Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, issued the following statement regarding the proposed FY 2013 Defense Department budget:
"The good news is I've been assured by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) that the Navy remains committed to a strategic dispersal of assets and to homeporting a nuclear aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport. The bad news is the move will be delayed due to budget constraints.
"This makes no sense. We are already three years into making Mayport nuclear capable. Further delay will only drive costs higher. The Pentagon is making a short-sighted fiscal decision that is not in the best interest of national security.
"More positive news are Navy plans to send additional ships to Mayport as early as this fall. Included are a big-deck amphibious ship and two support ships. That means 2,000 sailors and their families will call Mayport home.
"Navy plans also call for two additional destroyers, three additional patrol crafts, and eight littoral combat ships (LCS) at Mayport. The LCS move marks the beginning of the First Coast as the primary East Coast LCS homeport. And, the 2013 budget calls for $12 million for wharf upgrades to accommodate a big-deck amphibious ship and a carrier.
"The philosophy that guides my decision making when it comes to our defense assets is clear: Congress must have an unwavering commitment to national security. Short-sighted budget decisions should not turn back a decade's worth of work rebuilding our nation's military.
"Northeast Florida military bases are an anchor to our national security. The calendar for homeporting a nuclear carrier may have shifted, but the scope of the First Coast's role in our national security mission has not.
"Our community has lived through almost ten years of carrier promises, and while the new ships announced today are a welcome addition, my fight is for all parts of the Mayport equation, including the ships needed in the basin today and the carrier of tomorrow."