Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgians Plead Case to BRAC Board; Kings Bay Area Can Handle Influx from New London Submarine Base, Delegates Say

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgians Plead Case to BRAC Board; Kings Bay Area Can Handle Influx from New London Submarine Base, Delegates Say

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY PIATT

ATLANTA -- Georgia officials sought to take the high road Thursday, espousing the benefits of adding personnel and submarines to Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base before members of the independent commission reviewing the Pentagon's recommendations for military base realignment and closure.

The subs and sailors would come at the expense of New London Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Conn. The Pentagon recommended in May that New London be closed and its 8,600 personnel and 18 attack subs be divided between Kings Bay and Norfolk, Va. Kings Bay would get about 3,300 personnel and six subs.

Since then, Connecticut officials have responded in kind -- coloring Camden County as too rural and questioning if there is enough housing and schools for Kings Bay's expanded mission. They sent fact-finders to Southeast Georgia to collect data to fight the closure.

Connecticut officials fear the loss of New London would be economically devastating.

"I think there is a significant difference in what you're seeing coming out of Kings Bay and what you're seeing coming out of Connecticut," said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., after politicians and officials for military bases in Georgia made their presentations to three BRAC commissioners.

Along with making a presentation about Kings Bay, Georgia officials made their case to keep open or not realign Atlanta's Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, Atlanta Naval Air Station and the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens.

Chambliss noted Camden County's entourage showed it was grateful to have Kings Bay and is confident the base can hold an expanded role.

"The folks representing Kings Bay are talking about what positive aspects Camden County, Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida have to offer the men and women in the Navy," Chambliss said after the hearing.

On Wednesday, Connecticut officials will make their case to BRAC commissioners in Boston as to why New London shouldn't be closed.

Georgia officials said sailors moving to Camden would have a good quality of life, with plenty of housing, a school system that could handle the influx of sailors and their families, and a base that has plenty of room to grow. …

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