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Fleet material condition worsening according to new report from U.S. Navy

The Navy's annual Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) called the decline "a slight but steady negative trend" that has occurred since fiscal 2017.

NORFOLK, Va. — Bad news for the Navy, and, the 297 deployable ships in the fleet.

The Navy fleet's overall material condition declined in fiscal year 2022.

The Navy's annual Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) called the decline "a slight but steady negative trend" that has occurred since fiscal 2017.

The report found that the material condition of surface ships, submarines, and aircraft carriers "all declined slightly from FY 2021," but that the largest year-to-year drop occurred in the Military Sealift Command Fleet.

Roughly 44% of vessels were overdue for inspection, according to the report, which warned that INSURV does not have enough people to inspect every ship every three years.

"The slow slide in material readiness is cause for concern and needs to be reversed," said retired Navy Captain Joe Bouchard, who served as commanding officer of a guided-missile destroyer and as commanding officer of Naval Station Norfolk.

Bouchard continued: "Those ships are expected to be combat-ready. The American people have a right to expect that the ships they paid for are being maintained properly."

In a statement to 13News Now, Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Sen.Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said, "I am concerned by the results of this report. "

Kaine goes on to say: "The readiness of our Navy is critical to national security and the ability of our sailors and Marines to accomplish their missions. I find it especially troubling that over 40% of vessels that require inspection by INSURV have exceeded the 3-year required inspection timeline. While I am encouraged that some programs, including the Virginia-class submarine, performed well on trials, there is clearly room for improvement.”

In February, a report from the Government Accountability Office revealed troubling long-term trends when it comes to repairing ships and keeping them in the fight.                   

The GAO has found that the Navy is struggling to maintain many of its warships. The study looked at 151 cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, littoral combat ships, and amphibious vessels in the Navy inventory.

According to the report, the analysis of key metrics showed that 10 ship classes are experiencing sustainment challenges. The amount of money needed to maintain the ships has risen by $2.5 billion, but their operating hours have significantly decreased over the last decade.                           

Seven of the 10 classes have also experienced an increase in cost per operating hour.                                       

The GAO found that the San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers suffered the greatest increases in maintenance delays.                                       

The report states: "Over time, this situation has resulted in worsening ship conditions and increased costs to repair and sustain ships."

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