The US Navy’s new Ford-class CVN 78 aircraft carrier worth $13 billion is likely to be delivered incomplete and will require more money to complete, a report by US Government Accounting Office (GAO) said November 20.
The ship can overrun by at least $1 billion, the report said.
“With the shipbuilder embarking on one of the most complex phases of construction with the greatest likelihood for cost growth, cost increases beyond the current $12.9 billion cost cap appear likely. In response, the Navy is deferring some work until after ship delivery to create a funding reserve to pay for any additional cost growth stemming from remaining construction risks,” GAO report said.
The ship is one of the three new nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that will replace Nimitz-class carriers designed in the 1960s. The Navy plans to spend $43 billion developing and building the new ships, which are designed to be far superior.
Ford-class aircraft carriers will feature new technologies designed to reduce life-cycle costs. The lead ship, CVN 78, has been under construction since 2008, and early construction on CVN 79 is underway. In 2007 Congress established a cap for procurement costs—which has been adjusted over time.
In September 2013, GAO reported on a $2.3 billion increase in CVN 78 construction costs.
To keep the Navy on budget with such a massive project, Congress imposed a $10.5 billion cost cap in 2007 for the Gerald R. Ford, and a cap of $8.1 billion for subsequent carriers. Since then, the Navy sought, and was granted, adjustments that now cap the costs at $12.9 billion for the Ford and $11.5 billion for the additional carriers.