P-8As still coming to Whidbey Island

Dec 15, 2011

Skagit Valley Herald

By Whitney Pipkin

December 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Navy still intends to base the replacement plane for P-3 Orions at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island by 2017, Rep. Rick Larsen and Sen. Patty Murray said today in a joint press release.

The Navy said earlier this year that the replacement aircraft for the submarine hunter and surveillance aircraft, called P-8As, would go instead to bases in Jacksonville, Fla. and Kaneohe, Hawaii, leaving uncertain the future of those squadrons in Oak Harbor. The four P-3 squadrons on Whidbey Island employ an estimated 2,600 people.

Larsen and Murray met with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert in October to urge him to locate the P-8As at Whidbey Island. And both Washington legislators received letters this week from Greenert confirming that the planes would remain on Whidbey as outlined in the 2008 Department of Defense Record of Decision.

Larsen heralded this as great news for the Whidbey community and for national security.

“Whidbey Island is without a doubt the right place for these aircraft. I am going to keep the Navy’s feet to the fire to make sure they follow through on this plan so vital to Whidbey and the United States,” Larsen said in a statement.