JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Navy is bracing for billions of dollars in cuts if Congress fails to agree on budget cuts by the end of March. Mandatory cuts known as “sequestration” will be enacted which will affect thousands of Northeast Florida jobs and the Blue Angels Airshow in Jacksonville.
“I've never seen it this bad in my career and I’ve served for 41 years,” said Ret. Navy Admiral Robert Natter.
Natter broke down the budget cuts with Action News' Ryan Smith. Natter recently returned from Washington, discussing the impact on our area with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
The Navy needs to slash $4.6 billion from its operation and maintenance funds if Congress fails to come to a compromise. Action News has learned more than 1,000 temporary jobs in Florida are on the line.
“The shipyard workers who repair ships, those availabilities will be canceled in the third and fourth quarter,” said Natter. “There’s going to be workers who are going to be laid off."
In addition, Action News has learned more than 10,500 civilian employees at five area naval bases: Jacksonville NAS, Mayport Naval Station, Marine Corps Blount Island Command, Kings Bay Naval Base and Camp Blanding Joint Training Center – will face furloughs for 22 work days in 2013.
“That’s real money, those are real jobs and those are real people who are dependent on that income to pay their mortgages and the down-flow trickle effect to the rest of the economy in Northeast Florida,” said Natter.
According to Florida’s proposed sequestration, the high-flying entertainment the Blue Angels bring to Jacksonville Beach will be absent in 2013. If nothing is done in Congress, shows in Pensacola, Tampa and Jacksonville will be canceled. All aircraft maintenance in Jacksonville would be cut completely for the second half of 2013.
Even if the sequestration is settled in Washington, the Department of Defense’s budget will still decline, according to Natter. He says that will certainly push back any plans to dock a nuclear carrier at Naval Station Mayport.
“The idea that the Navy department can come up with a couple hundred or $3 million to implement this action is just not going to happen."