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Report to Congress on Navy Shipbuilding and Force Structure

The following is the March 27, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report:

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years. The Navy’s FY2019 budget submission includes proposed increases in shipbuilding rates that are intended as initial steps for increasing the size of the Navy toward a goal of a fleet with 355 ships of certain types and numbers.

The Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget requests funding for the procurement of 10 new ships, including two Virginia-class attack submarines, three DDG-51 class Aegis destroyers, one Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), two John Lewis (TAO-205) class oilers, one Expeditionary Sea Base ship (ESB), and one TATS towing, salvage, and rescue ship. The total of 10 new ships is one more
than the 9 that the Navy requested in its amended FY2018 budget submission, 3 less than the 13
battle force ships that were funded in the FY2018 DOD appropriations act, and 3 more than the 7
that were projected for FY2019 in the Navy’s FY2018 budget submission. The three added ships
include one DDG-51 class destroyer, one TAO-205 class oiler, and one ESB.

The Navy’s FY2019 five-year (FY2019-FY2023) shipbuilding plan includes 54 new ships, or an average of 10.8 new ships per year. The total of 54 new ships is 12 more than the 42 that were included in the Navy’s FY2018 five-year (FY2018-FY2022) shipbuilding plan, and 11 more than the 43 that the Navy says were included in the five-year period FY2019-FY2023 under the Navy’s FY2018 budget submission. (The FY2023 column was not visible to Congress in the Navy’s FY2018 budget submission.) The 11 ships that have been added to the five-year period FY2019-FY2023, the Navy says, are four DDG-51 class destroyers, three TAO-205 class oilers, two ESBs, one TATS, and one TAGOS ocean surveillance ship.

The Navy’s FY2019 30-year (FY2019-FY2048) shipbuilding plan includes 301 new ships, or an average of about 10 per year. The total of 301 ships is 47 more than the 254 that were included in the Navy’s FY2017 30-year (FY2017-FY2046) shipbuilding plan. (The Navy did not submit an FY2018 30-year shipbuilding plan.)

The Navy’s goal for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships, released in December 2016, is 47 ships higher than the Navy’s previous force-level goal of 308 ships. The 47 ships that have been added to the force-level goal include one aircraft carrier, 18 attack submarines (SSNs), 16 large surface combatants (i.e., cruisers and destroyers), four amphibious ships, three oilers, three ESBs, and two command and support ships. The force level of 355 ships is a goal to be attained in the future; the actual size of the Navy in recent years has generally been between 270 and 290 ships. Section 1025 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017) states in part: “It shall be the policy of the United States to have available, as soon as practicable, not fewer than 355 battle force ships, comprised of the optimal mix of platforms, with funding subject to the availability of appropriations or other funds.”

The Navy’s 355-ship force-level goal forms part of a Navy vision for its future that the Navy refers to as the Navy the Nation Needs (NNN). The Navy says the NNN vision consists of six pillars—readiness, capability, capacity, manning, networks, and operating concepts. The 355- force-level goal is arguably most closely associated with the capacity pillar.

Although the 355-ship force-level goal is 47 ships higher than the previous 308-ship force-level
goal, achieving and maintaining the 355-ship fleet within 30 years would require adding more than 47 ships to the Navy’s previous (FY2017) 30-year shipbuilding plan, in part because that plan did not include enough ships to fully achieve all elements of the 308-ship force-level goal. CRS estimated in 2017 that 57 to 67 ships would need to be added to the Navy’s FY2017 30-year shipbuilding plan to achieve the Navy’s 355-ship fleet and maintain it through the end of the 30-year period (i.e., through FY2046), unless the Navy extends the service lives of existing ships beyond currently planned figures and/or reactivates recently retired ships. Similarly, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in 2017 that 73 to 77 ships would need to be added to a CBO-created notional version of the Navy’s FY2018 30-year (FY2018-FY2047) shipbuilding plan to achieve the Navy’s 355-ship fleet and maintain it not only through the end of the 30-year period (i.e., through FY2047), but another 10 years beyond the end of the 30-year period (i.e., through FY2057), unless the Navy extends the service lives of existing ships beyond currently planned figures and/or reactivates recently retired ships.


via fas.org

  • DaSaint

    There will be no Congressional support to effectively close ANY current shipyards building naval combatants or support vessels for the USN or USCG.

