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GAO Report on Navy, Marine Corps Aviation and Ship Readiness

The following is the Dec. 12, 2018 written testimony of the Government Accountability Office on Navy ship readiness and Navy and Marine Corps aviation readiness.

From the Report

The Navy has taken steps to address training shortfalls in the surface fleet, but faces persistent maintenance and personnel challenges as it seeks to rebuild ship and submarine readiness. While the Navy has corrective actions underway, they will take years to implement. Following ship collisions in 2017, the Navy has taken steps to ensure its crews are trained to standards prior to deployment and made significant progress in those efforts. However, the Navy has struggled to complete ship maintenance—with only 30 percent of maintenance completed on time since fiscal year 2012—leading to thousands of days that ships were unavailable for training and operations (see figure). Additionally, manning shortfalls and experience gaps continue to contribute to high sailor workload and are likely to continue through at least fiscal year 2021. The Navy has developed a plan to improve shipyards and is re-examining its ship manning, among other actions; however, these positive steps have not yet fully addressed GAO’s recommendations. Looking to the future, the Navy has indicated that it wants to grow its fleet to meet demands. However, the costs of such growth are not yet known and would likely require resourcing well above currently planned levels.

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Navy and Marine Corps aircraft availability has been limited due to numerous challenges (see figure). Specifically, the seven aircraft GAO reviewed have generally experienced decreasing availability since fiscal year 2011 and did not meet availability goals in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The F-35—the future of naval aviation—also has not met availability goals due to part shortages and poor sustainment planning. In September 2018, the Department of Defense established aggressive targets for aircraft availability. While the Navy and Marine Corps are taking actions to improve aircraft availability, including addressing GAO’s recommendations, aviation readiness will take many years to recover.

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