Navy to Cut Air Wings, Deployments, Jets

NORFOLK -- A little more than a week before the first wave of federal budget cuts would take effect, the Navy on Tuesday released an updated list of savings, including canceling the Bataan amphibious ready group's deployment, buying four fewer F-35 fighter jets and nearly halving training programs for midshipmen, flight officers and new pilots.

The $8.6 billion in cuts are a consequence of Congress's failure to pass a new budget and across-the-board reductions demanded by sequestration. Congress has until March 1 to avert the latter.

In a planning document the Navy released Tuesday, the service also revised previously announced cuts to ship maintenance. In Norfolk, a patrol craft was added to the list of 10 ships that would no longer be heading to shipyards during the third and fourth quarters. Eight San Diego-based ships will not undergo scheduled critical maintenance, instead of the 10 originally included in the cuts. And maintenance will be canceled on two ships in Japan -- one fully and one partially -- and one in Bahrain.

The Bataan, based in Norfolk, was scheduled to deploy early next year.

Other reductions include shutting down four of the Navy's nine carrier air wings, ending most naval operations in South America and Europe, keeping several submarines in port and canceling Blue Angels air shows and Fleet Week celebrations.

The document shows that the Navy plans to cancel construction of a destroyer, saving $1.4 billion. It would scuttle plans for further testing of the Marine variant of the F-35 fighter plane aboard the Norfolk-based amphibious assault ship Wasp and buy four fewer F-35s -- two each of the next-generation Navy and Marine Corps jets. It is also likely the Navy would not purchase a second Virginia-class submarine in 2014.

Four carriers' strike groups -- including the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt in Norfolk -- would shut down at various intervals, with up to a year needed to restore each to normal readiness.

The report spells out how the cuts would affect the fleet, noting that having fewer deployed ships would hinder the Navy's ability to respond to crises and that cancelation of maintenance would reduce the condition of ships and aircraft and shorten their expected service lives.

It would also mean up to 40 fewer ships in the Navy's fleet by 2030, the document said.

Quality of life also could be affected. The document notes that medical facilities, business offices and bases would have reduced hours of operation.

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