Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 25 Nov 2017 12am

Headlines:

     

     

     

     

     

    Friday, November 24, 2017-3:25:30A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

US Air Force selects Tinian as divert airfield

THE U.S. Air Force has finally signed the Record of Decision selecting Tinian International Airport as the location for the planned Divert Activities and Exercises Initiative.

The selection of Tinian follows a comprehensive review through the National Environmental Protection Act, the CNMI Final Environmental Impact Statement and a series of high-level conversations with the commonwealth government, the Torres administration said in a media statement announcing the release of the Record of Decision for the Tinian Divert Airfield on Thursday.

The announcement came after months of dialogue regarding the placement of the divert airfield.

Gov. Ralph Torres, who is in Hawaii to meet Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said he was grateful that the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force and Crutchfield himself were all willing to listen to the CNMI’s concerns about the plans and meet with the governor on a regular basis for discussion.

“It has been a long process. From the very beginning we were insistent that Tinian be the selected alternative to support the Tinian airport and economy while preserving the economic importance of the Saipan airport to the overall CNMI economy,” Torres said in a statement.

“I’m very grateful that they were willing to listen to our concerns about their plans, meet me on a regular basis and select the location that we felt would be in the best interests of both our people in the CNMI and our national security,” the governor added.

With the selection of Tinian, Torres said the process will now start to equip facilities to support cargo, tankers and similar aircraft and personnel support to meet the divert capabilities in the region.

“There has been a great deal of hard work put in by the CNMI to ensure that this will be beneficial to the people of Tinian and the collaboration we have shared with the Department of Defense underlines the fact that as Americans, we care about the security of our nation and that if done with consideration for the needs of the people of the CNMI, partnership can work in the interests of all,” Torres said.

In a separate statement, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan congratulated Governor Torres, Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas and the rest of the Tinian leadership on bringing the decision on locating the divert airfield to a successful conclusion.

“The north of Tinian was the area that the Covenant set aside for use by the U.S. military; and [the Air Force’s] decision is consistent with that agreement. I think the mayor and people of Tinian will especially appreciate that the divert activities will be located at the airport there in a way that does not directly conflict with private development.”

Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine called Sablan to inform him of the decision.