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Monday, Jun 24, 2024
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Coronado to See More Carriers

ECONOMY: Three Ships in Port to Become Commonplace

San Diegans can expect to see more aircraft carriers in the years ahead, as well as the economic activity that the big ships generate.

The Navy plans to berth more aircraft carriers, more of the time, at Naval Air Station North Island, and is preparing a federal environmental report for that eventuality.

The Navy says it foresees situations where there will be three carriers in port up to 180 intermittent, nonconsecutive days per year. The last time the Navy formally studied the situation, in 2008, it estimated there would be three carriers in port an average of 29 intermittent, nonconsecutive days per year.

The Navy plans to draw up its supplemental environmental impact statement between now and the summer of 2024, when it will take public comments on the document. The final report is due in spring 2025.

Aircraft carriers receive routine pier-side maintenance at North Island. More intense work is done elsewhere.

Huntington Ingalls Receives Contract

The scope of that maintenance is reflected in a contract the Navy awarded in late July, which could swell to one half billion dollars over the next five years.

The Navy awarded the Newport News Shipbuilding business of Huntington Ingalls Industries  Inc. (NYSE: HII) an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract that could be worth as much as $528.3 million over the next five years. Under the deal, the shipbuilder will support emergent work, continuous maintenance availabilities, pre-refueling complex overhaul availabilities, and Chief of Naval Operations scheduled availabilities for aircraft carriers homeported in and visiting San Diego. Work is expected to be completed by July 2028. The Naval Sea Systems Command of Washington, D.C. awarded the contract on July 21. The deal was announced on July 24.

Economic Drivers

In 2020, the San Diego Business Journal reported that a single aircraft carrier making San Diego its home port generates more than $800 million in gross regional product. Multiplied by three, that is $2.4 billion of economic impact.

The San Diego Military Advisory Council’s 2022 economic impact report noted that the presence of three carriers adds close to 10,000 military personnel to the San Diego economy.

According to federal officials, Naval Air Station North Island is not yet able to serve as a home port for the newest aircraft carriers, the Gerald Ford class. Transient Ford-class carriers will be able to berth at North Island temporarily, however, once they are deployed to the West Coast.

The presence of three aircraft carriers in the port will produce additional traffic impacts, particularly on the roadways in and out of Coronado. They may also require upgrades to the electrical grid.

The Navy will study the effects of three carriers in port as well as potential alternatives.

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