WASHINGTON (WAVY) - Virginia 4th District Congressman Randy Forbes quizzed the ViceChief of Naval Operations Tuesday on the Navy's rationale formoving a Norfolk-based nuclear powered aircraft carrier to a newhomeport at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
During a hearing with the House Armed Services Committee'sReadiness Subcommittee, Forbes used slides to try and refute someof the Navy's arguments regarding the need for the carrierrelocation.
"All of you are good men, and you serve with good men andwomen," Forbes said to Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, who appearedat the hearing with the Army's Vice Chief of Staff General Peter W.Chiarelli, the Marine Corps' Assistant Commandant General James F.Amos, and the Air Force's Vice Chief of Staff General Carrol H.Chandler, "but sometimes even good men and women can make baddecisions."
The Navy has said part of it's rationale for the carrier move isto reduce the risk to fleet resources in the event of a naturaldisaster or terrorist attack.
Forbes utilized NOAA data to demonstrate both the historicaltrend of hurricanes striking each location, as well as theincreased likelihood of future hurricanes hitting Florida versusVirginia.
The data showed a 75% increase in likelihood that a Category 4hurricane will strike Mayport as compared to Norfolk.
"In the most recent history that I looked at," said Adm.Greenert, "I found somewhere between, over the last 15 years, itwas statistically insignificant, that is the number of hurricanesin Jacksonville-Mayport area versus Virginia."
Forbes also utilized satellite imagery to highlight the muchnarrower channel in Mayport as compared to Norfolk, stressing thataccess to the Florida base could be compromised by either aterrorist attack or a weather event.
In addition, and in response to the 'eggs in one basket'argument heard from Navy leaders, Forbes offered data indicatingthat five or more carriers had only been together at Naval StationNorfolk for 34 total days during the six years from fiscal year2003 through fiscal year 2008.
Finally, Forbes pressed Adm. Greenert on Navy's desire to spendnearly $600 million on moving the carrier when the servicecurrently has more than $500 million in unfunded requirements.
When Forbes asked which he worried about more - the carrier moveor the unfunded requirements - Adm. Greenert responded, "I worryabout the long term, strategic consequences of not having but onecarrier port on the East Coast."
"You think that's more important than the $523 million ofunfunded requirements that you have here?" asked Forbes.
"I do, yes sir," answered Adm. Greenert.
The Navy re-affirmed its intention to move a carrier to Mayportwhen it released its Quadrennial Defense Review on February 1.
Earlier this month local lawmakers and members of the HamptonRoads Military Affairs Commission sent a letter to Secretary of theNavy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Rougheadsuggesting that the Navy's public statements about the proposedcarrier move did not adequately address a number of key concerns -and that budget projections drastically underestimated the totalcost of the move.
Congress must ultimately approve funds to finance any carriermove from Norfolk to Mayport in order for the relocation tooccur.
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