September 12, 2012
Credit: Credit: Huntington Ingalls
The U.S. Navy will run out of money in January or February for the refueling of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, unless Congress enacts a special measure to allow the work to continue, the Navy’s top arms buyer told lawmakers on Tuesday,
Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy, outlined a series of funding problems facing Navy shipbuilding, including Congress’ failure to pass a budget for fiscal 2013, which begins Oct. 1, and automatic additional spending cuts to start taking effect in January.
The budget crisis threatened to delay shipbuilding programs and raise the cost of several shipbuilding programs, but could also undermine ongoing efforts to stabilize orders for U.S. shipbuilders and their suppliers, Stackley told a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing.
President Barack Obama and lawmakers have until the end of the year to resolve a number of fiscal issues, including whether to renew expiring income tax cuts for tens of millions of Americans, and how to avert $109 billion in automatic budget cuts under “sequestration,” of which half would hit defense.
Stackley said sequestration would result in an estimated 10 percent cut to shipbuilding accounts, jeopardizing the Navy’s ability to put all the ships planned under contract in fiscal 2013, barring approval of additional funds.
“There’s an operational impact, there’s a cost impact, there’s disruption at the shipyard impact,” he said, adding, “The shipyards are going to have to make some adjustments in terms of their capacity, their level of efficiency, given the near- and longer-term projections,” Stackley said.
He said his greatest concern focused on aircraft carriers, which are built and refueled by Huntington Ingalls Industries . He said the Navy was working closely with Congress to ensure continued funding to complete the Roosevelt refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH), which is due to be done by next June.
U.S. lawmakers are expected to pass a continuing resolution, or six-month temporary funding measure that will extend fiscal 2012 spending levels through March 2013.
Since fiscal 2012 already did not include funding for the Roosevelt refueling, lawmakers would need to enact a special measure that allowed the Navy to spend the additional $135 million needed to complete that work, Stackley said.