U.S. Navy Plans For 300-Ship Fleet, Despite Shipbuilding Challenges
On Wednesday, the United States Navy submitted a 30-year shipbuilding plan to Congress calling for a fleet of around 300 vessels. Their previous plan had 13 more ships, and their current requested number may continue to drop if costs rise on any major shipbuilding programs.
The plan predicts average annual spending on new ship at just under $17 billion per year over the next three decades. The historical average is generally close to $15 billion. Spending would average about $15.1 billion for the first 10 years, but would shoot up to $19.5 billion per year from 2023 to 2032, mainly due to the cost of replacing the current fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, reports Reuters.
Navy and Defense officials feel that this plan is attainable for the next five years, but may present a resourcing challenge beyond that. The report assumes that shipbuilding funding will increase starting in 2018 and continue through 2032, that ships will remain active through the entirety of their service lives, and that the Navy can avoid cost overruns. If any of these ideas prove wrong, the future will include fewer ships and battle force inventory levels will fluctuate.
The 30-year plan was in line with the Obama administration's budget plan for fiscal 2013 and the associated five-year plan, which had already detailed plans to delay the start of the new nuclear submarine program by two years.
The fleet is expected to grow by nearly 20 ships by 2019. The report states that the future fleet would include about 12-14 ballistic missile submarines, 11 nuclear-power aircraft carriers, 48 attack submarines, zero to 4 cruise missile submarines, about 90 large surface combatants, 55 small surface combatants, 32 amphibious landing ships, 29 logistics ships, and 33 support vessels.
General Dynamics Corp and Huntington Ingalls Industries will be responsible for building three attack submarines and destroyers.
Aside from financial statistics, overall, if the Navy was unable to find the funding to pay for its shipbuilding programs in the mid-term period, its nuclear and conventional battle force plans would have to be changed and the overall size of the battle force will drop below the levels needed to meet all naval presence and war-fighting requirements, says Reuters.