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Lawmakers Not Satisfied with Navy 355-Ship Plan

John F. Kennedy CVN-79 superlift. HII Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two senior lawmakers called into question the Navy’s proposed plan to increase fleet size to 355 ships. One said the pace was too slow and another said the buildup was based on unrealistic schedules and funding.

When the 355-ship fleet standard was codified in law last year, the intent was for the Navy to meet this requirement as soon as practical, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chair of the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee, said at McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs conference on Tuesday.

“The Navy shipbuilding plan that doesn’t get to 355 ships until the mid-2050s is unacceptable,” Wicker said.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Wicker wants the administration to develop a more robust shipbuilding schedule, one increasing funding to speed up the production pace.

“The budget request was good, but it wasn’t good enough,” Wicker said.
“The Navy’s 2019 budget request is $22 billion for 10 new ships but we wanted them to come up with 26 billion for 14 new ships.”

The first few years of service’s long-range shipbuilding plan proposes expanding the fleet to 326 within the next five years. The plan’s start is impressive but then the pace peters out.

“Suddenly there’s a dip,” Wicker said. “We don’t like the dip.”

Meanwhile, given the current budget and long-term planning process, the Navy reaching 355 ships is “fantasy,” said Rep. Adam Smith, (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, who spoke after Wicker.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.)

“It’s simply a number thrown out there. I think they said they hope to achieve a 355-ship navy by what is it, the 2050s, somewhere way off in the distance,” Smith said.
“We can barely predict what will happen in two months now, really, 2050 you’re going to tell me how many ships we’re going to have, based on everything going on.”

By focusing so closely on near-term spending, Smith worries Congress and military planners are not really planning ahead. Instead, promises are made to the public that in reality have little chance of being kept.

“Talking about 355 ships or 500,000 troops in the army or whatever doesn’t match up to the reality of dealing with taxes and mandatory spending,” Smith said. “I mean we just cut taxes again, reducing our revenue.”

Congress needs to have an honest conversation about what can be achieved with the current revenue stream, what the nation can afford, and how the nations should pay for needed equipment or personnel.

“If there’s one thing no politician in this country wants to have it’s an honest conversation about this because there’s no easy answer,” Smith said.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Reading about what elected officials say about spending and taxes really is an exercise in futility. There’s more than enough money to go around, it’s the waste and fraud involved with it that is the problem. Until the government engages in a BRAC like process for the ENTIRE government and ALL of its entities, spending will continue to be a joke..

    • incredulous1

      This is quite right when someone from the outside like current POTUS comes in and points out that so many federal buildings are partially occupied and consolidates space. I am also in favor of shutting down the VA hospital system and allowing vets to get healthcare in the private sector where excellence prevails instead of sentencing them to substandard care and death at the hands of the fed. And we still have bases that are unnecessary and wasteful that should be consolidated. And we need to get the F-35 costs under control and stop holding production parts on the shelf for a year before assembly. AND Finally, no longer interfere with the build process once started on capital ships. That has cost untold billions upon billions of waste. The contractor would prefer to get the job completed too.

  • Duane

    These two-faced, forked tongued politicians are beating up on the Navy in true, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” fashion.

    The Navy wants a bigger fleet to meet the current demands of defending our nation and freedom of the seas. A handful of pro-defense politicians tell the Navy to come up with a plan for 355 ships – a made up arbitrary number thoughtlessly endorsed (as always) by Trump and his party.

    So then the Navy planners go to work, come up with a 355 ship plan, yet still knowing the tax dollars won’t be there in our lifetime to pay for such a plan (let alone to pay for manning and sustaining such a large fleet when Congress has been unwilling to properly man and sustain 278 ships plus aircraft today), and so pushes the magic 355 ship fleet date out to 2050.

    Then after the Navy responds with its actual plan, the weasels in Congress complain simultaneously that the Navy is stretching 355 ships out too far AND the Navy is smoking dope if they think they will ever get the dough for 355 ships, and so get beat up for even trying to plan for 32 years out.

