Naval Air: Carrier Cost Catastrophe Coming


November 3, 2006: The British program to build two new carriers has been delayed because of disputes over what they will cost. The British government wants to spend $6.8 billion on the two ships, but the builders want $7.4 billion. The two, 65,000 ton, carriers are to be constructed using some innovative techniques, and with many novel new features (more automation, for example.) The builders are responding to changes the navy has already requested, even before construction has begun. These changes drive builders nuts, and tend to drive the price up sharply. Everyone is trying to avoid the disasters that befell the builders of the French carrier Charles de Gaulle. This ship finally entered service in 2001, after eleven years of construction. The 40,000 ton, nuclear powered, de Gaulle cost nearly $5 billion, which was more than twice the original budget. Even after the budget is agreed to, it will take five years to build the first of the two British carriers.


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