U.S. Navy cuts to affect Hawaii by $110 million

Rear Adm. Kirby: "They're belt tightening"

 UPDATED 8:31 PM HST Jan 28, 2013
HONOLULU -

The U.S. Navy is preparing for $4.6 billion in cuts as Congress fails to pass a spending bill.  Those cuts will affect Hawaii to the tune of $110 million.

"We're basically operating the Navy in fiscal year 2013 with fiscal year 2012 dollars.  That's just not going to be enough," said Rear Admiral John Kirby.

Kirby explained the cuts the Navy is preparing to roll out if Congress fails to pass a spending bill soon.

The cuts will slow the rate of spending from the Navy's operating account -- money used to run, maintain and train the Navy.

"It would affect ship maintenance aboard the USS Chafee, one of our guided missile destroyers out there, to the tune of $35 million.  That's what that saves us," said Kirby.  "We would also have to cancel some aircraft maintenance on dozens of aircraft."

The Navy will also reduce or cancel repairs and maintenance of buildings, including runways and piers.  It already has a civilian hiring freeze.

The fear, though, is in postponing the maintenance.

"If they are, in fact, cancelled at the end of the year, there's gonna be a bill to pay later on next year because the maintenance that wasn't done on the Chafee.  That maintenance wasn't done on those aircraft means that they aren't ready to deply perhaps when they were scheduled," said Kirby.

The hope is, by deciding where these cuts come from, that Congress will come up with a bill to restore funding.

"They are very prudent.  They're belt tightening," said Kirby.  "They're meant to be reversible so that should we get a spending bill in the spring, we could recoup some of that and still continue to do some of that work.  But, right now we've gotta ax."

Another $4 billion in cuts, called sequestration, will go into effect beginning March if Congress doesn't reach a debt deal.

Those cuts include cancelling some deployments and naval operations and furlough most civilian employees for 22 work days.

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