A government watchdog report sheds light on the disaster that is the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. Not only will the Navy carrier be incomplete at launch date, but completing construction will cost upwards of $998 million dollars.
The aircraft carrier stands at only 80 percent complete, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which began the study at the behest of a Senate report. Not only have costs risen 20 percent since 2006, but the launch has been delayed a year. It was supposed to be cleared for a September 2015 date, but now has been pushed back to March 2016. Even still, some of the most important features of the carrier intended to separate it from older models will remain dormant while on display. Current total costs are estimated at $12.9 billion dollars.
“With the shipbuilder embarking on one of the most complex phases of construction with the greatest likelihood for cost growth, cost increases beyond the current $12.9 billion cost cap appear likely,” the watchdog agency said. Delayed construction, the Navy argues, is an effort to avoid going over the cost cap. Satellite communication will have to wait. Defects will be present, too, until almost a billion dollars more is spent to correct the errors.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain wasn’t buying the Navy’s statement on cost overruns.
“The Armed Services Committee will be seeking further explanation from the Navy on this troubling report and will work to hold those responsible for these cost overruns accountable,” Sen. McCain said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.
In terms of practical deployment, the carrier’s limited expansion ability is also a matter of criticism. The GAO pointed out that additional berths cannot be installed if more personnel come on board, a possibility that is looking increasingly likely. Severe operational tradeoffs will have to be made, in that case.
“After an investment of at least $12.9 billion, CVN 78 may not achieve improved operational performance over the Nimitz class of aircraft carriers as promised for some time to come,” GAO confirmed.
While the GAO recommended increased accountability on the cost caps aspect of the project, the Pentagon denied the request.
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