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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN) Homeporting at Mayport: Background and Issues for Congress

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

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. Navy plans call for having Mayport ready to homeport a CVN in 2019. 

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, page 870) stated 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." 

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. 

Section 2201(c)(4) of the FY2011 defense authorization bill (H.R. 5136) as reported by the House Armed Services Committee (H.Rept. 111-491 of May 21, 2010) states: "None of the funds appropriated pursuant to this authorization of appropriations may be used for architectural and engineering services and construction design of any military construction project necessary to establish a homeport for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport, Florida." H.Rept. 111-491 includes report language requiring the Navy and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit reports concerning the costs and maintenance impacts of homeporting a CVN at Mayport.

Date of Report: May 26, 2010
Number of Pages: 56
Order Number: R40248
Price: $29.95

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