Patty in the News

Almost from the moment Everett was chosen in 1984 to host a Navy homeport, it was widely believed the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz would be its centerpiece.

Destiny took its time. Nearly 27 years after the announcement that Naval Station Everett would be built, the Nimitz will steam into its new home on Port Gardner Bay a year from now. It will be welcomed with the enthusiasm and warmth that has come to define Snohomish County's relationship with the Navy and its families.

It's a mutually beneficial one that grows ever deeper. The decision to replace the USS Abraham Lincoln, which will head to Virginia for a four-year process of mid-life nuclear refueling, with another carrier not only confirms Everett's strategic importance to the Navy, but its value as a supportive community. In turn, the families tied to Naval Station Everett have become integral to the quality of life we all enjoy, as willing volunteers, involved citizens and plain old good neighbors.

The economic impact of Naval Station Everett is obvious — it's the second-largest employer in Snohomish County (Boeing remains No. 1 by far). The presence of an aircraft carrier, and its crew of nearly 3,000, is something the region couldn't afford to lose. It would have been difficult to reach that complement had the Lincoln been replaced by several smaller ships.

Members of our congressional delegation, particularly Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Rick Larsen and Rep. Norm Dicks, each of whom holds positions on key defense-related committees, made sure Everett's many advantages stayed on the Navy's radar as it studied its carrier options.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson was a dogged lobbyist, making the city's case at every opportunity, including during a visit to the Pentagon in April to meet with Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. Stephanson even advocated — and still does — stationing a second carrier in Everett. (Why not bring the Lincoln back after its refueling to join the Nimitz?)

Still, no pitch would be convincing if Everett didn't make strategic and fiscal sense for the Navy. There can be no doubt now that it does. Its natural deep-water port and proximity both to the Pacific and to maintenance facilities in Bremerton can't be replicated. Naval Station Everett already was among the Navy's most modern, and recent facility investments have increased that stature.

Years of public investment in infrastructure around the base, and its support complex in Marysville, continue to pay off. Arlington and Lake Stevens, where many Navy families are concentrated, reap the many benefits of their community involvement.

Everett and the Navy. No matter the name of the carrier, it's a symbiotic relationship that just keeps getting stronger.

- Everett Herald