The Navy is considering expensive renovations to the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station that will enable the facility to handle a larger variety and number of warships from San Diego.
Planners say it could cost $100 million to $125 million to upgrade the weapons station, which needs a large new pier and harbor improvements that would enable Seal Beach to accommodate 840-foot amphibious assault ships. The base also would be able to more easily service two vessels at one time.
Seal Beach currently services destroyers, cruisers, littoral combat ships and smaller amphibious vessels. The base has been loading and unloading San Diego ships since it opened in 1944.
"We expect to see a slow increase in the number of ships we serve because the Navy is moving vessels from the Atlantic to the Pacific as part of a rebalancing of forces," said Gregg Smith, a spokesman for the weapons station.
San Diego is home to 59 warships, a figure that's scheduled to grow to 70 by 2020. Munitions crews currently must service amphibious assault ships off the coast of Camp Pendleton because they can't easily enter Seal Beach.
"It's harder and less efficient to service those larger amphibious ships when they're offshore," Smith said.
The Navy must make the renovations at Seal Beach while keeping the base in service. Otherwise, it would be forced to send ships to Washington state, home to the only other coastal Navy weapons station on the West Coast.
The proposed renovation is being discussed with residents in the Seal Beach area. The Navy will prepare an extensive environmental assessment, which also will come up for review. Smith said it will probably be 2018 before the review process is completed.
Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.