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Covid-19: GAO warns virus impacts could lead to further US Navy shipyard maintenance delays

The effects of Covid-19 could exacerbate the carrier and submarine maintenance delays that already plague US Navy (USN) shipyards, according to a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, released on 20 August.

“According to the navy, additional shipyard maintenance delays may also occur as a result of circumstances associated with the coronavirus pandemic,” the GAO said in its report, “Navy Shipyards, Actions Needed to Address the Main Factors Causing Maintenance Delays for Aircraft Carriers and Submarines.”

The navy’s four shipyards completed 38 of 51, about three-quarters, of maintenance periods late for aircraft carriers and submarines with planned completion dates in fiscal years 2015–19, for a combined total of 7,424 days of maintenance delay, the GAO reported.

For each maintenance period completed late, the shipyards averaged 113 days late for aircraft carriers and 225 days late for submarines, the GAO noted.

The GAO identified unplanned work and workforce factors such as shipyard workforce performance and capacity — having enough people to perform the work — as the main factors causing maintenance delays for aircraft carriers and submarines.

“Unplanned work — work identified after finalising maintenance plans — contributed to more than 4,100 days of maintenance delays,” the GAO said. “Unplanned work also contributed to the Navy’s 36% underestimation of the personnel resources necessary to perform maintenance. The workforce factor contributed to more than 4,000 days of maintenance delay on aircraft carriers and submarines during fiscal years 2015–19.”

For example, in late 2019, during an availability, the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) suffered an electrical failure that resulted in an extra three months of repairs to the ship’s availability schedule. That delay meant the USS Abraham Lincoln

        Aircraft carrier USS 
        Dwight D. Eisenhower
         (CVN-69) spent 18 months in a maintenance availability ending in 2019. The work was initially scheduled to take only six months.
       (US Navy)

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