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USS Boxer Unable to Get Underway after Two-Year $200 Million Overhaul, Symptom of Military Readiness Problems

USS Boxer Unable to Get Underway after Two-Year $200 Million Overhaul, Symptom of Military Readiness Problems

Amphibious assault ship is stuck pier-side as it struggles to get underway after a dismal maintenance period

Since reporting aboard and joining the crew here at Legal Insurrection, I have reported on a couple instances of Navy submarines having maintenance/availability issues.

First, there is a pretty serious issue brewing with the ballistic missile submarine replacement program and potentially significant delays to the program, which could have important national security implications: Delays with New Strategic Nuclear Missile Submarine Program Could Damage National Defense, GAO Reports:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), which provides “the public with timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can be used to improve government,” recently released a report raising concerns about the Navy’s Columbia Class ballistic (read nuclear) missile submarine program.

“After more than a year of full-scale construction on the lead Columbia submarine, the shipbuilders are facing delays because of challenges with design, materials, and quality.” Making matters worse, the lead shipbuilder on the project, General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division (Electric Boat), has not conducted a “schedule risk analysis.” “Both GAO leading practices and Department of Defense (DOD) guidance identify schedule risk analysis as a critical tool for understanding and managing program risks that could impact the schedule.” The GAO explains that without the schedule risk analysis being conducted, “programs have limited insight into how schedule risks could affect the likelihood of achieving key program milestones, including delivery, and the amount of margin—or a reserve of extra time—needed to manage critical risks and avoid delays.” The GAO concludes, “[c]hallenges delivering Columbia class submarines on time could have consequences for the nation’s defense.”

What kind of “consequences for the nation’s defense” are we talking about? Well, just about the worst imaginable:

And it is imperative that this sub, with a price tag of $132 billion for the 12-boat program, the lead ship of which is now under construction at Electric Boat, not experience any delays. This could lead to a reduced number of available SSBN assets as the Ohio Class SSBNs begin to decommission. In a worse-case scenario, this could, therefore, cause a potential gap in SSBN deterrent patrol coverage. Or, as the Congressional Research Service puts it: “The [i]issues … include … the risk—due to technical challenges and/or funding-related issues—of a delay in designing and building the lead Columbia-class boat, which could put at risk the Navy’s ability to have the boat ready for its first scheduled deterrent patrol…when it is to deploy in the place of the first retiring Ohio-class SSBN.” However you phrase it, though, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize the seriousness of a situation in which the Nation’s “survivable system for carrying out a retaliatory nuclear attack” is detrimentally impacted.

So the nuclear ballistic missile submarines are at risk. Surely the attack submarine force, which concentrates on anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare, as well as intel collection, is picking up the slack. Turns out, not so much: Nearly 40% of U.S. Attack Submarines are Out of Commission:

As if the military recruiting disaster or the Biden Administration’s embrace of woke and transgender policies for the military wasn’t bad enough, now we find out that almost 40% of U.S. attack submarines, or SSNs, the kind that shoot Tomahawk missiles at land targets and torpedoes at all types of vessels at sea, and conduct intelligence collection missions, i.e. the kind critical for the defense of Taiwan, are out-of-commission and stuck in naval shipyards.

From Bloomberg:

Delays at naval shipyards mean that nearly 40% of US attack submarines are out of commission for repairs, about double the rate the Navy would like, according to new data released by the service.

As of this year, 18 of the US Navy’s 49 attack submarines — 37% — were out of commission, according to previously undisclosed Navy data published by the Congressional Research Service. That leaves the US at a critical disadvantage against China’s numerically superior fleet.

The maintenance backlog has “substantially reduced” the number of nuclear submarines operational at any given moment, cutting the “force’s capacity for meeting day-to-day mission demands and potentially putting increased operational pressure” on submarines that are in service, CRS naval analyst Ronald O’Rourke said in a July 6 report.

Worst of all, the trendline is bad and getting worse, as the 37% out-of-commission rate is “up from 28% overall in 2017 and 33% in 2022, and below the industry best practice of 20%.” “The best year for attack sub availability was fiscal 2015 when 19% — or 10 of the then 53 subs — were in overhaul, according to figures contained in a June 13 Navy information paper.”

So the submarine force is in woeful shape, but surely the surface navy is leading the way and showing the submarine force how it’s done, right?


Check this out from recent reporting: After 2-Year Overhaul, Navy Confirms USS Boxer Can’t Get Underway:

The USS Boxer, one of the Navy’s amphibious warships, is struggling to get to sea despite recently coming out of a maintenance period that cost the Navy $200 million and was supposed to ready the ship for the service’s newest fighter jet.

