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More Than 600-Strong Roosevelt Roads Force On Its Way Out

Departures Tied To Wrap-Up Of Vieques Range Closure


April 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

More than 600 personnel stationed at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads--287 of them private contractors--will have left Puerto Rico by the end of April as the U.S. Navy wraps up the closure of its former training range on Vieques.

U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads (NSRR) spokesman Oscar Seara confirmed that between personnel assigned to the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility and those assigned to the Fleet Composite Squadron 8 (both units directly related to former Vieques operations), a total 633 personnel will have shipped out of Puerto Rico as part of the Vieques training shutdown.

In addition to the private contractors, 312 military personnel and 34 federal civilian employees are included in the total.

However, those numbers don’t represent the total impact of jobs that are being lost at NSRR as a result of the Vieques closure, Seara told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. "The truth is that everybody at Roosevelt Roads had something to do with Vieques," he said. In the months ahead, the Vieques range closure is also expected to lead to further cutbacks among both Navy and civilian personnel who have up to now provided various support services, in the school system, the hospital, and the commissary for example.

The loss of hundreds of dependent children on base is expected to cause cutbacks at the Antilles Consolidated School System in the next academic year. The Navy Hospital, which employs more than 400 people, will also feel the effect of the base’s downsizing. According to a U.S. Navy document, prior to the departure of the Vieques-related units, NSRR employed more than 4,500 military and civilian personnel.

Retired Army Lt. Colonel Patrick Balcazar, president of the Puerto Rico chapter of the Army Association, told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS that although only the U.S. Congress has the power to formally shut down a military base, the Navy--as well as all other branches of the armed forces--can at their own discretion act to shut down individual units and operations at bases, thus effectively mothballing them. Seara said that to date, no other U.S. Navy or other military units are scheduled to replace the departing personnel.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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