Navy brass review its options with OLF

Published 12:37 am Saturday, September 15, 2007

By Staff
Sites in the state being kept a secret
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
Navy Secretary Donald Winter is reviewing the latest information about potential landing field sites in North Carolina and Virginia following a “document exchange” among Navy leaders Friday.
A short release from the Navy on Friday tells that much, but details about the alternative sites remain scarce. Among North Carolina’s state and federal leaders, there is widespread opposition to the Navy’s favored jet-landing site in Washington and Beaufort counties.
Friday’s “document exchange” was not accompanied by a briefing among leaders, according to Fleet Forces Command spokesman Ted Brown. The exchange was announced simply to keep the process an open one, according to a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon.
The Navy’s review process lasts 60 days, according to the release.
In the meantime, the Navy is standing by its preferred OLF “Site C,” Cohen said. That site has encountered opposition because of its nearness to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
Cohen said the Navy’s review process does not prohibit North Carolina leaders from releasing their list of alternative OLF locations in this state.
Virginia leaders released their list of 10 alternative sites in the commonwealth in July. Those sites, all in rural areas and within 70 nautical miles of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, are being considered, along with U.S. Sen. John Warner’s suggestion of Fort Pickett.
How many sites North Carolina leaders have suggested remains unknown. Gov. Mike Easley’s OLF study group is expected to help evaluate those sites. After a three-year hiatus, the study group reconvenes in Raleigh on Tuesday at 11 a.m.