The Navy's five Atlantic Fleet nuclear powered aircraft carriers (CVNs) are all homeported at Norfolk, VA. The Department of Defense's (DOD's) final report on the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), released on February 1, 2010, endorses the Navy's desire to establish a second Atlantic Fleet CVN home port by homeporting a CVN at Mayport, FL. The report states: "To mitigate the risk of a terrorist attack, accident, or natural disaster, the U.S. Navy will homeport an East Coast carrier in Mayport, Florida."
Transferring a CVN from Norfolk to Mayport would shift from Norfolk to Mayport the local economic activity associated with homeporting a CVN, which some sources estimate as being worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
DOD's proposal to homeport a CVN at Mayport has become an issue of strong interest to certain Members of Congress from Florida and Virginia. Certain Members of Congress from Florida have expressed support for DOD's proposal to homeport a CVN at Mayport, arguing (as do DOD and the Navy) that the benefits in terms of mitigating risks to the Navy's Atlantic Fleet CVNs are worth the costs associated with moving a CVN to Mayport. Certain Members of Congress from Virginia have expressed skepticism regarding, or opposition to, the proposal, arguing that the benefits in terms of mitigating risks to the Navy's Atlantic Fleet CVNs are questionable or uncertain, and that the funding needed to implement the proposal could achieve greater benefits if it were spent on other Navy priorities.
The Navy estimates the nonrecurring cost of transferring a CVN to Mayport at $589.7 million, including $490.7 in Military Construction (MilCon) funding for construction work at Mayport to make Mayport capable of homeporting a CVN, and $99 million in other one-time costs. The $490.7 million in MilCon funding includes $46.3 million in dredging costs that the Navy requested in its FY2010 budget. Congress, as part of its action on the FY2010 defense budget, approved the request for $46.3 million for dredging. The conference report (H.Rept. 111-288 of October 7, 2009) on the FY2010 defense authorization act (H.R. 2647/P.L. 111-84 of October 28, 2009) states:
The conference agreement includes authorization for $46.3 million for channel and turning basin dredging at Naval Station (NS) Mayport, Florida. The Navy requested this project in order to allow a nuclear aircraft carrier to enter Naval Station Mayport on a temporary basis with an embarked air wing, full stores, and under any tidal conditions. The conferees authorize funding for this project based on the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations' assurances that the dredging is needed for current operational considerations to permit the use of Mayport as a transient dock and is ''required irrespective of the final decision on aircraft carrier homeporting at Mayport.''
The conferees emphasize that the inclusion of an authorization for dredging at NS Mayport is not an indication of conferee support for the establishment of an additional homeport for nuclear aircraft carriers on the east coast, or intended to influence the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, which may include a recommendation on the establishment of a second east coast homeport for nuclear aircraft carriers. Furthermore, the conferees note that this funding is provided solely to permit use of Mayport as a transient port, and that any potential designation of Mayport as a nuclear carrier homeport will require future authorizations from the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives. (Page 870)
The Navy's proposed FY2011 budget requests about $2 million in MilCon planning and design funding for the project to establish a CVN homeport at Mayport.