SAN DIEGO– The Secretary of the Navy last week announced he tasked the service to create a 30-year long-term infrastructure plan to get a better understanding of the Navy’s facilities.

“Our dry docks are over 100 years old, our shipyards, in many cases, the infrastructure in those shipyards hasn’t been upgraded in 65 years. If we’re going to get better as a Navy, as a military, as a nation, we have got to get real about the infrastructure problems that we face. So I’ve tasked my staff at the Department of the Navy to put together a 30-year infrastructure plan, just like the shipbuilding plan,” Secretary Carlos Del Toro said during a Feb. 16 keynote speech at the 2023 WEST Conference here, sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. (Photo: GAO)
Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. (Photo: GAO)

The effort aims to help the Navy take long, medium and short-term views on what their highest priorities are in the department, “so that we can actually get real about the challenges that we face in order to get better,” he said.

Del Toro said this builds on the current 20-year billions of dollars Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) that is working to modernize the four public shipyards that perform maintenance and upgrades to the nuclear-powered attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines and aircraft carriers. 

He characterized SIOP as optimizing the public shipyard facilities and infrastructure as well as increasing dry dock capacity and capabilities.

Del Toro said the infrastructure plan is in line with the Navy leadership’s  “Get Real, Get Better” strategy. 

“I’m so damn proud of our CNO and the entire Navy leadership,  coming up with this Get Real, Get Better strategy. This is what it means,” the secretary said.

While he said the new plan builds on the kind of work being performed for SIOP, it is better compared to the 30-year long-term shipbuilding plan that seeks to give members of Congress a longer term view of the Navy’s shipbuilding predictions. 

Del Toro told reporters toward the end of the conference that he does not have any idea about a specific timeline for when this new infrastructure plan will be finished and published, but it will inform the budget process going into fiscal years 2025 and 2026.

“We’re actually trying to pick the entire concept and structure of it and everything. But this is going to be healthy for the development of [Program Objective Memorandum] ‘25 and ‘26, and so forth.”

He said the Navy will publicly release the plan later in the process, when they think it is proper to release it and share it with Congress “and they can help support our efforts.”

“That’s going to be an evolving process that we’ll eventually get to. But I don’t have a specific date in mind when I say okay, it’s ready for release or anything like that,” Del Toro continued.

The secretary said the Navy has to stay ahead of facility and installation challenges, naming recent issues at Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii and the barracks at Naval Support Activity Bethesda. He added he was “very proud of the actions that we took looking at the dry docks in the Puget Sound area.”

The Navy recently suspended work at several West Coast area dry docks after an assessment that found they may not be fully prepared to deal with a strong earthquake.

Del Toro denied the infrastructure plan was driven by the Puget Sound issues but it is “about identifying what the worst problems are and trying to address those worst problems first, so that they don’t become catastrophic. It’s about trying to minimize risk across the entire spectrum of investments that have to be made.”