NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) -- Hundreds of civilian employees of the Navy in Newport began receiving furlough notices this week as part of automatic budget cuts at the U.S. Defense Department.
David Sanders, a spokesman for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, said Wednesday that about 300 notices have gone out to non-union employees and an additional 2,400 will go out to union employees in the near future.
He said employees will be required to take 16 hours of unpaid time off every two weeks beginning the week of July 8 through the end of September.
Nearly everyone at the facility, which serves as a research, testing and support center for Navy submarines and ships, will be affected, according to Sanders.
The center is in the process of prioritizing work so it will be able to continue full operations during the furlough period.
"The priority will be ensuring we have continual support for Navy submarines and ships," Sanders said.
Several hundred furlough letters were also being distributed to employees at the U.S. Naval War College. Spokesman Daniel Marciniak could not immediately say which employees would be affected.
The cuts are part of across-the-board federal budget reductions known as the sequester that went into effect on March 1.