NORFOLK -- There's good news for the Hampton Roads economy -- the Navy's proposed budget has no money to move a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from Norfolk Naval Station to Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
The announcement that there will continue to be 5 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the Hampton Roads region through 2020 came Monday from the congressional delegation.
'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 Randy Forbes (R-4th D.).
'By canceling plans for a redundant aircraft carrier homeport at Mayport, the Navy has made a responsible choice in their management of taxpayer dollars,' added Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st D.).
6,000 jobs and $425 million in annual revenue is attached to each ship. Currently there are five aircraft carriers homeported in Norfolk.
Mayport, Florida lawmakers say the plans are just 'on hold.'
At a time when the Department of Defense is facing tough fiscal constraints, spending upwards to $1 billion for a redundant homeport would not be a prudent use of taxpayer funds. Today's announcement is a tremendous victory both for sound fiscal planning and especially the citizens of Hampton Roads,' said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd D.)
In 2008, the Navy first announced plans to invest $500 million to upgrade Mayport to accommodate a nuclear aircraft carrier and create a second East Coast homeport for the nation's largest warships. The one-time construction costs to make Mayport nuclear carrier-ready by 2019 were estimated to be between $500 million and $1 billion.
Immediately, Hampton Roads lawmakers urged the Navy to reconsider spending that money, saying there were many things more important on which to spend the money.
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.'
The Navy and supporters of the move said it was important to have a second East Coast port for nuclear-powered carriers, citing the 'Pearl Harbor' scenario of having all the ships in one port.
The West Coast has five carriers based in three locations in California and Washington.
'I stood together with my fellow former Navy Secretary, Senator John Warner, in the strong belief that keeping the carrier in Norfolk was both strategically and fiscally justified,' said Senator Webb, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Also as part of the budget proposal:
-- The Army would eliminate at least eight brigade combat teams
-- The Navy would eliminate seven cruisers and two dock landing ships
-- The Marine Corps would eliminate one infantry regiment headquarters, five infantry battalions, one artillery battalion, four tactical air squadrons and one combat logistics battalion
-- The Air Force eliminates six combat coded fighter squadrons and one noncombat coded fighter squadron, and 303 aircraft, including 123 combat aircraft, 150 mobility and tanker aircraft and 30 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.
The budget request includes a 1.7 percent military pay raise, a 4.2 percent average increase in the basic housing allowance, and a 3.4 percent rise in the basic allowance for subsistence.
'There will be some modest shifts in personnel and in the total number of ships at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). 'However, overall, the Navy plans to retain 111,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel in Hampton Roads through 2020, which is only 3,000 fewer personnel than the current level.'
Pentagon officials said the Defense Department is on path to save $259 billion over the next five years and $487 billion over the next 10. The Pentagon's top-line budget request is $525 billion for fiscal 2013, with $88.4 billion more for overseas contingency operations, mostly in Afghanistan. This is down from $531 billion and $115 billion for fiscal 2012.