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Apra Harbor

Apra Harbor is a beautiful, deep-water port that can accommodate the largest of Naval vessels including aircraft carriers. Guam Shipyard provides superb repair and maintenance for our vessels, and Kilo Wharf features the only deep water ammunition port in the western pacific where a loaded ammunition ship can go pier side and get much needed maintenance accomplished.

Apra Harbor lies on the western side of Guam's central section. For all practical purposes, this is the commercial hub of the island. It is a natural harbor, protected by Orote Peninsula on the south and Cabras Island on the north. Guam's commercial port is on Cabras Island, along with private industrial firms. Almost all of Apra Harbor, with the noticeable exception of the commercial port operations, is under the jurisdiction of the adjacent US Naval Activities. The port handles both containerized and conventional cargo from the United States and other countries.

The third FBM advance anchorage site, at Apra Harbor, Guam, became operational on 1 December 1964 with USS Proteus (AS-19) as the FBM tender. The USS Proteus (AS- 19) had opened all three FBM anchorage sites. Polaris system support continued until the last SSBN - the Robert E. Lee, departed Guam in July 1981.

The USS FRANK CABLE (AS 40) changed homeport to Agaa, Guam, where it is the sole mobile-support platform for all SEVENTH Fleet ships and submarines.

The Navy has considered homeporting three to five attack submarines in Guam so the boats can spend more time on station in the western Pacific. Transit times from Hawaii and the West Coast substantially impact the availability of subs deploying along the Pacific rim. Creation of a homeport in Guam could not happen prior to around 2005, since the Navy would have to create an infrastructure to care for the ships, an additional 650 to 700 sailors and their families.

In January 2001 the Navy proposed homeporting up to three fast-attack submarines on the Pacific island of Guam to get the ships closer to their operating area. The first of the Pacific Fleet subs would reach their new base sometime in 2002, though the Navy had not decided which subs will move to Guam.

Stationing submarines in Guam allows them to follow a different operating concept, further increasing the number of mission days they can perform. Attack submarines in the United States typically deploy for a 180-day stretch every two years or so. Submarines based in Guam will deploy for periods of up to 56 days, but much more often, so they will spend about 182 days a year at sea and 183 days a year in their home port.

The Los Angeles-class City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) arrived at its new homeport in Guam in October 2002, marking the first time the Navy has "forward deployed" an attack sub from the Pacific island. The USS San Francisco will be in Guam before year's end; a third submarine, yet to be named, arrives in 2004.

By June 2004 the Navy had decided that up to three more attack submarines will be based in Guam, positioned to respond to a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

There is ample Navy Family Housing on the island plus a generous Overseas Housing Allowance for those who choose to live off base. There are ample Department of Defense Schools that cover all grades for eligible family members, plus a wide variety of high-quality private schools on the island. The U.S. Naval Hospital and Branch Dental Clinic offer outstanding medical and dental care.

On the recreation side, the base offers beautiful beaches, modern gym facilities, large screen movie theater, bowling alley, Olympic size swimming pool, tennis courts, hiking trails, auto hobby shop, golf course (just off base), plus some of the best Navy Exchange and Commissary facilities on any military installation. Off base, the local economy caters to its number one industry of tourism and you'll find just about any leisure activity available to suit your tastes from deep-sea fishing to skydiving. Snorkeling and scuba diving are particularly popular on Guam.

The former Camp Covington is located in the southern portion of the Apra Harbor Naval Complex, Guam. From 1945 until 1993, it was used for a variety of activities. It is currently used by U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalions [Seabees]. DETCAT is a multi-service military unit which provides operational control and logistics support to deployed Civic Action Teams in the Pacific. DETCAT is comprised of 19 military members (Navy, Army, and Air Force) and 3 civilians and falls under the Commander In Chief, U.S. Pacific Command Representative, Guam / Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands / Federated States of Micronesia / Republic of Palau. DETCAT is located on Camp Covington, inside the main gate of COMNAVMAR. The Civic Action Team (CAT) program in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of Palau (ROP) is a joint service initiative which supports bilateral agreements and treaty obligations under the Compact of Free Association. The Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Command (USCINCPAC) is the overall program manager. The CAT program is the principal peacetime initiative supporting USCINCPAC's cooperative engagement strategy in Micronesia. Four CATs are currently deployed in Micronesia. These include a Navy Seabee Team in the Republic of Palau; an Air Force Team on Chuuk, FSM; an Army Team on Kosrae, FSM; and under a tri-service agreement the team on Pohnpei, FSM is rotated through the services (Navy, Air Force, and Army in that order). Each team is typically comprised of one officer and twelve enlisted personnel with a variety of engineering and medical skills.

