Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro stands during the playing of taps at a U.S. Navy Band performance at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington as part of the band’s Concerts on the Avenue series. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Musician Adam Grimm/Released)

SEA AIR SPACE 2024 — After spending nearly two months conducting a shipbuilding review that publicly acknowledged years-long delays in the Navy’s premiere warship programs, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro today said he is ordering another review to “take a deep dive into the opportunities for improvement identified” in the previous review — a bureaucratic twist emblematic of the Pentagon.

“I have tasked my new Office of Strategic Assessment to take a deep dive into the opportunities for improvement identified in the 45-day comprehensive shipbuilding review that I ordered at the start of this year,” Del Toro told an audience at the Sea Air Space Exposition.

The shipbuilding review Del Toro ordered in January concluded last month and publicly accounted for years-long delays plaguing the service’s premiere warship programs. Navy officials who talked to reporters at the Pentagon about the review’s results were candid they lacked much in the way of solutions to the service’s problems.

Despite personally announcing the shipbuilding review, Del Toro did not address reporters at the Pentagon at the review’s conclusion and today’s remarks were his first since its results were published. As he did at West in February, he again laid blame at the feet of industry — many of whom made up a significant portion of the audience at this year’s annual conference.

“As the findings of the 45-day comprehensive shipbuilding review have underscored, too many of our industrial partners are behind schedule and over budget on our highest priority programs,” Del Toro said during his speech.

As for what OSA will study, that, like the results of the shipbuilding review when it was first announced, were only vaguely explained by the secretary.

“I’ve also tasked OSA to develop innovative new approaches for how the Navy can better organize itself to procure ships more effectively,” Del Toro said. “I created OSA for just this kind of purpose — to provide data-driven assessments and recommendations that will help drive smart choices for our Department. And I will be taking action in other areas that directly bear on our acquisition challenges.”

Speaking to reporters following his remarks, Del Toro said his comments towards industry in recent months shouldn’t be “overplayed” and that any time private companies do something “nefarious” the government must hold them accountable, referring to comments he made in February about a Navy legal office investigating allegations of misconduct.

“But the broader point, the more significant point to what I have been saying is that it takes a team effort, and the American taxpayers are making enormous investments in the industrial base,” he continued. “At the same time, I need industry to make the proper capital investments themselves, and if you take a look at the major primes in this country that work in the defense industry, about a third of them are putting enormous buybacks into their own stocks. That prevents basically the utilization of those monies to be able to recapitalize those industries to try to get us to a better place.”

Del Toro also disputed a suggestion that Navy officials, while publicizing the shipbuilding review, had more problems than solutions to discuss publicly.

“There is a plan in place,” he said of next steps following the shipbuilding review. “We’re not waiting to actually start executing. We directed [Vice Adm. James] Downey, for example, to move many of his engineering designers out of [Naval Sea Systems Command] and go up to Fincantieri to sit side-by-side with the design team at Fincantieri.”

Fincantieri Marinette Marine, based in Wisconsin, is the prime contractor for the Navy’s new Constellation-class frigate, which the shipbuilding review found the program’s schedule was setback by as much as three years.

SECNAV’s announcement comes as he and other Navy brass are scheduled to begin defending their annual budget request on Capitol Hill tomorrow where the delays acknowledged in his shipbuilding review are sure to come up in lawmakers’ questioning.