(UPDATE) Mullen: “Navy is considering not deploying some ships scheduled for deployment”
March 31, 2011
SEE APRIL 5 UPDATE BELOW
This came up in the course of Defense Secretary Gates’ and (CJCS) Admiral Mullen’s testimony to the House Armed Services Committee. As I was curious to the context, etc, I went about trying to find a transcript (which I knew would be hard or impossible) or video.
Thanks to context in the referring tweetstream, I was able to figure out which Representative was questioning, but I was not able to find video of it, initially. Video on the C-Span website did not have the full hearing, and the video linked on the Commitee’s website freezes with about 45 minutes remaining the hearing.
Fortunately, though, the Congressman whose questioning led to that bit of testimony, Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) had his portion posted on Youtube:
My transcript of the relevant part with timing marks follows:
(1:15 Courtney) This morning Secretary (of the Navy) Mabus was at a shipbuilding caucus talking about the fact that we right now we have a global fleet that is deployed in the Arabian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, obviously as part of this operation, in the Pacific providing support in Japan. Yet because of not doing a 2011 budget we have (maintenance) availabilities that are now being cancelled. And this is a fleet that is at maximum tempo right now and the Navy can’t reset like other parts of the military, they got to do it as you go here and I think certainly these operations, and I know for a fact because one of the submarines that was deployed in the Mediterranean is the USS Providence out of Groton, the Scranton and the Florida were also part of that operation;they are pretty out there in terms of their deployment and they need to get refitted. Again I would give you another opportunity to talk about the fact that we got to get this done to, again just keep all the pieces out there moving, particularly with our fleet.
(2:25, Gates) It’s all of the services and in the Navy it’s not just that we’re not able to start some ships that were part of the program. Some of the maintenance contracts have had to be cancelled. Just to your point about availability of ships as i said earlier no military construction for FY 11 at this point. In every one of the services we are reaching the point where
we may have to ramp down significantly the activities of the depots at Red River (army depot) and elsewhere. So you look at every service and the consequences of the continuing resolution are being felt.
(3:10, Mullen) One thing I would like to add and I have not had this discussion with my boss and I am a little little loathe to have it publicly, but for the first time since I’ve been in this job which is three and a half years, I know the Navy is considering essentially recommending not deploying some ships scheduled for deployment. So it’s just another impact; and it’s purely financial right now to look at ‘can we get through this year?’ And what isn’t visible in all this and I have been around money a lot in my career is just the contraction going on in all the services as they play the ‘what if this doesn’t happen?’ And in that regard, very conservative assumptions with respect to executing the rest of this budget.
(3:59, Gates) We talk about equipment and everything but just one to bring it home to the every service man or woman. The Navy has had the policy for a very long time of giving six months notice for PCS moves. Because of the money constrictions they have shrunk that to two months; so a real impact on families.
APRIL 5 UPDATE
The April 11 edition of the Navy Times reports on the initial (presuming more to follow) round of cancellations
The three canceled deployments involve East Coast-based ships: the April deplouments of the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima and frigates Carr and John L. Hall. Hall is homeported in Mayport, FL; the others are based in Norfolk, VA.
Iwo Jima had been set for a cruise to the Mediterranean, and Carr and hall were scheduled to support counterdrug operations in U.S. Southern Command, according to a Navy source with knowledge of the ship’s movements who was not authroized to speak about them publicly.
In addition, the Norfolk-based Nitze saw its scheduled March U.K. cooperative deployment canceled, the source said. Instead, Nitze departed April 1 for UNITAS, a multinational exercise involving Latin American countries.
As the article notes, these cancellations were outlined in a memo from Vice Admiral Terry Blake, deputy chief of naval operations for integration, capabilities, and resources back in February, in which he concurred with recommended course of actions for the event of a budget not being passed in February or March. The memo also details the canceled maintenance availabilities that were mentioned in the hearing testimony.
As these were contingencies for not having a budget by April, there will be more to follow if we don’t have a 2011 budget or continuing resolution by the end of this week.