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. In September 2011, the Navy began briefing
congressional offices on a revised 313-ship plan that altered planned numbers
for certain ship categories while staying within the overall total of 313
ships. On January 31, 2012, the Navy announced that it had begun a force
structure assessment, to be completed in several months, that could lead
to a new force structure goal for the Navy.
The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget requests funding for the procurement of 10
new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the 313-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 less, or about 28%, less
than the 57 ships that were planned for FY2013-FY2017 under the FY2012
Of the 16 ships that are no longer planned for FY2013-FY2017, nine were
eliminated from the Navy’s shipbuilding plan and seven 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 that were 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 two LSD-type amphibious ships in FY2013-FY2014.
The Navy’s FY2012 30-year (FY2012-FY2041) shipbuilding plan that was submitted
to Congress last year does not include enough ships to fully support all
elements of the Navy’s 313-ship goal over the long run. Among other
things, the Navy projects that the cruiser-destroyer and attack submarine
forces would drop substantially below required levels in the latter years of
the 30-year plan.
A June 2011 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the cost of the Navy’s
FY2012 30- year (FY2012-FY2041) shipbuilding plan estimated that the plan
would cost an average of $18.0 billion per year in constant FY2011 dollars
to implement, or about 16% more than the Navy estimates. CBO’s estimate is
about 7% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the first 10 years of the
plan, about 10% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the second 10 years of the
plan, and about 31% higher than the Navy’s estimate for the final 10 years
of the plan.
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