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.