The Boxer was supposed to go to sea on July 21 but couldn’t “because of ongoing maintenance issues,” Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson, a spokesman for the Naval Surface Force, told in a statement.

The Navy did not offer details on what issues specifically kept the ship in port, citing “operational security,” but Abrahamson was clear that “the Boxer’s preparation for sea trials identified additional maintenance requirements before the ship could get underway.”

The problems for the Boxer come at a time when they should be least expected — about a year after the ship left a maintenance period that began in the summer of 2020 and cost $200 million, according to a statement from BAE systems, the contractor for the work.

The most notable upgrade was a new deck that would be able to support the new F-35B Lightning II strike fighter. However, the ship also received work on its hull as well as tank and mechanical work and “other shipboard improvements,” according to BAE’s statement.

The ship began its service in the Navy in 1995, nearly 30 years ago.

Abrahamson confirmed that the Boxer completed this maintenance period “in mid-2022, undergoing upgrades and modernizations to the ship” while other Navy statements highlighted the fact that this overhaul lasted “more than two years.”

After the maintenance period, the ship briefly put to sea in June 2022. Images posted online show the ship at sea with an F-35B fighter flying near the ship’s deck. However, it appears that’s the only time the ship managed to set sail since leaving the shipyards.

Abrahamson said that after this cruise, the “Boxer executed additional maintenance requirements in preparation for its sea trial period,” but those sea trials have yet to take place.

“The ship expects to begin sea trials in the near future as part of its workup cycle for deployment,” Abrahamson said.

Alarmingly, Abrahamson said that part of the problem is “specific instances of maintenance casualties,” which he can’t discuss “due to operational security.” “Maintenance casualties” usually means damage to various equipment due to shoddy repair workmanship or improper retesting upon completion of repair work. Neither situation is good.

And, “Boxer’s sister ship, the Bonhomme Richard, was lost to fire in July 2020. Despite the loss of the Bonhomme Richard and the unavailability of the Boxer, Abrahamson said the Navy was been able to meet ‘every global force demand‘ for its amphibious forces in 2022.”

That statement is consistent with other Navy puff piece statements about Boxer. In fact, in April, while this disaster was unfolding, the Navy ran a ridiculous article highlighting the “foundation of excellence” aboard USS Boxer:

If you want to see a Navy team dedicated to keeping a culture of excellence, look no further than the deck department aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4).

The officers, boatswain’s mates (BMs) and undesignated seamen who make up the deck department on Boxer maintain the highest Navy standards because they know their work is essential to the mission.


This is one example of why professionalism, pride, and discipline are fundamental elements of the concept of readiness. A professional crew working like an engine is what makes a ship ready to complete any mission it is assigned. This is a mindset professionalism and high performance that creates a culture where crews thrive.

According to Williams, no one knows this better than deck department as material readiness and shipboard preservation are core to the mission of any ship.

Someone needs to put the Navy public affairs people in overhaul.

And we aren’t the only ones who have noticed:

The Navy needs to right the ship ASAP. How that’s going to happen under Joe Biden’s leadership is anyone’s guess.


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Conservative Beaner | August 12, 2023 at 6:24 pm

When you’re worried about wokeness material maintenance and training lag behind.

I fear readiness will suffer and there will be many deaths.

I don’t understand it. Why would anyone have a problem with being 1000 feet below the surface of the ocean, in a sub built and maintained by diversity hires?

    Andy in reply to txvet2. | August 13, 2023 at 1:15 am

    I have seen the org charts of another place this is happening that is even MORE problematic than this and let’s just say there’s lots of “representation” at senior levels.

“The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is meant to be a rapid-response force, designed for quick deployment to handle crises anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
At times, it doesn’t have the ships to leave its bases in Japan.”

We have Navy commanders giving away secrets for money, booze, drugs and women……

‘Fat Leonard’ probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals

E Howard Hunt | August 12, 2023 at 6:43 pm

Hey, if extra security guards at a corner DC grocery store costs $300 million, how can you repair a carrier for a third less?

So what navy is doing better on readiness?

Britain’s (oops ally)

Japan’s? (oops another ally)

French Navy? Oh never mind they are an ally

Italian navy? Oh right ally

The list of the world’s strongest navies are with the exception of Russia and China lists of American allies.

Like it or not our world just isn’t that dangerous at least not for the United States.

