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Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Why can't we use the dunes for physical training or recreational use?

The rules imposed are due to beach and sand dune restoration initiativesand efforts.  Native vegetation is used to maintain dunes, and this effort is critical to the preservation of our remarkable coastal shorelines.  The dunes located at North Beach and adjacent to the Klipper Golf Course are off-limits for physical and tactical training. Running on the beach is authorized, but the dunes are strictly off-limits.  Learn more about this initiative: http://www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil/News/NewsArticleDisplay/tabid/6999/Article/579129/sos-save-our-sand.aspx

How long has Marine Corps Base Hawaii been established as a military installation?

President Woodrow Wilson first designated land on Mokapu Peninsula for military use in 1918, setting aside 322 acres within the eastern area by executive order to be used for the Army.  At the end of WWI, the military property was leased for ranching but reactivated for military use in 1939, acquiring an additional 464 acres for construction of a strategic seaplane base.  By 1941, MCBH was expanded with final construction including an airstrip, housing, storage and maintenance facilities.  Kaneohe Bay was selected for military use because it was an isolated location with flat plains, perfect for an airfield and the probability of flights into prevailing trade winds.

How does the base help the local communities in the time of a natural or man-made disaster?

MCBH plays a vital role as windward Oahu’s leader in emergency response for natural and manmade disasters and routinely supports local search and rescue operations in Kaneohe Bay.  We are prepared to assist local government officials and authorities with rescues, medical care and logistical support before, during and after a disaster.  Our air station is also designated a Federal Emergency Management Agency emergency support facility to offload life-saving supplies and serve as a point of embarkation should windward Oahu have to be evacuated.

How much does MCBH contribute to the local economy?

MCBH plays a significant role in the local economy. MCBH is currently the largest employer and economic contributor on the windward side of Oahu.  There are approximately 9300 military personnel stationed aboard MCBH and 5100 family members reside in base housing.  MCBH also employs about 1400 civilians, totaling $500 million in salaries.  In the next few years MCBH will receive in excess of $350 million for military construction projects, which present robust opportunities for Hawaii’s contractors and businesses, creating local jobs and expanding operations as part of a healthy economy.

Are Marines and sailors and civilians assigned to MCBH active in the local community?

Marines, sailors and civilians stationed at MCBH are enthusiastic members of the community and regularly volunteer throughout the island.  The base’s Adopt-a-School program positively impacts 15 Oahu schools through classroom tutoring, after-school homework clubs, mentoring opportunities, exercise assistance and campus beautification projects.  Military families are fully integrated into the surrounding communities.  Many Marines and sailors stationed aboard MCB Hawaii rent or own houses off base, shop at local stores, eat at local restaurants, and send their kids to local schools.  In addition, for each military child attending local schools, the federal government provides up to $12,400 to the Hawaii Department of Education.

Does MCBH work with community leaders and legislators?

MCBH regularly sends a representative to windward neighborhood board meetings to provide updates and discuss MCBH operations and training at the Marine Corps Training Area at Bellows.  The base staff also works closely with legislators to discuss issues related to MCBH and its operations and the local legislators have unlimited access to the Commanding Officer.

Does the base listen to community concerns about noise?

MCBH has a dedicated noise complaint hotline located at 257-8832. This number is manned during working hours and has voicemail after hours.  Each call is logged and investigated and a follow-up call will be made.  We have also implemented an on-line noise concern form that is accessible on our website at https://www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil/Offices-Staff/Communication-Strategy-Operations/Noise-Concerns/ .  In addition, MCBH leadership has met several times with community leadership, to include state legislators and local city officials to discuss community concerns.  We strive to be the best neighbor possible to our surrounding communities. As a direct result of past meeting, we evaluated our Standard Operating Procedures to ensure we were properly balancing the training of our Marines and sailors with community impact.  We adjusted the hours of maintenance engine turns and the helicopter flight paths in order to minimize noise.

Where can I get more information on what’s happening on base?

The base website is a great source of up-to date information:  http://www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil/.  You can also follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarineCorpsBaseHawaii/; Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcbhcommstrat; Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mcbhcommstrat/.

 

Airfield operations 

What are airfield hours?

Airfield hours are Mon-Thu, 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 Midnight; Fri, 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Sat, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  The airfield is closed on Sunday and most holidays, however, airfield operating hours are subject to change due to operational reasons.  Aircraft maintenance is performed 24 hours a day, but high-power engine tests rarely occur at night.

