Number 4 // June 2015

New Railing on Hueneme Pier

The railing repairs on Hueneme Pier are nearly complete.

NAVFAC is Hiring

It’s an exciting time to be an engineer. That was the message delivered by Capt. Mark K. Edelson, Commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center in a recent presentation to the Regional Defense Partnership for the 21st Century (RDP-21).

NAVFAC EXWC at Naval Base Ventura County is responsible for buildings and equipment at installations stretching from China Lake to Guam. Overall, Capt. Edelson oversees an operation with over 18,000 employees, 1000 of whom are based in Ventura County and China Lake.

The Center not only provides routine maintenance at all shore based facilities, but also is heavily engaged in research and development of new technologies to support operations all over the world. From a portable rock crusher to water purification to alternative energy generation and storage, NAVFAC engineers are pushing the boundaries of technology.

While one would expect the usual civil and mechanical engineering positions, the Center also employs petroleum engineers, industrial engineers, and marine biologists. From developing a sea water air conditioning system in Guam to geothermal energy production at China Lake, there is no limit to the reach of NAVFAC engineers. An onsite waste to energy system for forward deployed troops? They’re working on it.

With the need to become more and more efficient, the demand for engineering, technical, and administrative talent is expected to grow. Right now, Capt. Edelson has 150 vacancies to fill. The Navy has a Pathways Program for students and recent grads to join a career track as interns receiving the necessary training to move up in the organization.

Anyone interested in this exciting career opportunity is encouraged to visit and explore the possibilities.

The Surface Warfare Engineering Facility is an important component of the Pacific Test Range

The Navy and the Otters

Southern sea otters are listed as a “threatened” species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The majority of their population can be found north of Point Conception.  With the population concentrated in a relatively small area, USF&W became concerned that in the event of catastrophe, either natural or man made, the survival of the species could be put in doubt.  Consequently, during the 1980‘s a program was begun to establish new colonies farther away from the otters’ existing habitat.

San Nicolas Island was chosen as a host site for a new colony of sea otters.  Although a small but robust population has continued to call our local island home, many of the transplants exhibited typical NoCal snobbishness and decided to head back beyond Santa Barbara.  Consequently, in December 2012 US Fish and Wildlife gave up and abandoned the program.

The Pacific Test Range is the largest over water range in the world. San Nicolas is an important cornerstone of that facility.  Under the sea otter relocation program, the Navy has been permitted to operate the test range without harming the otters.  With the ending of the relocation program,  the Navy’s exemption from the Marine Mammal Protection Act also ends.  

According to officials with Fish and Wildlife, the Navy has been an exemplary custodian of otter habitat.  In fact, USFW’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement says, “We have no evidence that defense related activities have had any adverse effects on sea otters at San Nicolas Island or in the management zone.”

Although there has never been a conflict between test range activities and the sea otters, under the relocation program the Navy was protected if such a conflict ever did occur.  At a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per hour, even small delays or problems in range activities can wind up costing the taxpayers well into six or even seven figures. 

Since 2012 the Navy has been seeking to have the 25 year exemption legally continued.  Both Julia Brownley and her predecessor in Congress, Elton Gallegly, attempted to pass such legislation. 

Unfortunately, these efforts were seen as an opportunity to amend the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts.  The environmentalists wanted to make them stronger, the commercial fishing industry wanted to make them weaker. In the end, what should have been a simple piece of legislation was amended into oblivion.

Finally, with this years National Defense Appropriations Act, it appears that Congressmember Brownley has succeeded in getting a “clean” piece of legislation passed.  As the language appears in both the House and Senate versions of the bill, it is, in the inimitable patois of Washington, “non-conferenceable” — meaning that it can’t be changed when the two houses meet to work out their differences.

While this is a successful result of years of effort, the final bill is a long way from being signed into law.  The Senate, House, and President each have their own notions of appropriate appropriations, and significant differences remain.  Nonetheless, it looks like the Navy and the otters will be living together for some time to come.

Copyright 2015 The Hueneme Pilot  All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

516 Island View Circle
Port Hueneme, California 93041

J. Sharkey, Editor and Publisher


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