Opinion

Editorial: Navy’s future secure

The Navy’s future on Whidbey Island has never been so secure.

Last week’s announcement that the Prowler’s successor aircraft, the EA-18 G, will be based at Whidbey comes after earlier good news that Whidbey escaped being mentioned in the most recent Base Closure and Realignment process, and that a reconnaissance squadron from Rota, Spain, is moving here this summer.

Boeing’s new EA-18G is scheduled to start replacing NAS Whidbey’s 10 Prowler squadrons in 2008, with the transition of all carrier air wing squadrons complete in 2013. The Navy’s 68 Prowlers will be replaced by 57 EA-18G’s.

The moves won’t cause any cramping at the Whidbey base. While the Rota squadron adds personnel, the two-seater EA-18G will require fewer people than the four-seater Prowler. The human population at the base looks like it will be holding steady for years to come.

NAS Whidbey is the engine that drives Island County’s economy, and now it’s secure for the foreseeable future. That couldn’t be said in earlier decades, so it’s refreshing to have clear skies ahead as far as the eye can see.

With the base secured, the island’s economic boosters can focus on attracting clean industries that provide living wage jobs to both long-time islanders and newly arriving Navy spouses.

Meanwhile, City of Oak Harbor and Island County planners can make sure that the future includes plenty of parks, open spaces and beach access points so that Whidbey Island continues to be a great home for the U.S. Navy.

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