Collins: “The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery is the gold standard.”


Senator Collins stresses need to maintain readiness of submarines and support public shipyards


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Washington, D.C. – At a hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2025 budget request for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense, questioned Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti on efforts to reduce the submarine maintenance backlog and highlighted the role federal funding plays in supporting the critical work being done at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) to maintain our Navy’s fleet.


During Q&A with Admiral Franchetti, Senator Collins said:


The Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, SIOP, and the Ship Depot Maintenance line item are both well-resourced in the budget request.  I support these needed investments in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, and in our other shipyards, because during the past decade, fewer than one third of the Navy's attack submarines have completed maintenance on time.


Last year, Navy officials conceded that there were nearly twice as many non-deployable submarines as were anticipated because of maintenance or other issues.  This is a trend that we simply have to reverse.  To what extent – and we make the investments in the budget – can we expect that the submarine maintenance backlog will decline?


Admiral Franchetti:


As you know, our submarines are our true asymmetric advantage, and we really do need to improve on our overall submarine maintenance.


the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, you know, this is a once in a generation, really once in 100-year overhaul, of our four public shipyardsWe really appreciate the investments in those shipyards, because they are so critical to that maintenance that you're talking about.  And this is recapitalization of the dry docks.  It is a reorganization of the shipyard, to ensure that the flow of the work across the shipyard will be effective and more efficient as we're doing that maintenance.


And then of course, upgrading the equipment that is part of that, is all part of the Shipyard [Infrastructure] Optimization Program that we're putting in place.  And I think you will really see those investments pay off over many years


As far as getting our submarines out of the shipyard on time, you know, we've made a lot of progress in putting in place processes that help us look at the data analytics, so we can better understand where are the choke points, what are the barriers to getting our submarines out of maintenance on time, and then working to implement the corrections.  We've put the head of our submarine force in charge of that overall process last year, to really drive the operational demand, and understand the sense of urgency that we need in each one of our shipyards to be able to get them out on time.


One of the other things we've found was that a shortage of supply parts and a rotatable pool would be a way, so we put that in our budget for last year.  We're looking forward to getting those all on contract now.  A little bit delayed, about six months delayed, but we will get that in there, and then expect to see positive results of having those spare parts and long lead time materials in place ahead of time to expedite that maintenance.


Senator Collins:


The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, is the gold standard… I've visited there many times and the physical constraints are a real barrier.  And that's why the SIOP Program has been absolutely critical.




Senator Collins secured substantial funding in the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations package for PNSY to address its modernization needs and support its vital work to enhance our national security.


As the Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins is pressing forward with Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) to hold subcommittee hearings on the President’s budget request.  These hearings provide an important opportunity to assess our country’s needs for the coming year and will help guide Senators Collins and Murray’s efforts to write the annual government funding bills.