04/27/05 — OLF alternates: Navy is urged to consider them

View Archive

OLF alternates: Navy is urged to consider them

Three North Carolina congressmen have asked the Navy to consider alternate sites for locating an outlying landing field to serve F/A-18 Super Hornets at Oceana, Va., and Cherry Point.

A federal judge has blocked Navy plans to locate the OLF at a site it had chosen in Washington and Beaufort counties.

Judge Terrence Boyle found that the Navy had failed to adequately consider adverse environmental effects and the potential for aircraft striking some of the thousands of tundra swans, snow geese and other waterfowl in that area which includes the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

The OLF siting has been opposed by county governments, land owners and environmental and wildlife organizations.

A special committee appointed by the governor urged the Navy to consider other sites.

Opponents of the Beaufort-Washington site argued that the Navy had selected that location and then created documents purporting to justify its decision.

The Navy proceeded in acquiring land despite adverse findings by the court and tried to circumvent the judge’s order to stop actively developing plans for that location.

Congressmen G.K. Butterfield, Bob Etheridge and Brad Miller have asked the Navy to consider alternatives including sites in Craven County east of Vanceboro and in Carteret County.

The Navy, meanwhile, has appealed Judge Boyle’s ruling.

The OLF would serve as a training area for carrier-based pilots. Ten squadrons of Super Hornets would be located in Oceana and two at Cherry Point.

The North Carolina site was selected after residents of Virginia raised complaints about potential noise.

It is well that the three congressmen have urged the Navy to consider alternate sites in North Carolina. But why confine the search to North Carolina? Virginia has a lot of land on its Eastern Shore that could lend itself to such training. And Virginia, after all, is getting to get almost all of the new squadrons.

So far, the Navy has been adamant, even arrogant, in its insistence on the Washington-Beaufort site. Our North Carolina senators and all our congressmen should add to the pressure on the Navy to be fair and reasonable.

Published in Editorials on April 27, 2005 10:44 AM