The Port Authority of Guam (PAG) administers the commercial port facilities at Apra Harbor. PAG is a public corporation and autonomous agency of the Government of Guam. Guam's port is a major transshipment center of the Western Pacific and is equipped to move containerized, unitized, break-bulk, and tuna cargo efficiently. The port has in recent years seen an average increase of 23 percent in cargo growth. The PAG is expanding its container yard and is planning to spend $100 million in reconstruction activities through the year 2005. Glass Breakwater provides the necessary protection to make Apra Harbor the most important Harbor on Guam. It is eligible for listing in the National Register since it is an excellent example of breakwater construction in the 1940s.

Apra Harbor is located on Guam's west coast at approximately 1326'N 14440'E. Agana, Guam's largest city, is located approximately six nmi east-northeast of Apra Harbor. Apra Harbor is an improved, natural basin that consists of an Outer Harbor and an Inner Harbor. Orote Peninsula, which projects 3.5 nmi west-northwestward from Guam's west coast, forms the southern boundary of the Outer Harbor. The northern side of the Outer Harbor is formed by a breakwater that is partially man made. The man made portion of the breakwater lies west of Cabras Island and is called the Glass Breakwater. The average height of the breakwater is approximately 15 ft (4.6 m) above mean sea level. The Inner Harbor extends southward from the eastern part of the Outer Harbor. Hills east and southeast of the port provide a limited wind break for winds from those directions, but Apra Harbor is not a sheltered port.

The west-facing entrance to Outer Apra Harbor is 500 yd (457 m) wide and over 100 ft (30.5 m) deep. The Outer Harbor is large and contains several mooring buoys and piers. Although the Outer Harbor has many areas where depths exceed 100 ft, it also contains several clearly marked shoal or reef areas. They are located primarily in the eastern portion of the harbor, close to the entrance to the Inner Harbor. While these shallow areas pose only a limited threat to normal operations, they are a significant hazard that must be considered if maneuvering in the harbor is required during periods of heavy weather. Buoys and anchorages in the Outer Harbor are used by both military and commercial vessels. Some individual berths are designated for use by the Commercial Port. It was noted during a 1994 visit to Apra Harbor that a pre-positioned Military Sealift Command vessel was moored in a position at or near Buoy 702. Local authorities state that it is at that location full time. It was also pointed out during the same visit that Wharf H on the north side of the Outer Harbor was in an advanced state of disrepair and only marginally useful.

Wharf K, an ammunition wharf, is located on the south side of the Outer Harbor, approximately 1,200 yd east of the harbor entrance. As a result of dredging, depths alongside Wharf K are now 45 to 50 ft (13.7 to 15.2 m).

The Inner Harbor is entered from the southeast portion of the Outer Harbor through a passage between Polaris Point on the east and the Ship Repair Facility (SRF) on the west. Local harbor personnel refer to the passage as the "SRF Cut." Vessels entering the Inner Harbor are limited to a maximum draft of 32 ft (9.8 m).

Most of the US Navy berthing facilities at Apra Harbor are located at Naval Activities (NAVACTS), Guam on the west side of the Inner Harbor. Notable exceptions include a submarine tender that is home ported at Apra Harbor and moored with its stem to Wharf A at the southwest end of Polaris Point; the Fleet Industrial Supply Center (FISC), which occupies Wharf X in the southeast part of the Inner Harbor; Wharves D and E on the western end of Drydock Point in the Outer Harbor; and Ammunition Wharf K on the south side of the Outer Harbor near Apra Harbor's entrance. Some of the wharves in the Inner Harbor are not sound. An earthquake damaged Wharf S extensively; only the southwest half of the wharf (berths S-3 and S-4) is now usable. Wharf U is damaged beyond repair and is unusable. Berth T-3 on Wharf T (immediately adjacent to Wharf U) is damaged and not used.

In addition to the berths, a total of 21 mooring buoys exist in Inner and Outer Apra Harbors. According to local harbor authorities, none are suitable as typhoon moorings for large vessels. Buoys #1 through #4 are used by yard craft only. The outer harbor has many deep draft anchorages. Holding quality is excellent on a bottom of sand, coral and rocks. Large aircraft carriers have anchored in the outer harbor on infrequent occasions in the past, but they would do so now only in an emergency because the entrance to the harbor is fouled by the required swinging diameter of the carrier. According to the U. S. Navy Harbor Master at Apra Harbor, a large aircraft carrier needs a minimum 500yd (457 m) swinging radius when using 450 ft (137m) of chain. A Fleet Landing for visiting ships is established on a finger pier located at the southwest end of Wharf U adjacent to berth U-2.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:42:42 ZULU