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.

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.