The frigate USS Thach (FFG 43), seen deploying from San Diego on Jan. 8, could be called home to pay for sequester budget cuts. (Christopher P. Cavas / Defense News)
WASHINGTON — Moving ahead with plans to execute further budget-cutting actions — but stopping short of enacting major cuts — the U.S. Navy on Saturday issued orders to plan and prepare to cancel and shut down a variety of operations and procurement efforts.
The moves are in response to a presidential directive signed Friday evening by President Obama to begin the forced federal spending cuts known as sequestration.
The Navy, which has been the most aggressive military service warning of dire consequences both of sequestration and the prospect of a year-long continuing resolution funding scheme, didn’t actually set in motion the biggest of the moves, but set in motion the planning to execute the actions — most of which are expected to take place within weeks if Congress doesn’t act.
“We have time between now and when many of these actions begin,” a Navy official in Washington said Saturday night. “We haven’t tied our hands yet.
“These actions aren’t final yet, but we’ve begun the process for them to take place,” the official added. “We’re still holding out hope that sequestration will be fixed, or that Congress will pass a defense appropriations bill.”
In a fleet-wide message issued Saturday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Navy Department “intends to commence some reductions immediately.”
Key elements are plans to:
Shut down Carrier Air Wing Two in April, with moves to gradually stand down or reduce flying time in five more air wings by the end of the year;
Defer the humanitarian cruise this year of the hospital ship Comfort to Central and Latin America;
Lay up four Pacific Command support ships starting in April;Cancel or defer deployments of up to six ships in April;
Return the deployed destroyer Shoup and frigate Thach to their homeports.
Mabus, in the message, also said the service would begin negotiating contract modifications with contractors to “de-obligate” work to buy Virginia-class submarines, reactor power units and one joint high speed vessel.
Actions announced earlier, Mabus added, will continue, including the deferral of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln’s refueling overhaul; major repairs to the submarine Miami and destroyer Porter; the deployments of the carrier Harry S. Truman and cruiser Gettysburg; the civilian hiring freeze; planning for civilian furloughs; and the reduction of most units in the U.S.
The full text of the message is below:
DTG 022300Z Mar 13
FM SECNAV WASHINGTON DC
TO ALNAV INFO SECNAV WASHINGTON DC
CMC WASHINGTON DC
CNO WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS ALNAV 014/13
MSGID/GENADMIN/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC/-/MAR//
SUBJ/DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY RESPONSE TO SEQUESTRATION//
RMKS/1. LAST NIGHT, BECAUSE NO BUDGET DEAL HAD BEEN REACHED, THE BUDGET CONTROL ACT REQUIRED SETTING IN MOTION THE AUTOMATIC, GOVERNMENT-WIDE CUTS KNOWN AS SEQUESTRATION. GIVEN THAT REALITY AND THE ASSOCIATED IMPACT OF BUDGETARY UNCERTAINTY IMPOSED BY AN INDEFINITE CONTINUING RESOLUTION, THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY INTENDS TO COMMENCE SOME REDUCTIONS IMMEDIATELY.
2. NAVY PLANS TO:
A. SHUT DOWN CARRIER AIR WING TWO (CVW-2) IN APRIL. THIS WILL INITIATE THE PREPARATIONS TO GRADUALLY STAND-DOWN FLYING IN AT LEAST THREE ADDITIONAL AIR WINGS WITH TWO MORE AIR WINGS BEING REDUCED TO MINIMUM SAFE FLYING LEVELS BY THE END OF THE YEAR;
B. DEFER USNS COMFORT HUMANITARIAN DEPLOYMENT TO CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA, “CONTINUING PROMISE 2013″, INCLUDING SUPPORTING SHIPS, SEABEES, AND MEDICAL UNITS;
C. CANCEL OR DEFER THE DEPLOYMENTS OF UP TO SIX SHIPS TO VARIOUS AORS [Areas of Responsibility] THROUGHOUT THE MONTH OF APRIL;
D. LAY UP FOUR COMBAT LOGISTICS FORCE (CLF) UNITS IN PACOM STARTING IN APRIL;
E. RETURN USS SHOUP (DDG 86) TO HOMEPORT EARLY AND NOT PROCEED AS USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) ESCORT TO CENTCOM;
