- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One of the Navy’s cruisers is getting a second chance at life.

The USS Port Royal, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser launched in 1992, was slated for decommissioning next year. But Congress‘ top watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, said there may not be a reason to retire the ship — and now the Navy agrees.

In 2009, the ship ran aground off the coast of Hawaii. Then, in response to sequestration, Navy brass decided to retire it and eight other ships rather than face the possibility of expensive overhauls in an era of shrinking budgets.

But the GAO thinks that original estimates “likely overstated modernization costs should the ship be retained in service” and that the Navy’s report to Congress included “some combat-system modernization upgrades that are not consistent with plans for similar cruisers.”

“Unless the Navy re-evaluates its decision, it risks prematurely decommissioning a ship that could provide many additional years of service, as well as needed ballistic missile defense capability,” the GAO said.

The Navy reviewed the information, discovered the ship wasn’t as badly damaged as first thought and now say they agree with the GAO. The Port Royal and 10 other Ticonderoga-class cruisers have been saved from decommissioning and are beginning to undergo refits.

“The Department of the Navy’s material condition assessment indicated that the material condition of the Port Royal is comparable to other similar Ticonderoga-class cruisers,” a response from the service branch said.

The ships had been a point of contention between the Navy, looking for ways to reduce costs, and Congress, who wanted to keep valuable jobs maintaining the ships in their home districts.

Several other items have also faced similar battles in Congress, where lawmakers don’t want to give up manufacturing jobs for their constituents. One recent example was a half-billion dollars for construction of Abrams tanks that the Army said it didn’t need, but that Congress authorized anyway.

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