JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Navy delayed deploying a local missile-guided cruise ship due to looming budget cuts and we’re hearing from sailors now left on standby.
Sailors at Naval Station Mayport call the news bittersweet. The Navy's top brass delayed deployment of the U.S.S. Gettysburg. It’s just one of what's expected to be many cost-cutting moves from the Pentagon.
David Lazcos' bags were packed and he was ready to sail. His parents just arrived in town to see him off when he got the call to stay put.
“I got the phone call as soon as we got to the hotel saying we're not going anymore,” said Lazcos.
Lazcos thought it was a practical joke. But he soon realized there's nothing funny about the $46 billion in automatic spending cuts the military will absorb if Congress can't agree on a budget.
“I was really surprised,” said Jeff Bourget.
Bourget also says he was shocked by the Navy's decision to stall deployment. A father of three, his family prepared for his departure for months. “My wife and my kid, they're all in the mindset that my dad's leaving or my husband's leaving and I think it kind of messes with their heads a little bit."
It's unclear when exactly the guided-missile cruiser will embark on its mission to the Persian Gulf. But ship commander, Capt. Robert Hein, says his crew will keep the U.S.S. Gettysburg maintained and ready to deploy at a moment's notice.
“That's the strength of the Navy, these guys are flexible, they understand,” said Hein. “On the one hand, they were excited to deploy, excited to do what they are trained to do, but on the other hand, it’s the opportunity to spend a little more time at home.”
A lieutenant commander at Mayport told Action News he expects the U.S.S. Gettysburg to embark on its seven-month deployment sometime in June.