Navy move to Mayport still unaffordable, says Greenert

At issue is a proposed plan to move one of the Navy's aircraft carriers from the service's main shipyard in Norfolk,Va., down to the Mayport facility. Service officials announced it would be moving a Marine Corps Amphibious Ready Group down to Florida on June 16. 

The first of those three ships in the group, the USS New York, will head down to Mayport by 2013. The USS Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry will follow in 2014, according to a service statement. 

But due to increasing pressure on the Navy's bottom line, service officials have yet to pull the trigger on the carrier move, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said on Wednesday. 

"We're upgrading the pier in Mayport. It will be able to take a carrier visit and be able to do some maintenance there," Greenert told reporters at the Pentagon. "[But] right now we just don't have the fiscal resources to conduct a carrier move." 

The Florida and Virginia congressional delegations have been battling over the proposed carrier move on Capitol Hill since the Navy began considering the shift. 

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) hailed the Marine Corps deployment to Mayport as a boon for the state's floundering shipbuilding industry. 

However, the Florida Republican said he would continue to push for a carrier deployment to Mayport, in spite of the Navy's fiscal woes. 

“My fight continues for all parts of the Mayport equation, including the future homeporting of a nuclear aircraft carrier,” he said in a statement released shortly after the Navy announced its plans for the Marine Corps Ready Group. 

Proponents of the carrier move argue that having the ships deployed to different points along the Eastern seaboard would make them less susceptible to a Pearl Harbor-type attack. 

Currently, all Navy carriers deployed on the East Coast are stationed in Norfolk. 

Opponents of the shift argue the money needed to get the Mayport shipyard ready to support a carrier move would be better spent in the service's operations or procurement accounts. 

—Jeremy Herb contributed