To the maximum extent possible, information is passed to the public via local neighborhood board meetings, news releases (should local news outlets pick up and run the story), and the MCBH website located at: http://www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil/

Why do you have to do so much maintenance on the base?

Proper, comprehensive aircraft maintenance is essential for keeping aircraft in optimal condition, ensuring the safety of the aircrew, passengers and community members.  Our maintenance departments are manned by highly-trained professional technicians that understand the trust aircrew and local citizens put into the aircraft they maintain. Aircraft maintenance is an inclusive process, and the aircraft are examined before and after every flight and also receive required maintenance after a certain period of flight hours.  Maintenance can occur 24 hours a day at MCB Hawaii, which may sometimes generate noise.  We sincerely appreciate the community's support and patience as Marines and Sailors train to defend this great nation and prepare for overseas contingencies.

Why can't aircraft maintenance be done in a hush house?

A hush house, which is an enclosed aircraft jet engine testing facility, is primarily used for testing engines that have been removed from the aircraft.  Many fighter jets including the F/A-18 Hornet have engines that can be removed for maintenance.  F/A-18s are no longer stationed here. The aircraft currently stationed at MCB Hawaii do not have removable engines, so a hush house is not a feasible option for the base. Furthermore, the routine aircraft engine maintenance tests that occur at MCB Hawaii cannot be done in a hangar, as the high-powered tests produce too much energy and may be unsafe for the maintainers and destructive to the equipment. Maintenance can occur 24 hours a day at MCB Hawaii, which may sometimes generate noise.  We sincerely appreciate the community's support and patience as Marines and Sailors train to defend this great nation and prepare for overseas contingencies.

What is the difference between Tenant, Transient, and Transiting aircraft?

“Tenant aircraft” refers to the assets owned and operated by commands located aboard MCB Hawaii but not in the MCB Hawaii chain of command.  They are the operational forces that utilize the services and facilities the base provides.  “Transient aircraft” refers to those visiting assets that will be supporting MCB Hawaii units for a short period of time, generally 2-5 weeks. "Transiting aircraft" are military or civilian aircraft who transit MCB Hawaii airspace but are not required to follow specific courses because they are generally flying under Visual Flight Rules. 

Are aircraft allowed to fly over land and populated areas?

Yes.  All aircraft must adhere to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), but it is perfectly legal and normal for aircraft to fly over land.  However, MCBH has established more stringent course rules in order to create a safe and expeditious pathway for tenant and transient aircraft to depart and arrive the airfield.  Our pilots are among the most professional and best-trained in the world and do this in a safe and efficient manner while accounting for noise abatement.  In the case of MCBH, the course rules are designed to keep aircraft over water or away from populated areas.  However, a pilot occasionally must fly over land or otherwise deviate from the local course rules.  Doing so is in the interest of safety of the aircraft and does not violate any laws or established policies. 

Does the base study the effects of noise before bringing new aircraft to Hawaii?

Yes.  The DoD takes its responsibility to be good neighbors very seriously.  When proposing new aircraft, noise is a large part of the environmental analysis.  Sophisticated noise models project current noise levels near the airfield and what noise levels will be if new aircraft are brought in.  The models account for surrounding topography and create a day-night average sound level (DNL).  This average sound compares current noise levels with proposed future levels.

Why are fighter jets occasionally at MCBH?

Jet aircraft routinely pass through Hawaii en route to and from different parts of the world.  The jets may also be visiting from a mainland base to support Hawaii-based exercises.  These visits expose our Marines to air-ground integration, improving their readiness for combat and contingency operations.

Why do the C-17s fly at MCBH?

The C-17 cargo aircraft that conduct essential training flights in MCBH airspace are stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and are operated by active duty Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard aircrews.  Comparable training cannot take place at Hickam because runways are shared with Honolulu International Airport.  Training at HNL would adversely impact airline operations by increasing congestion and travel times; therefore, C-17s perform “touch-and-go's” at both Kona International Airport and Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay.  Unlike Kona, MCAS Kaneohe Bay offers a unique opportunity to practice short field landings.  Short field training prepares C-17 aircrews to execute worldwide airlift missions like those required in Afghanistan, as well as world-wide humanitarian relief missions.  No other suitable training field currently exists in the Hawaiian Islands-- C-17 operations at are crucial to both active duty and Hawaii Air National Guard members' ability to safely fly missions in support of national security objectives.

What are the helicopters doing when they hover over the bay?

