Home » Aviation » GAO: Navy Surface, Sub Repair Backlog Grew in 2018; 3 Attack Boats Now Not Certified to Dive

GAO: Navy Surface, Sub Repair Backlog Grew in 2018; 3 Attack Boats Now Not Certified to Dive

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) prepares to pull into Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. in 2017. US Navy Photo

CAPITOL HILL – Maintenance backlogs continue to plague the Navy’s surface ship and attack submarine readiness, with the service losing the equivalent of 17 ships for operational tasking this year due to delays in getting repairs, according to an analysis from the Government Accountability Office.

“For fiscal years 2012-2018, our analysis for key portions of the Navy fleet shows that 30 percent of Navy maintenance was completed on time, leading to more than 27,000 days in which ships were delayed and unavailable for training and operations,” reads the report presented to a joint Navy and Marine Corps hearing before the Senate Armed Services subcommittees on seapower and readiness.

GAO Graphic

According to the figures, the trend of attack boats and surface ships not completing maintenance on time has been on the rise, with 4,250 surface ship and about 1,500 attack boat days lost to maintenance delays across the Navy’s four public yards and the private yards.

The new assessment follows a November report in which the GAO found the Navy lost at least 1,891 operational days in its attack submarine fleet and cost the Navy about $1.5 billion to support boats unable to deploy.

In a response to questions from to Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran said that lack of public yard capacity was largely to blame for the delays and that the expansion of nuclear submarine work to private yards would begin to ease the pressure.

“It’s the age-old problem,” he said.
“We had aging [nuclear ballistic missile submarines], which take priority in the public yards to fix because of the national priority of strategic deterrence. The next in the order of priority is carriers which – as we’ve all testified to in the last couple of years – have been ridden very hard, high op-tempo, extended periods because of discovery work and additional maintenance that we weren’t anticipating. And last and standing in line to get to those availabilities in the public yards is our SSNs. We have been putting them in private yards to level-load and get submarines that need to be in dry dock in dry dock sooner.”

USS Boise (SSN-764) returns to its homeport of Norfolk in 2010. US Navy Photo

In the most extreme example of how the delays have affected the fleet, three Los Angeles-class attack boats – USS Boise (SSN-764), USS San Juan (SSN 751) and USS Charlotte (SSN-766) – have had their certifications to dive lapse as they waited pier-side for repairs.

“To find out that we have three attack submarines that aren’t even able to get into drydock seems to me something that ought to be shared with the American public and they ought to understand how serious this problem really is,” Rounds said.
“If it’s a matter of resources, and you’re not here in a public testimony to tell us about the impacts of not having the additional resources necessary to keep these critical pieces in the defense of our countries operational, how in the world can we ever go to what we need in a 355-ship Navy and support them if we’re not going to be able to share with the American public how critical it is to maintain the defense posture that we currently got?”

Moran said the three boats were slated to enter drydock early next year.

While the Navy has plans to improve throughput, the news isn’t getting better in the short term, GAO’s John Pendleton said at the hearing.

“The maintenance delays are trending upwards since we finished the study last month. That’s heading in the wrong direction,” he said. “We’re hoping that that’s reaching as bad as it’s going to get. What we recommended was that if there were opportunities in private yards [they take them], and they’re doing that. We’re following up to see how that goes over time.”

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer told the panel that the service was tackling the backlog for surface and sub maintenance using private yards and improving the efficiency of the public yards.

“Until we get our shipyards for our underwater fleet, primarily our public shipyards, increased flow and increased efficiencies for throughput, we are hurting ourselves,” he told the panel.
“We are setting there taking an industrial flow overview in how we’re going to rebuild these. The fact of the matter is the science of industrial flow has progressed tremendously since we last touched these shipyards. We’re going to modernize them.”

The Navy is set to spend $21 billion over the next 20 years on a public shipyard modernization plan to optimize and modernize the service’s four public yards – some of which are more than 100 years old.

Naval Sea Systems Command has so far given one SSN maintenance availability, USS Montpelier (SSN-765), to General Dynamics Electric Boat, while Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding has been contracted to perform the availabilities for USS Helena (SSN-725), USS Columbus (SSN-762) and USS Boise (SSN-764).

