- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Navy’s top officer sent a memo to his admirals Thursday ordering them to curtail activities because of a $3.6 billion shortfall for operations and maintenance.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, noted that the federal government is running on a continuing resolution, which limits spending to last year’s funding levels.

Navy leaders “need to cut back on ops and maintenance to get our spending rate down where it needs to be,” Adm. Greenert said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

Among the cuts:

• Cancel ship maintenance at private yards for 30 of 187 surface ships.

• Cancel maintenance for 250 aircraft from April to September.

• Prepare to stop repairs to nearly all piers, runways and buildings.

• Begin a civilian hiring freeze.

“These steps come at a price,” Adm. Greenert said. “Much like putting off an oil change because you can’t afford the $20 service, we save in the short-term, but shorten the car’s life and add to the backlog of work for later.”

More drastic cuts are planned if Congress and President Obama fail to make a deal that would forestall automatic, across-the-board budget cuts set to begin March 1. Those cuts include stopping nearly all non-deployed operations for training and exercises, and reducing deployed operations in the Middle East and Pacific.

“Once we shut down our sustainment training, it will take our ships and squadrons about nine months to conduct the maintenance and training needed to be certified to deploy again,” Adm. Greenert said.