Navy planning assistance for USS Theodore Roosevelt departure from Norfolk

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jan 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-16 17:45:00-05

Norfolk, Va. (WTKR) - The Navy has announced plans to assist sailors impacted by a plan to shuffle the home ports of several aircraft carriers.

Earlier this week, the Navy announced the changes in home ports for the USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS George Washington and USS Ronald Reagan as part of its effort to strengthen Pacific presence.

The Norfolk-based USS Theodore Roosevelt will shift to San Diego to replace the USS Ronald Reagan.

The Reagan will then move to Yokosuka, Japan to relieve the forward-deployed USS George Washington which will then head to Newport News Shipbuilding for its midlife Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH).

That's where the USS Abraham Lincoln is currently undergoing its RCOH and is scheduled to remain through the end of 2016. Navy officials tell NewsChannel 3 that no home port decision for the Lincoln has been made beyond that.

The Navy has not announced a timeline for the movement of the carriers, but say it's important for the re-balance strategy in the Pacific.

"This move underscores the strategic relevance, worth and value of our forward deployed forces, particularly our nuclear powered aircraft carriers and embarked carrier air wings," said Vice Admiral David Buss, Commander of Naval Air Forces in a statement provided to NewsChannel 3.

"The presence of our forward deployed aircraft carriers powerfully demonstrates our commitment to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region," Buss continued.

While the carriers may be moving, many sailors will not have to leave.

"The Navy is making every effort to avoid unnecessary permanent change of station moves for sailors and their families due to the relocation of these aircraft carriers," explained CDR Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for Commander, U.S. Naval Air Forces in a statement to NewsChannel 3.

"While sailors in key leadership positions, sailors with certain specializations or skills sets specific to a particular aircraft carrier may be required to make such moves, the Navy's goal is to minimize the impact the ships' relocations have on personnel," Stephens said.

By next month, a Personnel Action Team will be assigned to each carrier.

Information about how the moves will impact housing allowances, detailing, exceptional family members and other personnel concerns should be released to each of the impacted carriers by the Navy Personnel Command by March, according to Stephens.

The Navy says the ship rotation will not require any changes to the assigned air wings or in the composition of the air wing.