10 December, 2008

Aircraft Carrier Battle Rages on the East Coast of Florida

A Norfolk Nightmare?
Zeros, Kates? Foxbats? Bears? Converted Cropdusters?

REMEMBER, IT'S ALWAYS
DECEMBER 6, 1941
- 0700
DECEMBER 7
COULD BE JUST HOURS AWAY
Disperse the Fleet, a move to Mayport, Kings Bay, Charleston, Key West, Pensacola, is a move toward national security.
Norfolk could always remain the fleet service station for all major overhaul and repair.

Imagine if you will, a country dumb enough to place all of it's major capital ships all in one port. What if, for example, one was to place nearly the whole Pacific Fleet in Pearl harbour? Certainly times have changed, nobody is expecting any B-5-N-2Kate Torpedo Bombers to suddenly appear in the Sky's over Hawaii.

What if Admiral Kimble was right, and the threat would have been from Japanese Terrorists? Could a well placed bomb in the USS Utah or Arizona produced the same results? Certainly they could. Hit the ships magazine and thousands of bombs will either detonate, or fly through the air while detonating to rain down on everything for miles around. Horror of horrors.

Here in Jacksonville's Port of Gold, we have so many things happening on the maritime side, it's hard to keep up with the daily announcements. New channels, turning basins, container yards, warehousing, wharfs, roads, railroads, in what resembles one of the worlds largest construction sites.

Mayport,founded in 1563, is a tiny suburban fishing village, that guards the mouth of the majestic St. Johns River, lighthouse and jetty's. Today, Mayport is wholly within the corporate bounds of The City of Jacksonville. It is also home to a large US Coast Guard station, a historic shrimp fleet and sundry seafood shops and restaurants, as well as the future home of JaxPort's new cruise ship terminal. But the thing Mayport is most known for is the US Naval Station Mayport.

NS Mayport, guards JaxPort, and is the 4TH fleet (South Atlantic and Caribbean)headquarters.

When the John F. Kennedy left Mayport last year, it left the huge carrier basin without a carrier.

Meanwhile in Norfolk, Virginia, the entire East Coast compliment of capital surface ships (4 carriers) is in one place. Norfolk Naval Base is at the end of a long narrow channel leading from the sea, a dozen or so miles from the shipping channels.

"Not to worry," says Virginia, "They'll never bomb this place..."

Sort of reminds me of the Yankee General during the War of Yankee Aggression, who rose in his saddle to rally his men and yelled, "Come on boys, they couldn't hit an elephant at this dis--." DEAD!

So Virginia has changed her tune, "Carriers will kill whales and destroy the whale migrations off the Florida Coast." Really? We're not exactly the whale headquarters of the Atlantic. In fact in 54 years - including in the Navy here, I've never seen a single whale off Jacksonville. Besides wouldn't a whale swimming off Florida follow the gulf stream up to Norfolk where that Chesapeake Bay dumps millions of gallons of fresh water and new sea life into the ocean?

Wouldn't the whales be 5 times (another carrier is about to be commissioned at Norfolk) more likely to be confused into sonar suicide by the constant movement of carriers in and out of Norfolk.

"WHAT VIRGINIA SAID..."

Carrier battle is really all about the money
Tamara Dietrich
December 10, 2008

Nobody can accuse Virginia's federal delegation of not pulling every rabbit out of the hat to try to thwart U.S. Navy plans to take one of our nuclear aircraft carriers and give it to Florida.

It's flawed military strategy, they argue. It's fiscally irresponsible. It will needlessly uproot thousands of Navy families.

And, as of Monday, it could harm whales and manatees.

Sens. Jim Webb and John Warner just released a statement of their "serious concerns" over the lack of sufficient review of the risks to sea life off the Florida coast if 5.2 million cubic tons are dredged at Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Fla., to accommodate a nuclear-powered carrier.

It's an environmentally sensitive argument, but could it stick?

Doubtful.

When creatures of the earth run afoul of national security concerns, the boogeyman nearly always wins.

Sorry, whales and manatees.

Still, we can throw environmental concern in the mix and see if the totality of Virginia's argument persuades the Navy to change its recommendation and leave the carrier here.

Norfolk has four nuclear carriers, with a fifth set to be commissioned next month. We're the only nuclear port on the East Coast, which concerns the Navy enough to want to spend between half a billion and a billion dollars to retrofit Mayport as a secondary port and disperse the carriers.

They don't want another Pearl Harbor-style disaster inflicted by God nor man.

Still, the last few years have taught us that the unthinkable really isn't. Could God or man ever inflict enough damage on the Norfolk station itself to seriously hinder the comings and goings of our nuclear carriers? Might a secondary port — the West Coast already has them — be a wise idea?

These political prognosticators haven't a clue how tragic this scene could become. Have you ever stood on the fantail of an aircraft carrier and looked into the broken hearted eyes of a sex starved bull whale that just tried to mate with spinning propellers? Tragic indeed.

All of this environmental concern for Florida, from our neighbors in Virginia, is deeply appreciated. But it's appreciated in the abstract - like a bad case of hemorrhoids.

Could it be that someday in the future, we will stare in disbelief at our TV screens broadcasting the wreckage of our entire Atlantic Carrier force? We owe the Imperial Japanese Navy one debit of gratitude, they proved we are not untouchable by a lesser power. To ignore history is to be cursed to repeat it.
Frankly, even if we don't want to face it, 911 taught us, it that it's always December 6, 1941, and the clock is ticking...







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