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Emma Watkins is a research assistant in The Heritage Foundation's Center for National Defense.
Jack Penders is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.
Maintenance - Backlog - Mission - Vessels - Repairs
A maintenance backlog that causes mission critical vessels to face delayed repairs puts the U.S. Navy’s ability to project power globally at risk, and if not addressed soon by Congress and the Defense Department, could leave the Navy dangerously unprepared to meet challenges around the world.
The Navy plays a major role in protecting U.S. strategic interests abroad and provides hard power to back up diplomacy and keep sea routes open. But because of aging facilities and fluctuating worker counts, only 16 percent of the Navy’s guided-missile destroyer fleet completed scheduled repairs on time last year.
Destroyers - Priorities - Missions
And guided-missile destroyers are high priorities because they can conduct both offensive and defensive missions.
But the lack of readiness is pervasive across the fleet. The Navy’s maintenance backlog grew by 41 percent from 2012-2017, and the condition of available shipyards continued to deteriorate.
Example - Shipyard - Facilities - Dozen - Feet
For example, shipyard facilities “now include at least four dozen buildings—comprising 1.2 million square feet of space—that are condemned, uninhabitable, or otherwise unusable for ship repairs or any other work.”
Shockingly, the Navy had only 22 dry docks and sub-tenders in 2019, whereas in 1988 it had immediate access to roughly “50 dry docks, marine railways, and lifts.”
Navy - Shipyards - Industry - Navy - Call
Although the Navy uses both public and private shipyards, it likely will need to lean more on private industry to catch up. In 2018, the Navy put out a call for “dry docks that are either...
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