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At Hearing, Commander Reaffirms Strategic Imperative Of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Says Climate Change Is A Major, Long-Term Threat To Asia-Pacific Region

Washington, D.C. - Senator Mazie K. Hirono questioned Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of the United States Pacific Command, about China’s engagement in the ramping up of tensions from North Korea during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Do you foresee some action on part of the Chinese either publicly or behind the scenes to stop or reduce the level of provocations from North Korea?” Hirono asked Admiral Locklear.

“Well, I think there's been statements by both Xi Jinping and by their minister, I believe, of foreign affairs in the last day or two that would indicate that they have some concerns about any disruption -- continued provocations or disruptions in this part of the world, or anything that would put a potential negative situation on their border,” Admiral Locklear answered. “I believe these are not as direct as we would like to see here but they are indications that the Chinese government is engaging.”

Citing her tour of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard last week, Senator Hirono asked Admiral Locklear about the importance of the shipyard to his area of command and efforts to continue to modernize the shipyard.

“I know of no plans to change the strategic direction we are headed with Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard,” Admiral Locklear told the committee. “I assume that the changes we are going to make in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard will continue to make it competitive in nature but certainly what they produce for us from a military perspective… will continue to be important.”

Senator Hirono also asked how the high cost of fossil fuels factors into PACOM’s strategic planning in the region and the military’s development of renewable energy resources.

“It remains a critically aspect of the way we think through strategy and we are following DOD’s lead on looking at renewable energy sources…And I think there has been some success there.”

In an exchange with another Senator, Admiral Locklear called climate change a major, long-term threat to the Asia-Pacific region.

“If you go to USAID, and you ask the numbers for my PACOM AOR, how many people died due to natural disasters from 2008 to 2012, it was about 280,000 people,” Admiral Locklear testified. “Now, they weren't all climate change or weather-related, but a lot of them were due to that. About 800,000 people were displaced, and there was about $500 billion of lost productivity. So, when I look and I think about our planning, and I think about what I have to do with allies and partners, and I look long term, it's important that the countries in this region build the capabilities into their infrastructure to be able to deal with [these] types of things.”