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Elizabeth River during the ship’s transit to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. in 2017. US Navy Photo

“We are exercising the private yard option. I’ve learned in my life that managing expectations is probably the best way to go,” Spencer told the panel.
“We’re learning that right now. Repair is a different exercise than build.”

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    What is that ship in the background?

    • Ed L

      Looks like LPD-17 or 19? If it was the old Shreveport LPD-12 I would recognize her in a heartbeat

      • PolicyWonk

        I vote LPD-17 class: the superstructure says it all.

        • Pat Patterson

          It’s the San Antonio, LPD-17.

    • Andy Ferguson

      Well, if it’s Norfolk, I’d say look up who’s building ships there. Looks like a new build, and it shouldn’t be difficult to suss out what she is. 😉

      • Ed L

        I took my desktop to 300 percent and that hull number is “17”

      • John

        What ship class is that? What classes are built at HII? Where is the HII yard relative to NNSY? Hint – they don’t build that ship class there, the newcon yard is nowhere near the navy yard, and HII uses graving docks, not floating dry docks.

        That’s a LPD-17 class in one of the private yards for a regular drydocking avail.

        • Andy Ferguson

          Did I say I cared?

    • gonavy81

      LPD in BAE Norfolk Ship Repair – Titan dock.

  • East Bound & Down

    Yup. As with Post WW 1, Post WW, 2 Post Viet Nam and Post Cold War, every time a “war” ended the military was put on the chopping block. Closing Charleston was a really great idea! Charleston worked on nuke subs and surface ships. My last ship went through a good DPRAV there! Thanks BRAC and Prez Clinton!

    • muzzleloader

      Bill Clinton wiped out more strategic assets than the Soviets ever dreamed of doing.

      • RobM1981

        That was hilarious…

      • Duane

        Not really. The military drawdown started in 1991 right after Desert Storm and the breakup of the Soviet Union – and it is Congress that sets budgets and appropriations, not POTUS. The drawdown continued throughout the 1990s under both Democrat and GOP Congresses, and even continued (as far as the Navy is concerned) under Bush 43. The US Navy reached the nadir of the fleet by 2009 when Obama took office, and continued floundering around several more years as both parties came up with the stupid sequester law that is still in effect until FY2021.

        The Obama administration inherited a 268 ship fleet, and later proposed a 308 ship fleet, but with all the spending on the middle east wars, Congress (again under both parties) failed to fund any growth in the fleet all the way up through the end of the Obama admin. We are now up to, last I heard, 282 ships, still a long ways below the Obama admin proposed fleet size. let alone 355 ships per current law.

        • bob

          The Congress really loved the “peace dividend” post Cold War. And I do think that we tended to develop a blind spot in the years that followed over Russia’s future plans.

          Intelligence completely failed to note the rise of Russian nationalism, with Putin as it’s public face. It was pretty clear from his speeches he only viewed the end of the Cold War as a brief pause to recover the economy and rearm, and he wanted to reassert Russian dominance in what he considered Russia’s traditional sphere of influence.

          I think a limited draw down was probably fiscally prudent, but had we noticed the domestic mood in Russia and the public position of it’s leadership, we shouldn’t have drawn down to the levels we did, or recall forces in Western Europe to the degree we have.

          Now we are in a race that we really don’t have the time or the funds for. And a race we are compelled to be in if the United States wishes to have any standing in the world.

          Going to get sporty and very expensive around here soon.

      • PolicyWonk

        Do you mean by following the military draw-down plan left behind by G H W Bush and Colin Powell?


    • Duane

      The cuts occurred at the end of the Bush 41 admin too, and the Navy continued its degradation under Bush 43.

      The reality is that presidents don’t set budgets – Congress does that. And this occurred under both GOP and Democrat-controlled Congresses from 1991 through 2014. “Sequester” was a bipartisan effort that hamstrung our military. And the recent defense spending increases in FY-2018 and FY-2019 were also bipartisan deals that passed by overwhelming veto proof majorities.

      • East Bound & Down

        The budget request is developed by the White House with input from the various departments affected by federal funding and sent to the congress. Congress can either blanket approve the President’s requested budget or change it as congress sees fit.

        • Duane

          And Congress always ignores the administration requests. Congress never, ever, never not ever “blanket approves” any budget request from any administration. Congress is very jealous of its powers under the Constitution, particularly when it comes to appropriating funds.