    The Congressional bullying and posturing must stop. All military planners have to plan for decades out, it cannot be avoided. But the real issue is not the Navy’s long range plan … the real issue is and has been for years the ongoing incompetence of a Congress that, more than five months into FY2018, cannot even fund the defense of the nation now … this fiscal year. Defense funding remains this year, as it has every year for the last decade, stuck with a CR.

    Congess – just shut up about the Navy and DO YOUR JOB!!!

    • ElmCityAle

      When you get past the ability to squeeze any more blood from the stone – read as money from the taxpayers – and you spend into debt, you place the nation in a different, but just as serious, peril. Unclear whether the fear about China should be their naval plans or owing them more money.

      • Duane

        Congress somehow found the will in December to hand out trillions in tax cuts to businesses and wealthy individuals during a period of sustained economic growth … yet could not come up with defense funding for THIS YEAR, nearly halfway through FY2018. And these are the jokers who are going to come up with an extra $3.2 Trillion to fund a 355 ship Navy by 2038?

        Yeah, right … uh huh .. sure thing.

      • incredulous1

        The debt is sufficiently spread around so that China poses no more threat than the UK as holders of the debt. They hold time notes not on demand notes that they could use as leverage. The only danger with them is that possibility that they may stop buying US notes or dump them [as they tried] and cause the demand to go down worldwide. But even that is unlikely. In the past year Japan moved back to the #1 holder of US Treasuries with China at #2, they now flop back and forth every month or so. China’s private investment in the US is what concerns me. If we went too war the US would not be able to produce fire control computers or RADAR other things requiring rare earth. And CFIUS let them buy way too much US defense content if not entire companies.

        • R’ Yitzchak M

          Let say after all tariffs would push cost of goods sold “just” 10% meaning perhaps 10-14% inflation at the start.. 300 Trillion Dollars of unsecured loans, 20 trillion dollars of PRINTED “monies” how much of the economy has to be dedicated to “serve that debit”.

          Social science learned that any inflation over 20% is a major cause of social instability and the potential uprising

        • R’ Yitzchak M

          Today all electronic gadgets and computer run tools of warfare are run by the “lines of software” as you already know.. a 1.7 billion people holding 5 top ranking places in education of classical science in global statistical assessment (the most extensive test and the most comprehensive data ever undertaken on the subject which lasted for 10 years.. China held 5 top places we held the 24th.) While our idiots are busy to indoctrinate our kids in Marxist dogmas-“religion” of idiots.. while on the other hand the Chinese are actually EDUCATING their kids. I know the leadership is made of their Marxist idiots but they are smart enough not to interfere in something that actually works. While our idiots are doing everything to EXTINIGUISH EVERYTHING THAT ACTUALLY WORKS. A common sense and the capitalism to be sacrificed by one massive “collective” of bureaucrats where the “resistance is futile” The ultimate decay of the free society by the ultimate auto immune social disease is a corrosive force of zealotry of DEDICATED idiots.

    • Alan Gideon

      I would like to see a shipbuilding plan with greater accountability in it for PMs and their staffs. No one ever gets drummed out of the Navy for failing to deliver ships on time and within budget. Show me a plan and system that holds people accountable, and I’ll charge up Capital Hill tomorrow in its support! Otherwise, we are just making lots of stupid noise, practically forcing China and all of our other probable enemies to laugh at us as we waste our national fortune and continue the charade.

      • Marc Apter

        I always found it interesting that PM’s who make a mess move on, with a Medal and/or promotion, before everyone knows about it, and the PM that comes in and fixes everything is blamed and forced to retire.

        • Chesapeakeguy

          I agree with you here. But, PMs have to play the cards they are dealt. Certainly, some prove to be not up to the job. But I’ll wager they are identified early on in a project and are replaced. Whether they get that medal you mentioned I don’t know. The PMs often have to deal with changing requirements within designs. While I have my questions and doubts about the LCS, I can only pity the PMs who have to deal with that! Trying to build an already complex system and then try to integrate equipment that won’t be ready for YEARS has got to be an ulcer-driver!

