By Brent D. Sadler and Maiya Clark
PRESIDENT Joe Biden unveiled a generous $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan during his “100 Days” address to Congress – with apparently something for everyone from electric vehicles to senior care. But for the sake of our national defense, there is one area of real infrastructure that deserves attention now: the US Navy shipyards.
If we are to invest in America, the four government-owned, government-run Navy shipyards are excellent candidates for infrastructure spending.
First, they are of vital importance for national defense. These four yards maintain the Navy’s entire nuclear-powered fleet, which includes aircraft carriers, attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines.
Second, the shipyards are in desperate need of this investment: the four yards are over 100 years old and their facilities were gradually built in very different eras of shipbuilding. Today, these facilities face a workload greater than nuclear maintenance capability, creating big problems – and big delays – for aircraft carriers and a growing fleet of submarines.
The Navy already knows exactly how to bring its shipyards into the 21st century. The Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP) is a state-of-the-art plan for a total reengineering of each Navy shipyard using digital modeling.
But as the Navy is strapped for funds, the funds available that the Navy can apply to this plan will not be sufficient, given the need to expand the fleet to keep pace with the Chinese and the Russians.