Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), Chairman of the House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, and Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-02), Member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced today that the United States Navy has cancelled its plans to move a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) currently homeported at Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia to Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The decision comes after four years of persistent efforts by Virginia lawmakers demanding that the Navy provide strategic analysis demonstrating the national security advantage of spending $500 million to $1 billion to move a carrier from Virginia to a redundant East Coast homeport in Florida.
"For more than four years, I have worked with my Hampton Roads colleagues to fight the Navy's attempt to move a nuclear aircraft carrier to Florida, a decision that was made without providing lawmakers any compelling national security rationale. Historic fiscal challenges and the devastating prospect of a trillion dollars in defense cuts have only bolstered our argument that such a move would not just be strategically unnecessary, but also fiscally irresponsible. Today's announcement to call off these plans is a tremendous victory for the citizens of Hampton Roads, who proudly provide vital industrial services to our nation's Armed Forces," said Congressman Forbes.
"With the need for efficient and effective use of all federal dollars, today's announcement is a victory not only for Hampton Roads, but for all taxpayers concerned about redundancy in government resources during tough economic times. By canceling plans for a redundant aircraft carrier homeport at Mayport, the Navy has made a responsible choice in their management of taxpayer dollars," said Congressman Wittman.
"After persistent efforts from the Hampton Roads delegation to stop this carrier move, it appears the President has finally recognized that spending scarce resources to improve Naval Station Mayport is strategically unwise and unnecessary," said Congressman Rigell. "Our local House delegation has done its job on behalf of Hampton Roads and the nation – and it is a clear victory for our region."
In 2008, the U.S. Navy first announced its plans to invest $500 million to upgrade the Navy’s port at Mayport, Florida to accommodate a nuclear aircraft carrier and create a second East Coast homeport for the nation’s largest warships in addition to the existing facilities in Norfolk, Virginia. The one-time construction costs to homeport a CVN in Mayport were estimated to be anywhere between $500 million and $1 billion. Taxpayers would have faced significant, additional annual costs beyond initial military construction spending. According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, "the Navy estimates that, compared to the cost of homeporting a CVN at Norfolk, homeporting a CVN at Mayport would result in an additional recurring (i.e., annual) cost of $25.5 million in constant calendar year 2010 (CY10) dollars."
Congressman Forbes, Congressman Wittman, and Congressman Rigell--all members of the House Armed Services Committee--worked with fellow Virginia lawmakers, including Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), over the course of four years to demand answers from the Navy regarding its strategic basis for the decision. Most recently, the lawmakers wrote to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on February 2, 2012 calling for the Department of Defense to cancel its decision to move a carrier to Mayport due to the broad impact of budget cuts to the Department of Defense. A copy of the letter is available here.