With unemployment soaring, news that a San Diego–based aircraft carrier may be pulling out for good would come as unwelcome news to local politicians. On the other hand, one Seattle-area congressman has been trumpeting that very possibility in an attempt to get more federal money for his district. What is known for certain is that the Navy is playing a game of high-level musical chairs with a couple of its carriers, including the USS Nimitz. The San Diego–based nuclear-powered ship is set to depart for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, in December 2010 for 16 months of maintenance, according to a news release issued by Democratic congressman Norm Dicks. Following repairs, Dicks said, the Nimitz will be based in nearby Everett, where it will replace the USS Abraham Lincoln, which in turn will go to Norfolk, Virginia, for refueling in 2013.
The Everett, Washington Herald tried to verify the congressman’s report that the Nimitz would be permanently home-ported in the Pacific Northwest, but a Navy spokesman in San Diego would only confirm that the ship was heading north for maintenance. Despite that, George Behan, who is Dicks’s chief of staff, was sticking to the congressman’s story: “While the Navy appears to want to leave options open, we still expect this sequence of events,” he told the paper. But a congressional source said this week there are no plans to permanently move the Nimitz. A spokesman for Dicks didn’t respond to a request for comment.