US Navy helicopters routinely conduct search-and-rescue (SAR) operations in Kaneohe Bay for both civilian and military personnel.  The Navy requires quarterly currency training in (SAR) functions.  Since these aircraft and aircrew are assisting the US Coast Guard by frequently helping distressed boaters in the vicinity of Kaneohe Bay, they maintain their readiness for their safety and the safety of local boaters.  Additionally, the Marine Corps helicopters conduct “duck-ops” in which they assist infantry units with their waterborne training requirements. 

Why is Kaneohe Bay used for SAR practice?

These flight operations are conducted on the south side of the Mokapu peninsula, near the aircraft hangars.  The water in this area is approximately 30 feet deep and is fully protected from ocean currents and reefs which ensures safety of all personnel.  This location is within the Kaneohe Bay Naval Sea Defense Area and is off-limits to recreational boaters.  Flight operations here do not affect civilian use of the bay.  The northern and eastern sides of the peninsula are ill-suited due to open-ocean and the western side due to the presence of large reefs.  These areas are too unsafe to conduct this training.

When and where is engine maintenance performed?

Engine maintenance is critical to aviation safety and the conduct of night-maintenance is critical to daily flight schedule success.  After-hours maintenance engine tests are conducted only when required and will have the approval of the Commander.  The locations of maintenance engine tests are at various locations on the airfield and will depend upon prevailing weather and the type of maintenance being conducted.

Why are hover checks conducted by helicopters at the 101-pad near the marina?

Hover checks are conducted during daytime only in the West Field area on the west-side of the airfield.  They are never conducted at the 101-pad.  Because they do not have wheels and cannot taxi to West Field, the H-1 aircraft (Huey’s and Cobras) will conduct short duration checks to ensure their flight controls are working properly prior to air-taxiing to the hover-check spots.  All helicopters will conduct a very brief “power check” during takeoff where the pilots check their engine instruments to ensure sufficient power to continue flight.

Do aircraft have to fly late at night?

Training exercises and real-world missions require late-night operations for aircraft, pilots, and aircrew.  In addition, nighttime training is mandated by Marine Corps Order to ensure air crew are able to operate in day and night conditions.  In addition to the flight crews, ground personnel must also train during reduced visibility.  When airfield hours are extended to meet mission requirements, we advertise as far in advance as possible.

Are Kaneohe Bay and the surrounding environment affected by flight operations?

MCB Hawaii is extremely proud of its nationally-recognized environmental program.   In 2011, the base received the Department of Defense and Secretary of the Navy awards for Natural Resource Conservation.  MCB Hawaii meets all State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) requirements for air emissions and is inspected annually by the DOH Clean Air Branch.  There have been no negative findings by the DOH during any inspections.  Additionally, MCB Hawaii conducts semi-annual monitoring and reporting of their DOH-permitted air emissions sources as part of the environmental compliance program.  Our environmental department maintains close ties with all federal and state entities to ensure our continued stewardship of the Mokapu Peninsula environment.

 

Marine Corps Training Area Bellows

Why did the Marine Corps select MCTAB as a training site?

In the early 2000s, when the federally-managed land at Bellows was split up and shared between the US Air Force, HI National Guard, and the US Marine Corps, the US Marine Corps took stewardship of approximately 1200 acres.  The training area is ideal due to its proximity to the beach training area.  In 2007, MCB Hawaii built a state-of-the-art Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT) that provides the most realistic urban combat training possible.  MCTAB was chosen because it was the only training area available to MCB Hawaii that had the open space required to house the entire installation – Pu’uloa Rifle Range, Camp Smith, Pearl City Annex, and Kaneohe Bay all do not have room to house a training facility of this size and scope.  In addition, the nearby beaches and open areas continue to allow for realistic amphibious assault training and mechanized assault in an urban setting.

What training occurs at MCTAB?

The area is primarily used by infantry units from the Army, Marine Corps, HI National Guard, and other government agencies.  At the IIT, personnel learn and practice tactics designed to maximize their familiarity with the urban warfare in a safe and controlled environment.  Personnel returning from OIF and OEF have lauded the training available at MCTAB.

Why is MCTAB open at night?

Since accomplishing even the simplest task at night can be difficult under the best of conditions, training must be conducted during night conditions as often as possible.  In order to give our Marines and soldiers the most comprehensive training possible prior to sending them in to harm’s way, we maximize the availability of night-time training while balancing the impact on the neighboring community.  The result is Marines and soldiers gaining valuable experience before engaging in real-world nighttime combat operations.