Better Planning and Management of Army Watercraft Could Improve Mission Capability While Reducing Excess Numbers and Costs

LCD-79-419: Published: Aug 2, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 1979.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

During a contingency, Army troops will need to be resupplied with ammunition, fuel, spare parts, food, and the like, to sustain their operations. The Army has acquired watercraft to resupply its combat troops and to carry out terminal services at U.S. and foreign seaports. The Army is spending $23 million a year to operate, maintain, and store its watercraft. It has also established an $80 million program to improve watercraft, some of which are in excess of requirements.

The Army's watercraft requirements are questionable because adequate supporting documentation is not available, some assets are seldom used, and other assets have been recognized by the Army as excess. Although the Army has a current inventory of 840 watercraft, it has determined that its requirements total 500. The need for 93 watercraft assigned to an operational project in Europe has also been questioned. The European Command advised the Army that these watercraft were not needed in view of available fixed ports and host nation agreements and asked that they be transferred to another command. The decision to procure new watercraft for container-handling capability appears to be premature since some Army officials believe vessels already in inventory can satisfy the need for container capability and testing has not been adequate to determine the vessles' true performance or fuel costs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Army to: review watercraft requirements to ensure that they can be adequately justified; dispose of unneeded watercraft; expedite the signing of host nation support agreements so that watercraft stored in Europe could be used to satisfy other needs or declared excess; establish criteria for authorizing watercraft to table of distribution and allowance units; make sure that product improvement procurement program funds will not be spent on unneeded watercraft; establish, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Military Sealift Command, priorities to take maximum advantage of available transportation and to ensure that Army watercraft are transported to the area of operations needed; and not commit any procurement funds for a new air cushion vehicle until it makes a cost and economic evaluation analysis to determine its cost effectiveness and utility in a realistic military environment.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 13, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

Feb 16, 2018

Feb 15, 2018

Feb 6, 2018

Jan 31, 2018

Jan 18, 2018

Jan 10, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here