Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.

The U.S. Navy has a maintenance problem, according to the Government Accountability Office. Lengthy and costly delays are hurting Navy readiness, with “shipyards averag[ing] 113 days late for aircraft carriers and 225 days late for submarines.”

GAO investigators found that shipyards were chronically understaffed, which was the main culprit behind “maintenance delays for aircraft carriers and submarines.”

There was also a rise in what the GAO called “unplanned work—work identified after finalizing maintenance plans—contributed to more than 4,100 days of maintenance delays.”

According to investigators, unplanned work lead the Navy to repeatedly underestimate how many workers would be needed to perform ship maintenance.  This faulty process “contributed to more than 4,000 days of maintenance delay on aircraft carriers and submarines during fiscal years 2015 through 2019.”

With fewer workers handling more tasks, overtime costs skyrocketed:

GAO’s analysis found that high overtime among certain production shops, such as painting or welding, averaged from 25 to 32 percent for fiscal years 2015 through 2019, with peak overtime as high as 45 percent. Furthermore, shipyard officials told us that production shops at all four shipyards are working beyond their capacity. Overtime at such rates has been noted as resulting in diminished productivity.

All of these problems persist despite huge Navy investments in their shipyards:

For fiscal years 2015 through 2019, the Navy spent $2.8 billion in capital investments to address shipyard performance, among other things. However, the shipyards continue to face persistent and substantial maintenance delays that hinder the readiness of aircraft carriers and submarines.

Unless the Navy gets serious about fixing its maintenance problems, the GAO says the Navy will “continue facing maintenance delays and reduced time for training and operations with its aircraft carriers and submarines.”

Image Credit: Clemens Vasters from Viersen, Germany, Germany / CC BY (