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Top Admiral Says NAVWAR Committed To Staying In San Diego

The former Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or SPAWAR, headquarters c...

Credit: US Navy

Above: The former Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or SPAWAR, headquarters complex is shown in this undated photo. The Navy has since changed the name of the agency to Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, or NAVWAR.

The top admiral for NAVWAR says the Navy’s high-tech hub is committed to stay in San Diego, ahead of a series of public meetings beginning this week.

Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

The Navy’s home for information war-fighting and cyber, formerly known as SPAWAR, is housed in a World War II era bomber factory, that has been cited by the Navy for unhealthy conditions. A new campus is their top priority, said Rear Adm. Christian Becker, command of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR).

“We have the struggles that you would have with a building that was built in the 1940s,” Becker said.

The Navy wants a partner to replace the aging complex along Interstate 5 in Midtown, with a campus housing roughly 6,000 people. In exchange, the rest of the 70-acre site can be developed into a transit hub and housing using a private developer. The Navy chose SANDAG from nearly 200 interested bidders who came to the Navy’s pitch meeting at NAVWAR in November, he said.

“In their response, SANDAG brought forward this idea to work together and that was the path we chose,” Becker said.

Under an agreement signed by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modley, SANDAG will find a private bidder to fund the project, which early estimates say will cost between $3.8 billion and $4.7 billion. The Navy is still committed to build in San Diego, even if all the pieces don’t fall into place, Becker said.

“We’re going to find a way to conduct this business. We’re going to work with a partner and right now SANDAG is our partner and we’ll continue to pursue that course,” Becker said. “But there is just too much value to keeping this command in San Diego, because it’s a fleet concentration area. We’re close to the Navy and the Marine Corps.”

The Navy will relocate NAVWAR’s warehouse space, so the project only needs office and laboratory space at the old SPAWAR location, leaving ample room for the public private partnership, he said.

“If you look at the campuses of high-tech companies, you’ll know what I’m talking about because that’s the same workforce that we’re competing for,” Becker said.

The project is slowly moving through the approval process. An environmental impact review is expected in time for a second series of public hearings in the spring.

In the meantime, the Navy is taking public comment on the project from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and next Wednesday at the Liberty Station Conference Center.

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Aired: February 12, 2020 | Transcript

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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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