Sequestration Prevents Repair of USS Miami

MarineLink.com
Thursday, August 08, 2013
The Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755) surfaces in the North Arabian Sea during an anti-submarine warfare exercise with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, Nov. 11, 2007. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Scott Miller

By Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, Director, Undersea Warfare

USS Miami was set ablaze by an arsonist in May 2012. The Navy recently completed a comprehensive assessment of the extensive fire damage, finding that the submarine is fully repairable from a technical perspective; however, inspections have revealed a greater scope of work than originally envisioned.

Under the financial constraints of sequestration, the Navy said it 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 $450 million to $700 million. 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, the Navy said, is to inactivate Miami.

A Rock and a Hard Place: A Colossal Work Effort in a Time of Fiscal Austerity

The demand signal for attack submarines is as strong as ever. Around the world, the Navy’s 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 the Navy said it wants to do everything possible to maintain a robust SSN force. This impetus was the basis of its original intent to return Miami to service.

So what’s changed? USN 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. Above and beyond the nature of the work, the pure size of the job is staggering: the anticipated scope of work is four times greater than any previous submarine repair due to damage and 50 percent larger even than that of an Engineered Overhaul, the largest and most demanding maintenance availability performed on a submarine. In times of prosperity with more flexible defense spending, sufficient resources would be available for our industrial base partners to rise and tackle this formidable challenge. However, sequestration pressures remove the needed foundation of stability to support an endeavor of this magnitude.

Sequestration Effects are Real and Hampered Navy Progress This Past Year

The initial damage assessment and repair estimate came around the same time as the commencement of sequestration spending cuts. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard began Fiscal Year 2013 with a workforce tasked to full capacity; these cuts required the shipyard to implement a hiring freeze and to sharply restrict overtime, limiting their available workforce and requiring the damage assessment and planning to be shifted to Electric Boat. According to the navy, shifting the work to the world’s finest private shipbuilder is not without a cost impact.

Further, damage inspections revealed that the high temperature environment and corrosive atmosphere present during the prolonged fire caused a phenomenon known as Environmentally Assisted Cracking to occur in steel piping and fasteners used in the air, hydraulic and cooling water systems. Due to the nature of the cracking, a significant number of components in the torpedo room and auxiliary machine room would require replacement. Although the Navy was aware of the possibility of Environmentally Assisted Cracking, it was not until May 2013 that the full scope and cost was understood.

Unknown Unknowns: Future Risk Necessitates a Reset of Contingency Funds

Since the initial cost estimates were made, the Navy analyzed other recent major submarine damage repair efforts to gain insight into the accuracy of initial rough order of magnitude repair cost estimates. Data gathered from repairs to USS Hartford and USS Montpelier indicate that the final cost typically falls between 140 to 150 percent of the initial repair rough order of magnitude estimate due to unforeseen repair issues/complications. Therefore it was appropriate to apply this cost planning insight to Miami and establish responsible contingency reserves.

In addition to scope growth, this contingency funding would cover other cost growth, whether unanticipated or expected but unable to be accurately priced. For example, a known impact that cannot be accurately priced is the anticipated FY 2014 sequestration impact at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which will likely diminish the shipyard’s ability to provide Lead Yard Services (cranes, ventilation, electricity, service air, etc.) for Electric Boat’s execution of production work.

The Responsible Choice, and Yet a Tough One at That

The combination of these effects — sequestration effects in 2013 and the expanded scope of work — resulted in two adverse consequences: the bulk of the repair effort was pushed from FY 2013 to FY 2014, and the cost estimate increased from $450 million to $700 million.

Sequestration could levy a devastating burden on FY 2014 maintenance spending, causing the potential cancellation of up to 60 percent of scheduled availabilities. The shift in Miami repairs and the increased cost estimate means that without $390 million in additional resources in FY 2014, funding the repairs would require cancellation of dozens of remaining availabilities on surface ships and submarines. The Navy and the nation cannot afford to weaken other fleet readiness in the way that would be required to afford repairs to Miami.

