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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress



Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

On July 13, 2012, the Navy submitted to Congress a 73-page report on the Navy’s policies and practices for naming ships. The report was submitted in response to Section 1014 of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540/P.L. 112-81 of December 31, 2011). Names for Navy ships traditionally have been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President and in accordance with rules prescribed by Congress. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time. There have been exceptions to the Navy’s ship-naming rules, particularly for the purpose of naming a ship for a person when the rule for that type of ship would have called for it to be named for something else. Some observers in recent years have perceived a breakdown in, or corruption of, the rules for naming Navy ships. The July 2012 Navy report to Congress states: “Current ship naming policies and practices fall well within the historic spectrum of policies and practices for naming vessels of the Navy, and are altogether consistent with ship naming customs and traditions.”

For ship types now being procured for the Navy, or recently procured for the Navy, naming rules can be summarized as follows:


  • Aircraft carriers are generally named for past U.S. presidents. Of the last 13, 10 were named for past U.S. presidents, and two for Members of Congress. 
  • Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines are being named for states. 
  • Destroyers are named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including Secretaries of the Navy. 
  • Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) are being named for regionally important U.S. cities and communities. 
  • Amphibious assault ships are being named for important battles in which U.S. Marines played a prominent part, and for famous earlier U.S. Navy ships that were not named for battles. 
  • San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ships are being named for major U.S. cities and communities, and cities and communities attacked on September 11, 2001. 
  • Lewis and Clark (TAKE-1) class cargo and ammunition ships were named for famous American explorers, trailblazers, and pioneers. 
  • Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ships/Afloat Forward Staging Bases (AFSBs) are being named for famous names or places of historical significance to U.S. Marines. 

The Navy historically has only rarely named ships for living persons. Since 1973, at least 14 U.S. military ships have been named for persons who were living at the time the name was announced. Members of the public are sometimes interested in having Navy ships named for their own states or cities, for older U.S. Navy ships (particularly those on which they or their relatives served), for battles in which they or their relatives participated, or for people they admire.

Congress has long maintained an interest in how Navy ships are named, and has influenced the naming of certain Navy ships. The Navy suggests that congressional offices wishing to express support for proposals to name a Navy ship for a specific person, place, or thing contact the office of the Secretary of the Navy to make their support known. Congress may also pass legislation relating to ship names. Measures passed by Congress in recent years regarding Navy ship names have all been sense-of-the-Congress provisions.



Date of Report: November 19, 2012
Number of Pages: 31
Order Number: RS22478
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veterans’ Benefits: Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-154)



Christine Scott, Coordinator
Specialist in Social Policy

Congress has in the past enacted legislation providing authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to treat certain veterans for specific medical conditions resulting from their exposure to certain toxic substances or environmental hazards while on active military duty.

In the 1980s, officials at Camp Lejeune became aware of the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water samples. Camp Lejeune was placed on the National Priorities List by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry continues to monitor samples from the water table.

The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 (H.R. 1627, P.L. 112-154, enacted on August 6, 2012) provides authority for the VA to provide medical services for 15 specific illnesses to certain veterans as well as their eligible family members, who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, from January 1, 1957, to December 31, 1987.

In addition to providing the VA authority to provide medical services associated with these specific illnesses to veterans and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune during this time period, P.L. 112-154 makes a number of changes to other VA programs, including housing and other benefit programs. Some of these changes affect VA administration and expand congressional oversight of the VA through increased reporting to Congress, while other changes made by P.L. 112-154 would impact the larger population of veterans. That is, the changes would impact all veterans utilizing these programs, not just veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune during the above specified period.

This report provides information on the various provisions of P.L. 112-154 by program, benefit, or topic, rather than by each legislative provision. However, for each change in a program, benefit, etc., the section number of P.L. 112-154 is provided.



Date of Report: November 5, 2012
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: R42810
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress



Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR) calls for procuring eight National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard cutters and patrol craft. The NSC, OPC, and FRC programs have a combined estimated acquisition cost of about $21.1 billion, and the Coast Guard’s proposed FY2013 budget requests a total of $852 million in acquisition funding for the three programs.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters. They have an estimated average procurement cost of about $684 million per ship. The first three are now in service, and the fourth and fifth are under construction. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2013 budget requests $683 million for the NSC program, including $658 million to complete the funding for the sixth NSC.

OPCs are to be smaller, less expensive, and in some respects less capable than NSCs. They have an estimated average procurement cost of about $484 million per ship. The first OPC is to be procured in FY2017. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2013 budget requests $30 million for the OPC program.

FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs. They have an estimated average procurement cost of about $73 million per boat. A total of 18 have been funded through FY2012. The first entered service on April 14, 2012; the second was delivered to the Coast Guard on May 26, 2012; and the third is scheduled to be delivered by the end of FY2012. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2013 budget requests $139 million for the FRC program.

