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Layoff Threat for 665 Is Lifted at Nassco

A changed federal budget picture means that the General Dynamics Nassco shipyard will not have to go through with 665 layoffs announced earlier this year.

Some 375 workers and 290 subcontractors will continue to work, said spokeswoman Sarah Strang.

“We felt comfortable we wouldn’t need to do any layoffs at this time,” Strang said.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Navy warned that it may need to cancel as many as 10 ship visits to San Diego shipyards for maintenance and upgrades. The reason was the lack of a federal budget for fiscal 2013, which limited the Navy’s ability to spend.

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To deal with such limits, the Navy said it may have to delay up to $219 million of shipyard work to 10 vessels. They were the destroyers USS Russell, USS Sampson, USS Benfold, USS Higgins and USS Gridley; the amphibious ships USS Green Bay, USS Rushmore, and USS Peleliu; and the minesweepers USS Pioneer and USS Devastator.

Loosening Purse Strings

Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed a defense appropriations bill in late March, which loosened the purse strings somewhat.

The Navy has not yet given its official word on “availabilities,” or trips to the shipyard, for the last part of fiscal 2013. That is according to Derry Pence, president of the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association. Pence said the worst case scenario now is that the Navy may miss only one, instead of 10, availabilities before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Nearby at the BAE Systems shipyard, officials are contemplating 100 layoffs, said company spokesman John Measell. That is down from the prediction of 302 layoffs that BAE recently gave local and state officials.

Layoffs are unfortunate and BAE is aware that they affect people, Measell said. He said the shipyard tries to staff appropriately in the face of cyclical ship repair work.

Most BAE Workers Safe

When the federal budget situation was unclear, Measell said BAE issued provisional layoff notices to all 1,370 of the full-time workers at its San Diego yard. Those notices were conditional and are no longer in effect, the spokesman said.

While it now has a 2013 budget, the Navy still has to deal with the across the board spending cuts called sequestration.

A $9 billion budget shortfall is now $4.5 billion, according to a statement from the Navy’s top admiral.

Because of the budget situation, the Navy canceled the 2013 performances of its Blue Angels flight team. “This is one of many steps the Navy is taking to ensure resources are in place to support forces operating forward now and those training to relieve them,” the Navy said in a statement.

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