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'Navy really trying to make it work' on shipyard modernization program, Sen. Kaine says

The May GAO report called the Navy's cost estimates "unrealistic."

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Of the nation's four publicly-owned Naval shipyards, all four are in dire need of modernization. The oldest one is the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, which dates back to0 1767 when it was the Gosport Shipyard. 

So in 2018, the Navy embarked on a 20-year, $21 billion upgrade of the four yards.

But, the Navy's cost estimates for modernizing "have been wildly off point," according to a May report from the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO said the Navy's Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan cost estimates were "unrealistic."

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) toured the Norfolk yard on Tuesday and said inflation has played a role in the numbers.

"That report did attract my attention. I looked at it very carefully," he said.

Kaine said he is generally satisfied with the progress, and that the Navy's efforts to upgrade the facilities are sincere.

"They've come and the present budgets to us that show they're not just taking the plan and pitching it overboard. They're really trying to make it work," he said.

Kaine also spoke about the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate Armed Services Committee recently voted to increase by $45 billion -- $8 billion more than the House.

"I feel very good in seeing what the House did and what we did," he said. "Our bills are closer together than they usually are. So, I think we'll come up with a good top-line number. These investments are good for the country. They're going to be good for Hampton Roads."

Kaine also spoke about "The Brandon Act," legislation designed to help suicidal military personnel receive confidential mental health care.

He said the military has made strides in improving mental health access, but he does not know when exactly the military branches will implement the act's specific provisions.

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