PORTSMOUTH, Va. – A new report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth – along with the Navy’s other three public shipyards – are in poor physical condition and are in need of immediate action to improve day-to-day operations.
Data show that the cost of backlogged restoration and maintenance projects at the shipyards has grown by 41 percent over five years to what is estimated to be $4.86 billion. This will take at least 19 years to clear.
A Navy analysis shows that the average age of shipyard capital equipment now exceeds its expected useful life. The report points to inadequate facilities and equipment that led to maintenance delays costing nearly $14,000 lost operational days for aircraft carriers and submarines.
In fiscal years 2000-2016, this lead to more than 1,200 lost operational days (days when ships were unavailable for operations) for aircraft carriers and 12,500 lost operational days for submarines. According to estimates, the Navy anticipates that it will be unable to conduct 73 of 218 maintenance periods over the next 23 fiscal years.
The GAO recommends that the Navy develop a comprehensive plan to guide shipyard capital investment, conduct regular management reviews and report to Congress on progress in addressing the shipyards’ needs to avoid risking continued deterioration.
Established in 1767, Norfolk Naval Shipyard is the Navy’s oldest shipyard. According to the report, although it is vulnerable to flooding, the shipyard’s drydocks were not designed to accommodate the threats posed by severe weather and sea level rise. In a review of its performance in fiscal years 2000-2016, the report notes that 27 of 49 maintenance availabilities were delayed, which resulted in 2,945 lost operational days for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines.
The other three public Naval shipyards are Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington; and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Click here to read the full report.