Sullivan Shows Navy Secretary Alaska’s Strategic Military Advantages

Visit to Alaska is Braithwaite’s first as Secretary of the Navy

KETCHIKAN, ALASKA – This week, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) hosted Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite for the secretary’s first visit to Alaska since being appointed and confirmed. On Monday in Ketchikan, Sullivan and Braithwaite toured the Ketchikan Shipyard, visited the U.S. Navy acoustic facility on Back Island, and joined members of the community and veterans for a dinner and discussion. On Tuesday, Sullivan and Braithwaite traveled to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) for briefings on the combined U.S. military forces in Alaska, the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) in the Interior, the Red-Flag-Alaska Air Force training exercises conducted several times per year at JPARC, opportunities for Marines to train in Alaska, and Arctic defense issues. 

“It was an honor to host Secretary Braithwaite in Alaska several decades after he first set foot on Adak Island early in his Navy career,” said Senator Sullivan. “This visit—from Ketchikan, to JBER, to Kodiak, and across to Adak—was a prime opportunity for the secretary to witness all that Alaska has to offer to the U.S. Navy and to our larger national defense. Our adversaries are expanding their infrastructure and capabilities in the Arctic, and the Pentagon is finally waking up to this reality. We’ve secured dramatic increases in the U.S. military’s presence in Alaska—totaling $1.6 billion dollars—including reaching a major milestone for the Nome Deep Draft Port project, one of what should be a series of ports along Alaska’s coast, numerous new Coast Guard vessels, and the building of six new icebreakers authorized in the defense bill two years ago. I made it clear to the secretary that these icebreakers should be home-ported in Alaska, and the maintenance of these new assets should be done in Alaska and by Alaskans—the most capable and hard-working Americans the Navy will find. Finally, I want to commend the Alaskans we met with along the way who did what they do best, showing off our state and the unique support we offer to the military. Secretary Braithwaite won’t soon forget this impactful visit to Alaska, and I expect we will have a strong partner in the Pentagon moving forward.”

Sullivan has been working for years to bring more Coast Guard and Navy vessels, personnel and infrastructure to Alaska, particularly given the state’s strategic location and the dramatic increase in military and commercial activity in the Arctic. As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Commerce Committees, Sullivan has secured major increases in the U.S. military’s presence in Alaska, including six new icebreakers authorized in the defense bill two years ago, new Coast Guard vessels and infrastructure for coastal Alaska communities, and authorization for the Nome Deep Draft Port project. He has also consistently made the case to senior defense officials, including Secretary Braithwaite, for construction and maintenance work to be conducted by Alaska businesses and in Alaska communities, closer to where the vessels will operate. 

At the Ketchikan Shipyard, Secretary Braithwaite was able to tour the 70,000 square foot assembly hall and adjacent fabrication shop, one of the most modern yards in the entire country that offers year-round service of new construction, repairs, and refit of nearly any vessel. 

During their time at JBER, Secretary Braithwaite and Senator Sullivan met with leaders from JAG Industrial and Marine Services, an Alaska company that operates a major maritime facility at the Seward Shipyard, and leaders from Triverus Cleaning and Environmental Solutions, an Alaska company that has produced leading-edge technologies for the U.S. Navy, like the Mobile Cleaning, Recovery and Recycle System (MCRRS), used to clean the flight decks of aircraft carriers. 

The Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility (SEAFAC), which both Sullivan and Braithwaite visited, is the Navy’s only West Coast acoustic site capable of making high fidelity passive acoustic signature measurements on vessels, including assessing the stealth capabilities of U.S. submarines. SEAFAC was constructed on Back Island, near Ketchikan, due to its minimal noise interference. 

Later in Secretary Braithwaite’s trip, he visited Adak, Alaska where he toured Naval Air Facility Adak, which was closed in 1997, but has been discussed as a possible location for future large-scale military training exercises by the Department of Defense. The secretary’s last stop was to Kodiak, Alaska. During his visit, he toured Coast Guard Base Kodiak and met with senior U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) leadership. USCG Base Kodiak is the largest Coast Guard base in the country, and performs a critical search-and-rescue mission for the Alaska region. 

# # #