    Fishman in reply to Danny. | August 13, 2023 at 8:10 am

    Interesting statement “our world just isn’t that dangerous at least not for the United States” with a land war in Europe where our military supplies get depleted, per our president. Three of the four militaries you mentioned have contributed huge amount of materials but have not repulsed the Russians. And the BRIC countries are working on developing alternative reserve currencies. Having a higher readiness than us does not imply much of anything

      Danny in reply to Fishman. | August 13, 2023 at 5:11 pm

      Before starting actually implementing and living up the Minsk Accords would have prevented this war and everything we have expended would still be available.

      However what does Russia losing a ship to a variant of a missile they designed that based on the low success rate of most missiles launched at Russia they had more than enough technological capability to stop say about the readiness of the Russian fleet?

      Furthermore without western intervention Russia would have already won the war without needing to try to bleed the Ukrainian offensive. While we can’t defeat Russia with our equipment the fact that it made the war challenging for Russia says a lot about what level of threat we are actually under.

      Looking at how much western allies contributed just confirms that this is not a dangerous world for America it shows that our military priorities are very powerfully backed up by other nations.

    audax in reply to Danny. | August 13, 2023 at 11:06 am

    I just looked up the USS Boxer Command Team. Guess what color the entire team is, both officer and Senior Enlisted, including the Chaplain? It ain’t white.

    James Nault in reply to Danny. | August 13, 2023 at 11:20 am

    “Like it or not our world just isn’t that dangerous at least not for the United States.”

    Thank you for posting but I have to pump the brakes a bit on this statement. Russia and China have massive and in some respects extremely capable navies, and they each have land-based, bomber-based, and submarine-based nuclear weapons that can wipe us out, so…, I’m not sure where you are getting this “isn’t that dangerous” stuff.

      Thank you for responding and I am glad you did.

      You are right Russian and Chinese do have powerful submarine fleets and what is on paper powerful bomber fleets (how long did it take Russia to degrade Ukraine’s air defense system and is the amount of time that took against a third rate power consistent with them having the desire to face a military that even hypothetically is stronger? Even assuming the Chinese pilots are better trained with better doctrine did you factor in Japanese military strength or South Korean or Vietnamese (the Vietnamese are to say the least not fans of China)? Neither should be ignored, and I am 100% sure that China is considering those.

      Even if Chinese pilots have a training program with the flight hours of the United States instead of Russia that has to be put up against not only our airforce and air defenses but our allies.

      In terms of military budgets just the U.S. military budget dwarfs Russia and China combined.

      Furthermore the most incompetent military isn’t the Russian one it is the German one and they have invested 100 billion into cleaning up their military and making it worth having which while not a game changer today changes the map significantly in the long term.

      I also would like to remind you that unlike the Russian diesel submarines Russian nuclear ones are frankly inferior at everything to American ones,

      This isn’t a hur hur nationalism post, or what has in the west been a traditional racism towards Slavic countries. France has a higher military budget than Russia let alone the United States. I don’t question that there are major capabilities to Russian and Chinese forces only that they are capable of threatening the United States.

      Even for a military you get what you pay for which is why instead of being able to overrun Ukraine they ended up with an ongoing Ukrainian offensive.

    Christopher B in reply to Danny. | August 13, 2023 at 11:44 am

    You obviously don’t know how far behind the second place is. Between full carriers (CV) and aircraft capable assault ships the US has more carriers than the rest of the world’s navies combined.

      I do know, the point of the post was to push back against the we are becoming militarily vulnerable/unprepared narrative by pointing out not only are they still inferior the other powerful navies are almost all our allies.

        Ironclaw in reply to Danny. | August 13, 2023 at 5:46 pm

        For how long? The pedophile-in-chief seems pretty focused on alienating most of the rest of the world with his weaknesses.

          Danny in reply to Ironclaw. | August 13, 2023 at 9:17 pm

          So where is Russia grabbing the cash to increase the quality of their navy to match the French (let alone United States) from?

          OK lets say it takes money from the war in Ukraine to create an aircraft carrier to match De Gaul.

          They will then need to upgrade the aircraft they have for it

          They then need to require a real pilot training course to make their pilots fly as long as their American counterparts

          They then need to have enough stockpiled parts and qualified mechanics to keep their new planes in order

          And after all of this spending the Russian fleet is STILL dramatically inferior to the United States without powerful allies like France

          Let alone with powerful allies like Japan

          Let alone with powerful allies like Britain

          Let alone with weak allies like Australia who actually has a navy that would in any conflict back the U.S. Navy.

I have it on good authority that everything is built back better, brandon, ’cause we got butts3x flags flying at the white house.

