Why The San Diego Sub Base Was Spared
This article in the New London Day (another version available here) spells out what I've suspected about why Submarine Base Point Loma was not recommended for closure in this BRAC round. As the process was starting, I was hearing from people close to the process that San Diego would probably be on the list. I thought that closing Point Loma would be a mistake; since any war involving submarines that we don't start will most likely be in the Pacific (specifically Taiwan or Korea), the last thing we'd want to do is close a Pacific base. It appears that DoD agreed:
"The submarine base at San Diego was in the Navy's sights early in the base realignment and closure, or BRAC, process, but was kept off the list of bases to be closed for strategic reasons, the Navy acknowledged this week in a letter to a top base-closure official...
"...But Principi, in his letter dated May 24, asked the Navy to explain why, when its own analyses showed closing the submarine base at San Diego would yield “an early return on investment,” the Navy did not put San Diego on its list of possible closures.
"Anne R. Davis, the Navy secretary's special assistant for BRAC issues, acknowledged that closing San Diego would save money and reduce excess capacity.
“However, the Infrastructure Evaluation Group did not approve the recommendation because Subase San Diego is the only West Coast homeport for attack submarines and its closure would limit submarine basing options on the West Coast,” Davis wrote."
One paragraph in the story, though, looks like it's just plain wrong:
"The Navy sources said there are key arguments to be made for Groton's “strategic location” as well. Groton is significantly closer to the North Atlantic and Europe than any other submarine base, and by going over the North Pole, submarines homeported in Groton can actually reach East Asia quicker than those based in San Diego."
It may be true that a submarine in Groton may have to steam fewer miles to reach the northeast coast of North Korea than a San Diego-based sub; however, the water depth in the Bering Straits combined with the ice thickness (especially in the spring timeframe of a likely planned North Korean invasion) means that a sub has a very narrow gap between the ice and seafloor -- this requires a slower speed; as a result, I would be very surprised if a submarine could get on station from Groton quicker than a San Diego boat (to mention nothing of the "chokepoint" aspect of the Bering Straits).
I admit that I'm biased towards San Diego, but in this case, DoD made the right call -- even if the land Subase Point Loma sits on is probably worth more than the rest of the continental U.S. submarine bases put together.