Battle Begins Over Carrier KennedyWASHINGTON JAN. 06Key members of Virginia's congressional delegation, including the powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, lined up Wednesday to thwart Pentagon plans to retire one of the Navy's 12 aircraft carriers. Shortly after Florida lawmakers announced plans for a bill that would require the Navy to keep a minimum of 12 flattops, Sen. John W. Warner, R Va., hailed the idea as "very clever" and all but promised his backing. "I've always supported carriers. I'd like to have 24," Warner told reporters. As Armed Services Committee chairman, Warner is considered Congress' most influential voice on defense issues. He typically acts as point man for the Bush administration on such matters, but his remarks Wednesday seemed to signal that he'll break with the White House if the president insists on cutting the carrier fleet. Defense officials indicated last week that they're prepared to retire the 37 year old carrier John F. Kennedy, based in Mayport, Fla., as part of a series of budget cuts aimed at reducing the mushrooming federal budget deficit.
Navy Says Sub Hit Mountain That Was Not On Its ChartsNew York Times - JAN. 11A nuclear attack submarine that ran aground Saturday in the South Pacific, killing one sailor and injuring 23 others, appears to have smashed into an undersea mountain that was not on its charts, Navy officials said yesterday. The submarine, the San Francisco, was cruising at high speed, about 30 knots, and was more than 400 feet below the surface when the accident forced it to blow air into its emergency ballast tanks to surface. Some of the tanks were damaged by the impact. One officer said the effort to keep the submarine afloat was initially "very touch and go." The accident occurred 350 miles south of Guam, and the vessel returned to its base there under its own power yesterday. The Navy is investigating how the crash occurred.