Naval Air Station Brunswick
Naval Air Station Brunswick is the last, active-duty Department of Defense airfield remaining in the northeast, and is home to five active duty and two reserve squadrons. Flying Lockheed P-3 "Orion" long-range maritime patrol aircraft tasked by Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Five, active duty squadrons regularly deploy overseas for six months at a time. NAS Brunswick has 29 tenant commands, including a Reserve P-3 squadron and a Reserve Fleet Logistics Support Squadron flying C-130 "Hercules" transports. In addition, over 1,600 Naval Reservists travel from throughout New England to drill at Naval Air Reserve Brunswick, SeaBee Battalion and numerous other reserve commands.
There is one satellite location served by this installation and that is Naval Security Group Activity, Winter Harbor, ME.
With the BRAC-driven closure of NAS South Weymouth, NAS Brunswick became the only large scale DoN flight installation in New England, and in fact stands alone as a full service active duty DoD airfield in the region. NAS Brunswick supports operations by three active duty and one special mission P-3C and EP-3 squadrons (VPU-1, VP-8, VP-10 and VP-26, one reserve C-130 squadron (VR-62) and one reserve VP squadron (VP-92). NAS Brunswick is also the host for Commander Patrol Reconnaissance Wing 5 (CPRW-5). The airspace dedicated to this mission includes a close-in mine warfare practice area (the Small Point Mining Range), and Warning Areas W-102, W-103 and W-104. W-102 and W-104 are vertically stratified for efficiency. W-102 High is actually scheduled by the Northeast Air Defense Sector, a 1st Air Force (USAF) unit. Units assigned to NAS Brunswick indicate no difficulty in gaining access to required airspace. The airfield itself is large enough to accommodate necessary activity, and has few encroachment or community support concerns.
Approximately 20 percent of NAS Brunswick's activities, facilities and services are in direct support of the AEGIS Destroyer shipbuilding program at nearby Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Bath and the Bath Iron Works Corporation. Also, the Navy's only cold weather Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school is taught at Brunswick and on 12,000 acres near Rangeley in northwestern Maine.
As Maine's second largest employer, NAS Brunswick employs 4,863 military and civilian personnel, including 713 officer, 3,493 enlisted personnel and 657 civilians. The air station provides over $187 million to the local economy, including $115 million in salaries, $38 million in contracts and material purchases and $34 million in medical purchases.
With several area organizations dedicated to maintaining a seamless relationship between the military and civilian communities, NASB officials are actively working as partners with the Military-Community Council, the Mid-Coast Council for Business Development, the combined Bath-Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross, and numerous other state, regional and local organizations.
Located near great circle routes for both shipping and air lanes, NAS Brunswick is the base closest to the European theater and NATO commands. As the last active duty DOD airfield in the northeast, with room to grow, the base is poised to provide expanded services and facilities to additional fleet commands as they are needed.
The Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, is located 26 miles northeast from Maine's largest city, Portland, and 31 miles south from the capital city of Augusta. Brunswick is the largest town of a tri-town area made up of Brunswick, Topsham, and Bath. The total population of the 3 towns is approximately 37,000. Brunswick is situated on the Androscoggin River which flows into Merrymeeting Bay and then into the Atlantic Ocean only a few miles away. The area provides most of the conveniences of living in the city yet retains its rural atmosphere. If you like the outdoors, you will love being stationed at Brunswick.
Constructed on land which from the 1700's has been used only for the purpose of growing blueberries, Naval Air Station, Brunswick, Maine, was commissioned on April 15, 1943. The primary purpose was to train Canadian and British Air Force pilots of the British Naval Command. This activity continued until the end of WWII. The base was deactivated in 1947 and reactivated in 1951 with the primary mission of anti-submarine warfare. On July 1, 1971, Commander Patrol Wings US Atlantic Fleet/Commander Patrol Wing Five established his headquarters at NAS Brunswick. Changes have occurred on the base since 1971 so that at present, three patrol squadrons flying the P3 Orion perform their duties here at the NAS. In addition, two reserve squadrons are also based at the Naval Air Station. The NAS also provides support for the ships at Bath, the Navy Security Group at Winter Harbor, the US Naval Survival School at Rangeley, and the Department of Naval Sciences at the Maine Maritime Academy at Castine, Maine.
The town of Brunswick was originally settled in 1628 along the falls of the Androscoggin River. It was incorporated in 1738 and named to honor the British House of Brunswick. As the home of Bowdoin College (chartered in 1794) and the Naval Air Station, Brunswick has a diversity of population. Several National Historic Districts with grand sea captains' mansions serve as testaments to the Greek Revival and Federal styles of architecture. The grassy tree-lined mall links Bowdoin College with the downtown district. Industries include L.L. Bean, MBNA credit card company, fiberglass construction material, electrical switches, Mid-Coast health services, and several facilities of Bath Iron Works. Brunswick serves as a commercial center for surrounding communities and home to many who work in Augusta and Portland. With a population of approximately 37,000 (Brunswick, Bath, and Topsham), Brunswick provides a combination of the best of rural and urban Maine.
