Government report: Cost for new aircraft carrier likely to climb

Posted at 5:33 PM, Nov 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-22 06:22:17-05

Newport News, Va. (WTKR) - The cost for the Navy's newest aircraft carrier is likely to exceed its $12.9 billion price tag.

That's according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office on Thursday.

According to the report, delivering the ship within the budget, "is dependent on the Navy’s plan to defer work and costs to the post-delivery period. Lagging construction progress, as well as ongoing issues with key technologies further exacerbate an already compressed schedule and create further cost and schedule risks."

The report continues: "This strategy will result in the need for additional funding later, which the Navy plans to request through its post-delivery and outfitting budget account. However, this approach obscures visibility into the true cost of the ship and results in delivering a ship that is less complete than initially planned."

The Gerald R. Ford is currently under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding, the only shipyard in the country that builds nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

In a statement, Newport News Shipbuilding Media Relations Manager Christie Miller wrote, "While we have not yet had the opportunity to review the GAO’s report, Gerald R. Ford  (CVN 78) is 85 percent complete and we continue to achieve momentum in our performance.  While this is a first of the class ship with the unique challenges that come with that, we are increasing efficiencies and leveraging lessons learned to retire risk."

The report does credit work the shipyard has achieved on the Ford, writing: "The shipbuilder appears to have resolved many of the engineering and material challenges that we reported in September 2013. These challenges resulted in inefficient and out-of-sequence work."

Still, it suggests Congress members Take Action to reign in the costs of the Ford-class aircraft carriers.

"To understand the true cost of each Ford-class ship, Congress should consider revising the cost cap legislation to ensure that all work included in the initial ship cost estimate that is deferred to post-delivery and outfitting account is counted against the cost cap. If warranted, the Navy would be required to seek statutory authority to increase the cap," the report reads.

The Ford is scheduled to be delivered in March 2016.

You can read the entire report from the GAO here.


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