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The US Navy needs to immediately begin protecting its most vulnerable facilities, taking only 10 or 20 years to take the necessary action.
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, located at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay in southeastern Virginia, is the oldest and one of the four naval yards that service the nation’s nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.
The Norfolk shipyard now faces a major threat because of rising sea levels and a strong storm caused by climate change that is headed directly into the area.
“This would have the potential to cause serious damage, if not even catastrophic damage, and would certainly put the yard out of service for some time,” said Ray Mabus, a former Navy secretary during Barack Obama’s presidency, adding that it has implications not only on the shipyard but also on the navy in general.
Among the yard’s biggest vulnerabilities are its five dry docks that were not designed to withstand such threats. The high tides have already caused immense delays in ship repair, destabilizing maintenance schedules.
Although the Navy has built temporary flood walls and uses thousands of sandbags to protect dry docks and is lifting some equipment, the facility remains vulnerable.
In October, Hurricane Michael showed what could happen to coastal military bases, damaging more than a dozen poachers at Tyndall Air Force Base.
In 2011, the National Research Council warned that the melting of the Arctic would force the Navy to patrol a vast new area under, particularly harsh conditions.
The report also determined that 56 naval facilities, estimated at $ 100 billion, would be under threat if sea levels rose by one meter. According to the article, the Navy should start protecting the most vulnerable facilities immediately, and it only takes 10 or 20 years to do the rest of the work.
According to retired Rear Admiral Jonathan White, little has been done, adding that every year that is expected by decisions and measures the risk increases.
While military commanders take climate change seriously, the political and legislative impasse may block funding. Addressing the climate issue has become more difficult with President Donald Trump, who recently stated that climate scientists have a political agenda. As a result, military leaders are reluctant to work openly in this area.
All 69 submarines and 11 US aircraft carriers are nuclear and can only be repaired in a few shipyards with specialized personnel and equipment. Of the four shipyards of the US Navy, only Puget Sound in Washington and Norfolk can be placed on aircraft carriers.
The recent flood has already worsened the precarious conditions at the Norfolk shipyard, with its most important equipment infrastructures, such as cranes and other crucial machines, lying in obsolete state, the article says.