According to Captain Scott Robertson, commander of the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy, 13 mission-essential parts were "cannibalized" from Normandy, the ship currently under maintenance procedures, to support the Eisenhower Strike Group deployment.
Captain Robertson was one of a group of US Navy commanders who testified before the lawmakers this Thursday that sequestration-budget cuts have caught ships and aircrafts in maintenance funding shortfalls.
Captain Gregory McRae, a submarine squadron commander, said that "cannibalizing" parts is not a rare last-resort move, but is a daily reality for the Navy. Parts, some of them significant, are being stripped from ships at a rate of 1.5 per day, he stated.
"If a part fails on a unit that's operational, we look in the supply system, and the supply system says, either there no parts available at all, or parts are not going to be available for a few months," McRae said. "In that case, the only resort we're left with is to look through a boat that has a similar piece of equipment that is not as high on the priority scale for operations, and we pull that piece from that boat and install it on the boat that's going to go out and do operations."
The commanders note that funding shortages come from unexpected extensions of military operations, be it strike-group deployment or cutting-edge aircraft development.
Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the US. Fleet Forces Command, said that between Fleet Forces Command and US Pacific Fleet alone, the funding shortage is estimated at some $848 million.
Fuelling alarm, the commanders say that funding shortages cause the US Navy to reduce flight hours for carrier air wings and postpone important ship maintenance.
Congress is currently debating a military budget bill that provides more money for maintenance and acquisition, but less for overseas military operations. However, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is strongly opposed to this move and recommends vetoing the military budget bill in its current form.