          You need to bone up on how Congress works. The SASC and HASC as well as the relevant subcommittees of the appropriations committees have very large staffs of analysts who work both with the services, and with other Congressional staffs such as Congressional Research Service, and work with various interest groups and of course Members with significant defense assets within their jurisdictions to assemble their own take on on both the NDAA bills and the appropriations bills.

          All POTUS can do is ask, but the actual bills produced never match what any POTUS asks for.

          The only function of a POTUS proposed budget, NDAA, and appropriations bills is just to chime in and play “me too” with all the other experts and stakeholders who really run the process.

          It certainly doesn’t help when POTUS changes his mind every other week about his proposed top line defense budget. It just makes it that much easier to laugh him off and do their own thing.

          • East Bound & Down

            Thank you ever so much for educating such an insignificant, ill-educated member of the masses as I!

  • Sir Bateman

    The “lack of public yard capacity” is an absolute unmitigated disgrace considering BRAC shuttered 4 public shipyards as recently as the mid ’90s, 2 of which were nuclear-capable. Heck as recently as ’05 BRAC even recommended Portsmouth for closure. Makes you wonder, who is making these decisions and how do they come to them; do they just randomly pick the names of installations out of a hat, with little thought given to how these closures will affect military readiness?

    Can somebody please explain to me why both Charleston and Mare Island Shipyards were closed, and Portsmouth was recommended for closure, when the USN lacks public shipyard capacity?

    • Chesapeakeguy

      The BRAC ‘processes’ were politically based and engineered just like most things are.

    • Forkcat L35

      I used to work at Mare Island, this yard used to support the fleet in San Diego, now from what I understand, they have to send Tiger teams from Puget.

      • RobM1981

        So what’s the big deal? It’s only the other end of the nation, right…?

        Yeah, closing an asset in San Francisco was madness right from the start. Down-scope it, sure, but close the maintenance capabilities? That never made sense to me.

        • John

          Yes, SF bay is a strategic location, however with the political climate and cost in CA, and especially that area I’m fankly amazed that we stayed as long as we did. MINY had nuc capabilities, but limitted water depth, shallow docks and was not all that useful for modern boats. Hunter’s point would have better IMHO from an capability perspective, but it was closed long before.

          Also look at where home ports are. Nothing home ported anywhere near MINY, so boats would have to either PCS (expensive and distruptive) to and from that area or be TDY far from their families which is even more distruptive. NNSY, PSNS and PHNS are all fairly close to the homeport of the supported units, and even though PNS is not exactly next door to Groton, it’s not that far.

          • RobM1981

            All true, but it was all a cascade. One event happened after the next until, indeed, MINY was essentially an albatross. Unsurpassed location, though.

        • Ed L

          Politicans wanted to take advantage of the real estate market.

      • John

        San Diego is supported by a det from PNS. PSNS supports carrier maintenance in San Diego but does not typically have any work on the submarines there.

      • Duane

        MINSY stopped servicing nuke submarines long ago, long before BRAC. The last nuke sub was constructed at MINSY in 1970. When I attended US Navy Nuclear Power School at Mare Island Naval Base in 1973, the shipyard was already a ghost of its former self, and most of the buildings at MINB were all WW Two era if not older, and poorly maintained.

        West coast based nuke boats were serviced in either PSNY in Bremerton or on Gulf or Atlantic coast yards.

        My boat, the Gurnard, was built at MINSY and delivered in 1967, but its major overhauls in the 1970s were done at PSNY. We also were considered for our midlife refueling nuke overhaul at the private yard in Pascagoula, but at the last moment we got shifted over to PSNY in 1977-78.

        • Sir Bateman

          Pascagoula, Ingalls I presume?

          Didn’t Ingalls dismantle/abandon their nuclear capability in the early ’80s?

          • Duane

            Yeah – the Pascagoula yard stopped building and servicing nuclear boats back around then … but the company got bought up and became part of what is now Huntington Ingalls which builds nuke CVNs and Virginia SSNs today at their yard in Newport News, VA. I don’t believe any of that nuke work is done in Pascagoula any more.

          • John

            No, no nuc work at Ingalls. I don’t think they do much in the way of maintenance there either now but I could be wrong.

