Lawmakers press Navy on ship maintenance

The Pentagon still has to deal with sequestration, but its budget issues were alleviated somewhat by the passage of the continuing resolution last week, which included a full-year Defense appropriations bill.

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That allowed the Pentagon to shift an additional $10 billion into operations and maintenance accounts that were facing major shortfalls.

The Pentagon still faces more than $40 billion in across-the-board cuts under sequestration, however, meaning ship maintenance might not be saved from the budget ax yet.

The lawmakers said they were concerned the Navy would still cancel the ship maintenance in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2013 despite the continuing resolution.

“It is our understanding that by alleviating the restrictive nature of a continuing resolution, we would see restoration of the maintenance availabilities that were potentially subject to cancellation,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.).

“We are concerned that the Navy may choose to use some of its transfer latitude granted under the FY13 Department of Defense Appropriations to hedge future consequences of sequestration by going forward with cancellation in whole or part of 3rd and 4th quarter ship maintenance availabilities,” they wrote. “This is not an acceptable solution for us or the taxpayers.”

Rigell said in a release accompanying the letter that the Hampton Roads region he represents could suffer “thousands of job losses” should the Navy cancel some of the 11 maintenance availabilities previously scheduled in Norfolk, Va.