Over-Classed and Out of Money

The government’s classification system is designed to protect the confidentiality of military information as well as that relating to intelligence and foreign policy. While some might err on the side of caution by over-classifying a document, others could use classification to conceal information they do not want the public or the prying eyes of the media to see. 

The Navy recently decided to classify ship-inspection reports. The Navy Board of Inspection and Survey, or INSURV, inspects roughly 50 ships a year. Some say INSURV can “sink a ship” over the most absurd finding, and, in 2008, several ships seemed to have serious discrepancies and came in just shy of rust-bucket status.

In May 2008, Inside the Headquarters wrote about INSURV. The USS Chosin (CG-65), a guided-missile cruiser and billion-dollar Aegis baby, and the guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG-55) received crippling inspection results. The recently commissioned USS New Orleans (LPD-18), an amphibious transport dock, did not fare much better and might have more in common with her namesake than a fleet praying for 300 ships. The boys over at the blog Information Dissemination did a nice entry on the New Orleans and her bad date with INSURV.

Follow the money. Given the Navy’s penchant for circling the admirals, this revelation should be no surprise — but the timing is. The embarrassment with the Chosin and the Stout happened nearly a year ago, but the latest chapter of the Navy’s budget woes is all fresh and new. The Virginia Pilot recently reported the Navy’s $100 million shortfall in ship repair. The Navy apparently has frozen repair dollars causing problems for repair facilities in the Norfolk, Va., area.

Could those repair dollars be meant for an INSURV vessel whose inspection report now is classified so the visibility of the taxpayer-funded Navy is reduced to zero? Have inspection reports become classified because of budget challenges?

Stay tuned for more on the latest Navy budget novella when we can recount their shakedown of the Marine Corps.

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