RE: Growler guest column | Letter

This letter responds to your March 21 guest column, “Navy announces massive Growler expansion.”

The column is mostly standardized points published elsewhere, by other people. It promotes a disparaging view of our area, which is not validated by objective measures or by objective personal experience.

There is no “massive Growler expansion.”

Even with 118 jets, the EA-18G “Growler” community is small and specialized. Their capability and expertise at protecting American aircraft and ground forces are peerless.

Nearly every other U.S. combat jet community is significantly larger, by orders of magnitude. Also, 216 carrier jets used to fly from the 75-year-old air station complex. — This is roughly 100 jets MORE than what was recently decided.

The column is an example of a protracted effort to portray the Puget Sound region as supposed “collateral damage” due to the Navy, to anyone and any publication which will listen.

In contrast to the negative messaging, Island and San Juan Counties are as upbeat and prosperous as they have ever been. Our schools, economies, real estate, parks, and wildlife are all flourishing.

For instance, tourism has dramatically increased since Growlers began flying here ten years ago. Tourist spending in San Juan County is up over 75 percent (2010-2017). Deception Pass traffic, adjacent to the Whidbey base, rose 25 percent during the last two years.

The “massive” column is especially interesting since Lopez will see reduced impacts from carrier landing practice. Additionally, San Juan County is a primary beneficiary of the exceptional Navy rescue and medevac capabilities, which are tied directly to Growlers. Recent efforts include Lopez and Orcas islands.

Please note, there are not thousands of people opposed to Growlers, there is only a specific, narrowly defined demographic. They are welcome to their personal disposition, but they are at odds with the vibrancy of our area and the outstanding service provided by the young men and women of our Navy.

Since 1902, the Navy League of the United States is a nonpartisan, worldwide organization, dedicated to informing the American people about the importance of Sea Services to our national defense and economic prosperity.

Steve Bristow

Spokesperson, Oak Harbor Navy League