Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Introduction of the P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft to the U.S. Navy Fleet and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings
Pursuant to Section 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), the Department of the Navy (DON) announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the potential environmental consequences of homebasing the P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) to the East and West Coasts of the United States and a presence, i.e., homebase or detachment, in Hawaii. The DON proposes to replace the maritime patrol P-3C aircraft with the P-8A MMA at existing continental United States maritime patrol homebases for P-3C Orion aircraft while maintaining a maritime patrol presence in Hawaii. The purpose is to transition from P-3C patrol aircraft to the P-8A MMA at existing homebases to maximize utilization of existing infrastructure to the maximum extent practicable to facilitate a quick and efficient transition while maintaining combat readiness. Currently, P-3C patrol squadrons are based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Brunswick, ME (to be relocated in their entirety to NAS Jacksonville by 2010 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure 2005 process); NAS Jacksonville, FL; NAS Whidbey Island, WA; Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) Kaneohe Bay, HI; with periodic detachments at NAS North Island, CA. The proposed action is needed to transition from existing P-3C aircraft to the P-8A MMA while maintaining the Navy's overall maritime patrol capability in support of national defense objectives and policies without interruption or impediment to operations or combat readiness. The P-8A is designed to increase combat capability utilizing a smaller force making it a more effective tool for national defense. The P-8A is a derivative of the 737 commercial aircraft and will be equipped with systems capable of performing the current P-3C missions. Introduction of the P-8A MMA aircraft will begin in 2011 and be completed by 2019. The following have been identified as receiving sites: NAS Whidbey Island, WA, NAS Jacksonville, FL, and either MCBH Kaneohe Bay or Hickam Air Force Base, HI, with a training detachment site at NAS North Island, CA. The DON is currently evaluating a range of alternatives based on the number of squadrons homebased at each site, placement of the fleet replacement squadron, and the number of main operating bases.