          Look at the Zumwalts. They were built to provide precision gunfire support to troops ashore, and to conduct shore bombardment via their ‘Advanced Gun System’. After a significant amount of money had been spent to study a ‘vertical launch gun’, they abandoned that. So guns in turrets were developed. But those guns, though they fire a size and caliber shell that is one of the most common throughout our and our allies militaries, cannot fire ANY of THOSE shells. Then the few special shells that were slated for the Zumwalts proved to be too expensive. As of right now, its main guns are useless.

          I don’t think all PMs can always be held to blame for the failure of major contractors involved with their projects. Our elected officials are the ultimate PMs in this life. They routinely do a horrible job, and quite publicly at that. And yet we keep voting them back in.

    • incredulous1

      One thing we should all be happy about is that sequestration is in the rear view mirror and we can get on with revitalizing the fleet and bringing Obama’s 46% F-18 readiness number up to reasonable standards again.

    • old guy

      Remember….Congressmen are like baby’s diapers; they should be changed often…..and for the same reason!

    • Chesapeakeguy

      Umm, genius, it was YOUR Lord and icon Barry Obama and his admin that came up with that 355 ship number. Being the loyal, obedient Democrat you always are, your memory will always be in ‘selective’ mode, right? Hmmm?

      • Secundius

        Actually it was Donald Trump at a Rally in 16 December 2016! US. Senator Roger Wicker of Massachusetts (R) proposed building a “350-Ship Navy”, and not Reading the Script President Elect Donald Trump misquoted the Figure as 355-Ships…

        • Chesapeakeguy

          Not true! I say again that Trump has ENDORSED the policy. But it was Obama SecNav Ray Mabus, in an announcement made on the Navy’s official Web site (www dot navy dot mil/) in December 2016 that he announced that their analysis concluded that a 355 ship Navy was needed. They launched the study in Jan. 2016. I will copy and paste the announcement itself…

          Secretary of the Navy Announces Need for 355-ship Navy

          Story Number: NNS161216-06Release Date: 12/16/2016 9:04:00 AM

          A A A

          From The Office of the Secretary of the Navy

          WASHINGTON (NNS) — The
          Secretary of the Navy announced the results of the 2016 Force Structure
          Assessment (FSA), a year-long effort which began in January that was
          conducted to evaluate long-term defense security requirements for future
          naval forces today at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

          The 2016 FSA recommends a 355-ship fleet including 12 carriers, 104
          large surface combatants, 52 small surface combatants, 38 amphibious
          ships, and 66 submarines. The assessment will be one input to the Navy’s
          FY-2018 30-year shipbuilding plan. The current proposed Navy budget is
          seen as a bridge to this larger Navy, with shipbuilding on an upward
          glide slope towards 308 ships.

          Navy leadership is confident that, if funded, this plan is executable,
          as each ship class called for in the FSA has an active shipbuilding line
          already up and running.

          “To continue to protect America and defend our strategic interests
          around the world, all while continuing the counter terrorism fight and
          appropriately competing with a growing China and resurgent Russia, our
          Navy must continue to grow,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “All
          of the analysis done to date, inside and outside of the Navy,
          recognizes, as we have for nearly the last eight years, the need for a
          larger Fleet. That is why, working with Congress and our partners in
          industry, we have successfully reversed the decline in shipbuilding that
          occurred from 2001-2009, putting 86 ships under contract over the last
          seven years. Maintaining this momentum, and the cost-saving business
          practices we have established, will be critical to ensuring the Navy is
          able to achieve the FSA-recommended fleet size and is positioned to
          maintain the global presence the Navy and Marine Corps uniquely provide
          our nation.”

          The update reflects changes in the strategic environment since the last
          update in 2014. Future updates will continue to take into account
          changes in the environment, defense guidance and technology.

