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Every major Navy shipbuilding program is plagued by huge delays, report finds

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

The U.S. Navy’s highest-priority shipbuilding programs are years behind schedule, the Navy said in a report released late Tuesday.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro ordered a comprehensive 45-day review of shipbuilding programs in January amid heightened concerns about mounting delays to the priority Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines and Constellation-class frigate programs. The final report found delivery schedules for every major Navy shipbuilding program had been extended up to three years, which Navy officials attributed to problems with designs for new types of ships, supply chains and fewer, less experienced workers manning American shipyards.

“COVID happened. Supply chain changed. Workforce greening happened,” Navy acquisition chief Nickolas Guertin said on Tuesday, according to Defense News. The review only provided a glimpse into the issues and delays.

In particular, it was revealed in January the first-in-its-class guided missile frigate was delayed at least one year due to workforce shortfalls at Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine shipyard where it’s being built, USNI News reported.

Overall the USS Constellation will deliver at least three months late, the shipbuilding report found. Marinette Marine has taken on two more shipbuilding programs while seeing higher worker attrition rates than other shipyards, factoring into the delays, Naval Sea Systems Command head Vice Adm. James Downey told Defense News. He said the Navy is working to help Fincantieri mitigate the issues.

General Dynamics’ Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding won’t deliver the first Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine to the Navy until 12 to 16 months after its contracted delivery date of October 2027, according to Defense News. That could disrupt the Navy’s plan to deploy the subs as soon as they are received to meet a requirement for at least 10 SSBNs — the Navy’s acronym for submarines capable of carrying nuclear-armed missiles — patrolling global seas at a given time.

However, the Columbia program has encountered the fewest delays, Guertin told Defense News. The Block IV Virginia submarines put on contract between 2014 and 2018 are three years behind as Navy leaders deferred priority to the Columbia-class submarines, which are built at the same shipyards.

Block V boats in the Virginia program are about two years behind schedule, the report shows.

In addition, the future USS Enterprise, the Navy’s next nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is 18 to 26 months behind schedule. The Navy has delayed buying two subsequent carriers in the class by two years due to supplier hang-ups at Newport News shipyard, Defense News reported.

Ships on more established production lines were also delayed, but not to the same degree, the Navy officials and report said. The Navy “rebaselined” estimates for the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock and America-class amphibious assault ships at Ingalls Shipbuilding; the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers at Ingalls and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works and the John Lewis-class oiler at General Dynamics’ NASSCO after COVID-19, and so far the programs have adhered to those new timelines, Downey told Defense News.

The Navy did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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