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Lawmakers ask for Hypothetical Budgets to Build a 355 Ship Navy

Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) sits pier side in the early morning light at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2014. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) sits pier side in the early morning light at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2014. US Navy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lawmakers have asked the Congressional Budget Office for data on what it would take to reach a 355-ship Navy over various periods of time, the chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee said today.

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) told congressional and industry representatives at an Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition event that CBO was working on tallying the cost over the coming decades.

“We have asked the Congressional Budget Office to give us scenarios about how we get to 355 ships over the course of time. How do we get there in 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, 30 years?” Wittman said.
“We want to see the progress that we can make, we want to understand how we devote the dollars, the resources to make sure we get there. An important part of that formula too is not just building the ships, but how do we address what’s called the tail? How do we make sure we have the Marines and the sailors well-trained onboard those ships when we bring those ships into the fleet? To me that’s an important part of it too, we want to make sure we have that, so we have a whole plan, a plan that we can easily attain to make sure we get the fleet where it needs to be, specifically with 38 amphib ships.”

Wittman later noted that maintaining the current fleet must be done “equally as fervent” as the desire to build more new ships.

“It’s important that we build ships, but it’s also equally important that we maintain the ships that we have. And I want to make sure that we stay on track to do that because if we are going to get the service life that we expect out of our ships, we have to be as aggressive in maintaining them,” he said.
“That’s going to be the key to getting to 355, so I want to make sure everybody understands that commitment not only to build ships but to make sure we’re aggressively maintaining those ships to make sure they don’t miss service availabilities; to make sure they get to the yard; to make sure the work, when they’re in the yard, gets done; and to make sure they go back to sea they have the full capability necessary to get the job done.”

At the event, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller told USNI News during a question and answer session that, if properly resourced, the Marine Corps could address current readiness issues, procure more aircraft and grow the force to support the additional amphibious ships Congress funds.

“There’s going to have to be a look at the timeline because none of this is going to happen over night. Even if you had the funding to increase the acquisition of airplanes, or even if you had the money to increase the throughput through fleet readiness centers or you had the money to build ships, it’s going to take time,” Neller said.
“So, there are certain ways to go faster: block buys; sustainable, consistent funding; all the things that, we know, those require decisions. So I’m confident that we’ll figure out a way to do it, try to get all these capabilities – first get the readiness situation fixed, acquire new systems and platforms, and then as was mentioned, you’ve got to be able to sustain.”

To begin moving towards this larger amphibious fleet, the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition sent a letter to Congress today asking for four things:

  1. Provide $1.83 billion for the construction of a 13th San Antonio-class amphibious warship, LPD 29. Committing to building LPD 29 will allow suppliers and builders to leverage the many advantages offered by a hot production line and supply chain and take advantage of the investments that have already been made in jobs, skilled workers and equipment.
  2. Move up the construction of the next-generation amphibious warship, LX(R), by two years, from 2020 to 2018. This will build on the significant investments made by Congress in the San Antonio-class of LPD amphibious warships, and in particular LPD 28, which is currently under construction.
  3. Provide funding for the purchase of long lead, class standard, and other critical path material for the construction of the first five LX(R)s. The advance order of material for these ships allows for cost savings, predictability, efficient ship production, and acceleration of ship deliveries for the Navy and Marine Corps. This action will also enable the industrial base, which includes numerous small and medium sized businesses across the country, to invest with certainty for the future.
  4. Accelerate funding to begin construction in 2021 of LHA 9 – the fourth America-class large deck amphibious warship. The current production gap between LHA 8 and LHA 9 is 7 years. This prolonged gap in production will result in a shutdown and then restart of the LHA production line at great cost to the nation and the U.S. Navy.

  • Ed L

    Nothing about the new Frigate in the Article. That’s disappointing.

    • Samuel Clemens

      Yeah, because like they have such a coherent strategy and everything.

    • Secundius

      That’s because NEW Frigate Design Competition ISN’T Until 2019…

      • old guy

        As the Germans would say,’Morgen, Morgen, nur nicht Hutte, Zorgen Alle Foille Leiter”

        • Secundius

          Part II, allow for “Bareboat” (Stripped Down) purchases and Outfitting them Here…

        • Charles Montgomery Burns

          The correct spelling is “Morgen, morgen, nur nicht heute, sagen alle faulen Leute”. But you got the commas right. Another classic is “Was du heute kannst besorgen das verschiebe nicht auf morgen”.

          • old guy

            Danke schoen. I like that one, too. Just not me.

  • Samuel Clemens

    WTF? Throwing away money for the sake of throwing away money. No purpose. No function. No reason. No strategy. Just absurd numbers for the sake of burning up money. Apparently “common sense” means having the same number of floating platforms as in WWI before that cad Billy Bishop showed airplanes might be a menace. Good thing they canned him, not a minute too soon. What a horror if word got out.

