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GAO: Navy Should Update Policy to Address Ship Defects

The Government Accountability Office has urged the U.S. Navy to revise its ship delivery policy to keep defective and incomplete ships from entering the service branch’s operational fleet.

GAO said in a report published Monday it evaluated six Navy ships and found that the vessels were incomplete or showed quality problems when they were turned over to the fleet.

Shipbuilders routinely deliver ships to the Navy with multiple defects and some problems remain after the post-delivery period, GAO noted.

Auditors added that the Navy aims to conduct more work and tests during the post-delivery period of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier and the USS Zumwalt guided missile destroyer, which could put the ships at a higher risk of incomplete construction and quality issues.

Navy program offices establish their own standards for ship quality and completeness since the service branch’s ship delivery policy does not include detailed instructions on how to correct defects, GAO said.

The congressional watchdog also revealed that the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey cannot meet a policy requirement to validate ships’ operational readiness because it does not inspect ships at the end of the post-delivery period.

The Navy’s progress reports to Congress show an inconsistent use of definitions for program milestones such as  Initial Operational Capability, according to the GAO report.

GAO added that the Navy regularly declares IOC on new ship classes even if the service has not demonstrated the ships’ capacity to perform mission operations, as required by Defense Department guidelines.

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