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Navy to cut more than 3,000 shipyard workers

Jan. 25, 2013 - 12:04PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 25, 2013 - 12:04PM  |  
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The Navy will cut more than 3,000 employees — almost 10 percent — from its shipyard workforce through a civilian hiring freeze and by laying off temporary workers, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said in a Thursday memo.

In the face of a potentially stiff funding shortfall this year, the Navy also plans to cancel all aircraft depot maintenance from April through September, halt the bulk of surface ship upkeep at private shipyards, and reduce spending on information technology support, conferences and travel, Greenert told flag officers and top executives in the memo. Also on the chopping block: repair and modernization of most piers, runways, buildings and other facilities through the end of fiscal 2013 in September.

The Navy's four active shipyards are in Virginia, Hawaii, Maine and Washington state.

Like other parts of the Defense Department, the service will have to absorb an approximately 9 percent budget cut starting in March unless Congress and the Obama administration agree on a deal to avert it. But even without that cut — formally known as sequestration — the service could be $4.6 billion short in its fiscal 2013 operations and maintenance account if lawmakers extend a continuing resolution through September, Greenert said. The existing CR, which expires in late March, keeps most spending at last year's levels that are "inadequate to our needs," he said, with unexpected cost growth widening the possible gap. The current CR also limits the Navy's ability to shift money from other accounts to operation and maintenance.

The planned reductions "are intended to be reversible," Greenert said, "and will continue until a spending bill is passed or we receive authority from Congress to reprogram money from investment accounts into operations and maintenance."

Sequestration would force another $4 billion cut for the Navy this year. While military personnel would be exempted, the Navy would have to "further reduce deployed operations" in the Middle East and Pacific, Greenert said, as well as limit training and exercises.

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