    How clever building so many floating targets for Russian and Chinese missiles, kinetic kill weapons, torpedoes, UAVs on the surface, submarine, and air. Too bad it will kill 10,000s of sailors pointlessly too. Sick society on a binge of ever deeper sickness. Oh please raise our taxes and destroy the most vulnerable in our society as the least we can do to help out. We must show we can achieve the same low barbarity of our admired mentors in Russia, our new moral leaders. Make the world safe for despots. So build away!

    • Marcd30319

      Tell us what you really think, Sam.

    • old guy

      SAM, you’re my man!!!!!!

  • PolicyWonk

    So we’re going to toss a ton of money at the navy, and not do anything to address the monstrously bloated, redundant, and wasteful acquisition process?

    Outstanding!

  • Ed L

    But the National Security Cutter is mention in this document but only for the coast guard. Even though Huntington appears to have a proposal out to the Navy to use the NSC cutter design for a new Frigate/Corvette design with VLS, 76mm gun, SeaRAM, etc.

  • vincedc

    Interesting feat of diversion. Let’s look funding the fleet over the next 30 years, when they haven’t passed a budget to get them past the next three months. Probably should have put the story that follows this one, before it to show how congress sets its priorities.

  • Secundius

    Doesn’t “Solve” the Problem! Only “Mitigates” the Problem for a Future Time (aka “Kicking the Can” Down the Road, NOT YET BUILT)…

    • chris chuba

      More ships creates more maintenance problems and more crew readiness problems.

      • Secundius

        And “Wishful Thinking” Doesn’t Carry the Day in a Battle…

  • LibertyPrimeUS

    Still have no plans to build ANY diesel electric SSK or the AIP SSP? Not saying surface ships are useless, but submarine number need to be increased drastically.

    There’s a new article today on warontherocks:
    “Has China Been Practicing Preemptive Missile Strikes Against U.S. Bases?”

    • Secundius

      Not “Expensive” Enough…

    • Donald Carey

      Non-nuclear powered subs are useless for anything except near-shore homeland defense.

      • Secundius

        Somebody forgot to tell the Australians then? Because the Collins class SSK’s typically had Patrols in Excess of 9,000nmi from ANY Australian Naval Base…

        • Donald Carey

          The Germans in WW-II even sent subs to Japan – and it took months. That is NOT anywhere near as quickly as the time it would take a nuclear powered sub. The tactical usefulness is vastly different, a conventionally powered sub with a 20,000 nm range at speeds below 10 kts has nowhere near the usefulness of a nuclear powered sub with a range only limited by the food it can carry and able to cruise at speeds over 30 kts.
          Remember too, the crew is also a cost center – both types of sub cost roughly the same per man.
          As long as we have allied navies with conventional subs, (so we can train hunting them), we don’t need any. If only our potential enemies had them, I could see us acquiring a couple for that purpose.

          • Secundius

            A “Virginia” class SSN take 3 to 4-years to Build, Outfit and Commissioning. While a SSK takes Just 2-Years. US Navy is also Experimenting with 3D “Food” Printers for Extended Stay Missions. “Mediums” for Printers “Take-up” Less Spacing on Submarines. As far a Speed and Endurance: “Even a blind squirrel, finds a nut from time to time”. And the “Gato’s of WW2, Found a Lot of Nuts in WW2…

          • Donald Carey

            Build a sub in half the time that is 1/10th as effective – right on!!

            p.s. Blind squirrels can still smell…

          • Secundius

            It’s ONLY 1/10th Effective if YOU Believe it’s 1/10th EFFECTIVE. HSMS Gotland (type A19) SSK, sank CVN-76, USS Ronald Reagan in March 2007…

          • Donald Carey

            Wargames, while useful, do not always reflect reality. In the real world, General Nathan Bedford Forrest’ s maxim “get there firstest with the mostest” still applies. Conventional subs just don’t measure up.

          • Secundius

            “SH|T HAPPENS”…

  • Aaron_Burr

    Since we’ve been steadily reducing the size of the active fleet for the past decade or so maybe they could re-commission and upgrade some of the more recently retired. Most are still relatively modern construction built up during the Reagan era (particularly frigates, destroyers and submarines) and it seems like it would have to be more cost effective than building new ones from the keel up.

    • Secundius

      Not very likely…

    • Old Coasty

      All of the Oliver Hazard Perry class Guided Missile Frigates have been sold or given overseas just like the Coast Guard’s 378ft High Endurance Cutters.

  • old guy

    Years ago I was in the space business. We were planning a trip to Mars and the costs were getting out of hand. SOOO, instead of dollars we started calculating in GiNiPs. (Gross National Products). I think the 350 ship navy would cost about 5 GNPs, or to bring the term up-to-date 5 GDPs.

    • Charles Montgomery Burns

      It’s a stupid undertaking. The current navy is just fine and can match any other force with ease. Their biggest adversaries are modern AShMs, and more ships won’t fix that. Just a question – why do you calculate in GNP rather than GDP? Is it because the US has such a big trade deficit?

      • old guy

        No, GNP was the operative acronym a long time ago. I am almost 90 and a WW2. vet. Also, the self-named General ACCOUNTABILITY Office, which is al;most useless, was the hard-working General ACCOUNTING Office.