Sunday, May 13, 2012

LPD-17 - Whose Fault?

LPD-17 - Unfinished Ship
The consensus among naval observers seems to be that the LPD-17 class is a flawed design complicated by shoddy workmanship by the manufacturer.  The list of problems is seemingly endless and all relate back to the poor quality of construction.  While admitting to some slight degree of responsibility, though not much, the Navy would have us believe that they were victimized by the manufacturer and are just as outraged as we, the taxpayer, are.

Consider this …  If you went to purchase a new car and were shown a vehicle that was only 90% complete would you buy it?  Of course not!  You’d refuse to pay until the car was complete and a test drive had proven that it was fully functional.  That’s just basic common sense consumerism, right?

Now consider the following from the Congressional Research Service report, Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement:
Background, Issues, and Options for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke - Specialist in Naval Affairs, March 16, 2011.

“The Navy accepted delivery of LPD-17 with about 1.1 million hours of construction work remaining to be done on the ship. This equated to about 8.7% of the total hours needed to build the ship, and (with material costs included) about 7% of the total cost to build the ship.”

The Navy went car shopping and bought a vehicle that was only 90% complete!  1.1 million hours of construction left to go!  How is it that the Navy doesn’t understand what every consumer in America knows – you don’t pay for an incomplete and non-functional product.

Well, maybe the Navy made a mistake on the LPD-17, first of class.  Maybe they trusted the manufacturer and simply got burned.  Maybe the Navy was the victim and not a fatally stupid consumer.  Again, from the report,

“The Navy accepted delivery of LPD-18 with about 400,000 hours of construction work remaining to be done on the ship.”

So, having created an unacceptable situation by accepting an unfinished ship the first time, the Navy repeated process on the second ship.  In fact, the report goes on to document that the Navy accepted the third ship, LPD-19, also in an unfinished state.

Back to the opening sentence of this post.  Who is to blame for the LPD debacle?  It seems clear to me that the fault lies with the Navy.  Does this absolve the manufacturer of blame?  No, but no one forced the Navy to accept an unfinished ship.  Further, the Navy’s internal inspection group also accepted the ship with all its quality defects.  Again, while not absolving the manufacturer, that puts the responsibility squarely on the Navy.  We’ll cover the failed inspections in more detail in a subsequent post.

In summary, quite the opposite from what the Navy would have us believe – that they were a victim – we see that the Navy is 100% responsible for the LPD problems.  Keep this in mind as you read about the further misadventures of the LPD-17 class.

1 comment:

  1. LCS gets all the attention. Good to see some focus on this flawed ship.