Two thousand sailors, their families, and an estimated $75 million in annual revenue is expected to sail in to Naval Station Mayport beginning this year, but we’ve learned it may not be a smooth ride.
With sequestration set to take hold Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott has sent a letter to the President explaining what the cuts would mean for Florida. Specifically in Jacksonville, he says sequestration would cancel aircraft maintenance for this year and lead to a “failure to transfer” the Amphibious Ready Group to Mayport.
The ARG is made up of three ships, the first of which was set to be homeported at Mayport by the end of this year. The entire group was expected to be in Jacksonville by the end of next year. With a few ships set to be decommissioned at Mayport, there is a lot of excitement over the three ships coming in.
Following the Governor’s letter, I reached out directly to the Navy to find out what we could expect for the ARG. According to their planning, nothing has been stopped.
“While homeport adjustments programmed for Fiscal Year (FY) 13 or FY14 could incur delays due to personnel moves, maintenance, and operational schedule changes resulting from sequestration, the Navy remains committed to our plan to transfer an ARG to Mayport in FY14, “ reads part of the statement given to WOKV.
Retired Admiral Bob Natter tells WOKV we obviously want to see the ships come sooner rather than later.
“Couple thousand families fewer in Mayport that would have been here otherwise,” he says.
And with those families come a boost to area businesses as well as tens of millions of dollars in maintenance that will be performed locally on those ships. Natter says the base needs to business because the declining number of ships on base has had a direct impact on the number of maintenance workers employed.
“With the ARG coming, we would have stopped that decline. Regrettably, that decline is going to continue,” he says.
We’re learning the impact even a delay could have on local ship maintenance workers as well, and will bring you more coverage today on WOKV.