Jacksonville, FL - It looks like more P-8A Poseidons will be coming to the First Coast.
The Navy has released its final Environmental Impact Statement on home basing the new aircraft. This supplements a 2008 report on basing the Poseidons at three separate locations- NAS Jacksonville, NAS Whidbey Island in Washington and Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay.
Since that time, the Navy has determined that it can achieve “operational savings and efficiencies” by basing the aircraft at two locations instead of three. Under the new preferred decision, NAS Jax would be home base to six fleet squadrons and the Fleet Replacement Squadron- up from five squadrons and the FRS. NAS Whidbey Island would be the second home base with six fleet squadrons. There would also be a permanent rotating squadron detachment at MCB Kaneohe Bay and a periodic squadron detachment to Naval Base Coronado, California.
The change would mean a total of 54 P-8A Poseidon aircraft at NAS Jax by 2020.
In comparing the new preference to the one on record from 2008, the Navy says there would be no adverse impact to airspace operations, air quality, or many socioeconomic factors under consideration like housing. Various environmental factors are also not registering a significant impact including soil, water resources, vegetation, wildlife and marine mammals.
With noise, the report finds there will be a small increase in the number of people inside the 65dB zone- 68 people. There is no population at risk of hearing loss. Construction noise is also not expected to be severe. The base would see about $20.8 million in work including extending runways, renovating hangars and more.
There’s also no significant impact to public health and safety because of any hazardous materials or waste. “Extensive use” of flight simulators and a net decrease in airfield operations will also contribute to no increased safety risk from aircraft incidents.
The first P-8A began operating at NAS Jax in 2012. There is now a mandatory 30 day waiting period before this preference gets signed in to the formal Record of Decision.
A P-8A Poseidon out of NAS Jax is currently assisting the search for the missing Malaysian airliner.