Friday, January 9, 2009

Pearl Harbor Redux

The military power that is present in any one of our U.S. Navy aircraft carriers is phenomenal. Even my first ship, USS Midway (CV-41), was quite a powerful package though it was the smallest carrier in our fleet at that time. During the period prior to, during, and after World War II, the arsenal of battleships we had represented a comparable collection of enormous firepower that could be quickly brought to bear in a crisis. The Japanese were keenly aware of this. So much so, that on December 7, 1941, they attempted to eliminate our fleet of dreadnoughts in one fell swoop. They almost succeeded due in large degree as a result of the strategic mistake of "putting all of our eggs in one basket" as it were - the stationing of the bulk of our battleship fleet in one port. I lived on O'ahu for 17 years and I saw evidence of the attack still to this day.

The junior U.S. Senator from my current home state of Virginia, the honorable Jim Webb, seems to have forgotten that little bit of military history of our country. Sen. Webb believes that the U.S. Navy has not made a compelling argument to justify relocating one aircraft carrier from Norfolk, Virginia to Mayport, Florida. Sen. Webb has compelling political interest in maintaining the status quo regarding the number of ships, particularly aircraft carriers, in the Tidewater area of Virginia, which includes not only Norfolk, but Portsmouth, Hampton, Suffolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach as well. The "care and feeding" of the each ship and its crew has a tremendous economic impact in the immediate area of the homeport. Sen. Webb's reports says:
The Navy’s proposal is fiscally irresponsible. Estimates put the project’s cost at $600 million to $1 billion, while the Navy estimated that it had $4.6 billion in unfunded priorities for fiscal year 2009.
Imagine what would happen if a larger scale terrorist attack than those already inflicted upon our country, both here and around the world, were to target the ships, aircraft, and bases in the Tidewater area. If only one ship were destroyed, the cost to replace it would be at least $4.5 billion. That price tag does not include the cost in human lives and suffering that would be a tragic coincident. It makes too much sense to me that at least one, if not two or three, aircraft carrier should be moved from Naval Station Norfolk to some other homeport.

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