Pence: No early retirement for USS Harry S. Truman

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The USS Harry S. Truman will not be retired ahead of schedule, according to Vice President Mike Pence.

The vice president made the declaration Tuesday afternoon while speaking aboard the Truman. “We are keeping the best carrier in the world in the fight,” Pence said.

Pence’s statement comes months after the U.S. Navy released its proposed 2020 budget, which calls for the early retirement of the Truman.

“President Donald Trump asked me to deliver a message to all of you on the deck of the USS Truman. We are keeping the best in the fight, we are not retiring the Truman,” Pence said to tremendous applause.

Democrats are pouncing on this because it was the Trump Pentagon that recommended cutting the Truman’s life short to begin with.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who serves as the member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement Tuesday afternoon.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have pushed hard against the Administration’s plans to mothball the Truman at the midpoint of its working life. I am gratified that the Administration listened and is now committed to the refueling. This is the right call for our national security.”

Fellow Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in a tweet, “While I am glad the administration ultimately reconsidered this terrible idea, the incoherence here has not been good for morale or defense planning.”

Pence delivered remarks to the Truman’s officers and crew members after touring the ship.

GALLERY: Pence tours USS Truman, delivers remarks

Pence did not go into details on the change of course the Trump Administration is making, but the idea to retire the Truman two decades before her life expectancy did not seem to make much sense, even though the government budget crunchers said we could save $30 billion.

10 On Your Side asked the vice president after his speech if this means the Truman will live out her entire life.

“We are not retiring the USS Harry S. Truman. I spoke with President Trump today at the White House and I told him there were budget discussions taking place on the future of the ship. It reflected on the terrific history and contributions of the ship and crew. The president told me to announce we are not retiring the Truman for many years to come.”

The Truman audience was friendly, and sailors were reminded to show great enthusiasm for the vice president.

“Clap hard until your hands hurt,” they were told. They were also instructed to “clap like we’re at a strip club,” by the Truman’s Command Master Chief, a line that the Navy said was “innapropriate.” 

“This statement was inappropriate, and this issue is being addressed by Truman’s leadership,” said the ship’s public information officer, Lt. Cmdr. Laura Stegherr, in a statement.

The sailors didn’t need any prompting for this line from the Vice President: “The President signed the largest pay increase for men and women in the armed services in more than 10 years, and you deserve every single penny,” Pence said, pointing to at least a thousand gathered in Hangar 2.

Air Force Two landed at Norfolk International Airport late Tuesday morning, where Pence met with and shook the hands of service members who were on-hand for his arrival. He also reportedly visit Doumar’s Cones and Barbecue in Norfolk. 

Pence’s visit comes more than two months after he stopped by U.S. Coast Guard Base Portsmouth, where he was briefed on efforts to address border security threats.

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