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Navy to Report to Congress on Shipyard Plans

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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The U.S. Navy will soon present to Congress a summary of what it says it will need in order to bring its shipyards up to snuff and ensure they’re capable of maintaining the military’s growing fleet, according to a report in USNI News.

The publication, associated with the nonprofit U.S. Naval Institute, reported Monday (Feb. 5) that Navy maintenance leadership plans to bring two reports to Congress: a mandatory document on optimizing naval shipyards and a secondary report on investments in private shipyards.

Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard

The Navy has four shipyards, including Pearl Harbor (pictured), all of which are in "poor condition," according to the Government Accountability Office.

The reports are due this month.

State of the Shipyards

The Navy’s four shipyards—Norfolk, Pearl Harbor, Portsmouth and Puget Sound—are in “poor condition,” according to the Government Accountability Office, which estimates that the state of the facilities has created a $4.86 billion backlog of work.

The average age of Navy drydocks is 89 years, according to the GAO, and many of the facilities are ill-equipped to handle modern (and often larger) ships. Several of the Navy’s facilities require buoyancy assistance in order to move submarines into the drydock; one at Puget Sound, the GAO says, can only move Los Angeles-class subs “after they have had several tons of weight removed and only during a high tide.”

While the four naval shipyards have been subject to maintenance and occasional renovations over the years, there has not been a cohesive strategy for their upkeep.

Fleet Expansion

The Congressional report comes as the Navy and the Defense Department under President Donald J. Trump work to ramp up to a 355-ship fleet. Trump made expanding the Navy a promise during his campaign and reiterated his hopes for the fleet after his inauguration. Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus laid out a plan to expand to 355 in a report in December 2016, at the end of his tenure.

The secondary report on private shipyard capacity is not mandated by Congress but falls in line with the Navy’s reported strategy of offering maintenance work to more smaller private shipyards as it looks to increase fleet size. Vice Admiral Tom Moore told USNI News last month that the Navy would look to bid smaller maintenance jobs directly to private shipyards, noting that those jobs are often bid to the naval shipyards then passed along to smaller facilities anyway, when it becomes clear the naval shipyard backlog is too great.


Tagged categories: NA; North America; President Trump; Program/Project Management; Ships and vessels; Shipyards; U.S. Navy

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