Navy’s OLF process now on the record

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 14, 2008

FRANKLIN—Today’s Federal Register contains the Navy’s official Notice of Intent to pursue environmental studies of five potential locations for an outlying landing field.

The notice, which appears on page 19,196 of today’s copy of the federal government’s daily document of regulations, agency actions and congressional actions, is available from the Federal Register’s homepage on the Internet: Search for “OLF” and click on the appropriate link under “Notice of Intent To Terminate the Draft Supplemental.” The full listing is available as an HTML or a PDF document. A summary is also available.

The Navy’s notice serves both to terminate the draft environmental impact statement that the service had prepared in support of five potential sites in North Carolina and to officially notify citizens and their representatives of the Navy’s interest in five new sites in North Carolina and Virginia.

The Navy abandoned plans for a “field carrier landing practice” facility at its preferred Washington County, N.C., location in January, when congressional political opposition made it obvious that the airfield could not get funded there.

At the time, the Navy announced it would be studying two new North Carolina sites and three new Virginia sites for their suitability for the OLF, which would be used to train pilots of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and other aircraft for landing on aircraft carriers.

Currently, the pilots perform most of their training at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Chesapeake.

“While NALF Fentress will continue to provide necessary support for field carrier landing practice and other training requirements,” the Navy stated in a press release today, “this landing field alone cannot fully support the training requirements of aircraft based and transient from Naval Air Station Oceana and Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field and does not provide optimal landing conditions for FCLP training, especially nighttime FCLP.”

The OLF would include an 8,000-foot runway, an air traffic control tower and other support buildings. The facility also would require a buffer zone of around 30,000 acres because of the noise levels associated with the training.

Under federal law, the Navy must complete extensive environmental and socioeconomic reviews of each of the sites it is considering and must also examine the option of taking no action at all.

That analysis, required by the National Environmental Policy Act, is expected to take about 30 months to complete and will include a variety of opportunities for public input.

To that end, public scoping meetings are planned in each of the communities that would be impacted most directly by such a facility.

Southampton and Sussex counties would host the so-called Dory and Mason sites. The Navy plans a scoping meeting April 30 at Sussex Central High School and on May 1 at Southampton High School. Surry and Prince George counties would be impacted by the Navy’s Cabin Point site, and meetings are set for April 29 at J.E.J. Moore Middle School in Disputanta and on May 7 at Surry Central High School in Dendron.

North Carolina’s Sandbanks site would most directly impact Gates and Hertford counties, and the Navy has set a scoping meeting for May 2 at Gates County High School. The Hale’s Lake site in North Carolina encompasses land in Camden and Currituck counties. The Navy has set a meeting in Currituck for April 28 at the Currituck County Center and in Camden on May 5 at Camden County High School.

All of the public scoping meetings are planned from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and are to be held using an open house format, according to the Navy’s notice. They are seen as forums in which the Navy can receive written comments or concerns that should be addressed in the environmental impact statement.

The service must consider all questions and comments received in writing as part of this process.

Comments can be made in the following ways: (1) Written statements submitted to Navy representatives at the public scoping open houses; (2) written statements mailed to Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic, 6506 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk, Virginia 23508, Attn: Code EV OLF Project Manager; and (3) written statements submitted via the Web site at All written comments must be postmarked by June 7.