Navy to spend over $4 billion in next five years to improve shipyards

By Aidan Quigley / June 9, 2021 at 6:11 PM

The Navy is planning to spend over $4 billion over the next five years to improve its shipyards, including work on six drydocks and an investment in capital equipment, Adm. William Lescher, the vice chief of naval operations, told lawmakers Wednesday.

Lescher, speaking to the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee, said the fiscal year 2022 budget spends $830 million on the service's 20-year Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan, focusing primarily on drydock improvements at Portsmouth and Norfolk shipyards.

The Navy has been exploring options to accelerate the 20-year, $21 billion SIOP, its plan to upgrade the infrastructure of its four public shipyards. Last month, lawmakers asked for a more detailed five-year infrastructure plan, which Lescher described to the committee Wednesday.

This year, the service is working on digital twin models of the shipyards, according to Lescher.

The Navy received just one bid for work on the Portsmouth drydock, he said, which came in well above what the Navy had expected.

"There is some strong learning for us in that," the admiral said. "Both in terms of current market conditions driving volatility in terms of raw materials, the complexity of these projects. A pacing element is not just funding, it's the ability to preserve and do maintenance while recapitalizing Navy shipyards."

The Navy is in negotiations about the Portsmouth contract despite not having the competition expected, according to the admiral.

"We still want to bring a sense of urgency to this, we want to bring a clear sense of prioritization to this," he said.