No Leeway in Navy Budget to Repair USS Miami
'USS Miami' was set ablaze by an arsonist in May 2012: a comprehensive assessment of the extensive fire damage, found that the submarine is fully repairable from a technical perspective, but budget funds are insufficient. Excerpts from comments by Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge Director, Undersea Warfare, follow:
"Under the financial constraints imposed by sequestration, we simply cannot afford to undertake the repairs. Sequestration effects this past year (work force limitations) coupled with the increased scope of work have combined to raise the estimated cost of repairs from $450M to $700M. Given the fiscal challenge facing the country and the strain that such an investment would make on the maintenance for the remainder of the fleet, the responsible decision for our Navy is to inactivate Miami.
The demand signal for attack submarines is as strong as ever. Around the world, our combatant commanders recognize the unique value provided by undersea forces, and request them in nearly double the quantity that the Navy is able to provide. So there’s no question that we want to do everything possible to maintain a robust SSN force. This impetus was the basis of our original intent to return Miami to service.
So what’s changed? We recognized from the start that repairs to Miami presented a significant technical challenge. The type of damage was unlike anything we’d seen in recent memory, meaning the effort contained plenty of unknowns. Moreover, the planners had to recreate drawings for a ship built with different construction methods from those used today.
The decision to inactivate Miami is a difficult one, taken after hard analysis and not made lightly. We will lose the five deployments that Miami would have provided over the remaining ten years of her planned service life, but in exchange for avoiding the cost of repairs, we will open up funds to support other vital fleet maintenance efforts, improving the wholeness and readiness of the force."