          The 2016 FSA was not constrained by budget control act funding levels.


          I think that says it all…

          • Secundius

            Senator Roger Wicker was never at the Rally! The 350-Ship Navy proposed by Roger Wicker was for a 2018 Defense Appropriations Budget being Discussed in 2016…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            So what? Trump was NOT President at any time in 2016! The OBAMA admin made the announcement, with its accompanying NUMBER of ships, after THEY studied it for almost an entire year. It’s not a national secret. If anything, it sounds like Obama and Trump found some real common ground as far as a vision for the Navy goes. Now, if some on here are going to spew that any number put out by Trump/Republicans is a bad thing, while any put forth by Obama/Democrats is a good one, and those numbers are literally the SAME, I can’t take those people seriously on anything.

          • Secundius

            But Donald Trump “Misquoted” the Numbers, NOT Barack Obama. In fact Barack Obama, NEVER Quoted a 350-Ship US Navy, Senator Roger Wickers (R-Massachusetts) DID…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Man, you are grasping now. Seriously. OBAMA put the numbers out. So what is the evil act here in your view? Obama’s number of 355 or Trump’s number of 355? Look at what you’re carrying on about. For starters, Wicker is not the POTUS, nor was he ever the POTUS elect! How do you know Trump ‘misquoted’ the number? Just because Wicker said something did not, and does not, mean Trump was obliged to repeat it. Who gives a hoot about 350 ships, besides you here? BOTH Obama and Trump said 355 ships. PERIOD. Get over it!

          • Secundius

            What Defense Appropriations Proposal DID President Barrack Obama make? From the Time he Took office in 2009 to the time he left in 2017, the US Congress NEVER gave him a Defense Appropriation Budget that HE wanted. Only the Defense Appropriations that the US Congress was WILLING to give. Remember BOTH the LCS classes and the Gerald Ford were Funded in 2004. Both were “Supermajority Votes” that were Veto Proof by Barrack Obama and Donald Trump. Even the “ACA” was Funded by a Supermajority Vote, or Donald Trump would have had NO Problems using an Executive Order in Cancelling It…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Secundius, for the life of me, I can’t figure you out here. I’ve always respected your historical offerings, and anecdotes. But look at where you are at NOW? Barak Obama in 2009? The Congress did this or didn’t do that? One more time: SO WHAT? None of that is relevant. The HISTORICAL FACTS are on my side here. Obama called for a 355 ship fleet before he left office. Period! It was in all the papers. Per your assertion that Sen. Wicker said “350 ships”, so WHAT? For starters, I can find no record of Wicker ever saying such a thing. However, I find nothing BUT him saying a “355 ship” fleet is needed. Now, if YOU do have a record of him using “350 ships”, I’ll wager my last dime that it is HE who ‘misquoted’, as you have been trying to make such a big deal out of in accusing Trump of doing. Given Sen. Wicker’s position in the Senate, it makes eminent sense that he would be in touch with the contacts the Obama admin was using to conduct THEIR study. I say this yet AGAIN, it appears that the 355 ship number is something BOTH admins, the old and the new, agreed upon. But the OBAMA admin announced it as policy, even when the door was starting to hit him in the backside as he prepared to vacate the premises. OK?

          • Secundius

            Obama called for a 306-Ship Navy in 5 February 2015!

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    China Navy has 360 ships today and 60 subs.. and still have aggressive buildup in the last decade or so China made every year 6-8% military and security budget increases.. yes I know what kind of ships they are they making? Not so bad ones either but to be brutally honest they are technologically at least 20 years behind. But they are rapidly catching up but again there are some quality increases in share quantity built it help in process of learning (and technology stealing’s of course helps quite a bit)

    • incredulous1

      They just announced a 20% increase in defense spending last week, which probably means more than that since the arms race is in full swing in the Pacific now. I expect the PLAN to exceed the US and Japan combined within a few years so they can finish off their First Island Chain dream. In this climate, why would anyone listen to Adam Smith now telling us we’re doomed to not being able to fulfill the 2 front war mission anymore?

