A Civil Beat reader asked a question we thought many of you might have had after the Hawaii tsunami.
Why didn’t the Navy take its ships to sea the way most Honolulu boat owners did? Did the Navy have information that the general public wasn’t privy to?
It only seems rational that the military would want to safeguard its multi-million dollar investments, including a visiting aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln.
“We didn’t feel like there would be that big of a danger,” Lt. Commander John Perkins of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet told Civil Beat.
Perkins said the Navy monitored the tsunami as it passed Guam and decided it was not necessary to man the ships and get them to deeper water.
“The decision, the timing, to get the crew basically to man the ships and get the ships under way versus what we thought the initial wave was going to be like… there were quite a few things that went in there,” Perkins said. “So being able to get that number of ships under way — instead what we did was double line them up at the pier.”
Basically, Perkins says the threat wasn’t severe enough to go through the logistics of calling in the hundreds of sailors required to get the vessels under way.
Instead, the Navy tightened and doubled the lines fastening the ships to the dock as a precaution.
On March 11, the day after the tsunami, the Navy released a press release, where officials acknowledged the harbor received “a half-meter surge” of water. No homes at the joint Pearl Harbor/Hickam base were evacuated during the event.
The Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai — the world’s largest instrumented multi-environmental range capable of supported surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously — did evacuate personnel and moved two helicopters and two C-26s off base.
As for whether the Navy had any information the public didn’t, Perkins said no. Or at least it didn’t rely on information not available to the public in making its decision. We think it’s safe to say that the Navy has information not available to the general public. But in this case, it said Guam’s experience was the deciding factor.
Stay Up To Date On The Coronavirus And Other Hawaii Issues