Report says navy underestimated ship sustainment by $130bn

26 March 2020 (Last Updated March 26th, 2020 12:40)

A report from the US government watchdog has revealed that maintaining the Navy’s new ships will cost $130bn more than planned and increasing focus on sustainment early in the acquisition process could save billions.

Report says navy underestimated ship sustainment by $130bn
Sailors watch as the portside anchor of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) is lowered into a dry dock for maintenance on March 15, 2019. Credit: US Navy.

A report from the US Government watchdog has revealed that maintaining the navy’s new ships will cost $130bn more than planned and increasing focus on sustainment early in the acquisition process could save billions.

According to Government Accountability Office report, the failure of navy shipbuilding programmes to identify, assess and mitigate sustainment risks during the acquisition process would cost the US $4.2bn to correct.

The navy’s sustainment needs are reported to be not offering key data on mission-critical systems’ reliability and maintenance capability in making acquisition decisions.

The watchdog investigated every class of ships the navy recently built and identified 150 examples of systemic maintenance problems.

The report states that ‘sailors showed us things like failed engines, faulty electronics and clogged toilets’.

The navy has started making various modifications to its acquisition oversight process, such as developing sustainment programme baselines and adding a sustainment oversight review.

GAO also found that the Department of Defense is not required to offer detailed information about shipbuilding programmes’ sustainment cost growth to Congress, and does not need to provide full insight into the extent of shipbuilding programmes’ cost growth and why such growth took place.

The report also cited a problem with the Ford-class toilets. The ship’s toilet and sewage system is reported to be the same as that installed on commercial aircraft but on a much larger scale.

The system is susceptible to clogging, which needs a periodic acid flush and the report stated that this unplanned maintenance will cost around $400,000 every time.