The Navy and Marine Corps are struggling to improve their readiness in the face of lengthy maintenance backlogs, a high operational tempo, and an aging fleet of ships, submarines and aircraft, according to testimony provided by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week. The Navy has lost more than 27,000 days of ship and submarine availability due to maintenance delays since 2012, with nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers experiencing the lengthiest delays due to the lack of qualified shipyards, reported Breaking Defense. Three nuclear-powered attack submarines are currently out of service as they wait their turn in dry dock for repairs and overhaul.
“Completing maintenance on time has proven to be a wicked problem,” said John Pendleton, GAO’s director of defense capabilities and management.
Seven aircraft GAO reviewed have generally experienced decreasing availability since fiscal 2011, according to an agency report released in conjunction with the hearing. The F-35 has not met availability goals due to part shortages and poor sustainment planning, it said. The Navy has made progress, however, raising readiness rates for its operational squadrons of F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran told lawmakers. Readiness rates for combat-ready units of the Super Hornets are around 66 percent, up from about 45 percent last year.
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Hoskins