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Aleut Corporation discusses potential reopening of former base on Adak

Published: Apr. 4, 2021 at 7:41 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Most of the buildings at the old Adak Naval Air Station have stood empty since the end of March 1997. The Navy closed it as a result of a decision by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

“Since then, we’ve been looking for a tenant,” said Thomas Mack, the president and CEO of the Aleut Corporation, which owns the property the base is on.

Now, after decades of emptiness, Mack and his group believe they may have found someone to move in.

Back in September of 2019, the Navy once again landed ashore on Adak as part of a joint exercise with the Marines and Coast Guard to show the readiness of the troops to respond in the region. Now – as it works toward a stronger presence in the Arctic, as detailed in a recent report – the Navy could be considering reopening the base as part of its new Arctic strategy, according to Mack and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan.

“This is very exciting for the corporation,” Mack said.

Roughly 70 people currently live on Adak. That number swells to around 400 when the commercial fishing season is underway. Many of the people who reside there live in the old base buildings.

Mack believes the former base still has a lot to offer, besides housing for future sailors and their families.

“Over 300,000 of warehouse spacing,” he said. “There’s two 7,600-foot runways capable of landing jumbo jets, the size of 767′s, as well as a year-round, ice-free deep water port that has piers and an existing sea wall.”

The Navy is certainly one of the branches of the military that will be putting more of an emphasis on the region as part the Pentagon’s Arctic strategy.

Sullivan is among those still looking for a stronger Naval presence in Alaska.

“When you look at where Adak is on the Aleutian chain, it is enormously strategic in terms of really the Gateway to the Asia-Pacific, and the Gateway to the Arctic,” said Sullivan, a member of the Armed Services Committee, of Adak’s potential.

“If you travel anywhere in the Arctic world, people are talking Adak,” Mack said.

Now, those discussions include a former tenant, who may call it home again.

Shipping companies are also looking at Adak, according to Mack. He added that the area’s major fuel terminal could be used by ships as they travel between the Arctic and Indo-Pacific regions.

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