Congressman Ander Crenshaw, a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, today (2/16), questioned the Pentagon's decision to delay homeporting a nuclear aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport. At Thursday morning's Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta presented the FY 2013 Department of Defense Budget. The following is text of Crenshaw's statement as prepared for delivery:
"Before I begin my questions, I would like to quickly mention a topic that I have been involved in since 2005, the strategic dispersal of our nuclear aircraft carriers. Once our carrier fleet went all nuclear in 2005, we went from having two aircraft carrier homeports on the East Coast to one.
"At that time, the Navy began a study to look at the impact this consideration had on our national security and the conclusion after an exhaustive two-and-a-half year study was, in the words of then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, "having a single CVN homeport has not been considered acceptable on the West Coast and should not be considered acceptable on the East Coast.'
"This strategic imperative was reviewed again in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and was again validated, but somehow even though none of these facts or policies has changed, the budget in front of us today contains zero funding for the remaining projects needed for a second nuclear-capable homeport. The only thing that has changed is the budget environment, and I do not believe we should make strategic decisions of this magnitude based purely on budgets.
"I know this is more of a question for Secretary Mabus and Admiral Greenert, but I wanted to put it that out there because, to me, it is symbolic to many of the questions this Subcommittee has about the fiscal year 2013 budget. Are we making decisions based on the strategic needs or are we just finding the easiest ways to trim dollars?