Toilets on two newest Virginia-based U.S. Navy aircraft carriers that have become repeatedly clogged could require treatments costing $400,000 each to get them working properly, a U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report released Tuesday. The recently-built USS Gerald R. Ford and USS George H.W. Bush were made with sewage systems similar to those used on commercial aircraft, but increased to accommodate more than 4,000 people, the toilets require an acid flush of the system.
U.S. Navy maintenance crews determined both Norfolk-based aircraft carriers’ sewage systems could require costly acid flushes, potentially regularly, to fix the problem, according to the report. Officials said they did not know how many times the treatments would be needed. Existing policies and guidance have not ensured that new ships are reliable and can be sustained as planned. Although the costly toilets are illustrative of the problem, U.S> Navy generally did not include these types of ongoing costs in our calculation.
The report comes amid a debate in Congress, the Pentagon and the White House over expanding the current 293-ship Navy to 355 by the mid-2030, a Trump administration goal. U.S. Navy cost estimators stated that as much as $26 billion of the $130 billion estimated increase in costs “could be accounted for by process changes that resulted in including more indirect costs, such as health and child care for sailors. The Accountability Office report, requested by the Senate Armed Services Committee, found 150 other examples of maintenance problems across ships.