Home » Budget Industry » Navy Bracing For Air Wing Shutdowns, Ship Maintenance Cancellations If Continuing Resolution Extended

Navy Bracing For Air Wing Shutdowns, Ship Maintenance Cancellations If Continuing Resolution Extended

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Fighting Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on Dec. 12, 2016. US Navy Photo

The Navy might have to cancel 14 or more ship maintenance availabilities, shut down half its air wings and cancel deployments if lawmakers cannot pass a Fiscal Year 2017 defense spending bill next month.

The government is operating under a continuing resolution set to expire April 28, and there is increasing talk in Washington that lawmakers may not be able to pass a real spending bill and would instead resort to a full-year CR to fund the government.

Under a continuing resolution, the Navy would be able to support deployed units and “most” of its next-to-deploy units, but it would not have the operations and maintenance funds to support readiness activities in any other units, USNI News learned from information obtained from the Navy. That includes flight hours, steaming hours and other training opportunities, as well as platform and weapons maintenance.

Specifically, a full-year CR would force the Navy to cancel several surface ship deployments, creating presence gaps in Europe and the Middle East. And nearly half the air wings would shut down, which would take months to stand back up down the road and would create a ripple effect lasting throughout 2018 and into 2019.

Flight hours for pilots would be reduced to the point of putting at risk pilots’ qualifications, leading to an under-manning situation due to not enough personnel qualified to carry out missions. Current aviation readiness shortfalls would be further exacerbated by additional delays at aviation maintenance depots and a halt in ordering spare parts, further reducing the number of airplanes that are physically able to fly.

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) sits in Dry Dock 5 onboard Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka on July 13, 2016. US Navy Photo

More than a dozen ship maintenance availabilities – including aircraft carriers, submarines and surface ships, but predominately affecting guided-missile destroyers, USNI News understands – would be canceled altogether. And, USNI News previously reported, about $5 billion in Navy shipbuilding funds to buy the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship and other ships would go unused, due to being in the wrong part of the budget and the Navy not having the authority under a CR to move that money into more useful budget lines.

The Navy has not yet begun to take major steps such as canceling availabilities or deployments, but the service would begin taking actions next month if lawmakers don’t act to pass a defense spending bill.

In a March 16 House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing, Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources (OPNAV N8), told lawmakers that “at this point in time, we have not taken those overt actions to shut down air wings; we have looked at deferring maintenance, but no availabilities have been canceled.”

He noted, though, that some smaller actions, such as slowing down the purchase of spare parts for non-deployed ships, have already begun. If any further action takes place due to insufficient funding in FY 2017, he warned the subcommittee that the real impact would be felt in FY 2018 and beyond.

“What happens is, if air wings actually shut down, instead of taking a month to get back flying, it takes months. So the impacts would ripple through the end of ‘17 but also into a significant part of ‘18,” he said.
“When we get to Fiscal Year ‘18, the ships and squadrons not working up or maintaining now would be not deploying in ’18. We would start seeing the same carrier gaps, start seeing other impacts around the world, but largely it would be in ’18. Not as much in ‘17 because we keep the deployed forces ready.”

Sailors muster on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in 2008. US Navy Photo

Additionally, USNI News learned from the Navy information, money would have to be moved around to cover basic sailor payroll costs, and bonus payments would be stopped or delayed. Sailors and their families would see delays in moves to new duty stations, and accessions would be cut, leading to gapped billets at sea and ashore. Air shows and fleet weeks would all be canceled to help pay for other operations and maintenance needs, and critical shore construction projects – many of which have been postponed for years, repeatedly used as bill-payers for other spending needs – such as runways, housing, piers and other waterfront infrastructure would be further delayed.

  • Aubrey

    How about we clear out 33% of the flags, and their staffs?

    I give the Navy credit for not being the Air Force, but the bloat is still well past the redline for “waste” and is quickly approaching “fraud”.

    • retiredglobalguy

      Factual support?

