Navy Reveals Major Shipbuilding Delays As Global War Risk Elevated 

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Apr 04, 2024 - 02:40 AM

The US Navy released a rare assessment of its "shipbuilding challenges," indicating that the first Columbia-class submarine, classified as the future cornerstone of America's strategic deterrence, is facing delays, as are other next-generation vessels. 

"The purpose of the review is to provide an assessment of national and local causes of shipbuilding challenges, as well as recommend actions for achieving a healthier US shipbuilding industrial base that provides combat capabilities that our warfighters need, on a schedule that is relevant," the document states, as quoted by Breaking Defense.

The document lays out the notable delays, which account for eleven years of cumulative delays across four programs: 

  • The first Columbia-class submarine, built jointly by General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII, is projected to be between 12 and 16 months late.
  • The fourth and fifth blocks of the Virginia-class submarine, also by Electric Boat and HII, are 36 and 24 months late.
  • The first Constellation-class frigate from Fincantieri Marinette Marine is 36 months behind schedule.
  • The future aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80), built by HII, is approximately 18 to 26 months late.

"When [Vice Adm. James Downey] and I started this review, we were looking at it from an internal [perspective]: What we were doing and how we were doing it. We weren't just looking at the industry, we were also looking internally [at] how we were doing our business, how we were managing our relationships with our partners [military-industrial complex]," Nickolas Guertin, the Navy's senior acquisition executive, told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

In a separate report, Bloomberg said the Columbia-class submarine program's Northrop Grumman Corp. Sentinel ICBMs also face testing delays. 

"A delay of that length would make it more likely for the Navy to implement its backup plan to extend the service lives of up to five Ohio-class by a little bit," Ronald O'Rourke, a naval analyst for the Congressional Research Service, said. 

Given the delays, the next-gen sub is now expected to be deployed in 2031, compared with the initial October 2027 deadline. 

O'Rourke said, "There would be some cost for doing those service life extensions."

The delays were mostly attributed to snarled supply chains during the government-enforced shutdown of the economy during Covid. 

Delays and cost overruns are standard with the military-industrial complex. It comes at a time when Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East are on the brink of much larger military conflicts.