GAO: Recovering US Navy readiness will take years

Photo: US Navy

Although the US Navy and Marine Corps are working to rebuild the readiness of their forces while growing and modernizing their aging fleet of ships and aircraft, achieving readiness recovery goals will take years. 

This is due to the fact that both services continue to be challenged to rebuild readiness amid continued operational demands, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in its new report.

According to GAO, the US Navy has taken steps to address training shortfalls in the surface fleet, but faces persistent maintenance and personnel challenges as it seeks to rebuild ship and submarine readiness. While the navy has corrective actions underway, they will take years to implement.

Following ship collisions in 2017, the navy has taken steps to ensure its crews are trained to standards prior to deployment and made significant progress in those efforts. However, it has struggled to complete ship maintenance—with only 30 percent of maintenance completed on time since fiscal year 2012. This led to thousands of days that ships were unavailable for training and operations.

In addition, manning shortfalls and experience gaps continue to contribute to high sailor workload and are likely to continue through at least fiscal year 2021. Although the navy has developed
a plan to improve shipyards and is re-examining its ship manning, these positive steps have not yet fully addressed GAO’s previous recommendations.

Looking to the future, the US Navy has indicated that it wants to grow its fleet to meet demands. However, the costs of such growth are not yet known and would likely require resourcing well above currently planned levels, as explained by GAO.

The US Navy and Marine Corps aircraft availability has been limited due to numerous challenges. Specifically, the seven aircraft GAO reviewed have generally experienced decreasing availability since fiscal year 2011 and did not meet availability goals in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The F-35—the future of naval aviation—also has not met availability goals due to part shortages and
poor sustainment planning.

In September 2018, the Department of Defense established targets for aircraft availability. While both corps are taking actions to improve aircraft availability, aviation readiness will take many years to recover, the report finds.

The report provides information on current and future readiness challenges facing the US Navy ship and submarine fleet and Navy and Marine Corps aviation.


Video Courtesy: GAO

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