BANGOR, Wash. — The Defense Department is diverting funding for an $89 million pier project at Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor to help build $3.6 billion in fencing and barriers along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The Seattle Times reports the Bangor cut is one of 127 military construction projects in 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries that will lose funding to help pay for barriers in Texas, Arizona and California that are part of President Donald Trump’s long-sought border wall.
The delayed programs were chosen largely either because they were upgrades or replacements to existing facilities, a senior defense official told reporters in a Pentagon briefing Wednesday, or because their contract award dates are not scheduled for a year or more.
Although the Pentagon lists the status of these projects as deferred, it will take new action by Congress to secure funding for them, and Trump’s action was criticized in a statement jointly released by Washington Democrats Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Derek Kilmer.
"It is deeply disturbing to see the administration unilaterally raid funds from these vital projects in Washington and across the country to fund an ineffective, completely unnecessary border wall," the statement said. "Our men and women in uniform deserve better."
The statement says the project funding at Naval Base Kitsap would have been used to build a pier for the Maritime Force Protection Unit, which protects submarines on the way to and from the base.
Kilmer earlier said the project would allow all three Navy Seawolf-class submarines to be homeported there.
The cuts result from a Feb. 15, 2019, declaration by Trump that a national emergency exists at the southern border that requires the use of the armed forces.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized the 11 projects that involve placing and expanding fencing and barriers along the border.
Navy Times editor’s note: According to MCON Book, this project was designed to construct a pile-support reinforced concrete berthing pier for two 250-foot Blocking Vessels, with integrated wave screens to protect adjacent shoreline from waves and underside pier utilities from floating debris, plus shelter Transit Protection System small craft during storms.
It eventually will have a reinforced concrete access trestle to the pier and a boat shop with high bay, pedestal jib cranes and enough slab on grade to support 30 small craft. There will be a diesel fuel station and workers will need to add lines for potable and storm water and sanitary sewers and systems for fire protection and collecting industrial waste.
As mentioned above, these facilities are required to support MFPU Bangor’s mission to escort submarines when transiting between the homeport and surface/dive points in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and test range. That’s mandated by the National Security Presidential Directive and Instructions through the Nuclear Weapons Security Program.
Military planners wanted this project because the 250-foot BVs are in a constant “nomadic state,” shifting berths due to a lack of adequate pier space. In Bangor, officials estimate they need berthing spaces about 253 days per year. They apparently moor now at Marginal North Pier in the restricted area, if space is available.
As for BV maintenance, the program has less than half the space it requires and it’s spread across multiple facilities. Small craft maintenance occurs in three facilities and seven temporary storage structures.
The crews draw their fuel from a converted Ship Waste Oily Barge, which costs about $800,000 per year for up to 14 weeks of dry-docking overhaul and tank inspection and repairs.
To resupply the SWOB, workers spend 12 hours towing it from Defense Logistics Agency Manchester and back.