Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus says deep budget cutbacks have affected the branch’s defense of the country.
He spoke to nearly 1600 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton Wednesday, addressing issues affecting them. If Congress doesn’t pass a defense budget by March 1, it will cost the Navy $9.6 billion.
“It’s going to mean less steaming, less flying, less training,” said Ray Mabus, U.S. Secretary of the Navy.
The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard will take a $90 million hit.
Those on active duty will receive the same pay and benefits, but civilian employees may be subject to 22 furlough days.
“Which would seriously dent the income and the morale of our civilian workers,” said Mabus.
Civilian workers would go from 40 hours a week down to 32 hours a week, equaling a 20% pay cut.
“People are going to be scrambling if this happens,” said Vicki Whitt, a civilian worker and vice president of the Bremerton Metal Trades Council.
The potential loss of income is already on her radar.
“I got rid of my gym bill, I reduced my satellite TV,” she said.
All hiring of new civilian employees except under exception circumstances, $65 million in planned maintenance to the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier and the cancellation of all training exercises unless sailors are about to deploy are also part of the cutbacks.
When asked if the beloved Seafair Blue Angels Show will be canceled, Mabus couldn’t say for sure.
“Maybe, maybe not,” he said.
The majority of base civilian workers live in Kitsap County, which has a 6.5% unemployment rate.
According to Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, jobs are available in the technology and manufacturing fields if those affected by furloughs decide to find another job.
“Safe Boats,” a boat manufacturing company, has doubled its employment since last year.