      • Ctrot

        The US military has about half as many general officers today as at the end of WWII, 1000 now vs 2000 then. For a force one tenth the size.

        • PolicyWonk

          The ratio between general officers to soldiers is (at last look) about 1:600.

          • Ctrot

            Aye, it’s nuts.

    • PolicyWonk


      If you look at the number of flags and/or members of general officer corps today, and compare them to the past, you’ll quickly see that for example, there is ONE general to every 600 soldiers.

      And the admiralty isn’t much better.

      We could slash the members of the admiralty and general officer corps by 75%, and we’d still be bloated beyond belief, historically speaking.

    • Ruckweiler

      Read somewhere that we have more flag officers in all services than we had during WWII. Don’t know if that’s true but we have waaaay to many stars out and about for the size of our force.

  • Horn

    How about we pass a law that says lawmakers don’t get paid until a real budget is passed, and they get fined for each day it’s late. I find it interesting that this is a continuing problem every year.

    • Rocco


    • redgriffin

      There are groups that have been trying to do that exact thing but we get no support so I will expect to see a ton of emails to your congressional reps everyday now. CR is up in 3 weeks.

    • Secundius

      And “What’s” that going to Solve? Most GOP Congressmen have their Salaries in “Escrow Accounts” and are Getting Payed by “Payola” by Off-Shore Accounts, Outsourcing Accounts, Lobbyist Accounts, or Seven-Figure Graft Accounts by the Koch Brothers. Factor ALL those in, what’s a Mere $174,500.00 USD. Yearly Salary to a US Congressman…

      • Steve

        Thanks for the info. I suppose that while Republican representatives and senators are paid under the table, by the devil, or by child molesters, their Democratic counterparts live as paupers, sell lemonade to make enough to eat, or live on prayer. Not too partisan are you?

        • Secundius

          “The Democrats and the Republicans are equally corrupt where money is concerned. It’s only in the amount where the Republicans excel”, by Will Rogers dated 28 September 1928.

          For future References, I’m a “Republican”! I don’t like Dishonesty “Regardless” of Political Affiliations…

          • Steve

            I don’t like it by either party either. And I certainly think there is enough on both sides –e.g., former Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham and former Democrat Rep. William Jefferson.

    • Horn

      Wow. I didn’t really think that people would take me literally. Joke’s on them.

  • Danger_Dan

    This is the cumulative effect of 16 years of sustained combat operations put on the nation’s credit card. The price of sustaining operations has largely been taken out of the military’s hide since at least 2003. Flight hours were cut in 03, steaming days were limited, and cost saving measures were implemented across the force. This starvation diet has continued for so many years that it has become the new normal. The American people were never asked to pay a war tax. On the contrary the American people were given, and are now promised further tax cuts. Wars cost money. Forward deployed forces to defend the nation and fight our enemies are expensive to maintain. If the American people want these things, and I suspect they do, it needs to be explained why they have to help pay for it. There has been no shared sacrifice to support the post-9/11 wars, and now it is probably too late to ask for it.

    • PolicyWonk

      Indeed – a reading of the CBO report on the Causes of the Great Recession finds that actions taken by the administration of George W Bush (and the GOP-led HoR’s) caused severe damage to the economic well being of the United States via:

      1. Tax breaks (unfunded) for the wealthiest of Americans, and
      2. The largest increase of corporate welfare programs in history (also unfunded – for example – Medicare Part D – a giveaway so blatant and repugnant that millions of retired people resigned their memberships to the AARP, who supported this steaming pile of nation-damaging legislation).

      If the HoR’s rescinded these terrible mistakes – the USA would be in vastly better economic shape than it is now.

  • FelixA9

    God, we truly do have a bunch of fucking idiots in Washington.

    • Fred Gould

      Been that way since the founding of the Republic. Remember Washington’s troops starving at Valley Forge? Brings back memories of the 70’s and 80’s. Every tour was extended due to a shortage of PCS funds. I checked into in ship deployed to the Med in 85. With the exception of the supply ships, every other one was swinging on the hook, no fuel money.

