Coast Panel OKs Docking Carrier in San Diego Bay

From a Times Staff Writer

The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved a controversial plan to dock a massive Navy aircraft carrier in San Diego Bay after the proponents guaranteed compensation for environmental harm.

The project, part of a port master plan, will turn the decommissioned USS Midway into a floating museum honoring naval aviation. The 1,000-foot-long carrier would be moored at the old Navy Pier.

"It's a big day for San Diego and a big day for the Navy and veterans and also a good day for coastal resources," said Commissioner Patrick Kruer after a 3 1/2-hour hearing in San Diego.

The commission's staff had recommended denying the $5.2-million project because of concerns over lost habitat, diminished views and the uncertain fate of the pier.

But commissioners were assuaged by the San Diego Unified Port District and the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum's mitigation package that includes:

* The purchase and rehabilitation of 14.5 acres of marsh in the Sweetwater River in nearby National City.

* Funding to pay for monitoring and management of the marsh.

* A status report on the marsh in five years and a commitment from the port to complete environmental analysis necessary for the pier to be turned into a park.

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