Well, that really inspires confidence. At least they have rainbow flags and have to salute a pedophile…

Not sure why anyone is worried about our national security. We could just misgender the enemy into oblivion.
Maybe toss in a few wrong pronouns as they’re on the verge of surrender just so they know they were going lose no matter what.

Why are we spending money on our own equipment?

The USA must assist the tyrannical Western elites with spreading their New World Order into all Western countries. Mega-billions of dollars to Ukraine!!!!

“The Government Accountability Office (GAO), which provides “the public with timely, fact-based, non-partisan information”

Yeah? How did THEY escape the Long March?
Or is this just a motto, like “safe and effective?”

Money well spent

With these maintenance problems you know the Red Chinese are completely aware of our self inflicted shortcomings as they are engaged in a massive build program for the PLAN. What is needed is someone like Rickover to raise Hell with these contractors and hold their feet to the fire.

Hoist the rainbow flag and prepare to get underway!

I’m sure the Chinese approve of this message.

Of course no senior officers or flag officers are aware of any of this. All are quiet as long as all is quiet?

The BOXER? No, can’t be…

This is what happens when you only promote sycophants and sociopaths to senior leadership in the military. I remember having a commanding officer who said in front of everyone that he only gives the prime jobs (needed for promotion) to Naval Academy graduates, and he was PROUD of that fact. He’s was able to secure himself a professor job at the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterrey despite not having the CV to teach technical courses. He’s now has a cush job with a defense contractor. His is fully corrupt and without any ethics or morals. The funny thing is that he’s a bible thumper, but he treats people like crap.

A comment by “AUDAX” at 11:06 am says he looked at the Boxer command team and states ….. ‘it ain’t white.” First of all, that is a terrible thing to say, a typical leftist type of comment. Second, I’m pretty sure their color is NAVY BLUE. Third, it’s NOT TRUE. Maybe AUDAX didn’t maneuver the website correctly, whatever. Our Navy has enough problems without comments like that. Shame on you.

Subotai Bahadur | August 13, 2023 at 9:11 pm

A little history. I started writing as a sideline to my main job [Peace Officer] in the 1980’s. I kind of fell into writing for professional military and naval journals. And as such, on my vacations from work, I got invitations to interesting places. One of which was Pascagoula, Miss. at the Ingall’s shipyard. This was before it was taken over by Litton. I was a guest aboard the USS YORKTOWN [CG-48], the second of the AEGIS missile cruisers. Two stories from that trip that apply here.

First, the YORKTOWN was back in port for what is called “post-shakedown yard availability”. After a ship is commissioned, she goes on a shakedown cruise where the officers and crew test everything and try to get anything that is not going to work to break. Then they take it back to the shipyard, and they have to fix it or they don’t get paid.

They took her out and really tried. I was told by everyone from the Captain on down, that not one single thing did not work to spec or better. She was scheduled to come into the yard, but with nothing to do, they were taking on stores and were going to deploy early. Also while aboard, I was on the fantail looking across the shipyard at the slip where the USS WASP [LHA-1], the lead ship of the class the BOXER is, was having her keel laid. Ingalls, before being bought by Litton, built some bloody good ships. From what I heard later, WASP was not quite as perfect as YORKTOWN, but was close.

Today . . . I think we are scrod. That is the past, pluperfect subjunctive.

Subotai Bahadur

After the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Navy has been covering its ass from one scandal to another. From blaming Admiral Kimmel for the attack on Pearl Harbor to the “Love Boat” carrier where many female crew members came home pregnant to the disastrous ships they have designed and seen fail and their new aircraft design failures, to where they are now as a social engineering organization. I could go on and on about their failures and the leadership that is the problem but it won’t change under Biden. In fact, it hasn’t changed under many POTUS. To this day I do not believe the Navy can protect a carrier from attack with modern weapons. A well-coordinated attack from below, on the surface, and missiles from aircraft launchers would certainly sink one or totally put it out of service for months, yet that is the backbone of the Navy other than the subs. It is time for a total overhaul of their aims as well as their leadership.

    DaveGinOly in reply to inspectorudy. | August 14, 2023 at 1:46 am

    “To this day I do not believe the Navy can protect a carrier from attack with modern weapons.”

    Yup. As usual, our military is well-prepared to fight the last war, rather than the next. We’ve gotten away with using carriers against third-rate (and lesser) military powers for more than 70 years, and think the lesson from that is that carriers remain the ne plus ultra of seaborne combat power. I fear we’re in for a very harsh reality check some day.