all those under their command,” said Major Nat Fahy, public affairs officer for Camp Lejeune. “The bottom line for the generals is we don’t want our Marines to push their luck on this road. We do not want to have another senseless tragedy.”

A female Marine, Pfc. Erika Saucier, died in November 2009 after she rolled her truck and suffered serious head trauma and back injuries in a wreck on Catfish Lake Road. Saucier, 14 weeks pregnant, was attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at Cherry Point air station.

“We do know that it is a popular cut-through for Marines going to and from Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune,” Fahy said. “They have no business using it as a cut through for commuting purposes.”

“The risk of vehicle mishaps along Catfish Lake Road are significantly higher because of the curves, blind spots, lack of posted speed limits and absence of roadway lighting at night,” the order states.

March 11, 2010

Posted by allthingshavelock in MCAS Cherry Point.
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Military training under way

NEWS-TIMES

Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:23 AM EST

 

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point range operations will be providing support for a U.S. Special Operations Command military training exercise through April 3.

In addition to normal unit level training events taking place throughout the Cherry Point Range and Airspace Complex, special training events will also occur.

Two special boat teams out of Norfolk and Little Creek, Va., will be operating out of Cherry Point and Morehead City, transiting to and from and operating within the prohibited surface areas of Piney Island (BT-11) and Brandt Shoal (BT-9) bombing and gunnery ranges.

They will be operating out of Morehead City now through Friday and out of Cherry Point from March 15 through April 3. They will be conducting live fire operations on each of those days, to include night operations until 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on some nights.

They will be conducting waterborne raids from Cherry Point into Bogue Field the nights of March 29-31. Expect to hear blank fire and see muzzle flashes and possible flares in and around Bogue Field during this training.

This training is a routine predeployment certification and has been coordinated with local authorities and owners of the training sites, according to the military.

Established safety precautions have been taken to prevent unnecessary risk to the general public and the military personnel involved.

The purpose of the exercise is to train in maritime environments that simulate as closely as possible the conditions in which Naval Special Warfare units conduct real-world operations.  For safety and security concerns, details of the exercises, their locations or specific information about the units and their personnel in the exercises is not releasable.

Questions can be directed to Cherry Point Public Affairs Office at 252-466-3244.

February 11, 2010

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Packed air show schedule includes new, familiar acts

February 10, 2010 7:02 PM
Drew C. Wilson
Freedom ENC

CHERRY POINT — While the Blue Angels will be taking the premier spot in this year’s Cherry Point Air Show, a range of other acts have also signed on to perform.

“We’re excited,” said Bob Kenward, head of Marine Corps Community Services at Cherry Point air station. “We’ve got some acts that we’ve never had before, like Aeroshell and Otto the Helicopter.

“With the return of the United States Navy Blue Angels and a variety of never-before-seen acts for our show, plus a combination of us being one of the very few air shows in the Carolinas for 2010, we fully intend for this to be a banner show for MCAS Cherry Point.”

Organizers are beginning the stretch drive for the show, which is scheduled for May 21-23 at Cherry Point. The theme for the show will be announced later this month, and the acts have been booked for an event that is expected to draw more than 100,000 people in three days. Preferred, box and chalet seating tickets are scheduled to go on sale within days.

The Aeroshell Aerobatic Team of AT-6 Texans will be filling the sky with smoke in precision flying formations this year. The four-member flying team uses speedy propeller-driven trainers that first appeared in 1938. The aircraft is the forerunner to the P-51 Mustang fighter.

The crowd will see precision flying with a laugh from Otto.

“Otto is a comedy act,” Kenward said. “We always try to get at least one comedy act for the show. He entertains the crowd by blowing bubbles, playing yo-yo and picking up barrels.”

Aerobatic acts range from silent parachutists and hang gliders to looping, rolling and spinning biplanes and monoplanes.

Other acts include pilot Bill Leff, whose polished aluminum T-6 will be shooting pyrotechnics and smoke from the wingtips in low level barrel rolls and inverted flying.

Pilots Buck Roetman and Dan McClung will put Red Eagle and Talon Eagle biplanes through the paces in flat spins, outside loops and tail slides.

Another aerobatic performance will be from pilot Tim Weber, flying a mono wing Geico Extra 300 that uses a 350-plus horsepower engine that can push the aircraft on a roll rate of 420 degrees per second. The plane can climb at 3,200 feet per minute and is one of the most high-powered aircraft on the air show circuit.

The Marine Air Ground Task Force will demonstrate the might of the Marine Corps with C-130 Hercules, AV-8B Harrier, EA-6B Prowler, F/A-18 Super Hornet, V-22 Osprey and CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft along with associated Marine ground troops.

Cherry Point’s CH-46 Pedro rescue helicopters from Marine Transport Squadron 1 will also give a demonstration.

In an example of near silent flight, motorized hang glider pilot Dan Buchanan, a paraplegic, will be delivering streamer flights by day and fireworks trailing flights for the Friday night show.

