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Budget crisis would delay carrier Roosevelt's overhaul

Capt. Mark Colombo, the executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), addresses the crew on the flight deck during a bi-weekly readiness exercise Feb. 5, 2013.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The midlife overhaul of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, currently nearing completion at Newport News Shipbuilding, will be delayed if the federal budget crisis persists, Navy leaders said Tuesday.

The Navy's top two uniformed officers told the Senate Armed Services Committee that work would cease on the Roosevelt if the Navy is forced to continue operating under last year's budget resolution.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, submitted testimony in advance that characterized this fiscal year as "a readiness crisis in the making."

If the continuing resolution crisis is not resolved, "we will stop work on two aircraft carrier refueling overhauls (USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Theodore Roosevelt) one of which is within four months of completion," his testimony read.

The Navy has already announced the potential delay of the Lincoln overhaul, which hasn't started. That delay also will impact the refueling of the USS George Washington and the defueling of the Enterprise, which was recently taken out of service and is scheduled to be prepared for a West Coast scrapyard.

All the projects will be performed at Newport News Shipbuilding, which makes and maintains the nation's fleet of nuclear aircraft carriers.

The yard is scheduled to finish work on the Roosevelt in June 2013, according to the president's budget for fiscal year 2013. And just yesterday the ship's public affairs team announced that they'd finished uploading a half million gallons of jet fuel on to the ship, a tricky task that comes near the end of the process referred to as a Refueling and Complex Overhaul.

"There was a block of funding in the FY 13 president's budget for the Theodore Roosevelt overhaul at a level that's not there in the FY 2012 budget," said Rear Adm. Joe Carnevale, a senior defense advisor with the Shipbuilders Council of America.

The Pentagon is currently having to operate with funding levels frozen at 2012 levels, which has put pressure on the Navy to slash operations, shipbuilding and repair projects to get through the last half of the fiscal year.

Greenert did not testify before the Senate panel Tuesday; that duty fell to Adm. Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations. He told senators that the Lincoln would stay put at Naval Station Norfolk and the Navy "will not be able to complete the current overhaul of the USS Theodore Roosevelt" if the crisis persists.

It was not immediately clear how much money the Navy would save by delaying completion of the Roosevelt project.

The Lincoln is in line for the same overhaul.
 

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