When some Navy Region Northwest and Naval Base Kitsap federal employees went to work on Monday morning, they were greeted by a letter notifying them they had been furloughed.
After the Senate failed to reach an agreement to fund the government Friday evening, all federal employees were required to report to work for their next scheduled shift to receive instructions on how to proceed during the resulting government shutdown.
Military personnel continued to work on normal duty status.
Navy Region Northwest Spokesman Sean Hughes said supervisors were tasked with delivering letters to employees whose roles were not considered "essential to safety, protection of human life and protection of national security," first thing Monday morning.
"It was tough for my team to sign furlough letters while shutdown news aired on TV and morning colors (the National Anthem) played on the base loudspeaker," Hughes said. "We went through this in 2013 and it was just as disappointing this year as it was then, especially for a dedicated group of employees who dedicate their careers to doing things right for the Navy and the tax-paying public."
Furloughed employees will likely be back to work as soon as Tuesday morning after Congress was able to reach an agreement Monday evening, which would end the three-day shutdown once the bill is signed by President Donald Trump.
Hughes said employees "know their status well in advance, so there weren't any surprises."
Civilian employees effected by the furloughs held overhead or administrative positions.
They had a few hours to to gather up their belongings, set up email and voicemail out-of-office messages and make sure their supervisors or commands had up-to-date contact information to reach them when it was time to come back to work.
"And then they pretty much walked out," Hughes said. "It was weird since we don't expect that sort of thing in government."
Hughes said it was difficult to tell just how many employees were furloughed region-wide, due to the number of commands that fall under the Navy's umbrella in the Northwest and their separate human resources departments.
Hughes was looking forward to having the region fully-staffed once again and getting back to work.
"Regardless of what's happening on the national stage, Navy personnel generally take the high ground through issues like this, follow our chain of command's directions, and stand ready and willing to get back to work once decisions are sorted out. But that doesn't mean the disruption is impersonal or easy to stomach," Hughes said. "A government shutdown is a distraction we don't need, especially given the importance and tempo of our national-defense missions."
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility was largely unaffected by the shutdown, said spokesman J.C. Mathews.
"Due to its importance to our nation's defense, most of the maintenance work we perform at all of our worksites was excepted from the shutdown," Mathews said.
Keyport's Naval Undersea Museum and Bremerton's Puget Sound Naval Museum, both operated by the Naval History & Heritage Command, had to closed their doors on Monday morning after employees were furloughed.
Many Naval Base Kitsap functions remained open on Monday with normal daily operation hours, including security forces, emergency services, gate and visitor control centers, the Navy Exchanges, the commissary, port operations, fleet and family readiness, child and youth programs and religious programs and services, according to a statement from base spokesman Jake Chappelle on Friday.
Naval Hospital Bremerton continued to provide all "essential mission support for Navy and Marine Corps assets," spokesman Doug Stutz said.
"All primary medical, dental, and urgent care services will continue, as will inpatient services, and required surgeries," Stutz said. "Ancillary services such as pharmacy and laboratory will also remain operational."
Other Navy Region Northwest installations, including NAVMAG Indian Island, Naval Station Everett and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island were impacted by furloughs, but had many services to support operations at the waterfront and the airfield remained open, Hughes said.