Cost to fully modernize 20,000 stateside Navy base buildings pegged at $49 billion
Stars and Stripes December 1, 2023
The Navy would have to spend more than $49 billion to fully repair and upgrade roughly 20,000 buildings on its U.S. bases, according to a new federal report that found maintenance for housing and other facilities chronically underfunded.
Eliminating a $17 billion maintenance backlog and making $32 billion in improvements to the buildings would cost a little less than half of the money needed to replace them, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Thursday.
The report, based on a 2020 study, noted that the costs likely were already higher and would continue to grow.
But the CBO cast doubt on the Navy’s ability to clear that maintenance backlog and further renovate and modernize its buildings to better support uses.
Because of budget pressures, the Defense Department has allowed the services to “cover less than the full amount estimated to maintain and improve” their buildings and other real property, the CBO said.
Funding for facilities in the Navy budget, excluding the Navy Reserve and Marine Corps, ranged from 70% to 85% of estimated needs between 2013 and 2022.
On average, the service spent $2.3 billion annually between 2020 and 2022 on maintenance for its buildings and non-building structures, the report noted.
“That large and growing share of old buildings may have resulted from policies that prioritized funding for combat forces over funding for support areas such as infrastructure,” the CBO said.
Worldwide, the Navy has more than 90,000 buildings covering about 693 million square feet of space.
The CBO studied 20,000 Navy buildings on 59 installations. It excluded those used by the reserve, the Marine Corps or other government departments.
Nearly half of the buildings studied had surpassed their intended useful life of 49 years, the CBO said.
Buildings used for family housing, utilities and ground improvements had higher amounts of deferred maintenance. Troop housing and food service, maintenance and production, and operation and training facilities each had more than $2 billion in total deferred maintenance, according to the report.
Those used for medical services often needed roofing upgrades, electrical system repairs or other improvements to make them fully functional, the report stated.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton in Washington state and Naval Base Coronado, Calif., had deferred maintenance costs that were significantly higher than the $280 million average for Navy bases, according to the report.
Deferred maintenance costs for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam were about $2.3 billion, about 14% of the total for all buildings analyzed in the study, the CBO said.
The three bases are larger than most others, the report noted.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam also had the highest renovation and modernization costs, at about $5 billion. That number represented about 15% of the CBO’s $32 billion estimate to upgrade all of the Navy’s buildings in the study.
Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton and Naval Station Norfolk, Va., also had higher-than-average renovation and modernization costs, according to the report.
Improvement costs per building in the study were highest for those used for administration, hospital and medical care, and troop housing and food services. Those costs were $4.3 million, $2.8 million and $2.7 million, respectively.