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JFK Overhaul Work Stopped ... or Not ?


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JFK Overhaul Work Stopped

By WILLIAM H. MCMICHAEL

 

Defense News

 

The Navy has canceled a scheduled $335 million overhaul of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, a move that likely cements plans to inactivate or decommission the flattop and reduce the Navy’s formidable carrier fleet from 12 to 11.

 

The Navy emphasized it has not firmed up its ultimate plans for the Mayport, Fla.-based Kennedy, to the disappointment of Florida’s congressional delegation and proponents of a 12-carrier Navy. “The final decision on the ship’s decommissioning and inactivation status is still pending,” said Lt. Chris Servello, a Navy spokesman.

 

The Navy, however, had long planned the overhaul, saying it was necessary to extend the aged carrier’s service life to 2018.

 

“This was expected, and it won’t change my approach,” said Rep. Anders Crenshaw, R-Fla., whose district includes Mayport, in a statement supplied by his office. “I will continue to work through the process to make certain we maintain a sound carrier strategy that benefits our national security. The Navy still hasn’t made a convincing argument for reducing the carrier force. As the Navy has repeatedly stated, quantity has a quality all its own.”

 

The decision, announced Friday, also officially halts the home port shift associated with the overhaul. Work was to begin pierside at Kennedy’s Mayport, Fla., home port this spring and then continue at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., with final work to be done back in Mayport, Servello said.

 

In an effort to forestall the economic blow Mayport would suffer if Kennedy were mothballed, the Florida delegation also has lobbied the Navy to upgrade the base to handle a nuclear carrier.

 

In March, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the Navy intends to have two nuclear carrier home ports on the East Coast, and that he supports moving a nuclear carrier to Mayport.

 

In addition, Florida’s delegation introduced legislation earlier this year to require the Navy to maintain a 12-carrier fleet. That legislation has not yet been taken up by the respective House and Senate committees.

 

Two years ago, the Navy spent $300 million on the first phase of an overhaul on the carrier that Navy officials admitted in 2002 had been long neglected. After a 2004 deployment completed in December, the Navy planned to finish the job for an estimated $335 million. The bulk of the work was to be done at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

 

A Navy official said that money would be spent on other maintenance projects to lessen the blow to industry.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is certainly a hot topic in USN circles recently ...

 

From Navy Times

 

Senate pressures for overhaul of carrier Kennedy

By Andrew Scutro

Times staff writer

 

Navy plans to retire the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy were knocked off course Wednesday with passage of a Senate amendment that would force an already budgeted $288 million overhaul of the 37-year-old ship.

 

The amendment to the 2005 defense supplemental bill was initiated with bi-partisan support by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

 

The measure would make the Navy spend money budgeted to overhaul the ship or lose the money altogether, preventing its use for something else. Warner’s amendment also requires the Navy to maintain a fleet of 12 active carriers until the Quadrennial Defense Review is completed in 2006.

 

Warner has commented several times in recent days about the Navy’s sudden change in course on the carrier fleet. Service officials consistently maintained they needed 12 carriers until last winter, Warner noted, then began putting out the word that 11 would be sufficient. With an expensive war in Iraq under way, pressure to cut back Navy budgets has been severe.

 

The retirement of the carrier has become a major political issue this spring, as lawmakers from Florida and elsewhere have raised concerns over what the loss of the Kennedy and its 3,000-member crew would mean to the Jacksonville, Fla., economy.

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