      • R’ Yitzchak M

        Germans experienced first hand challenges one faces at 2 front SPREAD. Us Navy is only one force that delivered a miracle of the 2 front operations. Then our enemy was a island nation and an regional power. Today we are facing acthally 3 fronts China, Pakistan and rest of the Muslim Jihadists ( a ongoing hemroging of resources 100 billion dollars chasing madman with smart missiles and the stupid “stratigery” and the generals that are guided by the lawyers “can’t do that”of course you can’t do that and that is not abvisable..??? Remember the Korea? Vietnam? Where idiots did matter lot more than any other Military branch. In Germany bombs were “stupid” but military has its best people doing their JOBS BEST THEY COULD TO VIN without any interference by idiots.. as the war was finishing off the idiots came to surface once again. Remember Gen. MacArtur and the Harry.. ? If Hary let McArtur finish his job for the American people as well Korean people we would not have this crisis? But idiots have lots of opinions (noise) so the reason and common sense have no hope of being heard nor implemented.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    The ONLY and the vital interests of any organized society since Stone Age is the PROTECTION of its members.. failing of which you are only becoming just another “member” of the food chain.

  • Secundius

    Unless the Federal Government reenstates the Draft or makes Military Service “Compulsory”. There’s No Way they’rell ever be a 355-Ship Navy…

    • incredulous1

      Then how did Reagan fill all his 592 ships with men when it was a volunteer force from a significantly smaller population?

      • Secundius

        Enlistment rate under Ronald Reagan was ~8.54%. Under George W. Bush, number dropped to less than 0.04%. Also under Ronald Reagan, those that served DIDN’T get Deported after their Tours of Duty and were granted Citizenship…

        • R’ Yitzchak M

          No one in the right mind woul suggest that.. perhaps Demies? I could not not be sure? They are pushing only for some socially challenged members of the gangs, or member of “oppressed social justice warrior”.. G-d forbid to be associated with US Army a “baby killers” maaaan you know maaan. Karry told us maaan.. every one that put his life to defend American life if someone we should be proud to call our own.

          • Secundius

            Last “Draft” proposal was in November 2017, a Key Provision in the Draft Bill was NO “Deferments” by Anyone. The US Congress KILLED the Bill, because they Didn’t want the Children being Drafted and Having to Fight…

  • Russ Neal

    Given our exploding entitlement spending over the next few decades this will be very difficult. Maybe we should think outside the box a little. What about partnering with some of our allies and have them provide the lower end frigates, diesel subs and similar assets to operate together with our carrier task groups? Can we augment our Navy with USNS commercial ships with roll-on weapon systems? Should we push harder on development of autonomous systems?

    • R’ Yitzchak M

      In order TO WAGE THE WAR you must have the infrastructure to carry ongoing supply of assets and the necessary logistical support. This time WE ARE like Japan.. an virtual “ISLAND”. We gave China all the means to out produce us. They need lot of ground forces to conquer and to CONTROL the Europe. Having Russian resources as well frutile soil. China does not need Europeans it only needs Europe

  • Tracy Johnson

    If we have a such a glut of steel and aluminum that we need to impose tariffs, it sounds like we should be able to cough up enough ships easily, no?

    • Secundius

      Really doesn’t have much to do with the “Glut” of Steel produced within the United States, but the “Infrastructure” of the Steel Mills producing the Steel. In 2017, the United States produced ~81.6-Million Metric Tons of Steel. One of the Youngest Steel Mills in the US, ex-North Star Steel Mill of St. Louis was built in 1965 and “Didn’t” receive an Infrastructure Upgrade until New Owner “Gerdau” of Brazil (2004) invested ~$50-Million USD into the Upgrade in 2012 to 2014. Some steel plants date back before the 20th Century and didn’t receive upgrades until 1942. Carnagie Steel was founded in 1892, and produced “Carnagie Steel” (i.e. US Navy Standard) in 1901 and still used today in 2018…

    • Pacemaker4

      FYI…43% of us imported steel is from Canada…China is ~11%

      • Tracy Johnson

        Fie, lawmakers are never satisfied.

