Shutdown Hits Navy Shipyards Hard

The government's shutdown has sent thousands of shipyard workers home until an agreement in Congress ends it.

While ongoing operations involving ships at sea and forward-deployed forces are moving along as scheduled, the government shutdown is reverberating throughout the Navy, especially at its shipyards.

More than 75,000 Navy civilian employees will be furloughed, service officials said.

“A government shutdown places significant additional hardships on our workforce which has already been strained by recent administrative furloughs. Unlike an administrative furlough, which occurred during summer of 2013, a shutdown furlough is unplanned and occurs when an agency no longer has the funds necessary to operate and must shut down those activities that are not excepted,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Navy spokeswoman.

The Navy will continue to support key military and flight operations as scheduled, Rebarich said. Ships will remain at sea if they directly support what’s called “excepted” activity, such as a military operation, she said.

Due to planning or operational requirements, all maintenance availabilities scheduled to begin during the first quarter of fiscal year ‘14 are also already on contract and will not be affected, Rebarich explained.

However, the shutdown will very likely impact ongoing maintenance work in other cases, she added.

“Shipyard work at private shipyards would continue on ongoing availabilities since funding has already been authorized and contracted for the jobs being performed. However, no new contracts will be [awarded] and no new work will be added to the availability. For public yards, essential excepted work would continue while non-essential excepted work will be delayed until there is funding,” Rebarich said.

Furloughs are slated to occur at all four of the Navy’s public shipyards, U.S. Naval Institute news reports. This includes Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., Norfolk Naval Yard, Norfolk, Va., Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Hawaii.

Rebarich also added that the in-processing of new recruits will continue during the shutdown.

“We had all hoped to avoid this scenario and further hope that it will be short-lived, wanting to get back to normal operations as quick as possible,” Vice Adm. Bill Moran, Chief of Naval personnel, stated in a written statement.

The shutdown’s impact upon ongoing Navy contracting and acquisition is not yet fully known but potentially substantial, service officials said.

Due to the lapse of appropriations, the majority of civilian personnel assigned to Navy research, development and acquisition are in a non-pay furlough status, Cmdr. Thurraya Kent said in a written statement.

“It is not immediately known what impact this major disruption in staffing will have on Navy acquisitions. We will continue to conduct contracting and contract administration activities in support of current military requirements,” she added.

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Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.