        • Forkcat L35

          You are correct in that MINS stopped building subs, but you are sadly informed in relation to nuclear work. I can’t go into exactly what I used to do there, which was directly related to nuclear power, but we did refueling and (defueling) of 637 class subs and earlier class subs. And as a matter of fact, we refueled the first 688 and defueled and decommissioned the first 688, which happened to be SSN-689. We also supported the nuclear cruisers and CVN’s based in Alameda and also San Diego. Also that plug section that was inserted in SSN-683 was manufactured at MINS, along with supporting the SSN-687, SSN-575, SSN-587 (special project boats)

    • Duane

      The problem is not lack of public yards .. it is lack of total yard capacity. Private yards are just as capable as public yards, and during the huge Cold War buildup of the nuclear sub fleet the private yards played a key role in building and maintaining the boats.

      The screwup is in failing to contract for the required private yard capacity to provide an orderly upkeep of the fleet.

      • Centaurus

        And maintenance personnel, and spares, tooling and training, an adequate base of people with the knowledge from retiring journeymen. The list continues.

      • gonavy81

        It’s also a lack of certified dry docks for nuclear powered ships.

        • Duane

          The dry docks don’t get “nuclear certified”. The shipyard itself is what gets certified to do the work. Even a floating drydock will do – we used them a lot for our SSNs back in the 1970s, typically on the shorter availabilities.

          The certification of a yard to service nukes has little to do with any physical facilities but rather proving that the yard management has fully implemented nuclear quality assurance programs and processes, including training and testing, along with appropriate SubSafe quality assurance systems and processes.

          • John

            You are both right. The yard itself does require special certification to perform nuc work, and there is another process for subsafe certification that is also needed.

            However, there is also a drydock certification for nuclear vessels. This involves structural intergrity, services, operating procedures, etc. There’s specific requirements for services that must be met to safety dock a nuc boat – things like shore power redundancy and cooling water supplies.

    • gonavy81

      The BRAC of naval shipyards also had a tremendous impact on hiring. Because of retreat rights in the associated RIFs, we didn’t start hiring the ‘next generation’ for well over a decade. There was a well-known ‘age notch’ in the shipyards which was tracked at NAVSEA 04 – I came into the business in ’93 right when Charleston and Mare Island were closing.
      And as expected, significant numbers of the core workforce have retired and the average years of experience in the yards dropped sharply, with the expected results which we are seeing now.
      It takes years to train / gain experience with most of these skill sets.

    • John

      It’s not just drydocks, but usable drydocks. MINY looks to only have one dock that would fit a current submarine. Not sure sure about Charleston, but likely similiar. One of the reasons PNS was looked at for closure was that 2 of their 3 docks are pretty close to unusable with modern boats. PSNS for instance has 6 dry docks, but of those only 3 are really that useful. of the other 3, 1 is only usable for boats that being scraped and only after they’ve been essentially gutted; 1 will fit 688’s with considerable difficulty and is nearly impossible to fit a 21/774 in, and the 3rd will fit all classes but with considerable difficulty.

      So what this means is that even if we had the yard still it may or may not have helped anything.

      • Sir Bateman

        That’s the sort of informative and specific info I was looking for, thanks.

        During the Cold War when the USN had well over a hundred SSNs and SSBNs in commission how did the USN go about keeping all of them certified and in working order? Was it as Duane commented they had private yards handling much of the maintenance?

        • John

          I have not really looked into the source documents from that period, but from what I understand there’s a number of factors.

          -The boats were smaller. Other than the early SSNs everything through the 688/726 class was a 31’7″ hull diameter, and even the boomers were only 10,000 tons or so. Compare this to 32 ft diamter for 688, 33′ for 774, 40 ft for 21 and 42 ft for 726 class, with the current SSNs being fairly close in size to older boomer and far bigger than older fast boats. Bigger boat means few docks they can fit in, and generally a larger volume of maintenance.

          -Newer boats. Most of those 100+ hulls were built in the 60’s to 70’s – so at the end of the cold war the oldest boats were ~25 years old and the average age was probably around 10-15 years. Boats were also retired at the 25-30 year point. Compare to the current fleet where most boats are 80’s vintage, and we’re trying to stretch them out to 40+ years in service. Workload dratically increases with age, especially when the design lifetime was only 25-30 years.

          -Safety/Env regs. Much more regulation we have to deal with now, which makes things slower and harder. Not my place to say if that’s right or wrong, but it carries a real cost in money, infastructure and time.

