The Mirror was able to catch up with Congresswoman Elaine Luria prior to her meeting with Mayor Dize on Wednesday.
The Mirror asked Luria what her impressions were of the Eastern Shore, and what she thought was the strategic value the shore brought to the state.
Luria told that Mirror that first and foremost, she was struck by the beauty of the Eastern Shore. During her first year in office, she has had the chance to visit on several occasions. During those trips, she has been able to go out with local watermen, visit aquaculture operations, and meet with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to discuss the environmental health of the bay and the Shore at large.
When asked about the strategic value of the Eastern Shore, of course, Wallops was noted. However, Luria told the Mirror that the real strategic value was our clean water, pristine wetlands–essentially, she felt our unique geography combined with our relatively unspoiled environment is our greatest asset, an asset that adds quite a bit of value to the state.
While we may see Congresswoman Luria as the Shore’s Representative, it is important to realize that our district also encompasses Virginia Beach and parts of Gloucester. Driving across the HRBT, a quick glance to the left will remind you of where the largest Naval Station in the world is located.
In the past, Luria has been somewhat critical of the Navy’s vision for the future (or lack thereof).
The Mirror asked the Congresswoman if she felt Congress was fully aware of the unprecedented buildup of the Chinese navy, and whether much of the Admiral Davidson’s vision has been a response what China is doing in the Pacific.
Luria told the Mirror that there may be something to that, but that she felt there were more fundamental issues, such as training, that are falling by the wayside. She mentioned that the ship collisions that happened the Pacific last year were indicative of the problem.
Another concern for the Congresswoman is that industry has not been able to keep up the pace of construction in order to reach the 320 ship goal set by Congress five years ago.
“Right, this creates a logistics problem…even now, we only have two tankers servicing the Med,” Luria said.
Luria was also critical of some of the Navy’s priorities, such as its infatuation with unmanned air and sea vehicles.
“I just don’t get that. Why are we focusing on technology that can’t operate in a GPS denied environment? Especially when we have fundamental tasks, like training, that seem to be slipping through the cracks,” Luria said.
Congresswoman Luria’s whirlwind trip ended in Cape Charles, after a town hall in Yorktown, and meeting the Accomack Board of Supervisors.