U.S. Navy Battles Severe Shipbuilding Delays

 April 7, 2024

The U.S. Navy faces formidable delays in constructing its most pivotal maritime assets.

The postponement of crucial shipbuilding programs, which will impact two classes of nuclear-powered submarines, an aircraft carrier, and a new class of frigates, threatens to weaken the U.S.'s global power projection and competitive edge against global rivals like China.

According to Politico, these significant setbacks were starkly outlined in an internal Navy report, which broke the conventional practice of disclosing program updates at the Navy’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. This year, due to the timing of the report's release, Navy leaders opted for silence, signaling the gravity of the issues at hand.

The report detailed substantial failures in progress across essential shipbuilding programs, including two submarine classes, an aircraft carrier, and a frigate. These crucial assets are integral to maintaining the U.S.'s strategic superiority on the global stage, yet they face delays totaling 11 years.

Supply Chain Woes and Design Changes Stall Progress

U.S. Representative Rob Wittman voiced the collective concern: "Our nation should be incredibly frustrated to see such systemic delays to our marquee shipbuilding programs.” Echoing his sentiment is a troubling mix of underinvestment, continuous design revisions, and supply chain interruptions stemming from the pandemic.

The programs most affected are the Columbia-class and Virginia-class submarines, the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, and the Constellation-class frigate. These delays arise from decades of underinvestment in shipyards, a dwindling pool of shipbuilders, and new requirements that add to the complexity and cost of projects.

In addressing the approach to mitigate these setbacks, Nickolas Guertin offered insights into the current strategy.

We don’t have detailed plans of action, milestones, initiatives — we are identifying and deeply looking into where we are now in a ‘get real, get better’ approach. We found that we have issues that need to be resolved. But we don’t have all those things completely nailed down yet.

A Collective Call for Strategic Change

Vice Admiral James Downey hinted at ongoing efforts to develop comprehensive resolutions over the coming year. However, specifics on these plans are yet to be divulged, leaving industry observers and stakeholders yearning for clarity.

To address the systemic issues highlighted, the Pentagon has initiated efforts to modernize shipyards and ensure a well-funded supply chain. Despite these steps, the lack of detailed plans and the Navy's proposal to reduce ship procurement have sparked criticism from lawmakers like Representative Joe Courtney and Senator Tim Kaine. Senator Kaine, in particular, pledged to bolster efforts to address the workforce shortages plaguing shipyards—a challenge that undermines the timely completion of ships.

Highlighting the industry's perspective, HII’s President and CEO, Christopher Kastner, stressed the urgency of maintaining funding levels for Virginia-class submarine materials. His point underscores the broader challenges of labor shortages and material procurement facing the shipbuilding sector.

Looking Forward: Navigating Uncertain Waters

As the U.S. Navy grapples with these delays, the conversation has shifted towards actionable solutions and strategic reforms. The complexity of today’s naval assets and external factors like labor shortages and supply chain disruptions present a multifaceted challenge that demands attention at the highest levels.

At the heart of this predicament is the need for a balanced approach that addresses immediate concerns while laying the groundwork for long-term sustainability. The Navy's ability to project power and maintain strategic advantage hinges on overcoming these shipbuilding program delays, making it imperative for all stakeholders to collaborate in search of viable solutions.

In sum, the U.S. Navy's shipbuilding woes highlight critical challenges at a time of intensifying global maritime competition. The focus now shifts to how effectively and swiftly these issues can be addressed to ensure the U.S. remains at the forefront of naval power and innovation.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

Top Articles



Receive information on new articles posted, important topics and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. 
Unsubscribe at any time.

Recent Articles

Recent Analysis

Copyright © 2024 - CapitalismInstitute.org
A Project of Connell Media.