The planned size of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been matters of concern for the congressional defense committees for the past several years.
In February 2006, the Navy presented to Congress a goal of achieving and maintaining a fleet of 313 ships, consisting of certain types and quantities of ships. On March 28, 2012, the Department of Defense (DOD) submitted to Congress an FY2013 30-year (FY2013-FY2042) shipbuilding plan that includes a new goal for a fleet of about 310-316 ships.
The Navy is conducting a force structure assessment, to be completed later this year, that could lead to a refinement of this 310-316 ship plan.
The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget requests funding for the procurement of 10 new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the 310-316 ship goal). The 10 ships include one Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class aircraft carrier, two Virginia-class attack submarines, two DDG-51 class Aegis destroyers, four Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), and one Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV).
These ships are all funded through the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy (SCN) account.
The FY2013-FY2017 five-year shipbuilding plan contains a total of 41 ships—14 ships, or about 25%, less than the 55 ships in the FY2012 five-year (FY2012-FY2016) shipbuilding plan, and 16 ships, or about 28%, less than the 57 ships that were planned for FY2013-FY2017 under the FY2012 budget. Of the 16 ships no longer planned for FY2013-FY2017, 9 were eliminated from the Navy’s shipbuilding plan and 7 were deferred to years beyond FY2017. The nine ships that were eliminated were eight Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs) and one TAGOS ocean surveillance ship. The seven ships deferred beyond FY2017 were one Virginia-class attack submarine, two LCSs, one LSD(X) amphibious ship, and three TAO(X) oilers.
The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget also proposes the early retirement of seven Aegis cruisers and the placement into Reduced Operating Status (ROS) of two LSD-type amphibious ships.
The Navy’s FY2013 30-year (FY2013-FY2042) shipbuilding plan, which was submitted to Congress on March 28, 2012 (more than a month after the submission of the FY2013 budget on February 13, 2012), does not include enough ships to fully support all elements of the Navy’s 310-316 ship goal over the long run. The Navy projects that the fleet would remain below 310 ships during the entire 30-year period, and experience shortfalls at various points in ballistic missile submarines, cruisers-destroyers, attack submarines, and amphibious ships.
The projected cruiser-destroyer and attack submarine shortfalls are smaller than they were projected to be under the FY2012 30-year (FY2012-FY2041) shipbuilding plan, due in part to a reduction in the cruiser-destroyer force-level goal and the insertion of additional destroyers and attack submarines into the FY2013 30-year plan.
In its July 2012 report on the cost of the FY2013 30-year shipbuilding plan, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the plan would cost an average of $20.0 billion per year in constant FY2012 dollars to implement, or about 19% more than the Navy estimates. CBO’s estimate is about 11% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the first 10 years of the plan, about 13% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the second 10 years of the plan, and about 33% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the final 10 years of the plan.
Some of the difference between CBO’s estimate and the Navy’s estimate, particularly in the latter years of the plan, is due to a difference between CBO and the Navy in how to treat inflation in Navy shipbuilding.
Click here for the full report (64 PDF pages) hosted on the Federation of American Scientists website.