    Of course, the only vulnerable ones are Fincantieri Marienette Marine in Wisconsin, and Austal USA in Alabama. Marinette has options – FREMM or Freedom-variant, and possibly some later more traditional USCG Inland Tender opportunities; Austal USA is currently more limited due to it’s specialization in Aluminum. If it received a follow-on batch of 10 EPFs for another $1.6B, it would help, but if not and the Independence-class is not selected, the future looks more dim unless it’s selected as a modular component provider to the FFG(X) winner. That said, Austal in Australia has enabled their yards to do both steel (Cape class) and aluminum construction (Patrol Craft and Fast Ferries), so the Alabama yard could be outfitted for that as well.

    This will be interesting to watch play out.

    • Secundius

      Fincantieri [Mariette] “Isn’t building the FREMM! Fincantieri [Italy] IS building the FREMM. And even that is in doubt now, after the CEO of Fincantieri of Italy’s “Meddling” in the decision process of the Class Contract…

      • DaSaint

        I’m sorry. Let me clarify.
        If FREMM is selected, it would be built at Fincantieri’s US yard: Marinette.

        Would love to learn more about the meddling.

        • Secundius

          Possibly NOT! ( http : // nextnavy . com / frank – ffgx – feelings – from – the – fincantieri – ceo / ) …

          • DaSaint

            Thx.

          • DaSaint

            Excellent read.

  • Todd

    Only a single LCS for 2019, will miracles never cease. Perhaps we’ll have another miracle in the 2020 plan and see ZERO LCS.

    • PolicyWonk

      The total number of planned LCS purchases amounts to 32 sea-frames. While each might have some token armament that gives it some advantage over that of your typical pirate or speedboat, being built to commercial standards and not being built with sufficient room for growth (as is evidenced by the constant weight problems plaguing the still-unavailable mission packages) has its disadvantages.

      LCS sailors are acutely aware that other navies ships of the same (let alone half the) tonnage are vastly better armed and protected. If a commissioned naval ship cannot fight, take a punch, protect itself, or reach out and touch someone: its not an asset – its a liability.

      Hence – the USN isn’t ever going to reach its goal of a 355-ship fighting fleet. At best its going to reach 319 (’cause LCS don’t count!), assuming they find a way to fix the USS Ford.

      The Ford cannot be used in front line service because EMALS is too unreliable (a 1 in 400 launch failure ratio will do that to you). Trapping aircraft is yet another problem, as the arresting system should be able to tolerate over 16,000 traps, while the Ford can do about 19. As if that weren’t bad enough, the loss one (of four) catapults due to battle damage, or accident, etc., puts all of the others out of action, thereby rendering the ship useless as a military asset.

      • DaSaint

        $15 billion Pier Queen and mobile helicopter landing pad.

        • PolicyWonk

          Indeed – the largest/most expensive LHA ever built…

      • Todd

        Whoa! Hey Policy is there some place we can get more details on the Emals, this is very disappointing?

        • PolicyWonk

          Sure – you can find the DOT&E reports on-line, the Navy Times has a fairly recent article, and the guys at strategy page had a real scorcher. Lots of articles out there…

    • DaSaint

      Congress will require 3.

    • bugs2011

      Just an armchair prediction – Congress will probably add 2 more LCS’s to the budget and then require 3 more in 2020 until it is sure that a Frigate is on the way. I doubt that they will trust the Navy procurement process, particularly when there is no guarantee of a friendly administration to support the 355 ship plan past 2020. Congress will want to keep those ship yards up and running for as long as possible. LCS is not great but it’s in hot production. Once they add the over the horizon missiles and working modules, LCSs will become more relevant. I took a drive to Mayport last month and got to see LCS 5&7. They’re pretty impressive to look at. For what it’s worth, LM will likely get to build the frigate. Everyone else is either not from here or the shipyards are busy already.

      • Dean687

        Turds are in hot production all the time, but that doesn’t mean we should embrace them saying ‘there’s no flower’s available so we’re going to keep making turds.’ The alternative is to stop the MADNESS.

