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Saturday, December 9, 2023

New Council Aims to Improve US Government Shipbuilding and Repair

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

November 17, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard shipyard in Baltimore (Photo: Kristen Soper / U.S. Coast Guard)

U.S. Coast Guard shipyard in Baltimore (Photo: Kristen Soper / U.S. Coast Guard)

A new council aiming to improve the way U.S. government does business in ship acquisition and ship maintenance convened at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore on Thursday.

In kicking off the inaugural meeting of the Government Shipbuilders Council (GSC), Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro underscored the council’s mission to address common and singular challenges among those that contract in shipbuilding; identify opportunities to leverage each organization’s resources to maximize government savings in costs, time and resources; share best practices and lessons learned; and support strategic decision making to strengthen the shipbuilding industrial base.

Initial members of the GSC will include:

  • Navy: Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (DASN) for Ships, and Military Sealift Command (MSC), Director of Ship Management
  • Coast Guard: Assistant Commandant for Acquisition (CG 9) and Assistant Commandant for Engineering & Logistics (CG-4)
  • Army: Program Executive Officer, Combat Support & Combat Service Support (CS & CSS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Director of Marine and Aviation Operations
  • Maritime Administration: Associate Administrator for Strategic Sealift
  • Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD): Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Materiel Readiness

“Together, we represent four different cabinet departments—Defense, Transportation, Homeland Security, and Commerce—and five separate government shipbuilders. This Council is a tremendous example of the whole-of-government effort we need to rebuild our nation’s comprehensive maritime power—a strategic imperative requiring a new Maritime Statecraft,” Del Toro said. “Collectively, our organizations are at the heart of what it will take to restore our Nation’s competitive shipbuilding and repair landscape—including private and public investments in world-class manufacturing and shipbuilding facilities—and the highly-skilled workforce necessary to keep them running.”

In September, Del Toro called for a new maritime statecraft to prevail in an era of intense strategic competition. He said it must be bold and “renew our commitment as a nation to recapitalizing national maritime power.”

“We must establish programs that build capacity in fields like naval architecture, engineering, and lifecycle management, as well as technical expertise in nuclear welding, robotics, software management, and additive manufacturing,” Del Toro told the GSC members. “As we’re developing these skillsets throughout our shipbuilding workforce, we must continue to leverage our nation’s advantage in technology and innovation in the maritime domain.”

Del Toro added that agility in ship production and design requires developing new, digital tools for our workforce to improve efficiency and capacity. He also encouraged GSC members to convene at shipyards, other institution, or academies where future maritime leaders are trained.

“For example, last month, I visited the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on our Navy’s birthday to demonstrate our partnership, my commitment to maritime statecraft, and our whole-of-government effort to tackle these challenges,” Del Toro said.

Before departing, Del Toro reiterated to the GSC that he will “tirelessly work to raise awareness to the challenges we all face in shipbuilding and ship repair and will continue advocate on your behalf so that together we can restore the maritime power of our nation.”

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