JOINT STATEMENT OF SENATORS WARNER AND WEBB ON THE HOMEPORTING OF A NUCLEAR-POWERED AIRCRAFT CARRIER AT NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, FLORIDA
The following is a joint statement from Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Jim Webb (D-VA):
"We have deep concerns with Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter's announced preference to create a second East Coast homeport for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at Mayport, Fla. This announcement is not supported by economic logic or strategic necessity. Given the extraordinary financial crisis facing our nation today and the compelling need to invest in higher-priority Navy budget requirements, the announcement enters the realm of fiscal irresponsibility.
"The number of Navy aircraft carriers has been reduced steadily since the Cold War. They are already strategically dispersed around the world on any given day fulfilling their peacetime and wartime missions. To relocate an aircraft carrier from Norfolk, Va., to Mayport, Fla., would disrupt families, cause financially burdensome redundancy in facilities and personnel, and cause greater - not fewer - security demands on our fleet.
"Relocating a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier's homeport from Norfolk to Mayport is presently estimated to cost more than $500 million. That estimate undoubtedly will increase substantially when the Navy's preliminary projections are more fully developed. This proposal comes at a time when the Navy has identified $4.6 billion in fiscal year 2009 unfunded budget requirements. It is clear that before duplicating existing nuclear-capable facilities in Mayport, the Navy should first address existing budget shortfalls for its people, shipbuilding, aircraft, and installations.
"Good stewardship of taxpayer dollars also demands that the Navy should first fund its existing unfunded military construction requirements before creating excess capacity in Mayport. The Navy has invested more than $400 million to improve and upgrade its infrastructure at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., to support the Navy's carrier fleet.
"Owing to the Navy's chronic underfunding of modernization at its four public shipyards, there remains a $791 million backlog in restoration and modernization projects at these installations. Norfolk Naval Shipyard's backlog for such critical projects is $224 million alone.
"The announced homeporting preference also failed to address the environmental and economic concerns that the Commonwealth of Virginia raised with the Navy during the past year.
"For all of these reasons, the secretary of the Navy must consider, before issuing a Record of Decision, whether homeporting a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Mayport is in the best interests of the Navy and a wise use of taxpayer dollars in the face of today's economic and budget realities. Rather than expand its footprint in Mayport, the Navy should first maintain and modernize its existing facilities and continue to reap the many important advantages associated with homeporting its East Coast carriers in Norfolk.
"We and others will vigorously demonstrate that the Navy's announcement is without solid foundation or justification in the days and weeks ahead.
"Our nation is now, consistent with the Constitution and longstanding traditions, implementing the decision of the national electorate to transition to a new administration.
"It would be disrespectful not to give the next administration, after taking office in 2009, an opportunity to voice its views, as permitted by the NEPA laws, prior to a final decision being made."