Navy Scuttles Plan To Commission Warship Here, Citing Local Politics

December 5th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Navy Scuttles Plan To Commission Warship Here, Citing Local Politics

San Francisco Chronicle
December 2, 2006
Pg. B1

By Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter vetoed plans to commission the Makin Island, the Navy's newest and most powerful warship, in San Francisco in 2008 because of a perception that the city is anti-military.
Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. J. Michael Myatt, chairman of a high-powered committee that was to support a commissioning ceremony for the Makin Island, said he has been informed that the ship would not be commissioned in San Francisco, as scheduled, but in San Diego.
Myatt said he had been told that the Navy was concerned about San Francisco's refusal to provide a homeport for the retired battleship Iowa, which would be turned into a museum, and for the city school board's decision to abolish junior ROTC training in San Francisco high schools.
One of the factors that turned the Pentagon against San Francisco, he said, was widely quoted anti-military remarks made by various city politicians. Some of the remarks got considerable attention, especially ones made by Gerardo Sandoval, a member of the Board of Supervisors, who was quoted on national television as saying national defense should be left to "the cops and the Coast Guard.''
Myatt said the Navy had mistaken the views of some political leaders for the views of the majority of citizens in the Bay Area. "There are lots of veterans living here,'' he said. "One in every nine members of the military now serving come from California. These people in Washington don't understand.
"Bringing this ship here is a great opportunity to showcase what great people we have in the military. Instead, they are trying to poke a stick in the eye of local politicians. I think it is shortsighted.''
A commissioning is a ceremony where the officers and crew formally take charge of the ship on behalf of the Navy. It differs from a christening ceremony in that the warship is fully operational and ready for service.
The Navy had decided several months ago to commission the ship in San Francisco on the recommendation of Capt. Bob Kopas, the new ship's commanding officer. Kopas, Joseph Hanna, who coordinates all ship commissionings for the Navy, and other officers paid at least three visits to the Bay Area to inspect facilities and make arrangements.
Myatt was commanding general during the 1991 Persian Gulf War of the 1st Marine Division, which captured Kuwait City. Now CEO of the Marines Memorial Association in San Francisco, he and several others formed a committee with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and Stephen Bechtel Jr. of the Bechtel Corp. as honorary co-chairs. The group was organizing an elaborate program and preparing to raise money for a big ceremony in the summer of 2008.
The Navy officers, who attended meetings of the commissioning committee, were enthusiastic about San Francisco's Fleet Week and two previous occasions when Navy ships were commissioned in the city.
The last ship to be commissioned in San Francisco was the frigate McCampbell, which went into commission at Pier 32 in the summer of 2002. At the time, retired Rear Adm. Tom Brown described San Francisco's support for the ceremony as superb.
The Navy recommendation for the Makin Island went up the chain of command early this fall, only to be rejected earlier this week by Winter's office. The secretary's office did not return calls Friday seeking comment, but other military sources indicated that the Navy had in fact vetoed San Francisco as a venue for commissioning the Makin Island.
The ship, which is under construction in Pascagoula, Miss., was christened in August. It would have to steam from the Gulf Coast around South America to the Pacific on its inaugural voyage because it's too wide for the Panama Canal.
After commissioning, the Makin Island will be part of the Third Fleet, based in San Diego.

Similar Topics
A Whistle-Blower's Story: He Feels Navy Did Him Wrong For Doing Right
Pearl Harbour one more lie?????
What was said on the 3rd presidential debate.