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Navy installations scale back dozens of services

Mar. 31, 2013 - 09:42AM   |  
Base gyms will be limited to 90 hours of operation a week under new fleetwide restrictions put in place by Navy Installations Command.
Base gyms will be limited to 90 hours of operation a week under new fleetwide restrictions put in place by Navy Installations Command. (Navy)
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Construction projects will be put on hold. Ship movements in ports will be limited to weekdays during normal working hours. Gyms and libraries will close earlier or open later. Or both.

In an instruction released March 21, Vice Adm. Bill French, head of Navy Installations Command, detailed these and other ways he's trying to save money at installations around the world. Some of the changes are cosmetic, but others will hurt the quality of life for sailors and their families or restrict operations.

“These decisions were not made lightly, but were necessary and prudent to sustain important support services to the fleet,” he stated.

Every installation will incur some of these cuts, but other measures were made at a local level, targeting specific Navy regions.

CNIC considered making every regional commander use less heat and air conditioning to cut utility spending, but later allowed commanders to use their discretion to decide whether adjusting their thermostats was prudent for their installations' climates and budgets.

Cuts include $1.15 billion to “infrastructure investments,” made by holding off construction projects, demolition, utility upgrades and maintenance. Another $495 million in cuts will come from operations, to include reductions in security forces and fire emergency services. While the instruction is coming from French, commanders of the Navy's regional and installation commands are responsible for executing them.

Family and child development services were not cut, nor were Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor programs and emergency services training certification programs.

The following changes will occur at every Navy installation:

• In port, ship movements will be limited to weekdays during normal working hours. There are exceptions for emergencies or extreme operational matters, a CNIC spokesman said.

• Airfield hours will not be extended beyond normal working hours, and there are no funds for airfield equipment maintenance.

• Anti-terrorism and force-protection standards will be maintained, but installations may close some of their gates, creating longer lines at the ones that remain open.

(Page 2 of 4)

• Shuttle services will be reduced in the continental U.S., making it tougher for sailors to take Navy vans and buses from one installation to another, or from home to work.

• Cleaning, custodial and landscaping services will be reduced.

• Repairs and upgrades to Navy facilities will be put on hold, but safety hazards will still be addressed.

• Galleys will stop providing “convenience meals” and food for picnics.

• Gym hours will be capped at 90 hours a week, libraries at 40 hours and liberty centers at 50 hours.

• Installations that have two or more pools will be allowed to keep only one open.

• Lifeguards, sports officials and group exercise classes will be cut by 25 percent.

A few of the Navy's 12 regions provided additional detail to Navy Times regarding how their sailors will be affected:

Navy Region Northwest

(Washington state bases: Naval Magazine Indian Island, Naval Base Kitsap, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Naval Station Everett.)

• Thermostats will be adjusted in base buildings to cut utility bills. In the winter, the heat will be reduced from 68 to 66 degrees during working hours, and down to 60 degrees during nonworking hours. When the air conditioning is on, it will be set to 80 degrees. Facilities such as computer server rooms that require climate control are exempt.

• Commands are encouraged to “eliminate plug loads” for personal appliances like space heaters, radios and refrigerators. Personnel are also expected to turn off their computers when they go home.

• Lighting will be reduced, but not to a point where it would violate safety regulations.

Naval District Washington

(Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Md.; Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.; Navy Recreation Center Solomons, Md.; NSA Bethesda, Md.; NSA Washington, D.C.; Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C.; NSA South Potomac, Md.; Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Va.; NSF Indian Head, Md.)

• Funds for liberty trips; holiday, family and fitness events; and cookouts, socials and parties will be cut. Morale, welfare and recreation equipment will not be maintained or replaced unless the loss affects operations. Furniture will not be replaced in unaccompanied housing.

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• No overhauls for service craft in ports. Oil spill response capability will be reduced as repairs are deferred and boats and equipment break because of furloughs and a lack of labor availability.

• Air operations may be affected because of an inability to hire new civilian air traffic controllers as positions open through attrition.

• Security forces and emergency crews will have slower response times because they will not be able to repair vehicles. Physical security and explosive safety programs will not be able to do inspection preparations.

• Modernization projects at the Naval Academy are deferred.

• Spending on Navy Secretary Ray Mabus' energy conservation projects in Naval District Washington has been deferred.

• Heat will be turned down to 66 degrees and air conditioning up to 80. Personal refrigerators, coffee makers and other appliances will be removed.

• Only Admiral Leutze Park and the grounds adjacent to the Visiting Flag Quarters at the Washington Naval Yard and the Ceremonial Lawn at Joint Base Andrews, Md., will be kept at “prestige” level. Others areas formerly kept at this high standard of appearance will be cut to standard levels.

• Preventative pest control measures are gone. The Navy will still treat pests, but only in response to customer complaints.

• Shuttle service at the Navy Yard and Andrews is suspended.

Navy Region Southeast

(NAS Kingsville, Texas; NAS Corpus Christi, Texas; NAS Joint Reserve Base New Orleans; Naval Support Activity New Orleans; NAS Meridian, Miss.; Naval Construction Battalion Gulfport, Miss.; NSA Charleston, S.C.; Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.; NAS Pensacola, Fla.; NAS Whiting Field, Fla.; NSA Panama City, Fla.; NAS Jacksonville, Fla.; Naval Station Mayport, Fla.; NSA Orlando, Fla.; NAS Key West, Fla.; Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.)

• With the exception of two boats, one at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and another at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., service craft will not be overhauled. Service craft are small boats used for a variety of purposes around a port. “If a boat breaks, it will not be repaired and it will be taken out of service,” Navy Region Southeast said in a statement.

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• Because of a civilian hiring freeze, air operations may be affected through air traffic controller attrition.

• Security forces and emergency crews will have slower response times because they will not be able to repair vehicles. Physical security and explosive safety programs will not be able to do inspection preparations.

• Safety services will be limited to Occupational Safety and Health Administration minimums.

• Repairs to 52 family housing units at Guantanamo Bay are deferred.

• In unaccompanied housing, the installation of an electronic locking system will be deferred. Surveillance camera contracts have also been deferred, as have janitorial services.

• Facilities maintenance funds have been cut through the fiscal year except to handle emergencies. Mission-critical repairs are still allowed, as is work to handle life, safety and health concerns.

• Heat will be capped at 66 degrees, and air conditioning will be limited to 78 degrees. Personal appliances will also be removed in favor of communal refrigerators and coffee messes.

• Pest control is reduced to reactive treatments.

• Custodial and landscaping work will occur less frequently.

Other regions did not provide details, or provided details identical to the ones French released.

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