          -Complexity. Modern boats are far more complex systems than the cold war era ships. More electronics, more noise control stuff, etc etc. All of this means more to maintain, and also more work to do basic maintenance. If you put a sound isolation coating on the hull for instance, in order to do a structural inspection you’re going to have to remove it, do the inspection/repairs and then reapply, which is considerably harder than just blasting the paint off plain steel and repainting.

          • Sir Bateman

            Thanks, you really went above and beyond. I appreciate the education.

          • Duane

            I take issue with a couple of things you wrote.

            Drydock size – that’s really not much of an issue. Drydocks are not built to fit submarines, but rather most are built to fit large surface ships which are far larger than even our largest submarines today. When you actually look at a nuke sub sitting up on blocks in a drydock, they look pretty small.

            Perhaps the old floating drydocks that the Navy used up through the Cold War might be a bit small for the Ohio class boats of today (due to length of the hull), but the concrete drydocks we used at PSNSY made my 637 class boat look pretty small. They were built to dock aircraft carriers back in World War Two and earlier. Ditto with the private yards like Pascagoula and Newport News.

            The hull diameter really hasn’t grown much at all, but length is definitely longer in today’s Virginia class boats. The Gurnard on which I served, a 637 class boat, had a beam of just under 32 feet and a length of 292 feet … the Virginias today have a beam of 34 feet. But they’re 115 feet longer, longer still for the Block Vs, but still much less than for most larger surface warships.

            Complexity – the newest boats are actually less complex in many ways than the old Cold War era boats. Modern electronics are far more robust, redundant, and generally smaller in form factor than the old vacuum tube and transistor and mag amp electronics of the 1960s era. The reactor plants are little changed but for the I&C electronics and the design of the reactor core – steam plants are still steam plants. Torpedo tubes are still torpedo tubes. Modern sensors are actually much less complex – a photonics mast as used in the newer Virginias and the Colombia class boomers is actually a much simpler mechanism to use and maintain than an optical periscope, and provides for sensor readouts wherever it makes sense to place them and not just at a single location on the periscope stand of the old boats.

            What makes our newer SSNs far longer is adding VLS tubes for land attack. The VPM in the Block V is about 77 feet long, and is in addition to length to carry the forward VLS tubes. Of course, the VLS systems are necessary only when trying to make attack submarines into land bombardment machines. None of that is necessary for SSNs to conduct their traditional roles of ISR and anti-shipping, for which horizontal torpedo tubes are more than sufficient. One can even do a limited amount of land attack with torpedo tubes – the Tomahawk was deployed from the old 637 class, along with Harpoons for SuW.

          • John

            Complexity from manufacture, operations & maintenance perspectives are all different. Yes, modern electonics are very different than older systems, but there’s also far more of them and far more interconnections/networking.

            Yes, HM&E systems are similiar, but even then there’s significantly more stuff and more complex features and stuff you have to deal with.

            VLS does not add length in the 688/774 boats. The VPM does, but the bow mounted tubes do not, they fit in the existing bow ballast tank space. Yes, you add more stuff, more electronics, etc, but no major structural changes and it actually help with ballasting & trim.

        • Pat Patterson

          We used to have sub tenders to do repairs and maintenance.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    The hits just keep on coming…

  • Pete Novick

    In my view, the CNO and the rest of the Navy’s uniformed leadership need to acknowledge that they dug this foxhole, and now they must defend it.

    Years of prioritizing acquisitions, at the expense of fleet maintenance, has taken its toll.

    There are only five budget buckets: R&D, acquisition, personnel, O&M,N and MILCON and additions to one must come from subtractions from one or more of the others.

    This has not changed in a generation. As CHENG on a forward-deployed DDG in the mid-1980’s our ship got head of the line privileges for maintenance dollars, and NMPC manned us at 105% of NMP. I practically had contact reliefs for firemen with zero gaps in a critical NEC’s.

    It’s not like that anymore, right?

    • Bubblehead

      They were forced to dig this foxhole because they weren’t provided a budget to maintain ships. Something had to give. Don’t blame the USN, they did the best with what little they were provided. The problems with readiness across all branches was not the military’s doing, but the corrupt and inept politicians in DC.

