The U.S. Navy may station as many as 16 of its new Littoral Combat Ships at Naval Base San Diego during the years ahead.

So says a draft environmental assessment prepared by the Navy. The document, now up for public comment, covers the period from October 2012 to September 2020, and predicts no construction and minimal environmental effects from the move. The document is available on the Web at

The ships will bring 3,600 people to the region: 1,700 sailors plus 1,900 family members, the report notes. The report assumes that all would get housing outside the 32nd Street base.

Littoral Combat Ships are smaller than typical Navy ships and are specifically built to operate in littoral — that is, shallow water — environments.

The ships will carry Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, which will be stored and flight-tested at Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu. (Northrop Grumman Corp. does engineering work on the Fire Scout at its facility in Rancho Bernardo.)

— Brad Graves