Navy decisions pertaining to Guam, Marianas


Sumay, Guam will be home to the U.S. Navy’s Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility detachment. The Navy has been working on this project for several years. The Navy’s desire to establish a maintenance detachment facility is to enhance and upkeep nuclear-powered submarines and tender support vessels currently homeported at the ancient village of Sumay. This facility is expected to be completed around 2028 or six years from now. 

With the recent at-sea USS Connecticut collision in the South China Sea, the Navy needs to further expand and develop its onsite resource and skill set base to respond more swiftly and effectively to planned and emergent ship vessel maintenance needs. The Navy has experienced a host of at-sea accidents throughout the 7th Fleet’s area of responsibility, all taking place not far from the Marianas.  

Navy accidents that have occurred over the past 20 years include a surface vessel running aground in Tokyo Bay, several surface vessels colliding with tug boats, fishing vessels, and oil tankers in East Asia, the USS San Francisco getting into an underwater collision near Guam, the USS Greeneville running aground on Saipan, and now the USS Connecticut submarine, which had to limp from the South China Sea over to Guam. 

Why the Mariana Islands, why now?
Guam has one of the world’s most prized naval submarine bases located in our ancient village of Sumay, which was taken from our families without our prior, formal, or written consent. Evidence of Sumay’s value to the Navy is that our village is now homeport to five nuclear-powered attack submarines, an inordinate concentration of American undersea naval firepower by almost any unit of measure. 

Today, the Northern Mariana Islands plays a pivotal and priceless role for the United States from the standpoint of great power geomilitary American-Sino politics. Our ancient village of Sumay and northern Guam lands, along with several other Northern Islands, are continually viewed by the Pentagon as invaluable. 

Mariana Islands shipyard detachment and things for our Chamorro Pacific Islander civilization to consider 
Current Pentagon resources in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are inadequate to fully maintain nuclear-powered submarines and surface vessels. The Navy thinks that Guam needs more resources to meet ship maintenance work requirements, which the writer agrees with. Having a Guam-based detachment will further broaden ongoing submarine warfare activities that include training simulations and performance monitoring, which will also benefit those who work on the tenders. 

The Navy has four public shipyards located in the East Coast, West Coast, and Hawaii. The establishment of a Guam shipyard maintenance detachment is a significant development for the Pentagon. A variety of Navy organizations responsible for facility construction, compliance with existing environmental laws, and the delivery of technical knowledge, continue to work together on this detachment project. 

The Guam detachment will support almost 600 employees, mostly military personnel. The basis behind Guam being a part of the Pearl Harbor shipyard as opposed to being not associated with Pearl Harbor is that Guam-based employees will be able to seek technical, financial, and human resource support more readily from the Navy. 

Chamorro Pacific Islanders have the need to know more information about the Guam detachment
We have the need-to-know what job development pipelines are in place or are going to be put into place that focus on developing the skills to hire villagers to hold all positions at this shipyard. We have the need to know how much solid and liquid waste will be produced from all work that will take place at the Guam detachment. We have the need to know what other risks to the total environment will be introduced from having a new ship maintenance facility. 

Will the Guam detachment have a dual or triple use for the Navy? Will the Guam detachment also be used to support testing combat systems, ordnance and/or diving related actions? Will the Guam detachment establish and maintain a constant level of work for its civilian workers and sailors? 

Rick Arriola Perez | Author
Rick Arriola Perez is a U.S. military veteran who has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bank of Hawaii, and the government of Guam. He holds several degrees including ones from UCLA and the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Rick is passionate about national security and foreign affairs in the Pacific Asia region and runs a blogsite called Guam Affairs at For more information, contact Perez at

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