Page 57: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (May 1992)
The Navy, MarAd, And
With the completion of operations in the Persian Gulf, the ships of the Ready Re- serve Fleet (RRF), which had supported the lift of material to the operations area, are returning and will need to be deactivated. This deactiva- tion is critically important since the proper lay- up of these ships will make it easier to mobilize them in the event that we need them in the future.
Normally, the Maritime Administration (MarAd) would compete that work among pri- vate shipyards and award the contracts to the most competitive bidder among the interested yards. The result of such bidding activity is that the shipyards get an opportunity to participate in a project that generates much needed workload, while the U.S. Government obtains repair services that are essential for national defense at a cost savings for the taxpayer.
But language in last year's Dire Supple- mental Bill, used to finance the Persian Gulf operation, clearly indicates that some old, bad habits die hard. In the Supplemental, there was report language that directed the Navy/ MarAd to allocate 50 percent of all deactivations to public sector shipyards. Notice that the tried and true word "competition" is nowhere to be seen. Since the Administration claims to believe that competition is vital in the development of markets, it is amazing that this report language is not only being adhered to, it is being slavishly followed, although there is no statutory require- ment mandating such a division of work.
The Maritime Administration is planning to perform 81 deactivations. Initially, the indus- try had been informed that perhaps 3 or 4 availabilities would be assigned to the Charles- ton Navy Yard. Now, however, because of politi- cal pressure, as many as 21 deactivations may go to the Navy yards, with 13 planned for
Charleston, 6 for Philadelphia (a facility that is on the 1991 Base Closure List), and 2 for a West
Coast Navy yard. The reader should be aware that we are talking about allocations, not con- tracts awarded as a result of competition.
In point of fact, the real scandal has to do with the fact that the Navy yards are not even expected to meet what the Maritime Adminis- tration believes will be the cost to perform the deactivation in the most competitive shipyard.
The procedure follows a path that suggests the days of smoke-filled rooms and back-door deals are not over: MarAd prepares a list of expected deactivations and the scheduled dates for those availabilities. The list is provided to the Naval
Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA, Code 072).
The Command identifies those ships that it wants. Then MarAd provides NAVSEA with the specification of work to be performed. If the
Navy cost estimate is within 30 percent of the estimated cost to complete the job, the contract is awarded to the Navy yard. There is no compe- tition, no pre-award survey to see if the yard is capable of performing the work, no post-perfor- mance audit to see if the Navy yard has properly charged its costs.
The amazed reader might ask, "How did the
Maritime Administration determine that a 30 percent differential is acceptable?" The analysis that was performed was limited to one direct competition between public and private sectors for the first deactivation availability for the SS
Cape Canaveral. In that competition, which was conducted in September 1991, the low bid- der was determined to be Stevens Tech of Nor- folk, Va. The winning bid was $946,000. The bid from the Charleston Navy Yard was $1,223,000.
This result has essentially "baselined" the re- maining deactivations.
While it is true that there were other pri- vate yards that bid on this job (including some that offered higher bids than did Charleston), the fact of the matter is that the Maritime
Administration had no idea what constituted the quality of the Navy yard bid. In other public- private competitions, there are strict rules for bidding and cost comparability that are fol- lowed. This was clearly not the case in the
September 1991 bid.
In fact, the befuddled reader should under- stand that the Maritime Administration is re- ally caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, MarAd is responsible for main- taining the Ready Reserve Fleet, but on the other hand, the purse strings Eire held by the
Navy. The old hackneyed Pentagon rubric of the
Golden Rule clearly applies, "He who has the gold rules."
The bottom line is that the nation's private ship repair sector has to compete against not only subsidized foreign yards in Japan, Ger- many, and the European Community, but also against subsidized yards from the public sector.
Only in ship repair do we see a Republican
Administration abandon its free market prin- ciples to reward a defense arsenal structure that is more reminiscent of the 1890s, rather than that of the 1990s. If socialism has been rejected in the Commonwealth of Independent
States, why does it hang on in the Naval Sea
Let competition decide where these jobs are to go.
Shipbuilders Council of America 4301 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 330
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel.: (703) 276-1700
The freighter Coastal Voyager receiving paint and steel work in
Marine Industries Northwest's MINI I drydock.
Coastal Transport Drydocks
Freighters At MINI
Two freighters operated by Coastal Transpor- tation, of Seattle, were recently drydocked at
Tacoma-based Marine Industries Northwest In- corporated (MINI) for steel repairs and painting.
Regarding the work carried out on the 220-foot by 35-foot Coastal Nomad and 177-foot by 32-foot
Coastal Voyager, Tim Schaffer, port engineer for Coastal Transport said "it's nice to get a job done on time and at the promised price."
The full service shipyard has specialized in carrying out conversion and repair work for 15 years. The 5-acre MINI facility includes 1 acre of covered fabrication and work areas, the 2,800- ton drydock, a 600-ton marine railway and over 800 feet of pier space.
For free literature regarding the marine re- pair and conversion facilities at Marine Indus- tries Northwest's shipyard,
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