NORFOLK, Va. - Rapid fire phone calls across Virginia Thursday spread word ofthe Navy's announcement delaying a decision whether to move anuclear-powered aircraft carrier from Naval Station Norfolk to asmaller base in Mayport, Florida.
Frank Roberts is the Executive Director of the Hampton RoadsMilitary and Federal Facilities Alliance, created by local mayorsin 2006 to protect the region's military and federalcapabilities.
Roberts says the Department of Defense is trying to step backfrom its January decision to move a local carrier to Mayport, amove many viewed as political.
"This enables them to step back from that decision withoutmaking it look blatantly like they are abandoning the previousadministration's political decision," said Roberts. "The formerpresident's brother used to be the governor of Florida and so therewas strong ties to Florida."
Senator Mark Warner released this statement saying: "This is apromising development for the taxpayers (and) reflects a Pentagonthat is now being guided by fiscal and strategic priorities."
Roberts agrees, pointing to the $1 billion price tag forretrofitting Mayport to accommodate a nuclear flattop.
"Until the DoD and the Navy can solve some of its budgetshortfall, relative to shipbuilding, aircraft shortfalls, thismakes the most sense in terms of how they spend the money," saidRoberts.
There is another issue... when sailors complete their sea dutytour, they go to shore duty and at the massive Naval StationNorfolk there is more than enough work for them.
"But, the shore duty jobs are not there for them in Mayport.Most of those people rotating off that ship do not have a shoreduty job to go to at Mayport, so they would have to be reassigned,pick up, pack up and move somewhere else," said Roberts.
The next step for the bipartisan effort of the Virginiadelegation is to examine the final federal budget when it comes outnext month to see exactly what funds are in the budget specificallyrelated to this issue.
A 35-year-old Currituck County firefighter is under arrest after a recording device was discovered in the women's bunk at his station.
A Virginia Beach man will serve 15 years in prison for charges related to two armed bank robberies in 2011.
A local convicted robber will serve 15 years behind bars for his part in a robbery at the Oceanfront two years ago.