Rear Admiral talks about sequestration impact on Pearl Harbor

Rear Admiral talks about sequestration impact on Pearl Harbor
Rear Admiral Frank Ponds
Rear Admiral Frank Ponds

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rear Adm. Frank Ponds said sequestration will cause some turbulence in the short term, but won't alter the Navy's commitment to maintaining security and stability in the Pacific.

"There have been some deep cuts," Ponds said.

The deepest are the furloughs for about 6,000 civil service employees at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. They'll be furloughed 11 days, about a day a week between July and September. Originally, it was going to be 22 days.

"That's a tremendous achievement because it cuts in half what we would have done to our workforce that we value so much," Ponds said.

Navy Region Hawaii has 11 ships and 18 submarines in its fleet. To save money, Ponds reduced the number of days at sea for exercises and training.

"We have not gone underway during the weekend, and come back in and out of port, because it incurs additional costs," he said.

Cost-cutting also extends to ship maintenance when a vessel is docked.

"We are deferring maintenance where we can, delaying maintenance where we can," he said.

Cuts were only made where manpower losses could be absorbed. Emergency personnel and all 4,300 civil service employees at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard were spared.

"It's about delivering the capabilities, not taking the additional risk that's too adverse, and accepting the consequences of those changes," Ponds said.

Under his directive energy costs are monitored, down to the use of office lights and air conditioning. But he said sequestration will not compromise the Navy's mission.

"Readiness is still front and center," he said. "It's the number one priority."

Ponds has been region commander for 20 months. Next month he and his family leave for a new assignment in San Diego. He said even sequestration doesn't diminish the positives of his tour at Pearl Harbor.

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