Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp presents the 2013 State of the Coast Guard in the Lincoln Auditorium at Fort McNair in Washington on Wednesday. (Mike Morones / Navy Times)
WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard commandant says the automatic budget cuts taking effect later this week would mean fewer flight hours for rescue helicopters and planes, and fewer hours patrolling the seas for the service's boats and cutters.
Adm. Robert J. Papp said Wednesday that emergencies will be a priority. He didn't say how many patrol hours would be cut under what's known as sequestration. He said Coast Guard station commanders will be given daily allotments for patrol hours and decide how and where to spend them.
In a briefing with reporters, Papp acknowledged that interdictions of illegal immigrants, drugs and illegal fishing could decline.
In a speech earlier Wednesday, Papp told Coast Guard officers and employees to let him worry about the budget cuts and to focus on their jobs.