Potential oversight issues for Congress regarding the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs include the following:


  • the absence of funding in the Coast Guard’s FY2013 five-year (FY2013-FY2017) capital investment plan for the seventh and eighth NSCs; 
  • hull corrosion and leaks in the third NSC; 
  • the Coast Guard’s proposal to restructure the use of FY2012 FRC acquisition funding so as to procure four FRCs in FY2012 rather than six, and to defer the procurement of the other two FY2012-funded FRCs to FY2013; 
  • delays, cost growth, and testing issues in the FRC program; 
  • the Coast Guard’s acquisition strategy for the OPC; 
  • the potential for using multiyear procurement (MYP) in acquiring new cutters; 
  • the adequacy of the Coast Guard’s planned NSC, OPC, and FRC procurement quantities; 
  • whether eight NSCs, 25 OPCs, and 58 FRCs is the best mix of cutters that could be procured for roughly the same total amount of acquisition funding; and 
  • the adequacy of information available to Congress to support review and oversight of Coast Guard procurement programs, including cutter procurement programs.


Date of Report: October 31, 2012
Number of Pages: 62
Order Number: R42567
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress



Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2013 budget includes $8 million in acquisition funding to initiate survey and design activities for a new polar icebreaker. The Coast Guard’s Five Year Capital Investment Plan includes an additional $852 million in FY2014-FY2017 for acquiring the ship. The Coast Guard anticipates awarding a construction contract for the ship “within the next five years” and taking delivery on the ship “within a decade.” The project to design and build a polar icebreaker is a new acquisition project initiated in the FY2013 budget.

Coast Guard polar icebreakers perform a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. The Coast Guard’s two existing heavy polar icebreakers—Polar Star and Polar Sea— have exceeded their intended 30-year service lives, and neither is currently operational. Polar Star was placed in caretaker status on July 1, 2006. Congress in FY2009 and FY2010 provided funding to repair it and return it to service for 7 to 10 years; the Coast Guard expects the reactivation project to be completed in December 2012. On June 25, 2010, the Coast Guard announced that Polar Sea had suffered an unexpected engine casualty; the ship was unavailable for operation after that. The Coast Guard placed Polar Sea in commissioned, inactive status on October 14, 2011.

The Coast Guard’s third polar icebreaker—Healy—entered service in 2000. Compared to Polar Star and Polar Sea, Healy has less icebreaking capability (it is considered a medium polar icebreaker), but more capability for supporting scientific research. The ship is used primarily for supporting scientific research in the Arctic.

The reactivation of Polar Star will result in an operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet consisting for the next 7 to 10 years of one heavy polar icebreaker (Polar Star) and one medium polar icebreaker (Healy). The new polar icebreaker for which initial acquisition funding is requested in the FY2013 budget would replace Polar Star at about the time Polar Star’s 7- to 10-year reactivation period ends.

Potential issues for Congress regarding Coast Guard polar icebreaker modernization include the potential impact on U.S. polar missions of the United States currently having no operational heavy polar icebreakers; the numbers and capabilities of polar icebreakers the Coast Guard will need in the future; the disposition of Polar Sea; whether the new polar icebreaker initiated in the FY2013 budget should be funded with incremental funding (as proposed in the Coast Guard’s Five Year Capital Investment Plan) or full funding in a single year, as normally required under the executive branch’s full funding policy; whether new polar icebreakers should be funded entirely in the Coast Guard budget, or partly or entirely in some other part of the federal budget, such as the Department of Defense (DOD) budget, the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget, or both; whether to provide future icebreaking capability through construction of new ships or service life extensions of existing polar icebreakers; and whether future polar icebreakers should be acquired through a traditional acquisition or a leasing arrangement.



Date of Report: October 26, 2012
Number of Pages: 63
Order Number: RL34391
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Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress



Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. Under MDA and Navy plans, the number of BMD-capable Navy Aegis ships is scheduled to grow from 24 at the end of FY2011 to 36 at the end of FY2018.

Under the Administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for European BMD operations, BMD-capable Aegis ships have begun operating in European waters to defend Europe from potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as Iran. On October 5, 2011, the United States, Spain, and NATO jointly announced that, as part of the EPAA, four BMD-capable Aegis ships are to be forward-homeported (i.e., based) at Rota, Spain, in FY2014 and FY2015. BMD-capable Aegis ships also operate in the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf to provide regional defense against potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as North Korea and Iran.

The Aegis BMD program is funded mostly through MDA’s budget. The Navy’s budget provides additional funding for BMD-related efforts. MDA’s proposed FY2013 budget requests a total of $2,303.0 million in procurement and research and development funding for Aegis BMD efforts, including funding for Aegis Ashore sites that are to be part of the EPAA.

Issues for Congress for FY2013 include:


  • the reduction under the proposed FY2013 budget in the ramp-up rate for numbers of BMD-capable Aegis ships over the next few years; 
  • the cost effectiveness and U.S. economic impact of shifting four Aegis ships to Rota, Spain; 
  • U.S. vs. European naval contributions to European BMD; 
  • the lack of a target for simulating the endo-atmospheric (i.e., final) phase of flight of China’s DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile; 
  • the capability of the SM-3 Block IIB Aegis BMD interceptor; and 
  • concurrency and technical risk in the Aegis BMD program.


Date of Report: October 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 84
Order Number: RL33745
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