Wyden, Merkley Tout Newport as New Home for NOAA Fleet

Wyden, Merkley Tout Newport as New Home for NOAA Fleet

PORTLAND –Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have urged the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration to select Newport as the future home for NOAA’s Pacific fleet.

In a letter sent earlier this month to Rear Admiral Jonathan W. Bailey, Director of NOAA’s Office of Marine & Aviation Operations and its Commissioned Officer Corps, the senators highlighted Newport’s convenient location and bevy of world class researchers:

“Newport has many advantages that will make it the ideal site for the fleet on the Pacific coast, perhaps the most important of which is its convenient location for the fleet. The Port of Newport is the only candidate that is centrally located along the west coast, allowing for easy access to the north and south ends of the West Coast. The Newport piers are minutes from the open ocean, which would maximize sea time for the fleet.

Newport is a center for world class oceanic research. Oregon State University’s (OSU) Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) is located there. OSU is a federally designated NOAA Sea Grant University that is home to the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Lab and will be the future home of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, slated to begin construction in 2010. The Center is also home to OSU’s Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and houses three different NOAA programs: an element of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.”

Lake Union in Seattle is the current homeport for the Pacific fleet. A decision on the future home of the research ships is expected in August.

"Newport boasts the marine science partners and geographic advantages that will enable NOAA's Pacific fleet to most effectively pursue its mission," Merkley said.

“Locating the NOAA fleet in Newport makes sense for a lot of reasons, including its central location, the proximity to the ocean and to the Hatfield Marine Science Center,” Wyden said. “The Port of Newport deserves a great deal of credit for making a strong case that NOAA’s best option for a new home is the Central Oregon Coast.”

Click here to read the full letter.