Jacksonville, FL - Jacksonville’s long awaited Navy boost is still coming down the pipeline and we’re now getting a better idea of the steps remaining before we see a nuclear carrier.
Speaking exclusively to our Washington Bureau, US Senator Bill Nelson says our next big milestone should be budgeted in two years, and that’s to build nuclear storage facilities. He throws a question on the entire project however, with the carrier destined for Mayport in 2019, because of ongoing budget problems.
“We’ve got a bunch of Neanderthals that are insisting that they’re gunna have it their way or no way,” says Nelson.
He thinks sequestration has thrown a big question mark over when the carrier will actually get to Mayport, but Navy Secretary Ray Mabus disagrees. He says the project has been deferred, but in no way cancelled, and it not feeling the effects of the sequester.
In fact, Mabus says there’s more excitement about the first of three ships in an Amphibious Ready Group coming to Mayport at the end of this year, which is a short term success for the base.
“This moves some of our most important capabilities to Mayport, and this moves the repair and maintenance work to Mayport,” Mabus says.
With a nuclear carrier, many of the jobs would need to go to skilled workers flown in from other areas, but the ARG ships will all be handled locally.
It’s something Nelson is also happy to see, but he remains on edge about the future of the carrier, which is now homeported in Norfolk.
“The lessons of Pearl Harbor were very clear- you don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he says.
Strategic dispersal of carrier assets has been one of the driving reasons the carrier plans are still on, and Nelson says a quicker move is better.