March 1, 2009
Navy surface ship maintenance funds run short
According to the Virginia Ship Repair Association (VSRA), there is a funding shortfall for FY2009 of about $417 million for Navy surface ship maintenance.
In early January, VSRA ship repairers began to experience changes in ship repair jobs that were deternined to result from a lack of adequate funding. In one instance, a CNO availability work package was "de-scoped" by 35% and what had been scheduled maintenance was deferred to a later date. Working closely with MARMC (the Navy's Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center) and Fleet Forces Command, VSRA says it was able to discover a funding shortfall for FY09 of about $417 million in surface ship maintenance for the Navy. The Hampton Roads portion of that shorfall was estimated to be about $135 million.
VSRA says the "industry was surprised when on February 3rd, Commander Naval Surface Forces, Atlantic issued a directive to MARMC and SERMC [Southeast Regional Maintenance Center] to 'immediately cease any definitization or award of any contract for any remaining FY09 CNO avails unless otherwise directed.' "
On February 5, VSRA prepared a Funding White Paper and sent it to the Hampton Roads delegation in Washington. Upon receipt, Senator Webb's office immediately took the lead in asking for a briefing from the Navy on its funding as it related to surface ship maintenance. "That briefing request resulted in the Navy ordering a complete review of surface ship funding for the Navy," says VRSA, which says that it understands from the Navy that the review is ongoing.
When the Stimulus Bill was passed by Congress and sent to the President for signature with no provisions for surface ship maintenance funding, VSRA decided to prepare and distribute a Funding Press Release to local newspapers.
The strain on surface fleet maintenance funding will, of course, be exacerbated by the need to make costly repairs to the cruiser Port Royal following its recent grounding.