Three weeks ago, when Sen. Dan Sullivan was hosting a town hall meeting in Ketchikan, the residents of the community asked him to bring the Secretary of the Navy to Alaska’s “First City.”
Sullivan promised he would bring him.
On Tuesday, Sullivan delivered on that promise, as Kenneth J. Braithwaite flew to Alaska and the senator and he toured Ketchikan, which has mission-critical submarine testing facilities about which few Alaskans know.
The visit thought to be the first of any Secretary of the Navy to Alaska, or at the very least, to Back Island.
The two and an entourage that included Sen. Bert Stedman and Rep. Daniel Ortiz toured Back Island, the site of the Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility. That’s the Navy’s primary West Coast asset for making high fidelity tests on submarines to measure their acoustic signatures.
With tests that can be done in the 1,500-foot-deep Behm Canal, the site is ideal for this work because of the low ambient noise and lack of other noise interference.
Sullivan was excited about the visit, and says he is on a mission to bring the Navy to Alaska and establish a base here, because with the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean, he believes the case can be made for national security.
Currently, the Army and Air Force have large presences in Alaska, as does the U.S. Coast Guard. But neither the Marines or the Navy have bases in the largest state in the union, which has exposure to Russia, North Korea, and China.
Braithwaite was sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Navy in May. He is a former ambassador to Norway and was a naval aviator who was once stationed in Adak.
During his confirmation hearings, Sullivan made him promise to visit Alaska very early in his tenure to experience firsthand the state’s strategic location and the communities that support our military.