Forbes: Sequestration sinks vital sub repairs

"We are currently facing a self-inflicted readiness crisis, with sequestration forcing maintenance deferrals and, in the case of the [USS] Miami, the inactivation of a vital naval asset," Forbes, who heads up the House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee, said in a statement. 


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Navy leaders opted to deactivate the USS Miami rather than pay the repair bill to fix damages caused by a pair of fires aboard the boat, service officials announced on Tuesday. 

The Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine suffered nearly $400 million in damage after two consecutive fires aboard the boat last year. 

Navy officials arrested Casey Fury, a former employee at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyards, on arson charges for setting the fires aboard the submarine. 

Investigators claim Fury, who suffers from clinical anxiety and depression, started a fire aboard the USS Miami on May 23 and again on June 16. 

Fury initially denied any knowledge about the fires, but later admitted his involvement to service investigators after failing a polygraph test, according to a federal affidavit. 

Committing millions from the Navy's sequestration-capped budget to repair costs for the USS Miami would have meant deferring maintenance work on several other submarines and warships in the fleet, Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, director of undersea warfare, told The Associated Press. 

‘‘The Navy and the nation simply cannot afford to weaken other fleet readiness in the way that would be required to afford repairs to Miami,’’ Breckenridge said in a statement.

With sequestration forcing the Navy's hand on the Miami, the decision "is a stark reminder of the very real national security costs of Washington budget politics," according to Forbes. 

That bleak outlook appeared even more grim in the wake of the Pentagon's recent report on sequestration's impact on the U.S. military. 

According to the review released in July, the Pentagon said one scenario being considered would shrink the Army from 490,00 to between 380,000 and 450,000 troops. 

The Marine Corps would be slashed from 182,000 to between 150,00 to 175,000, and the number of aircraft carrier strike groups would be reduced from 11 to eight or nine. 

“This strategic choice would result in a force that would be technologically dominant, but would be much smaller and able to go to fewer places and do fewer things,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last Wednesday at the Pentagon. 

The Defense Department is facing a $500 billion in spending cuts mandated by the sequester over the next decade. The cuts began in March, and would reduce Pentagon spending by $52 billion next year.