Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told a Senate panel on Tuesday the ongoing specter of sequestration could prevent the U.S. Navy from adding an additional ship to a $6.1 billion deal that forms the backbone of the service’s surface fleet.
Last week, the Navy entered into a multi-year contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) for nine Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-51), extending the Navy’s commitment to the high-end surface combatant into 2017.
As it stands now, HII will build five of the DDGs and BIW four. The Navy created an option for a fifth ship for BIW if it could overcome funding restrictions.
“We are currently closely examining whether a commitment to that tenth ship should be made,” Hagel said before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense reported Defense Daily.
The service is $300 million short of exercising the option for the tenth ship under the current sequestration cuts that are part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. In a breakdown of the contracts issued June, 5, HII plan to build the hulls at about $660 million a hull and BIW for $700 million.
Hagel said the Pentagon was still weighing the option to build the tenth BIW DDG.
Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale said it would be up to Congress to approve a reprogramming request to fund the
“We’re going to have to look at this in light of what happens in overall sequestration before we make that final decision,” Hale told the panel.
“We’d like the tenth ship.”
The Burkes are a key component of the Pentagon’s so-called pivot to the Pacific and form the bulk of the Navy’s ballistic missile defense network.
As part of the multi-year deal with BIW and HII, the Navy plans to build three of the planned DDGs in a Flight III that will be tailored from the keel up for the BMD mission.