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Mayport Wants To Add Naval Command From Puerto Rico Navy We're The One
Mayport Wants To Add Naval Command A Decision From Pentagon Could Relocate Unit From Puerto Rico To Mayport Naval Station.
GREGORY PIATT, The Times-Union
The Florida Times-Union
January 11, 2004
Jacksonville is in the running to land the Navy command that keeps watch on the waters around South America and conducts maritime anti-drug operations in the region.
A decision from the Pentagon could come as early as this week on whether Naval Forces Southern Command will be relocated from Puerto Rico to Mayport Naval Station or another naval installation in Florida.
Navy bases in Key West and Pensacola are also being considered.
"We're optimistic [about Mayport]," said U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla. "I've been working quietly to make the case. If we get it, we'll have a great jewel in our crown."
No decision has been made yet, Ted Brown, spokesman for the Atlantic fleet, said last week. The Atlantic Fleet commander, Adm. William Fallon, needs to pass on his recommendations to the chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Vern Clark, who will make the decision soon, Brown said.
The command, known as NAVSOUTH, is the naval component of Southern Command or SOUTHCOM, which is based in Miami.
Southern Command is one of five U.S. joint military commands that carve up the world into areas of responsibility. The command area includes Central and South America and most of the Caribbean.
If moved to Mayport, NAVSOUTH would bring about 70 people, including a rear admiral. That admiral would add to Jacksonville's clout in Navy issues and could help protect the area's bases as the Pentagon enters into a round of military base closures next year.
"Jacksonville has several flag commands [admirals] and placing another here would increase the military value at Mayport," said Jim Amerault, a retired vice admiral who is now a senior vice president with John J. McMullen, a naval architect and engineering firm. "Mayport is a great place for [NAVSOUTH]."
Dan McCarthy, Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton's director of military affairs, agreed.
"It would be a nice plus for us," he added.
In the late 1990s, Jacksonville was in the running to get NAVSOUTH when the Navy combined its then-called Western Hemisphere Group, which was based at Mayport, and South Atlantic Force, which was based at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico. But Roosevelt Roads won out in 1999.
Since the closure of the bombing range on Vieques Island off the coast of Puerto Rico, the Navy decided to close Roosevelt Roads. Military activities there will cease by the end of March.
The command and control building Mayport officials set aside in the late 1990s for what they hoped would be NAVSOUTH still stands ready to be used.
"We have a building at Mayport for it and a community that welcomes the military," Crenshaw said.
If Mayport gets the command, Jacksonville's naval installations will be more vital to U.S. strategic interests in the region, he said.
Along with leading drug enforcement operations, NAVSOUTH provides strategic and operational command and control of naval forces in the SOUTHCOM region.
The command helps conduct Navy-to-Navy interactions in the region, humanitarian missions and protocol events between the United States and nations in the region.
It also oversees UNITAS, the largest naval exercise south of the continental United States.
"This command is important because it helps show the flag in that part of the world, interact with allied navies and build our coalition in South America," Amerault said. "And that's important to the economy and interests of the U.S."
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Visit the official Web site for the United States Naval Forces: Southern Command at www.cusns.navy.mil
COMMAND COVERS SOUTH AMERICAN AREA
A decision from the Pentagon could come as early as this week on whether Naval Forces Southern Command will be relocated from Puerto Rico to Mayport Naval Station or another naval installation in Florida. The command, known as NAVSOUTH, is the naval component of Southern Command or SOUTHCOM, which is based in Miami. Southern Command is one of five U.S. joint military commands that carve up the world into areas of responsibility. The command area includes Central and South America and most of the Caribbean.
Navy We're The One
The Florida Times-Union
January 16, 2004
Moving the Naval Southern Command to Mayport Naval Station would bring about 100 jobs to the city -- many of them high-paid, senior military officers who typically contribute a lot to the community.
Now it's important for the Navy to be aware of why Mayport would be a better selection than the other sites under consideration, Key West and Pensacola, for the operations that are being moved from the soon-to-be-closed Roosevelt Roads facility in Puerto Rico.
U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, sees several major assets at Mayport: There would be good synergy between the facility with the most assets in the command and its carriers and squadrons. Mayport is the only finalist accessible via a major airport. Tax money would be saved because Mayport already has a building to house the command. Jacksonville is the most-requested area to be stationed, so it's an obvious quality-of-life selection.
If all three members of the local congressional delegation make the case consistently, and clearly, perhaps Jacksonville -- which prides itself in supporting the military -- can play even a bigger role in the nation's defense.