      • muzzleloader

        Except our fleet has never been at this place before with critical loss of war fighting ability on the line.

    • PolicyWonk

      You’re being too kind…

  • vincedc

    And every member of Congress will continue to get a paycheck as though nothing is happening. The real answer is to start shutting down bases to get their attention. As long as their precious bases stay open, they don’t care.

    • Fred Gould

      Rather their pay is withheld until they actually pass a budget.

  • Secundius

    There goes our TRUMP “Promised” 350-ship US Navy…

  • Donald Carey

    So Congress starves the military today to save a few bucks. Our enemies see us as weak and start a war – presto! massive spending that obliterates any “savings” and, as an extra bonus, kills Americans serving in our military. Genius!

    • Secundius

      Not just the US Congress, BUT President Donald Trump as well? Three months into His Presidency, and he has YET to Summit a Military Appropriations Budget to Congress. A LOT of Promises, But the US Military can’t Fight Effectively on “Promises”…

      • E1 Kabong

        What did Obummer do for EIGHT YEARS?

        • Rocco


        • Secundius

          In 20 December 2012, Four US Navy Aircraft Carriers were Berthed at Piers 7, 11 and 12 for a Four Year Sequester and One to be Decommissioned. The Decommissioned Aircraft Carrier was CVN-65, USS Enterprise and the Four Sequestered Aircraft Carriers were CVN-69, USS. Dwight D. Eisenhower, CVN-72, USS. Abraham Lincoln, CVN-75, USS. Harry S. Truman and CVN-77, USS. George H. W. Bush. Obama by Executive Order “Liquidated” the Funds of One Gearld R. Ford class Aircraft Carrier to be used to REFIT Four sitting Idle Aircraft Carriers during the Four Year Long Sequester and had Three Arleigh Burke class Destroyers Built at the Sametime with the Extra money going to an SSN Submarine Build. If not four that Deed, After the Four Year Sequester. The FOUR US Aircraft Carriers, would be IN Drydock AWAITING “Refittings” and NO Arleigh Burke class Destroyers and SSN would have be Built…

          • E1 Kabong


      • John B. Morgen

        I agree to that statement.

  • John B. Morgen

    Congress [must] be completely{MAD) or profoundly gone insane.

    • Secundius

      Try the Guy at 1600 PAAve. Until HE “Submit’s a Defense Appropriations Budget. US Congress in ONLY going to pass a Bare Minimum “Caretaker” Budget for the US Military…

      • John B. Morgen

        Both are insane. Atmost a (“caretaker budget”) will be approved until the Secretary of Defense writes up a budget for Trump to agree to, until then all of us will continue to be in the bloody darkness for awhile.

  • old guy

    Limit on “flags.”
    1 flag for each numbered fleet. (6)
    2 flags for each class
    2 Finance
    2 personnel
    2 facilities
    2 operations
    3 strategy and intel
    1 public relations (with cocktail shaker)
    1 to soothe Congress
    1 to be CNO
    1 naval material
    4 specific Sea, Air. Op, Amphi
    6 Spares

  • On Dre

    Is the problem that too many seniors are getting meals on wheels?

  • Ed L

    Do aviators really have to be officers. Can’t they be identified to start training at 17 or 18 and then become W-1 or 2 like the army does. The Navy and Marines used to have enlisted aviators

    • Secundius

      In WWII, the “Minimum Rank” to be a Fighter Pilot was Warrant Officer with (Pub.L. 658) the “Flight Officers” Act of 8 July 1942, Glider Pilots were allowed to hold “NCO Rank”. The British and Commonwealth Countries, it wasn’t uncommon for Fighter Officers to Hold “NCO Rank”. Ever the Germans and Japanese had the Same “NCO” Practice…

  • E1 Kabong

    It is CLEAR, you are BUSTED.