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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida lands Naval carrier



The Navy will station an nuclear aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, officials said, an announcement that could bring thousands of jobs to the area.

"This is huge news. I can't think of something that would make a bigger economic impact on the First Coast than this," Republican Sen. George LeMieux said in an interview tonight.

"This will cement Jacksonville's and Mayport's place in our nation's defense," said Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, noting he and Jacksonville Reps. Ander Crenshaw and Corrine Brown had been fighting for a carrier for nearly a decade.

The news is contained in a Naval report to be presented to Congress on Monday. The Navy said the carrier is needed to manage the risk of a terrorist attack, accident or natural disaster.

The ship will be relocated from Virginia, where lawmakers fought hard to prevent the deal. "The reason for moving one of the nuclear carriers from Norfolk to Mayport is so they're not all lined up in one place like sitting ducks . Beyond that, this is huge for the North Florida economy.

Florida has been seeking to regain a carrier since it lost the steam-powered USS John F. Kennedy a few years ago. Congress appropriated $76 million this year for dredging of a canal to accommodate a new carrier.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:16pm]


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