Career fair at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (advertised in PDN on Friday) postponed because of Navy hiring freeze

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BREMERTON — Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility postponed a career fair scheduled for later this month because it can't hire anybody.

The Navy issued a hiring freeze until Congress takes action on its budget.

(The now-postponed career fair, slated for Jan. 25-26 at Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton, was advertised in the PDN on Friday.)

Though Congress delayed for two months automatic spending cuts, the Navy is operating under what's called a continuing resolution.

Congress has not passed the 2013 defense budget proposed by the Pentagon last year, instead approving spending equal to the 2012 fiscal year levels.

The spending levels have remained in effect since October.

The continuing resolution expires at the end of March.

If Congress extends it until the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30, the Navy wouldn't have enough money to meet its obligations.

It projects a $4.6 billion shortfall in its operations and maintenance accounts, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, chief of information.

The Navy is cutting costs as if the continuing resolution will be extended.

Measures include freezing civilian hiring; terminating temporary workers except those supporting mission-critical programs; delaying ship decommissionings; and curtailing travel, training, conferences and spending on supplies and base operations.

There also is the potential for civilian furloughs.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus wrote in a Jan. 11 memo that these steps won't completely solve the problem.

“We will only be able to sustain current fleet operations,” he said.

“We will not be able to sufficiently maintain and reset our forces for future operations.”

Busy shipyard

The shipyard employs 11,000 civilians, is extremely busy and had planned to hire more workers.

It is tackling maintenance and moderization projects on two aircraft carriers, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Carl Vinson, and work on three submarines.

In addition, decommissioned submarines USS Cincinnati and USS New York City and guided missile cruiser USS Long Beach are in various stages of recycling and disposal.

It intended to make job offers to 563 people this week, but that has been frozen, said spokeswoman Mary Anne Mascianica.

It can't replace those who retire or quit.

It hasn't been directed yet how to handle temporary employees.

“We have the work, we need the people, so at some point the freeze will be lifted and we will be able to reverse the hiring freeze action and
move forward,” said Capt. Steve Williamson, PSNS commanding officer.

If Congress can't agree on a plan to address the $17 trillion national debt, across-the-board cuts would take effect.

The Department of Defense would lose $500 billion over the next 10 years through a mechanism called sequestration.

It was estimated before the two-month delay that the military would lose $54.7 billion this year, including $12 billion by the Navy.

Last modified: January 19. 2013 6:21PM
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