Navy shipbuilding supervisors should better monitor contractors and suppliers, watchdog says


The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) departs Naval Station Norfolk to transit to Newport News Naval Shipyard in support of her Planned Incremental Availability (PIA), a six-month period of modernization, d maintenance and repairs, August 20, 2021 (William Spears/US Navy)

(Tribune News Service) – Problems with the USS Gerald R. Ford’s arresting equipment show why Navy shipbuilding supervisors should have more access to contractors and suppliers, the US says. Government Accountability Office.

A new report from the federal oversight agency said the limited monitoring of supervisors away from the shipyards where they are stationed can pose a challenge to the Navy’s efforts to improve the quality of new ships.

“The U.S. Navy faces significant challenges in meeting shipbuilding goals…with existing programs experiencing years of construction delays, billions of dollars in cost escalation, and frequent quality and performance defects” , said the GAO.

Shipbuilding supervisors are stationed at yards, including Newport News Shipbuilding, and are responsible for evaluating construction and business practices. But their user manual says they must rely on shipyards and the Defense Contract Management Agency to verify the quality of materials and equipment provided by contractors or companies the Navy contracts with. for major systems, such as the Ford arrester.

In the case of Ford’s government-supplied advanced electromagnetic arresting equipment, the system that catches planes as they land on the flight deck, the DCMA and Naval Air Systems Command managed the inspections in the supplier facilities, the GAO said.

The Newport News shipbuilding supervisor did not take a look until the system arrived at the yard, the GAO said.

“SUPSHIP’s lack of prior involvement has limited its ability to help the program office resolve issues with this new high-risk system in the run-up to acceptance testing and the Navy’s subsequent decision to accept delivery of the ship,” the report said.

He said the Chief of Naval Operations granted a waiver excluding advanced arresting equipment from inspection during acceptance trials. These trials are the key test a new ship must pass before the Navy takes delivery.

“This further reduced the opportunities for the SUPSHIP overseeing CVN 78 to observe the performance of this integrated system and understand any quality issues prior to the Navy’s decision to deliver the vessel,” the GAO said.

These waivers are another significant limitation on the ability of supervisors to ensure quality, according to the report.

He said waivers for another critical system on the Ford, the 11 forward weapons lifts, hampered sailors’ ability to carry weapons on the carrier’s deck for more than 4 years after the Navy accepted delivery of the ship. The last of the elevators was certified in December.

Supervisors have the authority to withhold payments to shipyards, but their use of that authority is limited, the GAO said.

Since May 2011, they have withheld payments from five shipbuilders totaling about $63 million due to deficiencies in five contractors’ business systems, according to the report.

It can take years to resolve these issues, the GAO said, noting that General Dynamics-Electric Boat, which builds Virginia- and Columbia-class submarines in partnership with Newport News, took about 2.5 years to resolve the issues. issues for which Groton’s supervisor withheld payments. It took another 2.5 years for the supervisor to fully validate the site’s corrective action.

The GAO study looked at 12 ships, although only Ford and the Virginia-class submarine USS Delaware were built at Newport News.

He said the Secretary of the Navy should consider having supervisors oversee government-issued equipment, such as the Ford’s arresting equipment.

Navy contracts for such systems from a vendor that is not the shipyard itself should include ways to mitigate risk, while the Secretary of the Navy and Naval Sea Systems Command should put updated guidelines to give supervisors a role in vessel design and development of requirements to be specified in contracts.

He said the deputy commander of supervisors should report to the chief of naval operations on the quality and readiness of ships before the navy decides to take delivery.

[email protected]

©2022 Daily Press.

To visit dailypress.com.

Distributed by Content Agency Tribune, LLC.

Previous Exploring the Helicopter Market Landscape and MRO Ecosystem
Next Aircraft Wheels Market Latest Innovations, Drivers and State of the Industry 2022 to 2028