      • Steamroller00008

        I tend to agree with all you say. Many sailors HATE the LCS, but manufacturing base uncertainties probably mean a few more will be added. Hopefully over the horizon missiles and refined modules will make them more usable. And at least the LCS’s can replace/release DDG’s from low-risk roles such as pirate patrol & showing the flag.

        If LM does get the nod for the FFG(X), among addressing multiple deficiencies, I feel the design must address the terrible range that design has. Reportedly Freedom Class ships need refueling every 48 hours during high speed transit (LCS sailors will know). I hope more than just 16 VLS missile tubes can be accommodated. As the Navy’s said, 24 or 32 VLS would be better. Maybe the final LM proposal can be a “stretched” hull, but still remaining within desired costs. All five designs under consideration have certain advantages. A couple promise to be Great Ships, if properly equipped. I hope that reasonable range and adequate MLS armament at a decent price are priorities.

        • bugs2011

          i was able to attend the Sea Air Space Exposition in DC this morning and got to speak with a representative from Kongsberg, which makes the NSM. As far as they know, the plan is to bolt down 12 missiles (6X6) on the bow side right below the bridge of each LCS, with each double stack of three close enough to the side of the ship to avoid damage from the fusillade fire. The range of each missile will be over a hundred miles, particularly after some advancements from the F-35 version. The positioning of the NSM missiles would apply to both variants. I also spoke with a representative from Fincateri, who told me that the LCS is getting incremental upgrades as the Navy directs, but nothing huge as far as he was able to share. They would really love the Navy to take advantage of the Saudi version, which has aspects that can be backfitted to all Freedom-class LCS’s, but he left it at that. I wish I could have stayed longer. It was better than going to Bass Pro!

          Edit: I meant to write “bow” and wrote “stern” instead. I edited the original post.

          • Rocco

            I’m confused the bridge is in the front of all ships!! Not the stern! What missiles are you talking about? Something like the old sea sparrow box?

          • Secundius

            Not sure if this is the Vessel that “bugs2011” is talking about. But sounds like the “Skjold” class Air Cushion Coastal Corvette, which has a Forward Mounted Leonardo (ex-Oto Melara 76.2×635.5mm) Deck Guns and an Aft 8-cell NSM and Twin Mistral (Simbad) ADM Launchers. But could also be the Stretched “Freedom” class Frigate concept which has Pop-Up NSM Missile Launchers mounted just aft of the Bridge and Forward/Above the Helicopter Hangar…

          • Rocco

            OK…. But he said it was an LCS ship assuming the Freedom class! This wouldn’t work on Independence!! Or maybe a Bass boat?? Lol!!

          • Secundius

            Could be the “Flight I’s” of the LCS classes. “Scuttlebutt” is that there using Sandia Labs/Lockheed-Martin “EMML” (ElectroMagnetic Missile Launcher), which Rail Launch the Missiles at ~40-meters/second out of Launch Containers before Boosters ignite. To prevent damage to Aluminum Superstructure and probably explains the “Tight Quarters” of Stored Missiles…

          • Rocco

            Possible….. Like I said his post was confusing as the way he explained it…. Obviously doesn’t know ship terminology & has yet to explain himself better.

          • Secundius

            I admit that the wording could have be better! I had to read it 4 times just to get the gist of the conversation…

          • bugs2011

            My bad, I meant the bow side! I made changes to my original post to avoid further confusion.

          • Rocco

            Still confusing

          • bugs2011

            So sorry about the confusion. I meant to say bow. So the NSMs would be below the bridge on the bow side.

          • Rocco

            The bow has 2 sides as it comes to a point & where the gun is in place!!

        • Dan O’Brian

          A ‘stretched’ turd is still a turd (using the above analogy) Lockmart should not be rewarded for producing crap (literally). We need a a real warship that can take a hit or two or three while punching hard. Simply making the LCS longer will not solve any if it’s inherent major flaws and unforgivable shortcomings, and it all starts with a tough, seaworthy, reliable, and long-legged hull, which the LCS can never be

    • Secundius

      One FUNDED for 2019! Not ONE built in 2019! Most LCS class were already Funded in 2014 and haven’t been built yet…