GAO: Navy must improve battle damage repair planning and capability

By Aidan Quigley / June 2, 2021 at 3:16 PM

The Navy needs to improve its capabilities for repairing ships damaged in battle, including improving its planning, a new Government Accountability Office report finds.

The Navy's current maintenance capability presents several challenges when providing battle damage repairs, including the lack of established doctrine for battle damage repair, unclear command and control roles and a shortage of repair capacity, the June 2 report states.

Eight organizations are responsible for the Navy's 15 battle damage repair planning efforts, but no designated organization oversees these efforts, according to GAO.

"Without designated leadership, the Navy may be hindered in its efforts to address the many challenges it faces in sustaining its ships during a great power conflict," the report states.

The Navy also does not update ship vulnerability models over ship’s service lives, which could affect the models' accuracy, according to GAO.

"Without periodically assessing and updating its models to accurately reflect the ship's mission-critical systems, the Navy has limited its ability to assess and develop battle damage repair capabilities necessary to sustain ships in a conflict with a great power competitor," the report reads.

GAO recommends the Navy secretary designate an organization to oversee the development of the service's damage repair capability, designate an organization to clarify command and control responsibilities for executing battle damage repair, and require the Navy to periodically update ship vulnerability models.

The Navy partially concurred with GAO's recommendations, stating that NAVSEA is the organization to oversee the damage repair capability and command-and-control responsibilities. Also, the Navy told GAO that NAVSEA personnel will determine when to update ship vulnerability models.