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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Is the Navy doc the smoking gun for base supporters?

Lets see how the military and BRAC are going to explain this.

Supporters of the Groton sub base have been saying for some time that the military underestimated the cost of closing the sub base and moving it down south and now it seems like they have the documentation to prove their case. The reporters over at The New London Day got their hands on a Navy document which outlines how badly the Pantagon underestimated the cost of moving the sub fleet to . What's disturbing is that the document was written weeks before Connecticut lawmakers met with BRAC in Boston and now the base supporters are furious.


From The New London Day

An internal Navy memorandum obtained by The Day reveals that the Pentagon's plan to move the Naval Submarine School to Kings Bay, Ga., seriously underestimated the costs.

Opponents of the move Wednesday called the memo a “white-hot smoking gun” that will “blow a hole” in the Pentagon's case to close Sub Base New London.

“Clearly the timing and content of this memo is startling,” said U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn. “If this information is indeed deemed to be accurate and true, it would call into question all data used by the Navy to support its BRAC (base realignment and closure) proposals.

“In particular,” Dodd said, “it would blow a hole in the Navy's analysis recommending the transfer of the Submarine School from Sub Base New London to Kings Bay.”

The plan to move the school, part of the larger plan to close the Naval Submarine Base, calls for construction of 70 classrooms. But Capt. Arnold O. Lotring, the director of the Submarine Learning Center, which would oversee the move, said in the memo he needs 100.

The plan also calls for standard construction, but the memo said the classrooms require highly specialized air conditioning, heating, electrical and information technology improvements that will be much more expensive.

The memo said that to operate effectively at Kings Bay, the sub school must have specialized dormitories, including a wing for students who are being disciplined; a larger cafeteria, or galley; and a brig for at least six people. With as many as 2,200 students at peak periods, there are always a few in serious trouble.

[...]

Members of the team fighting to save the Groton base were fuming to learn that the Navy began assessing the cost of the move in June, almost three weeks after the Pentagon proposed the closure — and more than six months after all the data to support the move was supposed to have been certified by auditors.

“This memo is a disturbing revelation of how the Navy has miscalculated the costs of moving the Submarine School, and it seriously undermines their case to close Sub Base New London,” said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn. “It shows that they neglected to conduct the necessary research and data certification before arriving at their conclusion on the base's fate.

“We will pursue this with the Navy and will provide all information to the BRAC commission for their deliberations. These flaws clearly provide even stronger evidence that Sub Base New London should remain open.”

Base supporters were furious to learn the memo was never released, even though it was written weeks before they traveled to Boston to argue against the Pentagon recommendation in a hearing before the base closure commission.

In addition, U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, noted the memo was written two weeks before his visit to Kings Bay in June. When he asked at that time whether the galley, the gymnasium and other facilities would be able to absorb up to 2,200 students at a time, he was assured they would.

That's a matter of great concern to me,” Simmons said. “They must have known about this memo by then. But when all these issues came up, nobody said anything about a memo. How many other important pieces of information are out there that we don't know about?

The military has not only caught lying abou the closure figures, they knowingly withheld evidence that poked holes in their claims.

Someone at the Pentagon has some serious explaining to do.