The reductions in defense spending and the shadow of the sequester has the military worrying about its budget. Now the Navy has to find the money for repair bills that it didn’t budget for. In 2012 several mishaps involving Navy ships and submarines caused the need for expensive repairs, to the tune of as much as $1 billion:
The past year has been a banner one for the U.S. Navy in at least one unhappy category — major mishaps. The number of major mishaps involving aircraft carriers, ships and submarines was higher than in recent years, and the unbudgeted repair bill is just one more factor squeezing fleet maintenance accounts in the middle of the service’s fiscal crisis.
“As a result of mishaps at sea — ships and submarines — I have an $850 million, unforecasted maintenance bill,” Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces command, said in a Jan. 28 interview.
“The chief of naval operations doesn’t give me any extra money to take care of that,” Gortney said. “What matters to me is mishaps cost lives, and I can’t replace a sailor’s life. And mishaps cost money to repair equipment. I can go buy new equipment, but it’s expensive.”
Gortney was referring to the repair costs for only four ships — the submarines Miami and Montpelier, cruiser San Jacinto and destroyer Porter. The combined, fleetwide repair bill for all mishaps isn’t known, but it will be significantly higher than Gortney’s number, perhaps closer to $1 billion.
Some of the repair costs are known, and others aren’t — subject, among other things, to ongoing damage assessments and contract negotiations.
Photo: The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765) operates under its own power. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike DiMestico/Released)