Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Congressional Research Service
(Source: Congressional Research Service; issued Nov 22, 2017)
The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years.

The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget, as amended on May 24, 2017, requests the procurement of nine new ships, including one Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class aircraft carrier, two Virginia-class attack submarines, two DDG-51 class destroyers, two Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), one TAO-205 class oiler, and one towing, salvage, and rescue ship.

On December 15, 2016, the Navy released a new force-structure goal that calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. Key points about this new 355-ship force-level goal include the following:

--The 355-ship force-level goal is the result of a Force Structure Assessment (FSA) conducted by the Navy in 2016. The Navy conducts an FSA every few years, as circumstances require, to determine its force-structure goal.

--The new 355-ship force-level goal replaces a 308-ship force-level goal that the Navy released in March 2015.

--The actual size of the Navy in recent years has generally been between 270 and 290 ships.

--The figure of 355 ships appears close to an objective of building toward a fleet of 350 ships that was announced by the Trump campaign organization during the 2016 presidential election campaign. The 355-ship goal, however, reflects the national security strategy and national military strategy that were in place in 2016 (i.e., the Obama Administration’s national security strategy and national military strategy), while the Trump campaign organization’s 350-ship goal appears to have a different origin.

--Compared to the previous 308-ship force-level goal, the new 355-ship force-level goal includes 47 additional ships, or about 15% more ships. More than 47 ships, however, would need to be added to the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan to achieve and maintain the Navy’s 355-ship fleet, unless the Navy extends the service lives of existing ships beyond currently planned figures and/or reactivates recently retired ships:

**CRS estimates that 57 to 67 ships would need to be added to the Navy’s FY 2017 30 -year (FY2017-FY2046) shipbuilding plan to achieve the Navy’s 355-ship fleet and maintain it through the end of the 30-year period (i.e., through FY2046).

**The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 73 to 77 ships would need to be added to the Navy’s FY2018 30-year (FY2018-FY2047) shipbuilding plan to achieve the Navy’s 355-ship fleet and maintain it not only through the end of the 30-year period (i.e., through FY2047), but another 10 years beyond the end of the 30-year period (i.e., through FY2057)


Click here for the full report (131 PDF pages) hosted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists.

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