ARLINGTON-- Impending Navy budget cuts could have a harmful economic impact to military-rich communities like Hampton Roads and in the Navy’s ability to meet its forward-deployed readiness responsibilities around the globe, according to the Navy’s top spokesman at the Pentagon.
In an interview with 13News, Navy Chief of Information, Rear Admiral John Kirby, discussed his branch’s plans to cut $4.6 billion in spending over the next eight months, reductions that became necessary after a politically divided congress failed to approve a 2013 budget.
Hampton Roads faces $1.4 billion in cuts and includes $271 million in ship repairs on eight destroyers, an amphibious assault ship and one aircraft carrier.
“There’s going to be a loss of work there, there’s no way around that,” said Kirby, who called the cuts “regrettable.”
“These are decisions we have to make to be able to stay solvent in operating accounts through the rest of the year. So, I think there is certainly going to be an impact in the local community and to some of the jobs in the private shipyards, but there is also going to be an impact to us as a fleet, because these vessels were supposed to get some very needed maintenance, and will now not get it on time,” said Kirby.
Kirby said the objective will now be to “make sure that our forward-deployed units stay as ready as possible out there and can do the things that they need to do," Then he warned, “Over the long haul there may be some impacts in their ability to stay ready to do the things we need them to do for the country.”
Kirby added the Navy is further concerned about the possibility of an additional $4 billion in cuts that could come if congress fails to reach accord on deficit reduction and sequestration kicks in on March first.
However, he said sailors and their families can rest assured, come what may, they will be taken care of.
"They are still going to get their pay, they’re still going get their benefits and their health care that they need, that’s going to stay absolutely intact,” Kirby said.