- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Navy will be forced to cut back on its missions, training and equipment maintenance if Congress cannot pass a 2013 defense budget and avert automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to begin March 1, the vice chief of naval operations testified Tuesday before Congress.

“Under these circumstances, we assess your Navy will be limited in its ability to provide the capability and capacity called for in the current defense strategy,” Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

The Pentagon currently is operating under a continuing resolution that holds spending at 2012 levels.

If Congress merely extends the resolution, the Navy will have to delay the construction of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, the completion of amphibious assault ship USS America, and cancel the procurement of a destroyer and hundreds of weapons.

In addition, the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln will remain out of commission for more than four years, and maintenance on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt will be postponed.

If the automatic spending cuts begin March 1, flight operations will be curtailed, deployments canceled and maintenance delayed on ships and aircraft. Also, most non-deployed operations, including training and certifications for sailors, will be suspended.

“We will immediately begin to erode the readiness of the force,” Adm. Ferguson said. “We must be mindful of the corrosive effect of this uncertainty on the morale of our people.”

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