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GAO Report on U.S. Attack Submarine Maintenance Backlog

The following is the Nov. 19, 2018 Government Accountability Office report, Navy Readiness: Actions Needed to Address Costly Maintenance Delays Facing the Attack Submarine Fleet.

From the report:

The Navy has been unable to begin or complete the vast majority of its attack submarine maintenance periods on time resulting in significant maintenance delays and operating and support cost expenditures. GAO’s analysis of Navy maintenance data shows that between fiscal year 2008 and 2018, attack submarines have incurred 10,363 days of idle time and maintenance delays as a result of delays in getting into and out of the shipyards. For example, the Navy originally scheduled the USS Boise to enter a shipyard for an extended
maintenance period in 2013 but, due to heavy shipyard workload, the Navy delayed the start of the maintenance period. In June 2016, the USS Boise could no longer conduct normal operations and the boat has remained idle, pierside for over two years since then waiting to enter a shipyard . GAO estimated that since fiscal year 2008 the Navy has spent more than $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2018 constant dollars to support attack submarines that provide no operational capability—those sitting idle while waiting to enter the shipyards, and those delayed in completing their maintenance at the shipyards.

The Navy has started to address challenges related to workforce shortages and facilities needs at the public shipyards. However, it has not effectively allocated maintenance periods among public shipyards and private shipyards that may also be available to help minimize attack submarine idle time. GAO’s analysis found that while the public shipyards have operated above capacity for the past several years, attack submarine maintenance delays are getting longer and idle time is increasing. The Navy may have options to mitigate this idle time and maintenance delays by leveraging private shipyard capacity for repair work. But the Navy has not completed a comprehensive business case analysis as recommended by Department of Defense guidelines to inform maintenance workload allocation across public and private shipyards. Navy leadership has acknowledged that they need to be more proactive in leveraging potential private shipyard repair capacity. Without addressing this challenge, the Navy risks continued expenditure of operating and support funding to crew, maintain, and support attack submarines that provide no operational capability because they are delayed in getting into and out of maintenance.

  • Curtis Conway

    “But the Navy has not completed a comprehensive business case analysis as recommended by Department of Defense guidelines to inform maintenance workload allocation across public and private shipyards.” . . . now you are eating your young for lack of paperwork. Get private yards qualified to do the maintenance, and get the boats moving into the yards as slots become open.

    • Michael Broughton

      “Get the private yards qualified” you say? Who built them? Who maintained them until some bureaucrat decided that to keep the public yards viable we needed them to do 90% of the repair work which we all knew they couldn’t do? And now…Virginia Class ramp up and upcoming Columbia Class acquisitions may just preclude available private resources and then will come maintenance and repair, overhauls and upgrades TO the Virginia Class and retirements of the remaining 688I Class as well as needed work and overhaul of Ohio Class. Along with our failure to plan we have planned to fail. Maybe Big Navy has had the incorrect leadership and oversight for at least the last generation, maybe two. Simple solution: Time. Hard Solution: Time.

  • RunningBear

    National Strategic/ Tactical Resources have never been discussed in a boardroom. Our 3% per quarter yuppies have not had this included in their business classes. Aside from private business, apparently our military managers have failed to address these concepts with our politicians, “Maybe” Ike was right! The political “benefits” of closing a time tested naval shipyard because the wrong political party is in office is coming to light.

    Simply, we need more qualified shipyards; this could take ten years to build the resources of skillsets, management and vendor supplies . Perhaps drafting all military to spend their first ten years (Reserves??) after completing their service contracts in a industry competitive federal work program of maintenance and management, (not WPA). This would build on their military training and experience and provide them with credentials for their work resumes??
    Fly Navy

  • thebard3

    This is shocking to me. We are trying to expand the fleet, while an existing unit sits non-operational for years for maintenance? Now we expect Burkes and Ticos to last for 45 years. How much of that time will be spent in similar fashion? Maybe this explains some of the maintenance issues with USS Eisenhower.

  • Stephen

    As difficult as this sounds; we need more Public Shipyards. Closing to save pennies has had big dollar impact…