Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, announced today that he has once again sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta calling for the Department of Defense to reconsider its 2008 decision to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The bipartisan letter was cosigned by Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), and Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-02).
"Given the fact that the Pentagon is looking at a half trillion dollar budget cut, it is fiscally irresponsible for the Department of Defense to pursue its plans to move a carrier from Norfolk to Mayport. As we survey the damage of these cuts, which range from early retirements and delayed procurements of Navy ships, to the elimination of Army brigades, the termination of six tactical Air Force squadrons, and the loss of 20,000 Marines, it is clear that the $500 million to $1 billion it would cost to needlessly move a carrier could better be spent elsewhere," said Forbes.
In a letter to Congressman Forbes on October 21, 2011, Admiral Greenert stated that "the size of the fiscal adjustments (Budget Control Act of 2011) compels us to take a comprehensive strategic review, examining every program element, including the funding required to homeport a CVN in Mayport. You can be assured I will include your concerns in the Navy's strategic calculus."
A copy of the letter sent today to Secretary Panetta is available here. The text is available below.
February 1, 2012
The Honorable Leon Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1300
Dear Secretary Panetta:
Following the release of your "Defense Budget Priorities and Choices" document on January 26, 2012, we write today to again encourage you to review the Navy's 2008 proposal to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
In the Chief of Naval Operations’ correspondence to us on this matter from October 21, 2011, ADM Greenert clearly stated that "the size of the fiscal adjustments (Budget Control Act of 2011) compels us to take a comprehensive strategic review, examining every program element, including the funding required to homeport a CVN in Mayport. You can be assured I will include your concerns in the Navy's strategic calculus." We welcomed the CNO's decision.
In your announcement from January 26, you began to clarify the Department's decisions regarding its strategic review of the U.S. Navy including the early-retirement of 7 CG-47 Cruisers and two LSD landing ships, and the delay of an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHA), 2 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), 8 Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV), and 1 Virginian-class submarine. In addition to these new reductions, during FY12 the Navy suffered from a $217 million shortfall in ship maintenance. Across the Department, you also chose to eliminate 6 of the Air Force's 60 tactical air squadrons, terminate the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 program, and reduce the size of the Army by some 80,000 soldiers and the Marine Corps by 20,000, among other decisions.
We have always questioned the rationale underlying the Department’s decision to homeport a CVN in Mayport. Given the breadth of defense budget reductions now being applied across the Department, and specifically to the U.S. Navy, we remain convinced that allocating an estimated $500 million to $1 billion to this project would not be in the strategic interests of the Department of the Navy nor the fiscal interests of the nation.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
J. Randy Forbes Bobby Scott
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Rob Wittman Scott Rigell
Member of Congress Member of Congress