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Navy Carrier Christening Belies Problems

USS Gerald Ford

The USS Gerald Ford

The USS Gerald Ford, the first of a new fleet of Navy aircraft carriers, was christened on Saturday with a ceremonial shattering of a champagne bottle. The $13-billion ship is scheduled to begin service in 2016, according to DefenseNews.com, but has suffered from substantial cost overruns and schedule delays. Despite the christening, the ship is only 70 percent complete.

The Navy’s chief of staff Adm. Jonathan Greenert said the ship is a “technological marvel,” but upcoming mandatory Pentagon budget cuts may delay the ship two years later than the projected 2016 date. Since 2012, the U.S. has been relying on only 10 carriers, one less than the 11 mandated by law.

Furthermore, the ship’s budget has skyrocketed from initial projections. From DefenseNews.com:

Since the start of the contract in 2008, construction costs jumped 22 percent over the scheduled budget to $12.8 billion in total. And the Navy’s estimate “does not include $4.7 billion in research and development costs,” according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which provides financial data to lawmakers.

Because of these problems, the Government Accountability Office has recommended the Navy put off funding the next ship until they can make sure the same mistakes won’t be repeated.

Read more of the Project on Government Oversight’s work on the U.S. Navy here.

Image from the U.S. Navy.

By: Avery Kleinman
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Avery Kleinman Avery Kleinman is the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Sequester, Budget, DOD Oversight, Aircraft Carriers, Defense

Authors: Avery Kleinman

Submitted by Greg Williams at: November 12, 2013
The latest issue of US Naval Institute Proceedings describes this ship as being pretty incremental in terms of its improvements over the Nimitz class. So it's hard for me to understand how a 22% jump in costs could happen.

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