      The military was very clear to Congress & the POTUS of what would happen if sequestration was passed. Those hearings were not behind closed doors and were openly televised. In addition the military repeatedly warned DC during sequestration of what was happening. Again DC turned a blind eye.

      To make matters worse we were fighting 2 wars. So in addition to not having funds to maintain ships, jets & ground vehicles; the military was being used at a far greater tempo than usual.

      This isn’t rocket science. Far greater op tempo, severe budget cuts, maintenance being deferred = a disaster.

      The military was also very clear when Trump became POTUS; and POTUS insisted on a bigger budget, with readiness the #1 priority, that it would take years to catch up. Its only been 2 years and will take several more at least.

      • thebard3

        With the new majority in the house, I’m sure their spending priorities will not align exactly with the previous goals. I don’t see this issue being resolved in the near future.

        • PolicyWonk

          You’re probably right. But lets be clear, even Mr. Trump thinks acquisition costs at the DoD are nuts, and his administration had already told the DoD to expect less, and that was well before the democrats took the HoR in a landslide.

          Also note, the GOP “tax reform” didn’t help, and the boost its given the economy (due to federal spending that would embarrass a drunken Kennedy!) will eventually wear off, causing the debt and deficits to skyrocket, while the ultra wealthy get a massive new set of tax breaks at the expense of US economic security. Hence, the economic outlook isn’t all that good, even to most conservative economists.

        • Duane

          It will be resolved as usual. Nothing can pass the Senate without Democrat votes, and nothing can pass Congress without both Senate and House concurring. Compromise is how stuff always gets done, that never changes.

          • Ctrot

            True, but most compromises with democrats concerning the military go something like this: “Yes we will support the one dollar of military spending you want if you give us the two more dollars of welfare state spending we want.”

          • Duane

            No – that is NOT how it actually works, or has been working, for many years now.

            Since 2011, it has always started with a negotiation on the BCA caps, which are – until 2021 – set by law. Both parties absolutely hate the sequester and the BCA caps, so that gets done quickly to set overall Federal discretionary spending. It has been as one for one deal ever since the BCA caps were first overridden, starting in the mid-2010s.

            Then with that settled, Congress works on defense first, since it is the largest item in the discretionary budget, and sets top line spending and how the spending gets distributed in the NDAA bill, which again is a compromise not only between Republican and Democrat but between House and Senate and their respective defense committees. Then after the NDAA is approved, a whole nother round of compromise takes place within the two appropriations committees. That’s why this process usually takes the better part of a year, if not significantly longer, to complete.

      • PolicyWonk

        Well, there are other factors involved here, and in all fairness, the USN dug some of the hole its now sitting in. When the notion of the sequester came up, the USN and other service branches gambled that it would never happen – and lost.

        They then bet on it not lasting, and opted to forego maintenance, readiness, and training in favor of keeping a larger force size – and lost (well, we all lost, but you know what I mean).

        When the British (for example) got hit with reduced budgets, they usually opt for shrinking fleet/force size, in favor on maintaining readiness, training and maintenance of the remaining forces (they’ve now cut further than they should’ve, and have carriers that will ultimately rely on other nations escorts, etc.).

        But everything suffered as a result of poor management/employment of the US military w/r/t the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns at the hands of a misguided federal government. For example, when Obama took office, he inherited a military at its lowest state of readiness since Vietnam AND the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Regardless of party affiliation, whoever was sitting in the big chair was gong to have a difficult time restoring the military to its former glory, and we’re still living with the consequences of all that.

        Obama’s administration did start up a substantial increase in ship building, but the value of that was diminished (in part) by the idiotic/incompetent PEO LCS, who wasted $36B on commercial-grade ferry/yacht conversions that after 18 years since the first commissioning, have only conducted a mere 3 (count ’em!) “presence missions”, while they all spent 2018 welded to the piers in San Diego and Mayport (there are few arguments on this forum about Ray Mabus, who is universally despised).

        DoD acquisition represents a severe problem for US national defense due to the appalling waste and redundancy, long obsolete rules/regulations, and processes designed to ensure the US taxpayers gets the lousiest deal for defense dollar spent in the Wester World (and arguably, the Easter half as well). Fixing DoD acquisition should be a huge priority because it has a direct impact on the health of our military, which could be sustained at the 355 ship level (for the USN, for example), and sustain it, for less than we’re spending now.