F. RETURN USS THACH (FFG 43) TO HOMEPORT EARLY FROM DEPLOYMENT TO SOUTHCOM.
3. WE WILL ALSO IMMEDIATELY:
A. BEGIN NEGOTIATING CONTRACT MODIFICATIONS TO DE-OBLIGATE EFFORTS FOR ANY INVESTMENT PROGRAMS FOR WHICH THE REMAINING UNOBLIGATED BALANCE WILL BE INSUFFICIENT AFTER THE SEQUESTRATION REDUCTION IS APPLIED. MAJOR PROGRAMS AFFECTED INCLUDE VIRGINIA-CLASS SSN ADVANCE PROCUREMENT, REACTOR POWER UNITS AND JOINT HIGH SPEED VESSEL (JHSV 10);
B. COMMENCE FINAL PLANNING TO SLOW MARINE CORPS DEPOT MAINTENANCE ACTIVITIES, INCLUDING REDUCTIONS IN THE NON-PERMANENT WORKFORCE;
C. CANCEL MARCH INTRODUCTORY FLIGHT SCREENING FOR FUTURE PILOTS/NFOS;
D. ANNOUNCE INTENT TO CANCEL BLUE ANGELS SHOWS SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 2013 [FOUR SHOWS: MACDILL AFB (TAMPA, FL), NAS CORPUS CHRISTI TX, VIDALIA GA, MCAS BEAUFORT SC];
E. CEASE NEW USMC ENROLLMENTS IN VOLUNTARY EDUCATION TUITION ASSISTANCE;
F. CANCEL MARCH NAVY RECRUITING MEDIA SUPPORT AND REDUCE THE MAJORITY OF ADVERTISING CONTRACTS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE UNDER CONTRACTUAL CONDITIONS.
4. THESE ACTIONS ARE BEING TAKEN TO PRESERVE SUPPORT FOR THOSE FORCES STATIONED OVERSEAS AND CURRENTLY FORWARD-DEPLOYED. REDUCTIONS IN LOWER-PRIORITY FORWARD OPERATIONS, AND SIGNIFICANT REDUCTIONS IN ALL OTHER OPERATIONS, TRAINING, AND MAINTENANCE ARE THE RESULTS OF THIS SELECTION PROCESS. WE MADE THESE CHOICES CAREFULLY, WHILE TRYING TO PRESERVE OUR ABILITY TO REVERSE OR QUICKLY RESTORE NEGATIVE EFFECTS IF AND WHEN FUNDING IS RESTORED.
5. ACTIONS WE HAVE TAKEN TO DATE WILL CONTINUE, TO INCLUDE THOSE AFFECTING THE DEFERRAL OF MAINTENANCE FOR USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72); THE DEFERRAL OF REPAIR WORK FOR USS MIAMI (SSN 755) AND USS PORTER (DDG 78); THE DELAYED DEPLOYMENT OF USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN 75) AND USS GETTYSBURG (CG 64); THE CIVILIAN HIRING FREEZE; THE PLANNING FOR CIVILIAN FURLOUGHS; AND THE REDUCTION OF ALL TRAINING NOT RELATED TO THE READINESS OF DEPLOYED OR NEXT-TO-DEPLOY FORCES.
6. NAVY DEPARTMENT LEADERSHIP UNDERSTANDS THE UNCERTAINTY THAT THESE AND OTHER DECISIONS CREATE BOTH AMONGST OUR PEOPLE AND IN THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY UPON WHICH WE RELY. THE LACK OF A LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION TO AVOID SEQUESTRATION IS DEEPLY REGRETTABLE. THAT SAID, WE MUST ENDEAVOR TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION AS WE FACE IT, NOT AS WE WISH IT COULD OTHERWISE BE. WE WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF OUR PEOPLE FOREMOST IN MIND, EVEN AS WE TRY HARD TO KEEP WHOLE THE FORCE STRUCTURE WHICH SUPPORTS THEM. WE WILL ALSO CONTINUE TO KEEP THE FLEET AND FLEET MARINE FORCE FULLY INFORMED AS FOLLOW-ON DECISIONS ARE MADE.
7. RELEASED BY RAY MABUS, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.//