Magazine article National Defense

Watchdog Sounds the Alarm on Navy Shipyards

Magazine article National Defense

Watchdog Sounds the Alarm on Navy Shipyards

Article excerpt

* The subpar state of Navy shipyards is creating maintenance and operational challenges that will be costly to overcome, the Government Accountability Office warned in a recent report.

The service owns four public shipyards: Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Washington; and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Hawaii.

They are critical to maintaining readiness and supporting operations of the nation's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, the GAO noted in its report titled, "Naval Shipyards: Actions Needed to Improve Poor Conditions That Affect Operations."

"Although the Navy committed to increased capital investment and developed an improvement plan in 2013, the shipyards' facilities and equipment remain in poor condition," the government watchdog said.

The cost of backlogged restoration and maintenance projects at the shipyards has risen to an estimated $4.86 billion, a 41 percent increase over five years. The backlog will take at least 19 years to clear, the report said.

Additionally, a Navy analysis shows that the average age of shipyard capital equipment now exceeds its expected useful life, it noted.

"Partly as a result of their poor condition, the shipyards have not been fully meeting the Navy's operational needs," the report said.

In fiscal years 2000 through 2016, maintenance delays stemming from inadequate facilities and equipment contributed to the loss of 1,300 operational days for aircraft carriers and 12,500 operational days for submarines, the report added. …

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