The U.S. Navy is a capital-intensive force that requires funding to operate forward, and sequestration limits its ability to responsibly cashflow maintenance, planning and operations to maintain the what it sees as a necessary level of readiness. The decision to inactivate Miami is a difficult one, taken after hard analysis and not made lightly, the Navy said. It 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. Inactivation is the right choice for the Navy and the nation during a very unique time period in our nation’s history.
 

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Ship Repair & Conversion

Messer to Debut MetalMaster Xcel

Messer Cutting Systems said it has answered the call from manufacturers that have been demanding a faster, more accurate way of producing cut parts. Messer’s

Rolls-Royce Expands in the Canary Islands

Rolls-Royce announced it has signed a cooperation agreement with the Astican Shipyard in Las Palmas, Canary Islands that it said will enhance the service capabilities

USS Constitution Not to Set Sail Until 2018

The crew of USS Constitution embarked on their final Boston Harbor underway demonstration aboard Old Ironsides this year, Oct. 17. Constitution set out into

Finance

Nordic American Offshore Declares Dividend

Nordic American Offshore Ltd. today announced that its board of directors has declared a dividend of $0.45 per common share for the third quarter 2014. This is the same as for the second quarter 2014.

Bollore Africa Logistics Sees Profit Plunge in H1

First half 2014 profit at shipping company Bollore Africa Logistics plunged to 5.89 billion CFA francs ($11.48 million) from 9.45 billion CFA francs in the same period last year,

Maduro Says Venezuela's 2015 Budget to Put Oil at $60

Venezuela's 2015 budget will be based on a target oil price of $60 dollars per barrel, President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday night, but he repeated expectations that prices will recover.

News

Nordic American Offshore Declares Dividend

Nordic American Offshore Ltd. today announced that its board of directors has declared a dividend of $0.45 per common share for the third quarter 2014. This is the same as for the second quarter 2014.

Missouri River Basin is Booming

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Basin Water Management Division is maintaining above normal releases at the four lower dams on the Missouri River.

Bollore Africa Logistics Sees Profit Plunge in H1

First half 2014 profit at shipping company Bollore Africa Logistics plunged to 5.89 billion CFA francs ($11.48 million) from 9.45 billion CFA francs in the same period last year,

Eye on the Navy

Mount Whitney Departs Batumi, Georgia

The U.S. 6th Fleet command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) departed Batumi, Georgia, Oct. 18 after completing a successful port visit. While in Batumi,

USS Constitution Not to Set Sail Until 2018

The crew of USS Constitution embarked on their final Boston Harbor underway demonstration aboard Old Ironsides this year, Oct. 17. Constitution set out into

US Navy to Christen Littoral Combat Ship Detroit

The Navy will christen littoral combat ship (LCS) Detroit, on Oct. 18 during a ceremony at Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus,

Vessels

New Standard for LNG Cargo Containment Systems

Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions (WTS) said it has successfully completing the gas trial for the first LNG carrier built to a Boil Off Rate (BOR) of 0.08% per day.

Cruise Ship Returns to Texas after Ebola Concern

The Carnival Magic cruise ship was en route back to the United States on Saturday with a passenger from Texas who might have handled specimens of the first Ebola

'New Tango' Brings More Post-Panamax Ships to Charleston

New service expands Port of Charleston's capacity to serve North-South trade The SC Ports Authority today received the first ship call of a new consolidated

Government Update

India to Develop Iran's Chabahar Port

India will float a company to develop Iran's Chabahar Port, a government statement said on Saturday, as New Delhi aims to take advantage of a thaw in Tehran's relations with world powers.

Shadrin is D.G. of Gazprom Investholding

On October 13 the Gazprom leadership acceded to Alisher Usmanov's request for releasing him from his position as Director General of Gazprom Investholding. At the meeting Alexey Miller,

ITIC Measures against Ebola

The International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has issued the following general advice related to the outbreak of Ebola. Vessels that have recently

Subsea Defense

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

NUWC Newport Dedicates New Research Facility

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport dedicated a new $24.9 million Virginia Payload Tube Facility (VPTF) with a ribbon cutting today, Wednesday, October 15.

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2549 sec (4 req/sec)