GAO Report: Naval Shipyards in Need of Improvements

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Aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman transits the Elizabeth River from its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk to Norfolk Naval Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Victoria Granado)
Aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman transits the Elizabeth River from its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk to Norfolk Naval Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Victoria Granado)

KITTERY, Maine (AP) — Results of a report underscores the reason for a series of major modernization projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard: The equipment is aging and projects are being completed late.

The General Accounting Office report finds fault with the condition of Portsmouth and three other public shipyards that overhaul and repair Navy ships.

At Portsmouth, 71% of projects are completed late, and equipment on average is 3½ years beyond the expected service life, the report said.

Shipyard officials say the on-time delivery and modernization efforts are continuing. Just last week, the shipyard broke ground on more than $80 million worth of projects, including a paint and sandblasting facility. The Navy also announced a contract for a dry dock overhaul project of nearly $158 million.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard believes things are moving in the right direction with upgrades and improved workflows, said spokesman Gary Hildreth.

“These infrastructure projects are critical to the shipyard's effort to meet mission requirements and return vessels to the fleet,” he said.

The shipyard also has hired hundreds of workers over the last six years, in line with hiring trends at all of the yards, but the report noted new workers are not as efficient as experienced workers who are retiring out of the workforce.

The report focused on the Navy’s two-decade, $21 billion plan for upgrading Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii, in addition to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The report suggests the Navy might be failing to properly estimate the cost and time necessary to complete the upgrades.

The Navy has reviewed the report, understands the concerns and is working to complete a full infrastructure survey and to create a computer model to ensure its projections are accurate, Hildreth said.

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