Budget impasse affecting Navy operations, top admiral says
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The lack of a 2011 permanent federal budget is forcing the Navy to curtail projects and will have lasting effects if the impasse continues, Adm. Gary Roughead told the House Armed Services Committee this week.
The federal government is operating under a continuing resolution because Congress has not yet agreed on this year’s budget. Because the continuing resolution maintains 2010 spending levels, each military branch is operating with billions of dollars less than projected for the year.
“Starting this month, we will cancel or scale back ship maintenance availabilities in Norfolk (Va.), Mayport (Fla.), and San Diego, and cancel more than a dozen [military construction] projects in several states,” Roughead, chief of Naval Operations, said, according to a transcript of his Tuesday testimony to the committee.
The budget impasse also has forced the Navy to reduce operations, limit contracts for base support, slow civilian hiring, delay a research program and postpone procurement contracts, Roughead said. Last month, Navy Personnel Command officials said many sailors could have fewer than two months' lead time between receiving orders and reporting to their new assignments, which they attributed to a 40 percent budget shortfall caused by the continuing resolution.
Fiscal 2011 began Oct. 1 and ends this September. If the continuing resolution were extended through September, the Navy’s cutback would be permanent, Roughead said.
“The impact of these actions will jeopardize the efforts we made in recent years to restore fleet readiness,” Roughead said.
Since 2000, the Navy’s time spent underway has risen 15 percent despite a 10 percent drop in total ships, which Roughead said is driving up maintenance requirements.
Because of the budget deadlock, the Navy has been unable to increase ship maintenance at the higher levels requested by the Defense Department and supported by Congress.
The added maintenance would “translate into decades of service for each ship and aircraft, a significant return on investment,” Roughead said.