Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Incident at Kings Bay Could Have Been Worse; Skydivers Blown off Course, but Not into an Area That Was More Restricted

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Incident at Kings Bay Could Have Been Worse; Skydivers Blown off Course, but Not into an Area That Was More Restricted

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

The two skydivers who landed Sunday on a Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base softball field were very fortunate to have not landed in one of the base's more restricted areas, the Navy said Tuesday.

"There are highly restricted areas on this base that would be extraordinarily dangerous for them to intrude on,'' base public affairs officer Scott Bassett said.

Because it is home to Ohio-class submarines with ballistic missiles, Kings Bay has very effective security to protect those assets, he said.

Bassett did not say what could have happened if the skydivers - who were blown off course - had drifted into those areas rather than a softball field.

He did say, however, "Our security is very robust. The Marines are highly trained to do their jobs."

The Navy has long said the St. Marys Airport, which is virtually next door, was a safety concern, but after two other skydivers landed on the base just over two years ago the Navy said it had become a security concern.

That was one of the justifications cited by proponents of relocating the airport to a donated site near Woodbine, but that proposal is not considered feasible because of financing.

The two Savannah skydivers who jumped with The Jumping Place, which flies from the St. Marys Airport, had no identification and were taken into custody by base security until someone produced it, Bassett said.

"We've had seven skydivers to land on this installation in three years.''

That frequency notwithstanding, the Navy is not getting accustomed to tourists falling from the sky and wants it to stop, Bassett said.

So does the St. Marys Airport Authority, which will hold a meeting on the subject next week, authority chairman Jay Stanford said.

Authority attorney Jim Stein said the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and Cathy Kloess, owner of The Jumping Place, should all be invited.

The DOT is the state pass-through agency for federal airport funding and some administrative matters. …

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