Jacksonville, FL - It’s an industry that’s already been struggling as Naval Station Mayport decommissions ships, and it’s getting another blow.
WOKV has learned the three ships which compose the Amphibious Ready Group planned to homeport in Mayport by the end of next year could see a delay as a result of sequestration. The Navy tells us they are committed to getting the ARG here by the end of next year, although some of the earlier plans, like bringing the first ship at the end of this year, could be changed.
“It’s gunna put an awful pressure on the ship repair industry here,” says Jacksonville Ship Repair Association Executive Director J. Michael McGrath.
He tells me they have already been struggling to find work, and that began before the Continuing Resolution and sequestration entered the picture. He estimates that over the past year, their combined workforce has shrunk by more than 2,000 workers.
Now, under the Continuing Resolution cuts, their major job for this year- working the USS Farragut- may be off the table, and that’s a $4 million loss.
“It’s really gunna be a hard impact,” he says.
While the ARG homeporting has not been cancelled, McGrath says even a delay could deal a blow to the local industry.
“Our workers are gunna have to find work somewhere, and my concern is that they will leave the area,” he says.
McGrath says if local businesses can’t hold on to their talent, it becomes a costly fix because when business does eventually come in, they have to train a new crop of workers. He has some hope that won’t happen here because the ARG may be delayed, but has not been cancelled.
“If they can see down the pipe that there is gunna be work, that’s one way to survive,” he says.
While surviving, he says many turn to other civilian jobs or moving away from their family temporarily, which can be difficult as well.
The ARG is expected to bring about 2,000 sailors and their families to Mayport. The three ships will generate an estimated $75 million in maintenance work annually when they are all here.