NORFOLK --Two more Hampton Roads base Navy warships have left for a new homeport--Mayport, Florida--taking some 1,300 sailors and their paychecks with them.
The USS Iwo Jima and the USS Fort McHenry arrived at the Northern Florida base Sunday, joining the USS New York, which got there last December. In all, it's estimated that the three ship Amphibious Ready Group will deliver a $75 million jolt to the Jacksonville area economy.
The movements come in the midst of several others, including sending three Ballistic Missile Defense ships to Rota, Spain, and long-range Navy plans which call for the movement of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt from Norfolk to San Diego sometime in calendar year 2015.
"It's a slow chipping away at our inventory of ships, the personnel, the payroll and the economic impact to this area," said Tidewater Community College Professor of Business Administration Peter Shaw. "Remember, when a ship goes away the payroll of all that crew goes with it. Not only that, all the defense contracting that goes with the ship goes with it elsewhere, leaves the area."
Retired Navy Rear Admiral Metz doesn't like the trend. "The concern is, we're losing things," said Metz. "the leaders just have got to start diversifying. My main worry is, I don't think people are aware of it."