US Navy Ships Face Persistent Sustainment Issues: GAO Report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the US Navy is facing persistent issues maintaining many of its naval platforms.

The study was conducted on 151 cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, littoral combat ships, and amphibious vessels in the navy inventory.

According to the report, the analysis of key metrics showed that 10 ship classes are experiencing sustainment challenges.

The amount needed to maintain the ships has risen by $2.5 billion, but their operating hours have significantly decreased over the last decade.

Seven of the 10 classes have also experienced an increase in cost per operating hour, with America-class amphibious assault ships, Nimitz-class carriers, and Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ships the exceptions.

“GAO’s prior work shows that a number of other challenges have increased sustainment costs for ships, such as maintenance delays that have resulted in some ships deferring maintenance,” the office stated.

“Over time, this situation has resulted in worsening ship conditions and increased costs to repair and sustain ships.”

‘Cannibalization and Casualty’ Reports

The GAO report states that almost every ship class in the study has suffered an increased rate of “cannibalization” and “ship casualty.”

Cannibalization is when a ship component is removed and transferred to make another vessel operational.

Ship casualty refers to events in a ship’s lifecycle that prevent it from being operational.

Among the ships reviewed, the Freedom-class littoral combat ship and the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship have experienced the most cannibalization.

They are the two ship classes with the highest increase in “severe” casualty reports.

Additionally, GAO has found that the San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers suffered the greatest increases in maintenance delays.

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