        Throwing money at the military solves little, and only perpetuates the problem. The best thing to do would be to restore full funding to the DoD, in return for its agreeing to have its acquisition programs put under receivership, and sticking to the judgements of the receiver.

        • Donald Carey

          You left out all the time and money wasted on social engineering and useless uniform changes – cammo’s for sailors? SMH

          • PolicyWonk

            The uniform changes were worse than merely getting cammo’s for sailors: some of them were not made of flame resistant (they were in fact, flame accelerants) materials.

            Some of the social engineering stuff was over the top – but that was a comparatively small problem, given the rest.

          • Donald Carey

            Add up all the man hours used “reeducating” our sailors and marines to “upgrade” their social awareness and tell me how many millions of dollars were “invested”…

      • Duane

        Trump has nothing to do with DOD budgets … it is Congress that decides all spending bills, and Congress doesn’t listen to POTUS, regardless of who POTUS is, but especially Congress doesn’t listen to Trump, for the obvious reasons (for one, Trump changes his mind on his own budget proposals every other week).

        The big increases in DOD funding were approved by Congress in 2017 for the FY-2018 and FY-2019 NDAAs and corresponding appropriations laws. These were all passed with overwhelming bipartisan support with veto proof majorities, so obviously the Democrats participated along with Republicans .,. and at top line numbers significantly higher than Trump proposed in both fiscal years.

        There will be a difference in priority under the Democrats with their new House majority .. but the areas that incoming HASC Chair Smith has stated need to be adjusted have nothing to do with naval fleet maintenance. Rep. Smith wants to reduce spending on nuclear recapitalization, specifically new land based ICBMs, and reduced emphasis on new tactical and low yield nukes. None of that affects the ship or aircraft maintenance and new ship and aircraft production numbers.

        Also, whatever passes the House has to pass the Senate too, so there naturally will be the usual compromises between Senate and House on both the NDAA and the appropriations bills.

        • Pat Patterson

          And Smith’s ideas will further degrade our nuclear capability. The Minuteman III’s are 48/year old technology while the Russians and Chinese are building dozens of up to date ICBMs.

      • Pat Patterson

        All these short term resolutions do is continuously waste more Navy dollars!

  • disqus_CbFK3MPhJu

    oh no, the cert has expired, what will we ever do?

    • thebard3

      What we will ever do is not to deploy them until they are recertified.

  • thebard3

    We have continued to kick the can down the road until we got to the end of the road.

  • RobM1981

    Yeah, you can have a 1,000 hull navy. If you can’t deploy your assets, however, they’re not really assets…

    • Centaurus

      If you cannot repair or upgrade those assets, they’re just hulls. What good are 100 subs if you can’t maintain 50 ?

  • Lepke Buchalter

    Maybe closing Mare Island wasn’t such a good idea. As many said at the time.

    • Centaurus

      And why did we shut down Hunters Point Shipyard ?

      • honcho13

        Back in 1979-80, I was newly reported to the Coral Sea in Alameda. (I was a “young” MMC.) The ship was going thru a mini-SLEP pierside. The MPA put me in charge of all the pumps, valves, etc. we were sending over for overhaul at Hunters Point. By then, the shipyard was being completely run by civilians. My job was to bird-dog the civilian contractors (Palau?) to make sure the machinings, bluings, hydrostatic tests, etc. were being done according to the repair package. Most of the time they were not! I had to fight with these contractors to get almost every job done correctly. It was frustrating at best!!! And, I remember too how rundown Hunter’s Point had become – it was nasty! And I was not surprised when it was decided to close it a few years later. As I remember THE ONLY building that was in decent shape was “Dago Mary’s” (restaurant/bar) at the Main Gate – where all the contractor reps spent most of the day! Least I knew where to find them! The Navy did the right thing closing Hunters!!! Have a great Navy day! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

    • Duane

      The US cut defense spending in half with the close of the Cold War, as did everybody else in NATO and the former Soviet states. Just as the US massively cut defense spending after the end of WW Two (by about 90%, rather than just by half).

  • Refguy

    Navy, Marine and USAF aviation units aren’t any better off.

  • Ed L

    A short term fix would be bring back the IMRF and SIMA which both stood for intermediate ship maintenance/repair facilities And build some repair ships that can be tether to floating dry docks to help out with those vessels that are not Aircraft Carriers.

