The Navy announced today that Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., will repair USS Cole, which was damaged in a Oct. 12 terrorist attack while in the port of Aden, Yemen. The decision followed a thorough review of the capabilities, costs and schedules associated with public and private shipyards, and included an assessment of how the selection would impact Cole sailors and their families. Ingalls Shipbuilding was determined to be the shipyard best suited to make repairs to the Cole. Cole's industrial availability is scheduled to begin in January 2001 and is expected to take about one year to complete.
In assessing the overall capability of shipyards, Ingalls was deemed most able to effectively manage and complete the work identified in a timely fashion. It was determined that Ingalls can handle any additional work identified during the repair process while also meeting Navy desires to minimize impact on the ship's crew. A major factor in determining where repairs were made was Congressional language in proposed legislation that would provide funding for Cole repairs. This underscores the Navy's commitment to ensuring the welfare of the Cole crew and families.
The selection of Ingalls will allow most of the work to be done by civilian workers experienced in building this type of ship. Most of the crew will be able to remain in Norfolk, living and working as a team based in existing pre-commissioning facilities. Under this arrangement, the majority of the crew will be able to use shore-based trainers and schools to sustain seagoing skills and qualifications while a small group of Cole sailors serve aboard the ship on a rotational basis.
The United States is blessed with a capable and diverse shipbuilding and repair industrial base. For example, the public/private ship repair teams in Hampton Roads area have the resources and talented workforce needed to make repairs to the kind of extensive structural damage seen aboard Cole. These shipyards, however, are obviously less familiar with design and construction of Arleigh Burke class destroyers and their complex combat systems than the two shipyards that build these state-of-the-art ships, Ingalls and Bath Iron Works in Maine. The building yards are better equipped to deal with emergent work as the scope of damage becomes more apparent.
Finally, other shipyards considered capable of handling the work already have significant Navy repair and maintenance work scheduled. Taking on a repair as extensive and complex as Cole requires could have had a significant impact on other programmed repairs.
In this instance, the selection of Ingalls represents the best solution for this unique and demanding situation. Some aspects of the damage remain unknown and will present challenging engineering problems during the repair. The land level facility at Ingalls provides greater flexibility to deal with major structural damage than the fixed block, dry dock facilities in the Norfolk area and at Bath Iron Works. Additionally, required testing and repair of the complex AEGIS Combat System can best be accomplished at one of the two building yards that have existing contractor/government teams with the skill and experience. This industrial capability should ensure that Cole returns to the fleet as quickly as possible for the lowest cost. As the original planning shipyard for the Arleigh Burke destroyer, Bath Iron Works will assist Ingalls in planning for the repairs to Cole.
For further information contact Cmdr. Greg Smith, CHINFO Media Operations, at (703) 697-5342.