Sen. Hirono: “I have consistently called for accountability for the spills that effected an entire community—close to 100,000 people—and caused over $2 billion in damages, a total that does not even include the cost for closing the facility and long-term environmental clean-up.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, questioned Acting Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti, President Biden’s nominee to serve as the U.S. Navy’s next top officer. During her question line, Senator Hirono highlighted the Navy’s role and responsibility in the closing and defueling of the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility on Oahu and the need to hold those responsible for the Red Hill fuel spills accountable.
“I have consistently called for accountability for the spills that effected an entire community—close to 100,000 people—and caused over $2 billion in damages, a total that does not even include the cost for closing the facility and long-term environmental clean-up,” said Senator Hirono during the hearing. “What is the Navy going to do to hold people accountable for the mishaps and years of neglect that led to the catastrophic situation at Red Hill?”
In her response, Adm. Franchetti reiterated the Navy’s commitment to the safe and effective defueling of Red Hill and shutting down the facility. Senator Hirono underscored the importance of infrastructure maintenance in military facilities and its crucial role in preventing disasters, such as the Red Hill fuel spill, from occurring in the future.
“As the Chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness, I’ve really focused on infrastructure maintenance because that is what led to—as far as I can see—the kind of disasters at Red Hill,” said Senator Hirono. “And there are other situations that have occurred relating to the Navy and the military’s presence in Hawaii.”
Senator Hirono specifically highlighted her concerns about the status of surface ship maintenance in Hawaii. Currently, only 4 of the 18 surface ship berths at Pearl Harbor support maintenance and even those require waivers for fire protection.
A link to download video of Senator Hirono’s full question line is available here.
If confirmed, Adm. Franchetti will become the first woman to lead the Navy and the first woman to serve as a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. Franchetti has served as Acting Chief of Naval Operations since August, following the previous Chief’s retirement. She previously served as Vice Chief of Naval Operations since September 2022. Her confirmation vote has been stalled due to Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) ongoing reckless hold of several hundred General and Flag Officer promotions. In addition to stalling Admiral Franchetti’s confirmation vote, Tuberville’s hold has also prevented the confirmation of the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army Chief of Staff, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps—four of the eight officers who comprise the Joint Chiefs of Staff.