The crew of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) prepares to moor pierside at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 24, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Khor) The Navy’s four public shipyards, including Pearl Harbor, whose oldest dry dock was built in 1919, are in poor condition, contributing to inefficiency that is robbing the Navy of ship and submarine time at sea, according to a government report.
“Navy data show that the cost of backlogged restoration and maintenance projects at the shipyards has grown by 41 percent over five years, to a Navy-estimated $4.86 billion, and it will take at least 19 years through fiscal year 2036 to clear,” the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in the recent report.
The report also shows that of the four yards, which include Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington state, Pearl Harbor had the lowest maintenance work timeliness.
Between 2000 and 2016, 14 percent of that work came out on time. Put another way, 49 of 57 maintenance jobs were delayed, according to GAO, resulting in 4,128 lost operational days for nuclear-powered submarines. Submarine maintenance comprises over 90 percent of Pearl Harbor’s work.
By comparison, Puget Sound had a 29 percent on-time rating, Portsmouth 34 percent and Norfolk 45 percent.
U.S. commanders, meanwhile, are clamoring for submarine time. Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command on Oahu, in April bemoaned that the Navy is reducing its attack submarine force to 42 from 52 in the coming years.
“From a joint commander perspective, I need more submarines,” Harris told the House Armed Services Committee.
To be sure, Pearl Harbor shipyard, which also is an intermediate maintenance facility, is in a unique situation far out in the Pacific, where it is a strategic magnet for unscheduled ship and submarine repairs that throw a monkey wrench into timelines on larger depot- level submarine work. The data provided to GAO reflect the depot work.
Portsmouth, Pearl Harbor’s closest competitor, is not in a fleet concentration area and sees less emergency work.
The shipyard is Hawaii’s largest industrial employer, with a civilian workforce of nearly 5,200 and 543 Navy personnel.
“This GAO report sheds light on the challenges that have faced Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for quite some time,” U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii who is on the House Armed Services Committee, said in an email. “While all of the Navy’s shipyards require serious improvements, the challenges facing Pearl Harbor Shipyard are unique.
“Pearl Harbor’s civilian workforce is highly skilled and specialized to meet the demands of maintaining the most advanced Navy in the world,” Gabbard said. “They have completed repair and maintenance projects under challenging and unique circumstances, such as sequestration, post-9/11 operational demands, the introduction of new Virginia-class submarines, budget uncertainties, and aging infrastructure.”
She added that the Pearl Harbor workforce “will continue to overcome the challenges before them, but must have the tools and personnel necessary to do so.”Of the […]