Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nuclear Carrier Plans Reviewed; Department of Defense Still Plans to Fund Upgrades at Mayport as Review Is Done

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nuclear Carrier Plans Reviewed; Department of Defense Still Plans to Fund Upgrades at Mayport as Review Is Done

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

The Department of Defense will review plans to make Mayport capable of handling a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, while at the same time moving ahead with funding the beginning phases of the project.

The department told legislators Thursday that the idea of nuclearizing Mayport Naval Station would be re-examined as part of a study looking at the nation's overall defense strategy.

While that review, which will be released early next year, is under way, Congress will vote on a military construction budget that includes $87 million to begin upgrades at the base, said Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla.

That money would go for dredging 5.2 million cubic yards needed to allow a nuclear carrier to make its way to the dock as well as up upgrading the wharf where it would sit.

While the review is appropriate because of the change in administration, Crenshaw said, he doesn't think it will change the final decision.

"The facts are still there that lead you to say a single homeport is not desirable," he said. "If you look at the history, the facts have not changed."

Florida and Virginia legislators have been fighting over the possibility of homeporting a nuclear carrier at Mayport for years, a fight that worsened when the Navy announced its decision to do so this year based on security concerns. All the carriers on the East Coast are now based in Norfolk, Va., which the Navy says is less secure than dispersing the fleet.

Since the decision was made, Virginia politicians have pushed for it to be reviewed. This week, 18 members of Congress, led by a Virginian, told the Defense Department they would "oppose any request for funds" for the Mayport upgrades. …

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