Admiral warns of drastic 'sequestration' cutbacks

Chief of Naval Operations memo outlines impact on fleet

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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If Congress fails to agree on budget cuts by the end of March and the mandatory cuts known as "sequestration" were to be enacted, the Navy would drastically cut back strike group deployments, flight hours in the Middle East would be reduced by half, Naval operations around Latin American would be halted, four of the fleet's nine air wings would be shut down, and civilian employees would be furloughed one day a week for up to 22 weeks.

In addition, two current carrier strike group deployments would be "extended indefinitely."

In a memo released Friday by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, outlined how the Navy would slash more than $4 billion from its 2013 operation and maintenance funds.

These cuts would come on top of a shortfall totaling more than $4.6 billion if the Department of Defense must revert to a continuing resolution that would fund the government at 2012 levels.

Many of those cuts would directly impact the greater Jacksonville area, including the cancellation of the USS Farragut's availability this year, cancellation of $135 million in aircraft maintenance and cutting 1,121 temporary workers in Florida, reduction of ship operations and aircraft flying hours, and deferring  construction of a $22 Mission Control Complex at NAS Jackosnville.

Overall, the Navy is making plans to cancel 23 ship overhauls, cancel most aircraft maintenance from April through September, cut more than 1,100 temporary workers in Navy-owned shipyards, and reduce ship operations and aircraft flying hours.

DOCUMENT:  Navy acting now to mitigate CR impacts... Sequestration requires deeper cuts

In anticipation of the sequestration, or the less drastic continuing resolution funding, the Navy has already suspended hiring of civilian employees. If there is no budget by Feb. 15, fleet commanders will cancel all private-sector surface ship and aircraft depot maintenance for the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2013.

The moves are laid out in a document that shows the Navy "acting now to mitigate CR impacts," but describing how sequestration will require deeper cuts.

Among Greenert's directives relating to the threat of a year-long budget crisis:

  • Fleet training events are curtailed, including training unrelated to units preparing to deploy
  • The hiring of civilians has been frozen
  • Non-mission-essential temporary travel is curtailed
  • Base operating support is reduced by 10 percent, and facilities support expenses by half

These cuts may be reversed if Congress passes a fiscal 2013 defense appropriations bill or grants Navy permission to reprogram funds from investment accounts [to operations and maintenance]," said Greenert (pictured, right).

The largest employer in the greater Jacksonville area would include the curtailing of ship maintenance at private shipyard facilities and the Naval Aviation Depot at NAS Jacksonville, and furloughs of more than 10,500 civilian employees at NAS Jax, Mayport Naval Station, Kings Bay Naval Base, Camp Blanding Joint Training Center and and Marine Corps Blount Island Command.

According to the city of Jacksonville, there are more than 10,500 civilian employees of the Department of Defense. In 2008, the economic impact of defense spending in Duval County in 2008 was estimated to be $2.4 billion.

With 21,900 combined Navy and civilian employees, NAS Jacksonville is the city's largest employer.

Greenert's supporting document also showed one ship availability at Mayport would be canceled under both the continuing resolution and sequestration scenarios.

Under the CNO's sequestration plan, all Blue Angels shows for third and fourth quarter and all Fleet Week activities would be canceled.

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