Navy's Berthing Facilities for Ships Undergoing Overhaul

PLRD-81-41: Published: Jun 23, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 19, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the Navy's use of berthing facilities for ships undergoing overhaul. Each year the Navy overhauls approximately 65 ships in 50 different locations. Since many of these locations do not have adequate nearby berthing and messing facilities for the crews of the ships being overhauled, the Navy must find housing for the crews. When barracks are not available, the Navy prefers to house crew members in barges because they are mobile/flexible, are self-contained, improve administrative control over crews, and provide additional overhaul needs. The Navy believes that many of its older barges do not meet habitability standards and that it will be too expensive to modify all of them. However, the Navy believes that by modifying some of the barges and by building some new ones it will be able to meet future overhaul berthing requirements.

The Navy has not firmed up its inventory objective for berthing barges. Currently, 44 berthing barges are in the active inventory. Two more have recently been delivered, and 14 more have been contracted for and are expected to be delivered by 1984. It is anticipated that some of the older barges will be phased out as some of the newer barges are phased into the inventory. Navy planners need to address whether: (1) because of the continuing critical shortage of skilled personnel, the Navy will reconsider its policy of retaining the ship's crew at the overhaul location in favor of transferring the crew to other ships; (2) the Navy plans to reduce its requirements if decrewing occurs; (3) the Navy is planning to correct its berthing space shortfall by acquiring more berthing barges rather than barracks spaces; (4) the Navy has considered all of the tradeoffs for barracks versus berthing spaces; (5) the Navy has considered other messing alternatives and cost benefits, such as constructing permanent messing facilities within walking distance of the overhaul site; (6) the Navy has surveyed the active and inactive service craft inventory to determine whether any could be converted to berthing barge status at a lower cost than acquiring new barges; and (7) the berthing acquisition program has been effectively coordinated and cost-benefit studies have been performed so as to achieve maximum effectiveness and utilization of resources.

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