ASAN, Guam—U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Joint Region Marianas, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands leadership gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at Chiget Beach on Tinian last Dec. 22.
The event commemorated the official reopening of Chiget Beach for public use. The beach and its surrounding areas were part of a battleground during World War II and subsequently became the Tinian Mortar Range, which was used as a military training facility until 1994. Access to the beach was restricted due to the potential hazard for unexploded ordnance.
Site surveys and studies were conducted in 2017 to determine if any environmental or munition hazards were present in the Chiget beach area, access path from the main road, and within the shallow water embayment. No environmental hazards were detected during these extensive surveys and the only munitions debris discovered were from small arms. A total of 350 lbs of metallic debris was removed from the area. Following the site surveys and cleanup efforts, Chiget Beach was deemed safe for public recreational use.
Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, the Joint Region Marianas commander, thanked CNMI leadership and government partners for the collaborative efforts that led to the reopening of the beach.
“I think it’s a perfect example of how much we have grown our partnership over the years, and the incredible feats we can accomplish when we work together,” he said. “I look forward to a continued working relationship with the CNMI government, [CNMI Bureau of Military Affairs], [Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality], and the Tinian Mayor’s Office to ensure public safety and the complete the investigation of the entire mortar range.”
CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Department of Defense for their partnership. “The reopening of Chiget Beach for public access is a hallmark of the progress we have made through the strong partnership we have with DoD,” he said. “The long road we have taken to make it here has been filled with individuals of exemplary character in seeing the long-promised cleanup of Chiget a reality and I thank our DoD partners for their commitment to completing this project. Our islands provide the nations with the training our military requires to remain strong, but I believe it’s the work such as these we see today and keeping promises and helping to build our islands together that is the true showcase of our nation’s strength.” (PR)