Budget cuts claim U.S. Navy ships, Blue Angels
The U.S. Navy has announced that none of its ships will visiting Portland during this year's Rose Festival Fleet Week because of federal sequestration budget cuts.
Festival officials stress Fleet Week will still be held from June 5 to 9 with vessels from the Canadian Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, along with historic ships.
In a prepared statement, Rear Adm. Mark Rich, the Navy's regional commander, said, "We appreciate the community's understanding during these uncertain budgetary times. We will continue to find ways to engage locally, in keeping with Department of Defense guidance. We are thankful for what Seattle, Portland, and our community partners do to support our service men and women every day and look forward to continuing to work with those partners now, and in the future."
The U.S. Navy also announced that its Blue Angels aerobatic flight team will not be performing at the Oregon International Air Show in Hillsboro this summer because of the cuts, too.
Herb Gillen, a spokesperson for the popular air show, said Tuesday the Blue Angels contacted air show officials on Monday night to confirm the Navy team would be withdrawing from the July event.
The Blue Angels subsequently issued a press release in which the team stated that all remaining 2013 performances had been canceled.
Recognizing budget realities, current (Department of) Defense policy states that outreach events can only be supported with local assets at no cost to the government, read an excerpt of the statement from the Blue Angels.
"We're obviously disappointed, but the show will go on," said Gillen.
The Blue Angels will be replaced as headliners by the Patriots Jet Team, a civilian group made up of former members of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Canadian Snowbirds. The team flies slightly smaller jets than the Blue Angels, Gillen said, but perform the same kinds of stunts. The Patriots Jet Team performed at the air show in Hillsboro three years ago.
In February, Oregon International Air Show President Judy Willey told the Hillsboro Tribune that the Blue Angels may be forced to cancel their appearance due to federal budget cuts. The cuts also forced the Navy to cancel its participation in the 2013 Portland Rose Festivals Fleet Week.
According to Gillen, the air show is in contact with other potential performers and military museums to increase the number of attractions for spectators, including static displays of older military aircraft.
The Oregon International Air Show will take place July 26-28 at the Hillsboro Airport.
KOIN Local 6 contributed to this story.