The Navy will base its newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, at Naval Station Norfolk and homeport four amphibious ships at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia’s congressional delegation announced last week.
The moves underscore the Navy’s commitment to Hampton Roads and also provide an economic boost to the region for at least several years, the lawmakers said.
“This is a great sign for us in terms of the Navy’s view of our region,” Sen. Mark Warner (D) told the Daily Press.
Positioning the Ford at Norfolk will provide the region an additional carrier until 2018, when the USS Lincoln returns to its homeport, according to the delegation’s press release. The decision should generate $100 million to $125 million in economic activity for Hampton Roads, said Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance.
The decision regarding Little Creek also is significant as it reverses an earlier one and maintains Little Creek as a deep water amphibious port. The four amphibious ships would be based there through 2020. That move follows the delegation’s effort to urge the Navy to make a $30 million electrical grid upgrade to the base.
“I think what you’re seeing is the Navy taking advantage of investments that have been made,” Quigley told the paper.
While he applauded Thursday’s news, Warner criticized the stringent spending cap slated to be imposed on the Pentagon in fiscal 2016. “I don’t want to say we’re completely out of the woods because the stupidity of sequestration still looms out there,” Warner said.