June 1, 2004

The following is a summary of today's leadership conference. It was hosted by the XO of Norfolk Naval station and mostly concerned itself with discussing the consequences of the "cost of war" budget reductions.

1. The Midatlantic region had approx 40% of their annual budget taken from them recently to support the war in IRAQ. Since about 50% of their budget had already been spent, they are basically without funds. They have been told there is no relief on this and so some services have been or will be canceled. Deployed units are considered sacred and not to be touched by budgetary concerns, so all budget consequences are being dealt with by those still stateside with the shore community taking the brunt of the burden.

2. The base shuttles have all been canceled. The Navigator shuttle program is already paid for until September with the City of NORFOLK paying 80% of the cost. It is expected to be canceled when the contract ends in September. No plan exists for future shuttle services.

3. The local medical services are significantly undermanned due to numbers of doctors and staff being deployed. Therefore appointments will take longer. The need to prevent no shows from occurring was discussed. For the last few months the no-show rate has been between 7-10% of all scheduled visits. That may sound not so bad but amounts to over 9000 missed appointments each month. The doctors left in area are seeing approx 50 patients each day, so they can't be pushed to see more and stay effective, they only way to drop wait time for appointments is to attack the no shows.

4. Cable TV will be secured to the entire base. Not clear on when this will happen but cable costs in excess of $300,000 and is going to be cut imminently. Phone lines and other services are being looked at for possible elimination. (i.e. reduction in long distance service or fewer lines etc)

5. Base Galley is being turned over to MWR to run on a for profit basis. It will be closed from 01-08 August for turnover and then reopened. Those on Rations in kind (RIK) chits will see no change in service. All others will pay the fair market value for the meals and not the standard subsidized rate per meal. This affects those on COMRATS (shouldn't effect us).

6. Pier 26 CPO club is being closed down. It was running in red and regional area and MWR could not continue subsidizing it. A temporary CPO is being set up. Details to follow an where. Looking at Breezy Point Officers club opening up to all hands to increase profitability, especially for daily lunch and holiday brunches.

7. Decreasing the number of cranes and tugs available to reduce port costs. Will reduce to only 4 tugs (4 is the number required to get a CVN underway - so they can not drop below this number) This may have a major impact on inport and underway times. Already ships have been told they can not get underway on the day scheduledbecause services not available. The danger scenario: Ship intends to get underway at 0800. They have a crane and tugs set up fro the 0800 underway. Engineering issues result in a delay. Ship is ready at 0930, but crane has moved on to other commitments and no back up exists. Ship is told they can get underway at 1130 the next day because no services are available until then. Overtime is a complete non starter.

8. Only mid Atlantic region command getting more funding in the Family Service Center. Since their primary focus is helping deployers, they are still funded to their normal budget.

9. Parking is going to become a crisis. The XO reported that underway days will be cut resulting in lots of ships inport. August and September will have 3 CVN's inport and 4 or 5 Big deck amphibs. Not enough parking will exist for everyone with that type of load. Creative ideas are encouraged, but easy solution exists.

10. Parking is already bad. MWR has contracted 2 full time tow trucks to tow all those that park illegally. Currently the trucks are working full time every day, efficiently towing Sailors cars. Most significant problem is those who have their stickers scraped (DUI's for example) parking in Sewells point and Dental parking lots and walking in. A parking sticker is needed to park there even if its not within the gates. The issue is so bad that sick call and dental parking is becoming effected. On the flip side, cars not picked up after towed are sold at auction quarterly, providing MWR with funds and cheap cars to other sailors.

11. Underway Commands have given up 168 sailors TAD to the Security department. That number is being reduced with everyone going back by July. The TAD folks will still train up to 20 hours a month with Security so that a reserve force exists in case of emergency.

12. Government vehicles are going away. Shore commands will be the first to lose their vehicles. Possibly everyone's vehicle pool may get smaller (1 vehicle per ship?).

13. Pass office is working reduced hours. Closed on Sundays, only open until 1200 on Saturdays, Closed after 1800 rest of week.

14. Motor cycle safety instructors have all been let go. The program is being maintained by volunteers. The base is looking for volunteers who can teach this. To bad as with parking issues, traffic and high gas prices, Motorcycle usage is going to rise.

These measures will go into effect soon and stay at least until end of fiscal year. No idea on what next year may bring. If war is continued at current pace, these measures may be long term.

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