The Navy denied reports yesterday that it expects widespread failures in power, water and other utility services in the United States because of the year 2000 computer bug.
Although the Navy has not verified that all cities and communities near its installations are fully prepared for the Y2K problem, its survey of local utilities is showing a steady improvement, said Rear Adm. Louis M. Smith.
"I don't think we have a problem with utilities," Smith, commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
The Navy also issued a statement saying, "There are no indications of likely widespread failures of water, electricity, gas or sewer."
The Navy is compiling a database to track the probability of Y2K problems with electric power, water, natural gas and sewer services in communities near Navy and Marine Corps installations. A recent version of the report showed that partial failures in electric utilities were probable or likely in communities that serve nearly 60 Navy and Marine Corps installations.
Smith said that reflected a "worst-case scenario" in which those utilities whose Y2K preparedness was unknown to the Navy were assumed to be likely problems. The most recent version of the database, dated Aug. 19 and including more complete data, showed about 20 likely problem utilities, he said.
In its own assessment of Y2K readiness, the White House recently concluded that national electrical failures are "highly unlikely." It also called disruptions in water service "increasingly unlikely."
Smith said the Navy's assessment is "right in sync" with the White House's.
The year 2000 problem may occur because some computer programs, especially older ones, might fail when the date changes to 2000.
The Navy had posted its database on the Internet but took it down because of what it considered inaccurate and misleading reports of what the data means. Rear Adm. Thomas Jurkowsky said the database would be put back on the Internet with accompanying text explaining the data.