Tuesday, July 05, 2005

So now all the BRAC twitter is doing the hula...

...as local papers have gone all ga-ga over the news that BRAC is questioning closing the Portsmouth shipyard. They suggest closing Pearl Harbor NSY instead:

The federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission wants to close Pearl Naval Shipyard — the state’s largest industrial employer — putting nearly 4,200 civilian workers on the unemployment rolls and jeopardizing the more than $1 billion it pumps into Hawaii’s economy annually.

Well, that's not entirely accurate...they don't "want to close" PHNSY, they are questioning Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld's reasoning in picking Portsmouth to close over Pearl.

The commission wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or his staff to attend a public hearing July 18 in Washington, D.C. to explain why the shipyard was not included in the original base-closure list.

The linked article may not fully bear that out (the characterization I make in saying it's actually a question to the Pentagon vice a desire to close PHNSY)...but I have "inside information". Our Shipyard Commander, CAPT Frank Camelio, has not only testified before BRAC, he gets the "official updates", and he's send out damage control emails yard-wide to ease the panic this has caused.

It's irresponsible reporting, to say the least. First off, many here agree that closing PHNSY simply won't happen, and here's the reasoning:

1. We are both nuclear sub maintenance capable and surface ship maintenance capable.
2. We are capable of (and in fact gearing up for our third) nuclear sub refueling.
3. We are the only significant repair facility this side of Puget Sound, Washington. In fact, to drydock the San Francisco in Guam they had to recertify a drydock that was basically in mothballs there.

Does anyone seriously think that the Navy wants to give up a shipyard in the prime stragtegic location that Pearl Harbor is, with the capability we have, over differences in efficiency? Sure, Portsmouth is more efficient by the numbers, but start adding up the costs of PCS'ing all those sailors to Puget, Norfolk, or Portsmouth for DMP's/Refuelings/Inactivations (we do those too). And the travel costs for gas turbine ships (that often sacrifice operations and even chunks of deployments for the cost of gas)...sending them all to the mainland would be plain silly.

Some argue material/parts shipping cost...the above likely would offset it, and we could save a lot of the rest of the cost by using our own USNS fleet vice commercial solutions like Matson (think they aren't gouging us? HA!)

In the long run, however, if they do put PHNSY on the BRAC list, and it does close, my money is going into Newport News Shipbuilding stock...they are already looking into getting the facility, they've been eyeing it for months/years. There will be a shipyard here, no doubt...and while I fully believe it will be PHNSY, I'm sure if BRAC chopped it that Newport News would be in here in a heartbeat. It would, however, cost the Navy in the long run.

Pay me now, or pay me later...lesson here is that Pearl needs to turn up the efficiency and get LEAN.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger bothenook said...

rob, we had all that and more at mare island, and yet they closed our asses down. we used to go to pearl on tiger teams and do restricted availabilities alongside the pier in pearl, up to and including steam generator eddy current testing, and the subsequent hydrostatic testing. we'd take a 90 man crew for all the work subpac contracted us for, and it cost a grunch of money for us to live there, including flying us back and forth, rental cars, per diem, etc. and we still came in at something like 25% of the bid pearl submitted.
doesn't matter how good you think things are, this is all politics.
the only thing pearl really has going for it is that it's hawaii, and all of the congressional junkets to check things out will be one of the strong selling points at keeping it open.
hell, one of the things pearl used when WE got killed was that they had interstate hiways and rail lines.

i'm not bitter. just a whole lot better educated in the process, since i've now had two bases killed from under me. mare island, and mcclellan air force base.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Chap said...

It ain't the junkets, shipmate. It's partially Inouye, but that ain't it either. It's the location 2000 miles into the Pacific.

Portsmouth is very efficient for what it does, but if it closes there's something American that can do the job within four thousand miles. Hawaii doesn't have that backup.

As much as I have suffered under No Ka Oi...

Hey, and in response to this and the other comment, you guys want to take care to beware of the logic of the false dilemma. One of the tricks in dealing with this stuff is focusing on a problem that may or may not be a problem worth making decisions over. Great example: who's bitched about the nesting in Pearl lately? Did that cause such a significant issue?

I saw a lot of that kind of argument re: Guam inside the Navy. The key is to get past the sound and fury and figure out what the posed problem really signifies.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Rob said...

I see your point, bo, but I have to go with Chap here...location, location, location. There ain't a whole lot of cost difference in sending a boat to Puget vice Mare Island, but when you're talking Puget vice Pearl (with the intervening 2000 miles or more of ocean), that's a different moose.

Same with Portsmouth...Norfolk is right down the road, in terms of distance. Pearl's strategic location is the big issue, methinks, and one not to be sneezed at.


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