The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the U.S. Navy collected, but did not analyze, limited data on the performance of interim maintenance periods — work that often occurs while a ship is docked and capable to start within 96 hours.
Based on this data, the GAO found that the Navy had completed 191 of 414 (46%) overdue submarine interim maintenance periods from fiscal years 2015 through 2020, totaling 2,525 days of maintenance overdue. The Navy failed to collect several categories of data for submarines, surface ships and aircraft carriers, including planned and actual maintenance costs. Without establishing and implementing procedures to collect and analyze this data, the GAO says the Navy cannot effectively track and improve the performance of interim maintenance periods.
During its review, the GAO identified four key challenges affecting the performance of interim maintenance periods for submarines, surface ships, and aircraft carriers based on discussions with ship crews and ship managers. Navy organizations. Challenges were identified as labor shortages, high operational tempo and schedule, limited maintenance and repair training, and shortage of parts and materials.
The GAO found that ship’s crews and shore-based maintenance contractors took steps to address these challenges, but had limited success because Navy efforts were fragmented, generally did not include sharing best practices and lessons learned, and did not include the execution of interim maintenance periods in its strategic planning.
For example, the Navy’s carrier community independently created a task force to address some aspect of parts shortages, but did not share this effort across the fleet. Additionally, the GAO found that the Navy had not included the execution of interim maintenance windows for submarines, surface ships, and aircraft carriers in strategic planning efforts.
According to the GAO, addressing these issues will allow the Navy to better position the submarines, surface ships and aircraft carriers needed to accomplish their missions.
The GAO makes four recommendations to the Navy, including establishing and implementing procedures to collect and analyze reliable maintenance data; share best practices and lessons learned; and include the execution of interim maintenance windows in strategic planning efforts. The Navy agreed with all four recommendations.