ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Public Relations team for the United States Air Station (Antigua Air Station) said it had to close its 70-year-old naval base in Antigua & Barbuda as it was too expensive to operate.
Public Affairs Representative for the US Southern Command in Miami, Raymond Sarracino, told OBSERVER media it took approximately US $10 million a year to run the Coolidge-based operation.
“It was a substantial investment that unfortunately, the decision was made that they were not able to continue with that,” Sarracino said.
He said that US $1.5 million of that figure covers the annual lease agreement between the Government of Antigua & Barbuda and the US authorities, while another US $100,000 is spent to man the entire facility.
Over a week ago, OBSERVER media was reliably informed that the air station would be closed indefinitely and that close to 100 workers would be terminated over a nine-month period.
The news came a week after the US authorities reportedly informed the Gaston Browne administration of the pending closure next year.
In 2012, US authorities first announced the intention to relocate its satellite operations here to Australia as part of a space surveillance deal.
The PR representative said, following the closure of the air station, the property will be returned to government.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)