Port of PA pursues NOAA Pacific fleet

PORT ANGELES — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is being courted to bring its fleet of research ships here — along with 100 to 150 new permanent jobs.

The Port of Port Angeles hopes to convince NOAA to base its fleet of research ships, now homeported on Seattle’s Lake Union, to Port Angeles.

“We’ve been talking to NOAA officials, including meeting with them in Washington, D.C., a couple of weeks ago,” said Bob McChesney, port executive director.

“We are very much in the hunt, but the process and timing are still uncertain.”

NOAA ships could tie up at the port’s docks and use its facilities.

Or the agency’s operations could possibly be centralized at the old Rayonier mill site, which has a lengthy wharf and acres of space.

The Rayonier site is now in the midst of a state-supervised cleanup.

The Seattle lease for NOAA’s Marine Operations Center-Pacific homeport expires in 2011.

The federal government’s marine research arm sent out a request for information on April 2 for an alternative homeport in Washington state or Oregon.

Bellingham and Astoria, Ore., are among the cities that responded.

But, said McChesney, “We’ve got competitive facilities, and we think this is the perfect place for their Pacific Marine Operations Center.”

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