"We will continue to utilize our shipyards-both public and private-to maintain our ships in a readiness position," the Honorable Gordon R.
England, Secretary of the Navy said in an interview recently in Norfolk.
England noted that some vessels might not return from deployment on schedule, particularly in wartime, disrupting planned repairs.
In a related area, he said, "We are fully funding our maintenance accounts, so we have our money for the first time in quite a few years." This
funding, he added should keep public and private yards busy. "If you look at our workload for the next 4 or 5 years, we have a lot of work in our
shipyards, and that's about the longest horizon you ever get."
Secretary England pointed out the Navy has a peak repair workload scheduled,
particularly on submarines, along with work on carriers. "Of course," he
said, "we're now doing a lot of sailing, as so we have a lot of hours that
we're putting on our vessels."
"The U.S. Navy can reduce costs while effectively increasing its size by
reducing the time its vessels are repaired in shipyards, and by returning
them to sea more quickly," said Secretary England.
He said that his prior visit to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in October, gave him
a "great appreciation" for the work done by the shipyard and the good work
being done by shipyard personnel. During this visit he saw waterfront
repair facilities and visited the USS Harry
S. Truman (CVN 75), which is
currently undergoing a Planned Incremental Availability, (PIA).
Congressman Randy Forbes, who represents Virginia's Fourth Congressional
District, which includes Norfolk Naval Shipyard, also participated in the
interview with the Secretary of the Navy. Congressman Forbes echoed the
Secretary's comments about the importance of fully funding maintenance
"I think all of us are committed to building more ships, and making sure
we're doing the maintenance that we need," Congressman Forbes said. "I see
Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a valuable asset to the Navy, if we're going to
maintain a strong naval presence in the future," he added.
"So we think Norfolk Naval Shipyard has the work force, and has the
expertise to do the kinds of things that the Navy is going to need down the
road," Congressman Forbes said.
"One of the things that we're cognizant of is that we need a skilled work
force, at all levels of our shipyards," Secretary England said. "I don't
think people have to worry at this time about in the shipyards-it's probably
just the opposite. Rather, we need to worry about how we get this work accomplished in the future because we will have a lot of maintenance here in a couple of years.
Secretary England also noted that efficiency will always be a challenge for all shipyards, public or private. "This is a very costly part of our Navy enterprise, maintaining our ships and our airplanes, and our engines, and everything associated with our Great Navy."
He said he knew the Norfolk Naval Shipyard team would meet the Navy's expectations in current and future ship-repair activities.