Another air show favorite that will be staying at ground level will be the returning Super Shockwave Jet Truck, the fastest Chevy truck in the World. The truck has been clocked at speeds up to 334 mph.

Dropping in from above will be the Black Daggers, the official U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team.

General admission and parking to the air show are free to the public, but Kenward said that paid premium seating will also be available.

Those wishing to purchase featured seating, box seating or chalet seating can visit the air show Web site at cherrypointairshow.com or call 866-946-4762 for more information.

January 22, 2010

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Big mission, big bucks

January 21, 2010 9:23 AM
By Sue Book
Freedom ENC

Cherry Point local economic impact is at $2.18 billion a year and growing and appears secure, top base officials told local leaders Wednesday.

New economic impact numbers for the air station were presented by

Col. Doug A. Denn, Cherry Point’s commanding officer, presented the numbers to at a luncheon Wednesday at Craven Community College’s Institute of Aeronautical Technology in Havelock.

Salaries alone for base active and retired military and civilian population totaled $1.43 billion in fiscal year 2009, he said. The total number of military and civilian employees at the station is now more than 15,000 including more than 3,700 at Fleet Readiness Center East, the Navy aircraft maintenance and repair facility on base.

Denn said when he arrived in August the impact number was at $1.8 billion and he set a personal goal to see it top $2 billion before leaving command, but it has already happened on its own.

Work for civilian employees is also robust, said Col. L. Scott Loch, commanding officer of FRC East. He said that while the sun may be setting on work on older aircraft like the CH-46 helicopter, “here it is still sitting pretty high in the sky.”

Hearings for determining the site for the 13 Marine Corps squadrons of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters won’t be until April. But Loch said a decision has been made that Joint Strike Fighter work, when they are up and running, “will come fully to us” for the F-35B and F-35C models.

“We have a bright future,” he said. “That work would exceed the sum of current work here.”

But Loch pointed out that FRC East is more than just jobs.

“We exist to bring readiness to the fleet,” he told the gathering. “The Joint Strike Fighter is a very technologically advanced airframe, and we need to grow technology expertise. They can’t just bring it in and people know what has to be done.”

He said FRC needs to further grow the partnerships it has with the community, such as that with the community college as a training ground, to make sure it is ready for the task.

Jimmy Sanders, Havelock mayor and chairman of the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow lobby group, moderated the event. He said that base wages help support 35,000 people in Craven County, more than 10,000 in Carteret and about 1,200 each from Pamlico and Jones counties.

“We stress the economic impact, but we know what you do is making a difference in the world,” he told the military leaders.

About 75 base and civilian leaders from area counties attended the luncheon hosted by ACT, the Havelock Chamber of Commerce, the Craven County Committee of 100, the city of Havelock and Craven Community College.

January 18, 2010

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Contract awarded for pilings around BT-11 target range

January 15, 2010 1:05 PM
Havelock News

Cherry Point has awarded a contract to place 10 navigational pilings with warning signs around restricted areas at the BT-11 bombing target at Piney Island.

The $78,716 contract went to the Tesoro Corporation, of Virginia Beach, Va.

BT-11 is located near the juncture of Neuse River and Pamlico Sound in Carteret County. The contract calls for the work to be completed by April 11.

According to a release from Cherry Point, the placement of the pilings does not modify or expand existing security areas or change the configuration of the scope of military training at the bombing ranges.

Restricted areas already appear on navigational charts for the area.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources approved the placement of the additional pilings on Dec. 8. The markers are designed to better inform boaters of the restricted area to prevent inadvertent entry of what can be dangerous areas where military aircraft sometimes train with live ammunition.

The prohibited area consists of a 1.8-mile radius area centered on a target in Rattan Bay. The water and land in this area is closed to the public at all times.

Another restricted area is at Newstump Point and a third is along the west coast of Piney Island between Marsh Point and North Bay. Each of those restricted areas has a radius of one half mile around a defined point. Both of these areas are open for public navigation at night, but there is no access in these areas during the day.

January 13, 2010

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F-35B passes more flight tests

 Sue Book

Sun Journal Staff

Successful tests on the Marine version of the Joint Strike Fighter were performed last week, the Marine Corps Times reported Saturday, bringing the plane that could bring as many as 11 new aircraft squadrons to Cherry Point air station one step closer to its first short takeoff and vertical landing.

The test on the F-35B Lightning II was at the Patuxent River Navy air station on Thursday and a test pilot successfully engaged the lift propulsion system for 14 minutes, the Times reported. The pilot practiced slowing the aircraft from 288 mph, making ready to hover, and then accelerating.

The F-35B fifth-generation fighter jet is the first aircraft in history to combine STOVAL — or short takeoff/vertical landing capability and supersonic speed — with stealth.

The tests aim for full STOVAL flight in the spring after civilian partner contractors BAE Systems and Lockheed work to progressively slow the aircraft while in flight so it can hover and then land vertically.

Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager Dan Crowley said in a statement: “The joint F-35 industry and government team has already shown during extended ground tests that the STOVAL propulsion system performs well, and thousands of hours of component testing has validated its durability.”

“Now we are seeing early proof that the system operates in flight as our team predicted,” Crowley said.   

There have been several delays in the program, but Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said in December that he is confident the first operational squadron will stand up in 2012 as first planned.

He said the Corps has “accepted risk now for a number of years by not buying fourth-generation airplanes, such as the Navy has done, to await the arrival of this aircraft.”

 The F-35B is expected to replace the AV-8B Harrier, EA-6B Prowler and the F/A-18 Hornet at East Coast Marine bases expecting a total of 176 planes.

The Golden Leaf Foundation allocated $115,000 in December to look at the economic impact of F-35B home base options being studied by the Navy in a report expected in April that include air stations at Cherry Point and Beaufort, S.C.

The options under consideration involve as many as 11 Joint Strike Fighter squadrons at Cherry Point, and Craven Community College is already optimistically preparing for them.

Those close to the process say the basing plan will probably split between two training squadrons with 40 F-35B’s likely coming to Beaufort, S.C., and most of the rest to Cherry Point.

The college plans to launch a new training program next fall on developing, using and testing the strong, lightweight carbon fiber-polymer composite materials used in F-36B and the V-22 Osprey’s construction and repair.

Scoping hearings on the environmental impact of the F-35B were held in Havelock and Pamlico County in February 2009. About 250 people attended those hearings, and the noise expected to be generated by planes was the only possible negative issue raised.

At that time, plans were for the Department of Defense to buy about 700 Joint Strike Fighters with the Air Force expected to get first delivery.

Previous Post October 27, 2009

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Bill doesn’t eliminate OLF in North Carolina

October 25, 2009 2:49 PM

By Sue Book
Freedom ENC

A final Department of Defense authorization bill does not include language sought by members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation to prevent a Navy outlying landing field in the northeastern part of the state.

Local leaders believe an OLF in North Carolina is needed to guarantee the placement of two F/A-18 Super Hornet squadrons at Cherry Point. Pilots of those jets will use the OLF to practice night aircraft carrier landings.

The bill does include language to make sure the Navy keeps Congress informed about its dealings with local governments in the areas being considering for an OLF. However, language sought that would have prevented the Navy from considering the Gates and Camden county sites in northeastern North Carolina for an OLF was not part of the final bill that President Barack Obama is expected to sign.

The Navy has been studying five areas — two in northeastern North Carolina and three in southeastern Virginia — to construct an OLF. Super Hornet pilots from Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va., and Cherry Point would train using the OLF.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., 3rd dist., said in a statement that he was disappointed but would continue to fight to prevent an OLF in northeastern North Carolina.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., also expressed disappointment.

“I included strict requirements in this bill for the Navy to consider alternative sites and will continue working to protect North Carolina’s interests,” she said in a statement.

Earlier this year in a speech on the Senate floor, Hagan pushed for an OLF near Cherry Point, but the Navy had rejected a Craven County proposed site earlier and is not considering any other sites than the five locations currently being considered.

The Navy’s first selected an OLF site in Washington County. However, local residents and environmental groups protested that it was too close to the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and would harm the area’s rural lifestyle. They filed lawsuits, and the Navy eventually decided to seek a new OLF location.

The General Assembly approved a law against the Navy taking property for an OLF anywhere in which no military air base is located.

Hugh Overholt, spokesman for the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow lobby group, said he expected the whole argument may become moot as the Navy moves forward on basing options for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Cherry Point and Beaufort, S.C. are being considered.

“That could move the timing until after the next BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission),” Overholt said.

Oceana narrowly escaped being closed under the 2005 BRAC because of regional growth that often puts aircraft activity in dangerous proximity to developed areas.

October 19, 2009

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By Drew C. Wilson
Havelock News

Cherry Point is one of three installations being considered as a home base for an 1,100-member Marine security and anti-terrorism unit.

“It’s one of the possibilities,” said Dennis Neal, deputy public affairs director for the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

A meeting on the proposal is set from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide information to the public about the proposal as well as on an environmental assessment being conducted. The open-house style meeting will include various stations about the project. Marine Corps representatives will be on hand to answer any questions.

The Navy and Marine Corps want to consolidate the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment at one location, Neal said. Currently, the five companies in the regiment operate at four bases in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, including bases at Yorktown, Norfolk, and Chesapeake.

If Cherry Point is selected, an additional 1,110 military personnel assigned to the regiment, as well as their dependants, could come to the area.

A 900,000 square-foot training complex would have to be built for the regiment, the primary function of which is anti- and counter-terrorism missions and protection of Navy and Marine Corps assets internationally.

Mike Jones, a civilian project manager, is overseeing environmental assessments for the three potential sites, which were selected from various locations that stretched from Jacksonville north to Quantico, Va. Virginia bases at Yorktown and Chesapeake are also being considered.

The decision on where to locate the regiment will be made early in 2010, Neal said.