Naval Station New York
Stapleton Pier / USS The Sullivans Pier
Stapleton, Staten Island, NY
Naval Station New York was planned for Stapleton on Staten Island in New York. The decision to place a home port in Staten Island was always a political decision and never a military decision, seeking support all over the country for the Navy's master plan. The battleship Iowa was supposed to be berthed in this home port. The Navy insisted on maintaining nuclear weapons option for the battleship Iowa.
The Staten Island home port would have important economic benefits for New York. The Staten Island home port would create more than 4,000 new jobs in the area and generate $387 million per year in additional revenue for the city.
The US Navy's Strategic Homeporting Berthing Pier was constructed in the late 1980s for the USS Iowa Battleship Group. Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers [MRCE] was retained to develop an alternative structural design of the piling and deck support system for this 90 foot by 1,410 foot pier. After study of several design approaches, a system was selected for design incorporating 54 inch diameter precast concrete cylinder piles and use of precast concrete pile caps, vaults, and pier deck planking. The alternative design was approved by the Navy was successfully constructed with a substantial savings in cost and construction time. MRCE was also responsible for the contractor's quality control.During construction of this award-winning $60 million pier, one of the largest marine structures ever built on the East Coast, Yonkers Contracting Company suggested a value engineering redesign of the pier piles that improved constructibility, saved almost $1 million, and cut three months off the construction schedule. The US Navy's Strategic Homeporting Berthing Pier was the recipient of the Concrete Industry Board's 1989 Annual Award.
As of 1990 it was estimated to cost almost a half billion dollars to open and operate the Staten Island base over the following 5 years. At that time the U.S. Government had expended $136 million on initial construction of this facility. This could be recouped from the sale of the facility, but it would take $57 million more to bring the base into initial operating capability. The General Accounting Office reported that it would take at least $400 million more to bring the base to full operating capability and operate the base over the next 5 years. Its supporters asserted that it is 90 percent complete, since 90 percent of the $188 million authorized by Milcon to achieve initial operating capacity had been spent. But, according a 1988 Navy document, $446 million in total construction expenditures would be required to bring the port to full operating capacity. Thus, according to the Navy's own figures, the port was less than 50 percent complete. Additional work needed included 850 housing units that would cost $120 million. Even groundbreaking had not taken place on it. A headquarters building had to be built, a construction battalion unit facility had to be completed, a public works facility had to be done. also. That totaled $425 million alone. The Navy said, in addition, it needed bachelors enlisted quarters and officers quarters, it needed a child care center, it needed a post exchange, commissaries, a physical fitness and general well-being facility, and it needed additional fencing.
This state-of-the-art naval facility was designed to quickly deploy vessels to the open sea in times of national crisis and emergency. The base would also serve a valuable reserve role for personnel who must now travel to Philadelphia or Newport, RI, for training.
New York City is a very expensive place to base ships. The Navy said that it would cost twice as much for family housing on Staten Island than at other areas. Further, the cost of operating ships out of Staten Island would run $15 million to $20 million more per year than keeping the ships where they are in ports like Norfolk or Philadelphia.
There was no strategic rationale for this new home port. There would be no time gained in deployment, since ships from Staten Island would still need to convoy with ships based in other east coast ports. Since the mothballing of the battleship Iowa, which was to be the centerpiece of the home port, the home port had lost its purpose.
Citizens groups and legislators had been protesting against the establishment of the Staten Island "nukeport" since it was first proposed. Stationing ships with nuclear weapons in the extremely densely populated area of New York City represents dangerously irresponsible planning. This safety threat was said to be completely out of proportion to the defensive value the home port would have. New York opposition to the base has been consistent, widespread, and adamant. According to a 1985 poll, a majority of the city's citizens oppose the base. New York City does not want the base. This base is in an overwhelming Democratic area. But the city's Democratic mayor, David Dinkins, and 11 of the 12 Democratic New York City Representatives said: `Close the base.' Barry Goldwater said it was the stupidest idea he ever heard in over 25 years in the Senate, to build a Navy home port in the most expensive city in the United States.
In 1986 a majority of the House of Representatives passed the amendment to stop the New York home port. They took it out in conference committee because the Navy come in and lobbied the Congress. The Governor of New York was supportive of home-porting Staten Island, and the Representative from the New York area where the home port was being built, Susan Molinari, was supportive. The Democratic speaker of the New York City Council, Peter Vallone, supported the home port; a majority of the Democratically controlled New York City Council supported the home port; a majority of the Democratically controlled New York State assembly supported the project; the Democratic borough presidents of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx supported the home port; and the Democratic Governor of the State, Mario Cuomo, supported the Staten Island home port.
The U.S. Navy honored the memory of the five "Fighting Sullivan" brothers 19 April 1997 as it accepted into commission the newest guided missile destroyer, USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), at Stapleton Pier, Staten Island, NY. A permanent memorial to the five brothers was dedicated at Stapleton Pier in May 1998. Stapleton Pier, a military installation which fell into disuse the commissioning, was renamed USS The Sullivans Pier. Staten Islanders and the committee heading the commissioning ceremonies hope the pier will be a permanent site for decommissioned Navy ships.
The July 2000 International Naval Review 2000, / OpSail 2000 was the largest gathering of foreign and domestic sailing vessels and naval warships ever assembled. This historic Fourth of July event required a mammoth effort. With more than 100 ships visiting from nearly 30 countries, plus a visit from President Clinton and the largest fireworks display in New York history, preparations were huge. More than 150 tall ships and classic craft, nearly three dozen naval warships, and more than 50,000 spectator boats filled New York Harbor. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center awarded a sole source contract the Stapleton Pier Authority, Staten Island, NY to provide berthing space for US ships to be docked during 5-9 July 2000. Ships at the Staten Island, USS Sullivan Pier included USS Elrod (frigate), USS Hue City (cruiser), USS Nassau (helicopter carrier), and USS Underwood (frigate), as well as Brasil (a frigate from Brazil), HMCS Montreal (a frigate from Canada), Yuugiri (a destroyer from Japan), Endurance (a transport ship from Singapore), and Fatih (a frigate from Turkey). Using 15-ton forklifts, Seabees positioned 44 brows [gangways from pier to ship] for visiting ships. More than 20 brows were salvaged and moved to Stapleton Pier, Staten Island, to be used during INR 2000, saving the Navy more than $60,000 in rental and purchase costs.
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