Navy Sealift:

Observations on the Navy's Ready Reserve Force

NSIAD-86-168: Published: Aug 18, 1986. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1986.

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GAO reviewed the Navy's and the Maritime Administration's (MARAD) efforts to ensure the readiness of the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), specifically, their efforts to: (1) ensure that they can activate RRF ships within required time periods; (2) activate numerous RRF ships concurrently; and (3) ensure the availability of key resources, such as shipyard berthing space and manpower, merchant marine crews, and critical spares.

GAO found that: (1) the Navy and MARAD awarded contracts to 15 firms to berth ships at more than 20 locations nationwide to eliminate fleet congestion, unberthing delays, and overburdening of shipyard labor pools; (2) most of the resources needed to activate RRF ships would be available in the event of an emergency and designated personnel were aware of their duties; (3) although the majority of the shipyards have complete crews, some crews have inadequate skills and experience to operate the older RRF equipment, and would be difficult to assemble within the critical 5- and 10-day activation periods; (4) there would be many competing demands for manpower during a war; (5) the Navy and MARAD have contracted for the maintenance of RRF ships whenever MARAD cannot handle the work load; (6) the Navy and MARAD have improved their methods of computerizing the spare parts inventory; (7) the large number of RRF ships and budgetary constraints may interfere with the Navy's goal to activate all 136 ships at least once every 5 years; (8) activation testing is not accurate since the Navy must use military cargo generated from military exercises during test activations rather than cargo from the U.S. merchant fleet; and (9) due to the limited number of military exercises, the Navy has found it difficult to activate and exercise 27 ships a year for 30 days.

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