WASHINGTON — The hardest-hit area in Indiana by the $85 billion budget sequester that takes place Friday will be close to home at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane.
According to figures released by Sen. Joe Donnelly, the base will lose $36 million in funding, the most in the state.
“We know how critical the work they do is,” Donnelly said. “The work they do is directly related to the cybersecurity of our nation and our men and women in the armed forces.
“To all the Crane workers, we know how critical everything you do is.”
Although it is not official, many employees are worried about mandated furloughs that will take a day’s work from many. NSWC Crane is the third-largest employer in southwest Indiana, employing over 4,500 in the base alone.
Several employees, like the Kettinger family in Shoals, rely on Crane for their livelihood. Both work for contractors that help in various base functions at the third largest naval installation in the world.
“Everything is very uncertain at the moment,” Traci Kettinger said. “If we don’t get altogether, just the furlough with hours being cut would result in a major pay (cut) in our household.”
Kettinger also said she is “praying for it not to happen.”
According to official word from Crane, furloughs have not happened. Yet.
“I wish I could say,” Pamela Ingram, public affairs officer for NSWC Crane said. “We don’t know how we will be directly affected.”
Ingram said the official word will come from the Pentagon. If the furloughs are implemented, pay cuts will be at 20 percent. The cuts will start in April and continue to the end of the fiscal year in September.
“I don’t think anyone actually knows yet, because it has never been done before,” Ingram said.
Also unsure is the impact on programs Crane offers. The naval operation offers support in electronic warfare, strategic missions and special missions. Ingram said because many of the projects come from the Pentagon’s working capital fund, no decisions have been made on the impact.