DOD IG to evaluate Navy's sealift recapitalization

By Abby Shepherd / July 9, 2024 at 4:44 PM

The Defense Department inspector general's office will assess the Navy's efforts to recapitalize its sealift fleet, according to a memo released Tuesday.

The office will specifically evaluate the effectiveness of service life extensions, acquisition of used vessels and new vessel construction, yet the memo adds that the office may revise its objectives as the evaluation proceeds.

Evaluation at the Navy, U.S. Transportation Command, Military Sealift Command and the Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration will begin this month.

The announcement follows discussion and legislative proposals surrounding sealift recapitalization, including an amendment in the House’s defense policy bill that would codify and update sealift capacity-focused National Security Directive 28.

The Senate Armed Services Committee also released its version of the fiscal year 2025 defense policy bill Monday, which calls for strategic sealift modernization. Senate authorizers require “a better understanding of the existing cargo ship market, including vessels that might be available for purchase, and how new ships from the U.S. Navy’s long-range shipbuilding plans and purchases of used vessels will meet our strategic sealift needs,” the bill’s committee report notes.

Senate authorizers have also directed the TRANSCOM commander to brief congressional defense committees no later than Jan. 31, 2025, on several sealift issues, including the market for used cargo ships and long-term plans for new ship construction.

The Navy brought forward a sealift legislative proposal in May that would allow the service to buy foreign, used vessels. In a House Armed Services Committee Navy budget hearing that month, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti detailed several sealift capacity solutions, calling the function “critically important.”

“We’ve already bought a number of ships and we are projected to buy up to nine, which is our limit, so we have a legislative proposal in there to remove that limit, so we can continue to do that,” she told lawmakers at the time.