WASHINGTON, DC - WAVY.com has learned the Pentagon is delaying and reviewing its
decision to move a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier out of Norfolk
- a decision that could save thousands of jobs in Hampton
In January, the Navy announced it was going ahead with plans to
move one of the carriers at Naval Station Norfolk to Mayport,
Florida. But now, it seems the full-court pressure Virginia's
bipartisan delegation has been puting on the Defense Department was
Democrat and republican legislators alike are elated and
relieved with the DoD's decision. There has been a strong effort in
Virginia to block the Navy from moving a Norfolk-based carrier to
Florida because such a move would cost Hampton Roads thousands of
jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity.
Governor Tim Kaine told WAVY.com Thursday evening, this delay
makes room for long-term optimism.
"Senator Webb and I met with key administration officials about
this the day after the inauguration to talk to him about it and
express the concerns we had about it and we have been monitoring it
ever since and we are very happy to see this announcement today,"
Republican Congressman Rob Wittman from the 1st District and
Democratic Congressman Glenn Nye from the 2nd District, both on the
Armed Services Committee, have been pushing to keep the carrier,
the jobs and the economic stimulus that comes with it.
"Well, a nuclear carrier battle group accounts for about $600
million of economic activity in Norfolk every year that the carrier
remains here. And it's also important that the carrier stay
here because trying to move the carrier around can split up
families," Congressman Nye said.
Senator Wittman said, "I think they looked at the economic
situation, the budget situation and also all of us in the Virginia
delegation have been working to make sure they look very closely at
Democratic Senator Jim Webb released a statement Thursday
evening saying: "I am gratified that the Department of Defense has
formally decided to postpone the major elements of the Navy's
proposal until after a proper strategic review has been conducted,
as I have consistently urged."
One of the biggest arguments against the move is the fact the
base in Mayport is not equipped to accommodate a nuclear flattop
and it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to retrofit
Virginia legislators say it's just not worth it, especially not
when the Navy is so behind right now on costly ship maintenance
throughout the fleet.
The issue will come up for review again in 2010, but Virginia's
delegation says it will remain vigilant in its efforts to keep all
the east coast carriers in Hampton Roads.