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DOD Leases of Foreign-Built Ships: Background for Congress

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Congressional rept.

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Prior to the enactment of the FY2008 defense authorization act H.R. 4986P.L. 110-181 of January 28, 2008, 10 U.S.C. Section 2401 stated DOD may not lease a vessel or aircraft for a period of more than five years unless it is specifically authorized by law to make such a lease. Operating under this provision, the Department of Defense DOD in recent years used lease options and renewals to lease some foreign-built cargo ships for total periods of almost 10 years-a length of time that some observers argue effectively circumvented a legal requirement that U.S. military ships be built in U.S. shipyards. These observers, particularly the American Shipbuilding Association ASA, proposed reducing the current five-year legal limit on ship leases to two years for foreign-built ships. DOD opposed the idea, arguing that its ship leases are the most costeffective way to meet its needs for the ships in question. Section 1011 of the FY2008 defense authorization act amended 10 U.S.C. Section 2401 to permit the Secretary of a military department to lease a vessel for a period of greater than two years, but less than five years, only if the Secretary provides a notification of the lease to the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees including a detailed description of its terms, a justification for entering it rather than purchasing the vessel, a determination that entering into it is the most cost-effective option, and a plan for meeting the requirement upon the leases completion, and a period of 30 days of continuous session of Congress has expired. The explanatory statement on the final version of the FY2010 DOD appropriations act H.R. 3326P.L. 111-118 of December 19, 2009 directed the Navy to update its March 2008 report on the leasing of foreign-built ships and address impacts on American seafarers, sealift capabilities, and naval shipbuilding.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Marine Engineering

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