The Capacity of the Navy’s Shipyards to Maintain Its Submarines
The Navy’s shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on submarines. In this report, CBO projects that required maintenance will continue to exceed the shipyards’ capacity and examines options to reduce delays.
The Navy's four shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on its submarines (all of which are nuclear-powered). In this report, the Congressional Budget Office examines the capacity of those shipyards to maintain the submarines and suggests options to reduce or mitigate delays.
Two factors have been the primary causes of delays in the Navy's shipyards: The amount of maintenance that shipyards must perform in each overhaul has increased, and the Navy has not hired enough new workers to keep pace with the workload.
Delays affect operational readiness. They have reduced the number of submarines that the Navy can put to sea, idling expensive ships and their skilled crews.
CBO's projections of the shipyards' workload and capacity indicate that the submarine fleet's size will exceed the yards' capacity to maintain it, not only over the next several years but in 25 of the next 30 years.
More accurate maintenance schedules would enable the Navy to better plan deployments by minimizing the disruptive effects of those delays. Or maintenance delays could be reduced by hiring more workers, sending more submarines to private shipyards for maintenance, or cutting the size of the fleet.