Let’s say you’re in the fortunate position of being able to buy a brand-new car.
Your financing is locked in, all your options are confirmed, and today is The Big Day.
You arrive at the dealership, slide into the driver’s seat, reach for the ignition and…
The car won’t go.
The engine won’t start.
The engine, in fact, needs to be replaced, according to a quick analysis by the dealer’s team.
Your brand-new car needs a brand-new engine.
Would you take delivery on the car?
Would you say, “OK, no problem, I’ll just pay for a new engine”?
Of course not.
You’re smarter than that.
Now let’s say you’re the U.S. Navy.
The Navy has a bigger budget, and it buys bigger vehicles.
Like much bigger, and much more expensive, ships.
Like guided missile destroyer ships.
Like $7.5 billion Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers.
To be specific, the $7.5 billion Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer Michael Monsoor, also known as “hull DDG 1001.”
The Michael Monsoor was named for a United States Navy SEAL who was killed during the Operation Iraqi Freedom and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
I respect and appreciate the Navy’s intention to honor this fallen hero.
Unfortunately, the ship they named to honor him?
The ship won’t go.
One of its $20 million engines needs to be replaced.
The ship hasn’t even started its journey from the shipyard in Maine to its home base of San Diego, much less dispatched any missiles, guided or otherwise.
The Navy knew this in February, but in April accepted delivery of the ship anyway. It didn’t get around to announcing the engine whoops until July.
The reason for accepting a $7.5 billion ship with a failed $20 million engine?
According to a Navy spokesman, they accepted the ship “in order to support planned post-delivery activities…This course of action allowed for crew to move aboard and training to commence as planned.”
So the crew gets to “move aboard” and “commence” practicing not going anywhere.
Now, logic suggests that a brand-new ship has brand-new parts, and those parts would be covered under warranties, right?
A spokesperson for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), said, “It is unlikely that the warranty remains effective” on the engine.
That means that you and I, the taxpayers, are on the hook for the $20 million replacement.
Well, let’s take consolation in the fact that from an original planned purchase of 32 of these Zumwalt-class ships, the Navy wised up and reduced its order to 24, then to seven, and then to just three. The Michael Monsoor is the second of the three.
Three strikes and you’re out.
Out $20 million, that is.