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Commission closes Navy bases

Nothing happened to change the rosy future for Whidbey Naval Air Station this week when the Base Closure and Realignment Commission announced its recommendations on Navy facilities.

Perhaps of most interest to local aviators is the decision to close naval air stations Brunswick, Pascagoula, Atlanta, Ingleside and Corpus Christi, and put Oceana on notice that unless encroachment issues can be settled in six months, it too could be closed.

The only direct impact on Whidbey came with the recommendation to block a Pentagon plan to move more than 100 maintenance workers to Whidbey from elsewhere.

But that’s small potatoes compared to the recent good news regarding Whidbey. First, it escaped being listed for possible closure; second, it was announced as the new home for a patrol squadron based in Rota, Spain; and third, the Navy’s EA-18G, the successor to the venerable EA-B Prowler, will be based at Whidbey.

“At NAS Whidbey the future is so bright you got to wear shades,” said Second District Rep. Rick Larsen in a news release.

Lyle Bull, a retired admiral and member of the committee organized to support NAS Whidbey during the BRAC process, said Friday that Whidbey came through the process in better shape than ever.

“We have air space,” Bull said, describing the advantage Whidbey enjoys over other bases. “Air space is the key.”

The commission completed its recommendations Friday regarding Navy, Air Force and Army bases.

The president will have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety. If accepted, Congress will have 45 legislative days to reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become binding.

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