Floridas two U.S. senators on Wednesday joined veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw to announce that Congress will vote this week on the 2012 Defense Authorization Conference Report that contains almost $15 million in funds to ready Mayport on the First Coast to port a nuclear aircraft carrier.
From his perches on both the U.S. House Defense Appropriations subcommittee and the House Appropriations Committee, Crenshaw has been engaged against efforts from members of the Virginia delegation -- including U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., who chairs the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee -- to keep two nuclear aircraft carriers in Norfolk, making that base in the Old Dominion the only one on the East Coast with carriers. While Mayport has traditionally housed aircraft carriers, there have not been any stationed there since 2007, when the USS John F. Kennedy was decommissioned.
The House and Senate agreement is another win for Mayport and means military construction projects needed to home port a nuclear aircraft carrier at the base will keep moving forward, Crenshaw, a former president of the Florida Senate who has represented parts of North Florida and the First Coast in Congress since 2000, said in a statement on Wednesday. Top military leaders have stated from day one that they stand behind the strategic imperative of two nuclear-capable home ports on the East Coast -- one in Norfolk, one in Mayport. I couldnt agree more and will continue my work to ensure the necessary resources are available for that work.
The two senators from the Sunshine State -- Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio -- also said they were glad to see Mayport lined up to receive $14.9 million in the next fiscal year to prepare for a nuclear aircraft carrier.
Despite repeated attempts by some lawmakers to block improvements needed to bring a nuclear carrier to Mayport, were still on track, Nelson said. -Dispersing the carrier fleet is vital to our national security and thats why it continues to have the support of the Pentagon and most in Congress.
Home-porting an aircraft carrier at Mayport will make good on the Navys longstanding requirement to strategically disperse our nations capital ships, Rubio said. This is a priority of the U.S. Navy that has been reinforced in the most recent Quadrennial Defense Review, and has been supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations.Todays announcement is an important step toward realizing this national goal of safeguarding our carrier fleet. I am pleased that the House, Senate and administration all continue to support this important move, which is good for Florida but also in the best national security interest of our nation.
Mayport is expected to be ready for a carrier in 2019. Estimates have found that a carrier could lead to thousands of private-sector jobs on the First Coast as well as the almost 3,200 crew.
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