SBX Environmental Assessment

By John Liang / February 15, 2011 at 4:18 PM

The Missile Defense Agency has released a draft environmental assessment for the maintenance and repair of the ship that carries the Sea-Based X-Band Radar. According to an agency statement:

Potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed maintenance and repair of the vessel are analyzed in the Draft EA. Regularly scheduled maintenance and repairs are needed for the vessel to be certified for continued operation. The SBX Radar Vessel is an integral part of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Maintenance and repair work may begin in the spring of 2011, and will take approximately three months to complete.

Current plans are to have maintenance work performed at Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, Wash. Two naval facilities, Naval Station Everett, Wash., and Naval Base Coronado-Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., are being considered only as contingencies should unforeseen circumstances prevent work from being performed at Todd Pacific Shipyards. The Draft EA has been prepared to analyze potential effects at these two alternative federal facilities.

The SBX Radar Vessel became operational in 2005. It is one of the sensor systems supporting the nation’s missile defense system. It requires routine maintenance and repair as well as mandatory recertification of structural and propulsion components. Thruster maintenance and repair must be performed at a deepwater (a minimum of 50 feet) facility. Three locations on the West Coast have the appropriate depth to accomplish repairs: Todd Pacific Shipyards, Naval Station Everett and Naval Base Coronado-Naval Air Station North Island. The X-band radar will not be turned on when the vessel is in port.

In its fiscal year 2012 budget request unveiled yesterday, MDA is asking Congress for $177.1 million in FY-12 for SBX procurement. Over the next five years, the agency envisions needing $172.6 million in FY-13, $162.6 million in FY-14, $185.9 million in FY-15, and $173.6 million in FY-16.