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Concerns raised about Shipyard's future

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The Naval Facilities Engineering Command's request for expression of interest has raised concerns about the impact the closure of the Guam Shipyard will have on the local economy and the workers there. The request for the lease of 49 acres at the former Naval Ship Repair Facility apparently is a surprise to many in the community - Military Buildup committee chairperson Senator Judi Guthertz was under the impression that the Navy had transferred the land to the Government of Guam. 

The island's public sector has been leasing the land from the military and subleasing it to Guam Industrial Services, (dba, "The Guam Shipyard"). The Guam Economic Development Authority has confirmed that both leases expire in 2012 - the same year the federal government intends to enter into a long term lease for a period of five years or longer if deemed necessary by the Secretary of the Navy. "I'm concerned about NAVFAC about what they're doing," said the Democrat policymaker. "But above all that, I'm very concerned about why this wasn't fully transferred back to the people of Guam, the Shipyard property itself."

Guthertz is now seeking answers from GEDA, the very agency that's been subleasing the facility to the Shipyard for the last eight years. "I'd like to see an explanation from the Guam Economic Development Authority," she continued. "I think they owe the people of Guam an explanation what has been the status of this property. Why wasn't it transferred to the Government of Guam? Why is the Navy exerting ownership of this property at this time? And what is their recommendation to protect the interests of the employees that currently work at the Shipyard."

GEDA administrator Tony Blaz declined to speak about the RFEI and would not disclose whether the Government of Guam is submitting a letter of interest. Guam Chamber of Commerce president David Leddy meanwhile is not ready to provide a comment as the organization only recently learned of the Navy's plans.

Entities capable of operating and maintaining a shipyard facility have until Tuesday, November 23 to submit their letters of interest to enter into a lease agreement. According to the RFEI, the transitional phase in period will begin no later than June 1, 2012 with full performance to begin on October 1, 2012.

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