WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert discussed the status of the fleet, readiness impact due to sequestration, and modifications to Navy policies at a press conference July 19 at the Pentagon.
"Presence remains our mandate," Greenert said. "This is what we are mostly about, and it's an essential element of our defense strategic guidance."
Greenert pointed out that the Navy has about 95 ships deployed and about 3,700 operational aircraft. The current ship count in the Mediterranean has been higher than it has been through the years.
USS Kearsarge and USS San Antonio are positioned in the Red Sea and stand ready with a range of missions and operations if required. USS Nimitz is deployed to the North Arabian Sea supporting ground operations in Afghanistan with close air support, and piracy in the region is slowly increasing and is becoming more of a concern.
In the Pacific theater, Talisman Saber Exercise, started July 14, off the coast of Australia and in the Coral Sea. TS13 is an ongoing biennial training exercise with Australia and currently has George Washington Carrier Strike Group and Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group assets participating.
In the Southern Command, sequestration has caused the reduction to zero combat ships in the region.
"There are other naval forces in the region," Greenert said. "Non-combatant ships and other forces."
The Navy's first spearhead class joint high speed vessel will deploy to the Southern Command area of operation in FY 14.
"Presence forward, assuring our allies and deterring potential adversaries is our primary function," Greenert said. "I think we are out there at the, what I call, the maritime crossroads where it matters, when it matters."
CNO addressed the readiness impact of sequestration for FY 13 and FY 14.
There is one carrier strike group (CSG) and one amphibious ready group (ARG) deployed to the each of the Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific theaters.
However, the surge force is a concern, Greenert said.
Currently, there is only one CSG and one ARG ready to surge if needed. A year ago, the Navy had three CSGs and ARGs ready to surge.
Despite reduced operations and maintenance spending in FY 13, Greenert said the Navy's focus is to keep sea commands ready for deployments scheduled for FY 14.
For FY 14, sequestration could reduce each account by 10 percent. The Navy possibly faces deeper cuts for FY 14, because FY 13 used money available from previous years to help pad the effects of sequestration, Greenert explained.
CNO's goal is to preserve shipbuilding and aviation contracts through this process.
Furlough impacts to the civilian force continue to be a challenge.
"Regrettably, we're enduring furloughs," Greneert said. "It's an impact, I felt it last week. I feel it this week. It hurts our readiness and it hurts our productivity as well."
CNO addressed sexual assault organizational changes and a revision to the Navy Exchange alcohol sales policy by further discussing the Navy's newest changes that are taking place fleet-wide. Greenert said with more than half of all sexual assaults involving alcohol, the Navy had to look more critically at the atmosphere and climate of its bases.
Greenert said after a review of Navy Exchange alcohol sales trends at base stores the data showed a high volume of sales occurring late into the night and early morning and were not in line with mainstream retailers.