Navy unveils plans for pier, facilities on Port Angeles' Ediz Hook
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Against a backdrop of Mount Baker, cutters sit at the pier at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles on Thursday. An extension of the pier is one of three possible options for a proposal by the U.S. Navy to position seven submarine-escort vessels at the Coast Guard station on Ediz Hook.
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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Open house on pier plan set Feb. 5
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — An open house on the Navy's proposed submarine-escort vessel project at the Coast Guard base on Ediz Hook will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Elks Naval Lodge, 131 E. First St.

Coast Guard and Navy officials will be on hand to answer questions from the public.

“We know there are questions about this project, and we wanted to make sure we address some of those concerns early on,” said Liana Nakahara, a Navy spokeswoman.

There will be no formal presentation by the officials or a general question-and-answer period.

Another meeting will be held after completion of a draft environmental assessment, she said.

Documents describing the projects can be fetched online via http://tinyurl.com/PDN-navypier.

Comments from the public will be accepted through Feb. 25 for consideration in the draft environmental assessment.

Written comments can be submitted via email to NWNEPA@navy.mil.

Written comments also can be submitted by U.S. mail and addressed to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, Attn: NEPA Project Manager/TPS Facilities, 1101 Tautog Circle, Room 203, Silverdale, WA 98315-1101.
PORT ANGELES — The U.S. Navy has disclosed formal plans for constructing a pier and support facilities for berthing seven submarine-escort vessels on Ediz Hook.

An environmental assessment is underway for the three potential sites at the end of the long, narrow spit along shoreline occupied by Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, home to more than 250 Coast Guard personnel.

But one of the three alternatives for the $16.7 million project that was revealed in early 2014 continues to draw the ire of diving enthusiasts, area tribes and the Puget Sound Pilots, according to Peninsula Daily News interviews conducted this week.

Construction of the $16.7 million project would begin in summer 2016 and last about two years, according to Naval Base Kitsap's “Description of Proposed Action and Alternatives” for the pier and support facilities.

The facility, which would include sleeping quarters for 20 to 30 Coast Guard personnel, would provide a rest stop for Coast Guard personnel now stationed at Naval Base Kitsap who escort submarines from the base along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the ocean, according to the report.

“It's a temporary spot for them to rest so they don't exceed their hours at sea,” Navy spokeswoman Liane Nakahara said this week.

The documents for what the Navy calls a transit protection system, or TPS, is available at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-navypier.

The escort vessels would be 250-foot blocking vessels, 87-foot patrol boats and 64-foot and 33-foot screening vessels.

“TPS vessels and personnel have operated at temporary facilities and piers at [Naval Base] Kitsap Bangor since 2006, which greatly limits their operational capability and efficiency,” the report says.

“When available, they utilize temporary facilities and piers at the Port of Port Angeles and the [Coast Guard base at Ediz Hook].

“Under current conditions, there is an inability for USCG crews to operate at full capacity.”

The port earned about $80,000 from the Navy in 2014 in berthage fees at the Port Angeles Boat Haven and port terminals, port spokeswoman Holly Hairell said.

Public comments on the project are being sought through Feb. 25.

The PDN reported Feb. 15, 2014, that the Navy had begun a National Environmental Policy Act review of plans to build the dock and shoreside facility at an unused barge landing about 100 yards from the western entrance inside the Coast Guard base.

That plan is listed as Alternative 1 in the report.

It sparked concerns — and still does — from diver Bill Roberds of Port Angeles and the Washington Scuba Alliance that escort-vessel activity would compromise an artificial reef teeming with sea life below where the vessels would dock, Roberds said.

Concerns also were expressed by the Lower Elwha Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam and Jamestown S'Klallam tribes over the potential impact of construction and vessel activity on nearby eelgrass beds, Scott Chitwood, Jamestown S'Klallam natural resources director, said Thursday.

And Puget Sound Pilots, which just outside the base entrance operates the pilots' station, believes building the project at the barge landing would be so disruptive that Puget Sound Pilots might be forced to relocate, Executive Director Walter Tabler said Thursday.

Two other pier alternatives also are described in the report: expansion of an existing small-boat-station T-pier site midpoint on base property, and pier construction at a third site about 1,000 feet east of the T-pier.

Common components for all three sites include berthing for up to seven escort vessels, construction of a second armory on base property for storing the vessels' automatic weapons and ammunition, and addition of a pier with a pontoon that might come from the state Highway 520 floating bridge replacement project.

It would include a fuel storage and distribution system with a 10,000-gallon storage tank, an 8,200-square-foot, single-story building with sleeping quarters and administration offices, and parking, lighting and security improvements.

The eastern and midpoint sites would include wave screens for protection from severe storms.

The existing T-pier at the midpoint site also would be extended to provide berthing for the Coast Guard vessel Active.

Construction would likely take longer if the T-pier option is chosen, according to the report.

The new western and eastern sites would each have a combined 535 feet of trestle, transfer span and floating pontoon.

The midpoint T-pier site would have a combined 670 feet of trestle, transfer span and floating pontoon.

“In my opinion, the preferred alternative would be to improve on the existing infrastructure and to not make an entirely new dock,” Chitwood said.

The report lists the western site as Alternative 1, the eastern site as Alternative 2 and the T-pier site as Alternative 3.

The Coast Guard has no preference among the three sites, said agency spokesman Dana Warr of the 13th Coast Guard District in Seattle.

“We know from initial work that there are pros and cons for all three sites and that is why it's important for the public to provide their input,” Warr said in an email.

The report offers a no-action option as a fourth alternative in a single paragraph in the report.

Choosing it “would not comply with the Navy's security and TPS mission requirements and therefore would not meet the purposes and need,” the report said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 29. 2015 7:41PM
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