House Gives Final Authorization Approval of Nearly $97 Million for Earle Pier Construction
Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) today won House approval of nearly $97 million for the entire construction of a new pier at Naval Weapons Station Earle to replace a pier constructed 60 years ago.
The House authorized the funding as part of a Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Defense Authorization conference report that reconciled differences between two separate bills passed earlier this year in the House and Senate. The Senate must now approve the conference report before being sent to the presidents desk for his approval.
The authorization of these funds comes after the House earlier this week approved $26.7 million in funding for the next year to begin the construction when it approved a final conference report funding military construction projects during FY 2004, which officially began on October 1.
Earlier this year, Pallone and Holt requested $26.7 million for the initial leg of the construction, but the two lawmakers also worked to ensure approval of authorization language that would make the additional $96.9 million available over the next three years.
The two lawmakers said Naval Weapons Station Earle is uniquely suited to serve as a homeport facility for AOE class ships due to a pier complex that allows for fully loaded ordnance ships to be berthed, loaded and unloaded without a waiver from the Department of Defense Explosive Safety Board. It is the only facility with this capability on the East Coast. Earle is also the closest weapons station on the Atlantic Coast to the Fifth and Sixth Fleet. Consequently, Earles homeport capabilities allow for an efficiency of deployment during times of national emergency that cannot be duplicated by other homeport facilities on the East Coast.
"As a critical weapons station on the Atlantic Coast, its essential that we upgrade the pier in order to meet our 21st century national security needs," Pallone said. "Congress stamp of approval now allows Earle the ability to complete this construction and solidify the weapons stations position as a premium facility on the Atlantic Coast."
The Pier and Trestles at NWS Earle were built in 1944. The wear and tear it has experienced over the last 60 years has brought it to the end of its physical life. Structural testing and engineering analyses have found major areas of deterioration. Reduced load capacities compound problems associated with this deterioration. The damage that has already been done, moreover, is getting worse from the effects of repeated freezes and thaws, and salt corrosion.