Watchdog says Navy could end up underestimating cost and timeline of public shipyard improvements

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – A plan to enhance four public Navy shipyards is at risk of underestimating the cost and timeline of the endeavor according to a new report from a government watchdog.

At issue is the Navy’s Shipyard Optimization Plan which the Navy projects will take at least $21 billion over 20 years to implement.

The plan addresses the poor condition of infrastructure at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, as well as the three other public shipyards in Maine, Washington, and Hawaii.

Part of the plan will address dry dock deficiencies, which are critical for ship maintenance. The public shipyards are responsible for the bulk of aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance.

A report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office is faulting the Navy for not developing more detailed cost estimates, saying that the Navy “risks requesting inadequate resources to address shipyard deficiencies.”

The Navy’s plan to optimize the shipyards includes addresses critical deficiencies including the average condition rating of shipyard production shop facilities of 66, considered below and below the Navy’s standard of 80. It will also address inefficient layout that has not been updated to support nuclear-powered ships and submarines.

Of the four public shipyards, Norfolk Naval has the oldest average equipment age at 29 years, as well as the oldest time past average service life at 15.3.

The GAO is recommending the Navy enhance the reliability of the plan by developing future estimates that incorporate key assumptions, inflation, and risks, as well as determine “clear shipyard roles and responsibilities for implementing the plan.”

The Navy says more detailed estimates will come after digital models of each shipyard are created in the 2020 fiscal year that will help them “identify the most effective shipyard layouts and prioritize projects in fiscal year 2022.”

You can read the full report from the Government Accountability Office here.

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