Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) Thursday asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the fiscal justification and strategic need underlying the Navy plan’s to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
The senator asked the agency to respond to a lengthy set of questions as part of an analysis it will prepare on the plan to shift one aircraft carrier from Norfolk to Mayport, located near Jacksonville. GAO’s report is due in February 2012.
The Virginia congressional delegation has opposed the Navy effort to shift the carrier in fiscal 2019 and create a second homeport for aircraft carriers on the East Coast. The Quadrennial Defense Review recommended relocating one aircraft carrier to mitigate the impact of a hurricane or terrorist attack.
Webb has repeatedly questioned the plan to spend up to $1 billion to build a new facility to accommodate a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. In his letter to GAO, he focuses on operational, fiscal and technical issues:
- Did the Navy follow best-business practices to prepare a comprehensive analysis of alternatives for homeporting nuclear aircraft carriers on the East Coast?
- Do other more cost-effective alternatives exist to sustain Mayport’s mission in the future?
- Is there a compelling risk-based justification for the Navy to build redundant infrastructure on the East Coast?
- Does the number of ships in the Navy’s force structure justify the addition of yet another nuclear-support facility?
Webb’s letter and list of questions are available on his website.