$700 Million and a leaky hull

It’s a religious holiday weekend but no doubt some of you are taking advantage of the time to do your taxes. What would Jesus think?

As you re-sort those receipts into piles after the dog has barfed on them, wondering if there’s a way you could justify deducting the little critters (2 out of 2 IRS auditors say you can’t), don’t you want to know where your tax dollars are going? You’re no dummy. From the picture to the left and the heading for this post, you’ve probably figured out this is about a ship.

In January, the USS Coronado was christened in Alabama. By the time we buy 20 of these ships, the cost of each “should” be below $400 million. That’s actually a steal for a US Navy combat vessel. But right now, that’s not the way things are looking. The two that exist presently have cost $700 million each. Do you realize that even if you had won the lottery last week all by yourself, you couldn’t have bought one of these boats? Which is exactly what I wanted to do with that money! So, we really don’t know right now what the final cost of each ship is going to be.

Of the two ships on the high seas, apparently one has a cracked and leaky hull. I lived on a US Navy amphibious ship for six months. I don’t think leaky hulls are what they’re going for.  “The story of this ship is one that makes me ashamed and embarrassed as a former Navy person,” Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican and onetime Navy pilot, said in late 2010, citing billions of dollars in cost overruns. JOHN McCAIN! The man who picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate without any sense of embarrassment is embarrassed by this ship!

Right now the Navy has 285 ships, making it, as Mitt Romney points out, the smallest Navy since 1917. We can expect Romney to make a big deal about this, as if it’s President Obama’s fault, never mind the reality that ship programs takes decades and today’s ships can do far more than ships could do in 1917. But part of the problem is also the program itself. Ships aren’t supposed to have cracks in hulls. We’ve been building ships as a nation for centuries. Why, taxpayer, is this still happening?

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