A review conducted by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that the US Navy develop a precise cost estimate for the second Ford-class ship USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).
GAO reviewed the second Ford-class aircraft carrier being currently developed for the US Navy, and found that the navy is underestimating the cost of the vessel's development, potentially by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The agency previously found that the first ship of the class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) cost over $2bn more than estimated.
The US Navy aims to develop its fleet of Ford-class aircraft carriers at a reduced cost, while ensuring acquisition and lifecycle costs.
CVN 78 was initially estimated to cost $12.9bn, while CVN 79 was estimated to cost $11.4bn.
The GAO findings show that the cost estimate for CVN 79 is not reliable and fails to address the lessons learned from the performance of the lead ship of the class, while the estimate for the second vessel does not demonstrate how the programme can meet its $11.4bn cost cap.
GAO claims that the US Navy has developed an estimate for CVN 79 that assumes a reduction in labour hours required to build the vessel that has never been achieved in the past 50 years of aircraft carrier construction.
Based on these results, the agency suggests the navy must develop a new, reliable cost estimate for CVN 79 that can be properly validated by cost reviews, as well as obtain an independent cost estimate before requesting funding for future vessels.
Image: The US Navy’s first Ford-Class aircraft carrier. Photo: courtesy of US Navy / www.gao.gov.