Is The End Near for the USS JFK?
Sen. John Warner [R-VA] and several other Virginia legislators had worked successfully to deny the Pentagon’s FY 2006 request to retire the conventionally-powered aircraft carrier CV 67 USS John F. Kennedy, which hasn’t been deployed since 2004. The Virginian-Pilot reports that they’ve changed their minds, however, and this could spell the end for the diesel-fired carrier. In a persuasive move, the Navy went over the ship with a fine-toothed comb and came back with a case that restoring it to fighting shape would really be a $2-3 billion proposition – money that could be spent on other ships instead.
Rep. Thelma Drake [R-2nd District VA] said “Even if we had the extra money, what’s the best way to spend that money? They’ve pretty well convinced us it’s not on the Kennedy.” Faced with choices like 10 new Littoral Combat Ships, or one conventionally powered carrier with limited remaining lifetime, Sen. Warner and a number of his Virginia Congressional colleagues now back the Navy’s position.
There may be an intense fight coming between the Virginia and Florida political delegations, however. Florida’s representatives have been campaigning to upgrade the JFK’s home port of in Mayport, FL and bring one of the Navy’s five Norfolk, VA-based nuclear carriers there if the Kennedy is retired. In monetary terms, that’s worth about $225 million to the local economy, not including the required port improvements. The Navy may be able to defuse the issue, however, by basing a Navy/Marines Expeditionary Strike Group in Mayport instead. This would keep all of the Atlantic carriers in Norfolk for good or ill, keeping the Virginia delegation on side while providing a similar local economic benefit to Florida that didn’t require port improvements.
Read the full article for full details re: the Navy’s financial projections, ongoing political issues, etc.
FEB 07 UPDATE: The decomissioning process is underway….