Destroyers coming to Naval Station Everett
EVERETT - Local leaders are convinced Naval Station Everett’s future is secure with the announcement last week that new ships are coming.
Over the next seven years, the U.S. Navy will replace three frigates with new or modified destroyers. With the change, the Navy base will be homeport to five destroyers in addition to an aircraft carrier, resulting in a 7 percent increase in personnel from 3,956 to 4,235.
There are no official estimates on the economic impact the additional sailors will bring to Everett. Mayor Ray Stephanson estimates the local impact could be between $40 and $50 million a year.
Stephanson and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat representing the Second Congressional District, worked for seven years to ensure replacement ships would come to Everett after the military’s decision to decommission three frigates.
Leaders had no assurance the destroyers were coming until Monday, Feb. 13. The decision is “bright news” for Everett and gives stability for Everett into the next decade, Stephanson said.
It was Stephanson’s 43rd wedding anniversary on Feb. 14. He called the news one of the best wedding presents he could have ever gotten.
“It’s a huge relief to us,” Stephanson said.
The destroyers are a key part of the Navy’s Pacific theater strategy.
Larsen said he is pushing to have more ships homeport at Everett, but he could not provide any details at this time.
“Everett is ready, willing and able for more ships,” Larsen said.
Stephanson said there is room to nearly double the number of ships to a dozen.
Naval Station Everett is the homeport for seven ships, and the USS Nimitz nuclear aircraft carrier is coming next month, spokeswoman Kristin Ching said last week. The Nimitz is undergoing repairs right now.
The Navy’s decision shows commitment to Everett, Stephanson said.
“We have a pretty compelling story in Everett to talk about,” Stephanson told the Tribune. The city is focused on the quality of life for sailors and their families with its parks and community amenities, he said.
Naval Station Everett generates about $300 million a year for the Everett economy.
Economic Alliance Snohomish County CEO Troy McClelland said the additional Navy personnel boosts local businesses.
“This touches every piece of the small business environment,” McClelland said.
The Navy’s decision also could help secure Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s future, Larsen said. Nationwide, the Department of Defense is currently closing bases.
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published Feb. 22, 2012