The climate in the Brunswick area of Maine has pleasant warm summers and cold snowy winters. The average snowfall is 75" a year but it is not unusual to have as much as 140" of snow in a single year. Likewise, the average temperature in the summer may be 70 degrees but it is not totally unusual for a summer to be very hot with an average of 90+ degrees. There is approximately 45" of rain a year but that can vary from year to year. The average temperature in the winter is 28 degrees. Temperatures, however, can be a chilling -10 degrees for several days. The nicest thing about Maine weather is that there are 4 distinct seasons. All four have their good points but the fall is positively spectacular. The trees are the colors of the rainbow for several weeks during this part of the year and attract many visitors who come to see the beauty.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign Naval Air Station Brunswick, ME, to a Naval Air Facility and relocate its aircraft along with dedicated personnel, equipment and support to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL. Consolidate Aviation Intermediate Maintenance with Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Jacksonville, FL. This recommendation was modified to Close Naval Air Station Brunswick, ME as an addition the Secretary's recommendation list.
The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $147.2M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a cost of $112.6M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $34.9M with a payback expected in four years. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $238.8M. This recommendation indicates impacts of costs at the installations involved, which reported $0.2M in costs for waste management and environmental compliance. These costs were included in the payback calculation. Assuming no economic recovery, DoD estimated that this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 4,266 jobs (2,420 direct jobs and 1,846 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford ME Metropolitan Statistical Area, which would be 1.3 percent of economic area employment.
Secretary of Defense Justification: The realignment of Naval Air Station Brunswick will reduce operating costs while single-siting the East Coast Maritime Patrol community at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. This recommendation retains an operational airfield in the northeast that can be used to support the homeland defense mission, as needed, and maintains strategic flexibility. The Fleet Readiness Center portion of this recommendation realigns and merges depot and intermediate maintenance activities. It supports both DoD and Naval transformation goals by reducing the number of maintenance levels and streamlining the way maintenance is accomplished with associated significant cost reductions.
Community Concerns: The Brunswick community argued that the facility is the last active duty DoD airfield in New England and, other than McGuire Air Force Base, NJ, in the Northeast. DoD's realignment recommendation would harm US homeland defense, and forgo a militarily strategic location near North Atlantic sea lanes and the closest point to Europe and the Middle East. NAS Brunswick, with over $130 million of recapitalization since 2001, had modern facilities that could support the entire military aircraft inventory and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) with parallel runways, unimpeded access to the ocean with over 60,000 square miles of unencumbered training airspace, and the only hangar in the Navy that will accommodate the Multimission Aircraft (MMA), which is the follow-on to the P-3. They further argued that realignment would result in redeployment of P-3 forces back to the same base for little if any savings while adding additional aviation excess capacity due to required construction at the receiving site to accommodate relocated aircraft. DoD's savings were overestimated because of unrealistic personnel eliminations associated with aircraft maintenance support that are not required with MMA. The community maintained that economic impacts on the local community were grossly understated in DoD calculations, as were costs associated with aircraft relocation.
With respect to the Commission's vote to formally consider closure of Brunswick, the community argued that closure of the Naval Air Station raised all the issues attendant with DoD's realignment recommendation, plus the loss of the only cold weather survival school as well as Reserve facilities supporting the entire New England area and crews of Naval ships at nearby Bath Shipyard. They further argued closure would violate Criteria 2 (homeland defense). Also noted were the arguments made by Northern Command and Fleet Forces Command, which opposed closure by emphasizing Brunswick's strategic location and future capability (Criteria 2 and 3). DoD's senior deliberative body, the IEC, concurred in the assessment that Brunswick's strategic location was essential. Brunswick supports one of the last reserve force populations in the Northeast, and could support Coast Guard and UAV air assets as future missions. The community has worked hard to prevent any encroachment issues at the base and staunchly support the air station and its personnel.
Commission Findings: Closure of Naval Air Station Brunswick, ME was initially added by the Commission for consideration so that it could fairly and properly evaluate all possible options for this facility: full closure, realignment, or remaining open. The Commission's review and analysis of the certified data found that closure would reduce excess capacity and result in significant savings while realignment would accomplish neither. The Commission found DoD's realignment proposal would remove military value from the installation, while still incurring many ongoing base operation support (BOS) costs. Moreover, realignment would eliminate the vast majority of the jobs, while making it virtually impossible for the community to successfully redevelop the site.
The Commission found there were suitable detachment operating sites for Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadrons to support homeland defense and other Department of Defense mission support responsibilities in New England. The Multimission Aircraft (MMA), when developed, procured, and deployed, will not replace P-3s on a one-for-one basis, and therefore there will continue to be excess installations, making a backfill at NAS Brunswick unlikely. Furthermore, the MMA could be deployed from other civilian or Air National Guard airfields in the event of future mission requirements in the New England region. The Commission found that other realignments under this bill addressed the homeland defense needs of New England. The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially by not recommending closure of Naval Air Station Brunswick, ME.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary deviated from selection criteria 2 and 5 and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore the Commission recommends the following:
Close Naval Air Station Brunswick, ME. Relocate its aircraft along with dedicated personnel, equipment and support to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL. Consolidate Aviation Intermediate Maintenance with Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Jacksonville, FL.
The Commission found that this change and the recommendation as amended are consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. The full text of this and all Commission recommendations can be found in Appendix Q.
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