WASHINGTON, DC - WAVY.com has learned the Pentagon is delaying and reviewing itsdecision to move a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier out of Norfolk- a decision that could save thousands of jobs in HamptonRoads.
In January, the Navy announced it was going ahead with plans tomove one of the carriers at Naval Station Norfolk to Mayport,Florida. But now, it seems the full-court pressure Virginia'sbipartisan delegation has been puting on the Defense Department wasa success.
Democrat and republican legislators alike are elated andrelieved with the DoD's decision. There has been a strong effort inVirginia to block the Navy from moving a Norfolk-based carrier toFlorida because such a move would cost Hampton Roads thousands ofjobs and millions of dollars in economic activity.
Governor Tim Kaine told WAVY.com Thursday evening, this delaymakes room for long-term optimism.
"Senator Webb and I met with key administration officials aboutthis the day after the inauguration to talk to him about it andexpress the concerns we had about it and we have been monitoring itever since and we are very happy to see this announcement today,"he explained.
Republican Congressman Rob Wittman from the 1st District andDemocratic Congressman Glenn Nye from the 2nd District, both on theArmed 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 $600million of economic activity in Norfolk every year that the carrierremains here. And it's also important that the carrier stayhere because trying to move the carrier around can split upfamilies," Congressman Nye said.
Senator Wittman said, "I think they looked at the economicsituation, the budget situation and also all of us in the Virginiadelegation have been working to make sure they look very closely atthis decision."
Democratic Senator Jim Webb released a statement Thursdayevening saying: "I am gratified that the Department of Defense hasformally decided to postpone the major elements of the Navy'sproposal 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 thebase in Mayport is not equipped to accommodate a nuclear flattopand it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to retrofitMayport.
Virginia legislators say it's just not worth it, especially notwhen the Navy is so behind right now on costly ship maintenancethroughout the fleet.
The issue will come up for review again in 2010, but Virginia'sdelegation says it will remain vigilant in its efforts to keep allthe east coast carriers in Hampton Roads.
Norfolk Police are investigating an assault on a man Thursday night.
Tributes from those who knew Nelson Mandela began pouring in from across the globe, including words from two Hampton Roads leaders.
A company has been hired to complete the repairs to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, but how long those repairs will take remains unknown.