New nuke carrier will arrive late, incomplete
WASHINGTON — The Navy’s new multibillion-dollar aircraft carrier, already beset by delays and cost overruns, is likely going to be delivered incomplete and will require even more money to finish, according to a government watchdog report.
The spending on the Gerald R. Ford carrier after it is delivered could run nearly as high as $1 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office , and push the total cost well above the $12.9 billion cap set by Congress.
The additional money would “not be captured in the total end cost of the ship, thereby obscuring the true costs of the ship,” the report said.
The bottom line, the GAO said, is that “the Navy will have a ship that is less complete than initially planned at ship delivery, but at a greater cost.”
The Gerald R. Ford is one of three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that will serve as successors to the Nimitz-class carriers designed in the 1960s.
The Navy plans to spend $43 billion developing and building the ships, which are designed to be far superior.
Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries, they’ll be able to increase the rate of aircraft taking off, require less manpower and have new technologies such as an electrically generated magnetic field to propel aircraft off the ship.
To keep the Navy on budget with such a premium project, Congress imposed a $10.5 billion cost cap in 2007 for the Gerald R. Ford, and a cap of $8.1 billion for subsequent carriers. Since then, the Navy sought, and was granted, adjustments that now cap the costs at $12.9 billion for the Ford and $11.5 billion for the additional carriers.
The Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be delivered in March 2016. But the GAO says that some key requirements, including showing that it can increase the rate of aircraft launches, won’t be completed by that delivery date.
The carrier also may not meet a requirement that would allow the Navy to increase the size of the crew over the ship’s life.