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Published: Friday, July 27, 2012, 3:46 p.m.

Navy aims to move squadron to Whidbey Island

OAK HARBOR -- The Navy hopes to bring a new flight squadron to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
A draft environmental assessment has been initiated by the Navy that would clear the way for the expeditionary electronic attack squadron called "Star Warriors" to move from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to Whidbey Island.
In a statement released Friday, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, hailed the move, which could bring the squadron to the island within the next 18 months.
"The Navy's decision to bring the Star Warriors to Whidbey Island is one more sign of the importance of Whidbey Island to the nation's national security strategy," Larsen said. "Pentagon leaders respect (Oak Harbor's) strong advocacy for the base, and that advocacy is a key reason why the future of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is secure."
Currently, Star Warriors is a Prowler squadron. If it comes to Whidbey Island, the squadron would transition to use of the newer Growler jets, said Naval Air Station public information officer Kim Martin.
The Star Warriors squadron served most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. The relocation of the squadron would bring 30 officers and 190 enlisted personnel to Whidbey Island.
The Navy is asking the public to comment on the environmental assessment, which will evaluate the potential environmental effects resulting from the transition of from the aging EA-6B Prowler aircraft to the newer EA-18G Growler aircraft.
The comment period continues through Aug. 13. A printed copy and an electronic copy of the assessment are available for public review at the Oak Harbor Library, 1000 SE Regatta Dr., and the La Conner Regional Library, 614 Morris St. The document also is available at http://tinyurl.com/d3f7plt.
Comments may be emailed to Whdb_naswi_pao@navy.mil or mailed to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Public Works Department Environmental Division, 1115 W. Lexington St., Oak Harbor, WA 98278.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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