The Department of Defense Inspector General is going to conduct an audit of the Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) maintenance of Pre-Positioning Ships, according to a
26-Dec-2017 memo. (1) The audit is in response to a GAO report
highlighting material deficiencies in the surge sealift and combat logistics
vessels. (2) The GAO report was, itself,
in response to Congressional direction contained in the 2017 National Defense
Authorization Act. (2)
Highlights from the GAO report:
- The average of the ships in the surge sealift fleet (the collective MSC and Maritime Administration, MARAD, fleets) is 40 years.
- MSC’s combat logistics fleet consists of 29 auxiliary ships that provide underway replenishment support to the surface fleet.
- MSC yearly ship casualties have increased from 3 per year in 2012 to around 43 per year in 2016. (from Fig 3 of the GAO report)
- 83% of MSC ship scheduled maintenance periods during the 2012-2016 time frame took longer than expected, indicating worse than expected material conditions.
- Readiness test scores for no-notice ship activations have declined and the number of tests have been inadequate with at least one ship never having been tested.
- Combat logistics ships are not meeting their stated availability goal of 270 days per year.
- Mission-limiting casualties for combat logistics ships have increased from 69 per year in 2012 to 122 per year in 2016. (from Fig 4 of the GAO report)
The Navy claims to be “in the process” of developing a plan to deal with the declining readiness of the ships but has not established funding or any concrete plans.
The Navy will stop at nothing to fund the LCS and other new warships but is completely ignoring the more important surge sealift and logistics support ships. This is the very same mentality exhibited by the Navy towards all the other non-glamorous functions such as mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, naval gunfire support, etc. Navy leadership is focused on the new, shiny, and sexy carriers and Burkes but is ignoring the foundational capabilities of a functional and effective naval fleet.
This GAO report alone should be sufficient to make CNO Richardson resign in shame or be fired by Congress for dereliction of duty.
What will the audit find? It will find the same things that every other investigation of the Navy has found – that Navy leadership has knowingly and willfully abrogated their responsibilities to the Navy and the nation.
(2)Government Accounting Office, “Navy Readiness Actions Needed to Maintain Viable Surge Sealift and Combat Logistics Fleets”, Aug 2017, GAO-17-503,