Defense Acquisitions:

Evaluation of the Navy's 1999 Naval Surface Fire Support Assessment

NSIAD-99-225: Published: Sep 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1999.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided an analysis of the Navy's assessment of the short-term and long-term costs associated with alternative methods for executing the naval surface fire support mission, including the alternative of reactivating two battleships.

GAO noted that: (1) the Navy's assessment was limited to a comparison of two alternatives--reactivation of battleships and its program of developing an improved gun and munition for certain existing and future surface ships; (2) neither alternative will meet Marine Corps naval surface fire support requirements; (3) the assessment showed that battleships have significantly greater firepower but less range than the destroyers and cruisers; (4) it also showed the costs of manning the battleships to be significantly higher than both the destroyers and cruisers; (5) GAO found that the costs and capabilities data presented in the assessment were derived from actual information that was available on these ships; (6) since neither alternative will meet Marine Corps naval surface fire support requirements, the assessment would have been more valuable if it also compared the cost of upgrading the battleships with capabilities necessary to meet requirements with the Navy's plans to meet these requirements; (7) the Navy does not intend to reactivate the battleships because they do not meet naval surface fire support requirements and have high operating costs and large crews; (8) it said that any modernization alterations to the battleships would be driven by the missions that could be assigned to them and would require further evaluation to determine their cost and schedule; and (9) an official responsible for ship programs said that the Navy chose not to conduct such an evaluation because it would be time consuming and costly.

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