VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Congressman Randy Forbes met with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert Wednesday to discuss the Navy's future in Hampton Roads.
Forbes (R) and Greenert met at the Town Center City Club in Virginia Beach around noon, an event hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.
So far, both the Navy and the shipbuilding and repair industry in Hampton Roads have weathered the gathering storm of sequestration, but the end of this fiscal year approaches, there is growing concern about what 2014 will bring.
Greenert was cautiously optimistic as he briefed the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce about the current state of the Navy which he described as "ok" and "good enough for right now."
But Greenert expressed serious concerns about the Navy's ability to surge or, in other words, deploy an additional carrier strike group or other naval assets in the event of a crisis.
Currently there is one carrier strike group and one amphibious strike group ready to go in the Arabian Gulf and one in the Pacific. And there is one of each ready to surge.
"The thing is, there's usually three of each of those ready to surge, and the combatant commanders say we need that many in order to do the job that we are assigned to do in the future," Greenert said.
Which is why the Navy used funds made available by the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress in March to fund ship repair and construction projects currently underway in this region.
"You simply cannot out-source all of your shipbuilding and ship repair and expect that you're going to have the Navy that you're going to have," said Forbes. "Nobody's ever been able to do that in history."
History could repeat itself in 2014 unless Congress can either agree on a budget, or at least pass another Continuing Resolution that will allow the navy to move money from one account to another to fund the fleet.
"...move money from an account of maybe lesser importance that we can defer. Somewhere perhaps aircraft, perhaps sonars, radars or whatever into shipbuilding which is our top priority," said Greenert.
"If you look at his shipbuilding plan which he worked very, very hard on, he's got a four billion dollar gap. It's not his fault, it's our fault. We've got to fill that gap," said Forbes.
WAVY.com asked Congressman Forbes if Wednesday's discussion means Congress has already resigned itself to another continuing resolution for next year instead of finally passing a budget.
Forbes said they have not given up on getting a budget through both houses, but didn't say anything that made the chances of getting that done this year sound any better than this year, or the previous year.
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