  • incredulous1

    Adam Smith, the caustic idiot from Seattle. He just talks forcefully trying to ram his garbage down our throats all the time. Someone should tell him the Laffer Curve is alive and well and that our tax revenues have gone up already [record revenue to the Treasury from taxes] and will continue to unless he coerces us again for his “mandatory spending” increases too much. Someone should further remind the pinhead from Seattle that government’s first job is to provide for the common defense and protect US interests, not his mandatory pet entitlements. And since when do liberals care about keeping taxes down, even though that is exactly what happened with record revenues. I could go on and on, but we all know why Pelosi has him as the ranking member – to keep defense spending down. Perhaps Smith should try having an “honest conversation” about defense spending.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    China is continental superpower their navy is needed mainly to enforce embargoes on Europe in a open continental campaign accross Europe and Asia. The first target most likely would be Russia, and then rest of Europe.. 90% victory in matter of months and then a swift turn into Pakistani Indian conflict wiping India out of any “future equations” and incorporating India and Pakistani Muslim components in uprising Muslim Jihad against the West.. (whatever is left of Europe.. I doubt though that anything would be left out of Europe) so in my humble opinion the maintaining the integrity of supply lines to the European front is critical. Preparing for such an event is of existential nature.. giving our idiots a brake woul give the rest of us perhaps a chance. Remember what happened to the France for allowing the idiots to play the “war”?

    Remember 75% of all the tonnage in WW2 sunk were lost due to the underwater mines (just recently declassified fact) We are still occupied with strategy of “power projection” Chinese are implementing the “POWER OF ATTRITION” which they are a masters of that game and ruthless in its implementation

    • Pacemaker4

      Sea lanes will be less important everyday as the silk road grows in capacity. 13 days by train to western europe is substantially quicker than by sea.
      Russia handles europe and Iran handles the centre and China handles India and the east.

      Your power of attrition is so on the mark. The old parable of a Russo-Sino war outcome springs to mind. “on the first day china loses 30 million men, on the second 20 million men on the third another 20 million men…on the fourth Russia surrenders.”
      Rand corp did a study on taiwan invasion with regards to air power. Taiwan had 200 F-22’s ready and won every air battle with every missile fired hitting with 100% probability …and they still lost the air war.

      Imagine if China implemented a 3 child policy….how long would we all last.

      • R’ Yitzchak M

        100% on mark.. I really for a while I heard such a pointed assessment. My best friend has 3 PhD’s summoned it quite laconically something along your reasoning “..technically how do you kill 300,000,000”?

        .. he likes “shock and awe” to make the point in my humble opinion it is a nightmare that we are headed for.

      • R’ Yitzchak M

        I believe that open child policy is quite imminent for a simple reason. Chinese do have strong parental love and care loosing the only child cold have a wide range of social discontent vis a vis the authorities.. multiple children would temper as well spread the pain to a more manageable level. Japan won the China during the WW2, Also in 70’s in conflict with Russia they lost by German intelligence estimation over million of their kids.. Since the Chu En Lay embraced a some form of common sense utilizing the ultimate global traders to shape the future of China. By far the biggest mistake West EVER made is delivery of Hong Kong to the communists.

  • John B. Morgen

    The Navy has many warships still in mothballs, so reactivate them to close the gap, and just may the naval strength might raise to 400 ships. If not, then build some more new warships.

  • cjakobsson

    An increase in naval strength has to be carefully planned. When you add on more ships, you have to add on to the recruitment and training of the people who will operate them, and you have to add on to your capacity to do the maintenance and repairs these ships will need, and you have to add on to your supply system to make sure these ships will have all the supplies and provisions they need to keep on operating. Unless you are doing all these things and doing them well, an increase in the number of ships becomes an impediment to readiness, instead of an enhancement.