Force Structure:

Navy Is Complying With Battleship Readiness Requirements

NSIAD-99-62: Published: Apr 12, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 1999.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Navy's compliance with the reporting requirements stated in section 1011 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, focusing on whether the Navy: (1) lists and maintains at least two Iowa class battleships on the Naval Vessel Register that are in good material condition and capable of providing adequate fire support for an amphibious assault; (2) retains the existing logistical support necessary to keep at least two Iowa class battleships in active service, including technical manuals, repair and replacement parts, and ordnance; and (3) keeps the two battleships on the register until the Secretary of the Navy certifies that the Navy has within the fleet an operational surface fire support capability that equals or exceeds the fire support capability that the Iowa class battleships would be able to provide for the Marine Corps amphibious assaults and operations ashore.

GAO noted that: (1) the Navy is complying with the battleship readiness requirements stated in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996; (2) the Navy placed two Iowa Class battleships on the register about 2 years after the act's requirement took effect; (3) both ships are in good material condition and have been maintained on the register in the highest readiness category for inactive ships; (4) the Navy's Board of Inspection and Surveys had declared all four of the Iowa Class battleships fit for further service at the time of their last decommissioning; (5) the Navy is retaining the existing logistical support necessary for active operations of the battleships, including technical manuals, repair and replacement parts, and ordnance; (6) the battleship logistics support structure is largely intact, and according to the Navy, production of 16-inch ammunition and propellant could be resumed within a few months; (7) further, two Navy shipyards have the capabilities and facilities needed to work on battleship-size vessels; (8) according to officials, the Navy plans to keep the battleships on the register until its naval surface fire support gun and missile development programs achieve operational capability, which is estimated to occur between fiscal years 2003 and 2008; (9) at that time, it plans to remove the battleships from the register and certify that the fleet has an operational surface fire-support capability that equals or exceeds that of the battleships; (10) in the interim, the Navy does not intend to return any battleships to active service; (11) the Navy states that the battleships cannot meet naval surface fire support requirements for range accuracy and cost too much to operate; and (12) the Marine Corps supports this position.

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