Staunton, December 17 – With rare exceptions, mostly having to do with submarines, Russia’s naval shipyards have been a disaster, Konstantin Makiyenko says, even though efforts to revive them began earlier than in other parts of military industry and even though Moscow continues to pour money into the branch to deal with its delayed deliveries and rising debts.
In a scathing article in Novoye voyennoye obozreniye, the deputy head of the Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology argues that the problems of the branch are the result of Moscow’s decision to combine all naval production in a Unified Shipbuilding Corporation and the latter’s poor management (nvo.ng.ru/armament/2020-12-17/1_1122_armament.html).
Remarkably, Makiyenko says, Moscow addressed the problems of shipbuilding before it turned its attention to other difficulties in the military-industrial complex. But it has little to show for that besides rising expenditures and ever lengthening delays in the delivery of ships, many of which are far from seaworthy even when they are delivered.
At present, “practically all” shipbuilding projects are behind schedule and far over budget, with no one certain when deliveries will happen or what the costs of the finished product will be. Disturbingly, the larger and the more important the vessel, the greater both of these problems have been.
The holding company the Russian government established, the Unified Shipbuilding Corporation, keeps running up debts to the banks, the government has no choice but to paid the corporation out, but then most of the new money goes to servicing old debts rather than building anything new.
The holding company was created to prevent this from happening, but it remains, Makiyenko says, “a collective farm of various factories” under its aegis but hardly under its control. The situation now, he argues, is more or less exactly what it was ten to fifteen years ago, all government and corporation promises to the contrary.
What this means, the analyst documents, is that “time has been lost, and the funds allocated have been spent to a significant degree ineffectively. Of course, there are many causes. But one of the most important is the ineffective system of administration in the branch.” The holding itself is overstaffed and incapable of reacting to changes.
In fact, Makiyenko continues, the Unified Shipbuilding Corporation is likely “the most ineffective government corporation of those created as a result of the government’s ‘holding arrangements’ for the Russian military industrial sector.” It is good at making promises and taking money; it is not at actually doing its job, building ships.
Makiyenko favors breaking it apart, closing its worst-performing yards, and increasing competition by putting money into the few yards that are effective. Only if all those steps are taken, he suggests, will Russia eventually be able to build the navy it needs.
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