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Meeting on SBX maintenance set for Langley

A public meeting on a proposal to bring the giant Sea-Based X-Band Radar platform (SBX) to Everett for maintenance will be this week in Langley.

The Navy and the Missile Defense Agency need a deep-water port to work on the SBX, currently based in Adak, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands.

Naval Station Everett is one of only three suitable West Coast sites. The others are Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle and San Diego, Calif., officials said.

Navy officials said information will be gathered at public meetings, and an environmental assessment conducted before a decision is made.

They hope to begin maintenance by fall, and work is expected to last no more than four months. The platform's powerful radar systems would be turned off during maintenance, they said.

The $1 billion, 280-foot-tall mobile platform is designed to detect incoming ballistic missiles.

The Langley meeting will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 29 in the Langley Middle School cafeteria. A similar public meeting was held Tuesday night in Everett.

In 2003, Everett officials and community members from throughout the area, including dozens from South Whidbey, opposed a plan to permanently station the SBX at Naval Station Everett. They were concerned about health hazards and radiation that could hinder airport and emergency services communications.

Maintenance will be on the vessel's thrusters, along with painting, repairing other components and upgrading some internal systems, at an estimated cost of about $9.4 million, officials said.

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