The Coast Guard’s budget has dropped $11.3 million in the 2019 fiscal year, bringing the number of full-time jobs in the service down to about 4,500, according to the Coast Guard Association.
The cuts were made by the Coast Services and Transportation Agency (CSATA), the U.S. Agency for International Development, which manages the Coast.
It was announced Thursday by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the head of the agency’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the U,S.
Coast Guard Academy.
The Coast Service, which oversees the Coast, has been in the news lately due to the deaths of four Coast Guard personnel in the Gulf of Mexico.
The agency has been under a major staffing cut for the past five years.
This year, the Coast Service lost a total of 1,622 full-timers, including nearly 400 who were transferred to the Navy.
In addition, the agency announced it is moving to a “continuous hiring” strategy for 2019.
Mabus said the Coast’s staffing levels were impacted by a number of factors, including the implementation of the $6.3 billion funding cut, and a decline in the number and severity of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The last major hurricane to hit the Coast in 2019, Hurricane Maria, left about half a million people without power and disrupted coastal infrastructure, including shipping lanes and airports.
The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and other agencies have criticized the Coast for taking a “bait and switch” approach to addressing the crisis, which has resulted in the loss of life.
The reduction in full-size ships and smaller vessels is likely to exacerbate the situation.
The budget cuts come on the heels of a massive budget cut by the Department of Defense.
The Pentagon announced Thursday it would eliminate $100 million in programs to support the Coast and Coast Guard, cutting $17 million from the overall Coast Service budget, the majority of which is for support for the U-Haul and Coast Guards.
Moti, the OMB director, said the budget cuts are being made to ensure the Coast remains able to respond to future disasters, including a planned reduction in the Coast guard fleet by the end of the year.
He said the cuts will also be made to help meet the projected $400 million cost of maintaining Coast Guard vessels, which is one of the major reasons the service has been reducing its full- and part-time personnel.
The OMB’s annual report for fiscal year 2019, released Thursday, also showed the Coast lost nearly 2,000 full-timer positions, with another 930 temporary positions eliminated.
In total, the service lost 2,084 full- or part-timing positions.