U.S. lawmakers from Connecticut are appealing to the Navy secretary to reverse a service decision to pull maintenance of U.S. Marine Corps VH-3D presidential transports and shift it to a military depot.
Sikorsky confirmed last week that maintenance now done at the secure “Yankee White” facility at its Stratford, Connecticut headquarters was being pulled from the company and shifted to the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida. The company said the Navy’s cost-savings move would affect about 85 jobs in Stratford.
Sikorsky said last week the decision to move the work was made after it was unable to agree with the Navy on a contract to continue the maintenance in Stratford.
Connecticut’s two senators and the two members of the House of Representatives whose district’s include Stratford (on the state’s southwestern coast) today wrote U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus urging him to suspend any transfer of the work until a thorough review of its direct and indirect costs are made.
“No other facility has the standing expertise” to perform maintenance on the helicopters popularly known as Marine One, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes wrote Mabus. The helicopters are operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One, or HMX-1.
The systems and capabilities of the VH-3Ds are classified and highly sensitive. (A VH-3D bears the call sign Marine One when the president is onboard.) Marine One’s job is to transport the president and key members of his staff and to maintain the president’s communications links with the U.S. national command structure in the event of an emergency.
The lawmakers told Mabus “any other facility will require time and money to reach the same standard of maintenance [of Sikorsky], if they can ever meet this challenge.” They added that the workers in Stratford perform Marine One work “with an irreplaceable level of expertise and familiarity with the aircraft that sets them apart."
Sikorsky remains under contract to build the next-generation Marine One based on its S-92.