The U.S Department of Defense, along with the Commonwealth Ports Authority, Tinian Municipality, and CNMI government will be breaking ground on the long overdue U.S. Air Force divert airfield project on Tinian today.
According to Kimberlyn King-Hinds, Commonwealth Ports Authority chair, today’s ceremony will kickstart the first and second phase of the project that has been in the works since 2020.
“Tomorrow’s ground breaking is to kickstart the first and second phase of the divert airfield project on Tinian. This project has always been envisioned to be an economic catalyst that would help bring jobs and business opportunities not just for Tinian, but for the entire people of the Commonwealth,” she said.
According to the CPA resolution in regards to the divert airfield project, the U.S. government, through the U.S. Air Force, signed the Record of Decision for the Divert Activities and Exercise, CNMI Final Environmental Impact Statement on Dec. 7, 2016.
These facilities are intended to be built largely on the north side of the Tinian airport. Additional facilities required for the U.S. to achieve divert capabilities are intended to be built at the Port of Tinian.
U.S. Congress appropriated $21.9 million for the acquisition of the properties.
Then, on May 2019, The U.S. Department of Defense, the Commonwealth Ports Authority, and the CNMI government signed off on the 40-year lease agreement worth $21.9 million for certain airport and seaport properties on Tinian for the U.S. Air Force’s divert airfield.
The deal allows the Air Force to use Tinian as an alternative landing site for its planes—a divert airfield—in case Anderson Air Force Base in Guam is inaccessible due to war or calamities.
The divert airfield is not only a training but an operational requirement for the Air Force. King-HInds said in the event that something catastrophic happens to Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, the Air Force needs somewhere to go.