    • John

      Woln’t help any with depot level availabilities. Bringing in floating drydocks to the public yards might help with dock availability, but doesn’t help with resources and shop/equipment availability, and it’s not easy to just increase those. Long term fix is infastructure improvments in the yards combined with newer lower maintenance boats coming online but neither of those are easy.

      • Ed L

        And more shipyards scattered up and down all three coasts?

        • gonavy81

          Take 20 years to get up and running….

  • John

    Important to remember here that long term infastructure planning is based on predicted fleet size and workload, both of which change frequently. In the 90’s when we were cutting back and the predicted long term fleet size was low it made sense to reduce infastructure. It’s only fairly recently that we’ve been growing the fleet, which has in turn increased workloads.

    The service life of the boats has also been stretched by attempting to increase number, which in turn buys in significant unexpected workload. Add in unexpected problems/maintenance growth and it’s not hard to see where an executable plan could become problematic.

    Rememember too that the long term workload is decreasing due to the end of refuelings, or at least the anticipated end. Over the past 15 years or so the last sub refueling was planned to be SSBN-743. No longer having to do that and the move to life of ship components/cores with the 774 and later significantly reduces workload per hull. Recently we’ve brought back 688 refuelings so that has changed some – again fallout from increasing the lifespan to increase fleet size.

  • surveyor47

    No Commercial US Merchant Marine = Shipbuilding Base Supported Entirely By Navy and MSC

    For decades the US Navy has considered the US Merchant Marine a competitor for funding- something it could not control- and therefore a defacto adversary. That position is as absurd as the US Air Force opposing US Airlines and the results equally predictable.

    As far back as the Reagan Administration, there was an interest in eliminating the US Merchant Marine because it would allow the Navy to eliminate convoy escorts and ASW assets, which could otherwise be redirected toward Power Projection. We were told, “If there were ever a major war, all of you guys will be dead within 2 weeks- so what’s the point”? There were even USNI articles promoting “New & Innovative Uses for US Merchant Ships”- such as cruise missile attractant to be placed between Soviet and American combatants and equipped with signature enhancers. People who wrote articles like that were logistically illiterate.

    It is in the long term interest of the US Navy to promote a viable US Maritime Policy, which consequently results in increased shipbuilding and maintenance capacity.

  • BigTerj216

    I’m in they shipyards right now going through a CNO availability. It’s the firm fixed price contract we run that’s killing timelines, not anything else. The capability and manpower are there to get us out on time, but the pure bureaucracy of the current maintenance contract style adds excessive delays to new work, which is inevitable once you start peeling back the onion or restoring the ship at the end. Bring back MSMO or something like it so we can get work done immediately, not 2-4 weeks later after the bean-counters get a hack at it. God forbid something goes to upward obligations, then forget about it ever happening.

  • Jack___Hole

    Fire the Secretary of the Navy.

    • wilkinak

      Better yet, fire the last 5 SecNavs. The current guy is stuck dealing with the consequences of his predecessors. Spencer isn’t the one who closed yards in the past.

  • Leatherstocking

    70% of US shipyard capacity is occupied by DoD/Navy. Our fleet is aging, at-sea tempo has been relatively high for several years, maintenance has been often deferred so more days are needed at each overhaul. We lack capacity for wartime operations or the increase in fleet size projected over the next 20 years.

  • Tony Carlisle

    Please, do not take this the wrong way. WHO CARES?
    As long as the US NAVY admirals and senior enlisted ( the so called leadership) DO NOT CARE, and they demonstrate it everyday, by not holding anyone accountable. Slap on the wrist….As long as the people in charge show concerns only for protecting their own rice bowls, with mismanagement, NO accountability, combined with fraud, theft and loyalty to their own, the US Navy will continue to flat spin out of control.
    Too many admirals and senior enlisted are out of touch with sea/ air forces. Do you really need over 320 admirals ? How about senior enlisted, most senior command MCs have not served at sea in 8-10 years. The same for senior Officers. What the heck, how can they relate to the true issues with young sailors and sea problems? Is it necessary to have sailors serve over 32 yrs? Is it really needed, NO.
    No one is that important.
    Get personnel into leadership roles who are not afraid to lead, yes Officers and CPOs. Is it evident something is BROKEN.