Washington: While the Navy hasn’t made up its mind whether to build its new Ford-class aircraft carrier, one senator doubts whether the service can afford the half-billion dollar base meant for the new ship.
In a letter sent to the Government Accountability Office today, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia questioned the Navy’s plan to stand up a new carrier home port in Mayport, La. by 2019.
The new port will house a portion of the Navy’s carrier strike groups currently stationed in Webb’s home state of Virginia.
But the $558 million price tag for the new home port, combined with “other reoccurring costs [that] could increase total expenditures substantially in future years,” could be too much for the service’s coffers to handle, Webb writes.
To answer that question, Webb wants the GAO to review how the Navy came to its decision to build the Mayport home port.
The study will cover everything from how the Navy did its analysis of alternatives for the base to whether the home port would be “redundant” since there is already one East Coast port. The results will be submitted to the Senate Armed Services committee.
The Navy argues that having two carrier based on the East Coast will prevent a Pearl Harbor-like attack, where potential enemies could take out half of the Navy’s entire carrier fleet by striking the single base in Virginia.
Armed with the new study, “the committee will be able to determine if this substantial investment of taxpayer dollars makes sense,” Webb said.
Aside from the Mayport constriction project, the Navy is trying to salvage an increasingly expensive shipbuilding plan while keeping the vessels in the current fleet afloat after almost a decade at war.