The following is the Dec. 13, 2019 Congressional Research Service report, Navy LPD-17 Flight II Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress.
From the Report
The Navy wants to procure a total of 13 LPD-17 Flight II amphibious ships. LPD-17 Flight II ships cost roughly $1.8 billion each to procure. The first LPD-17 Flight II ship, LPD-30, was procured in FY2018. As part of its action on the Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget, Congress provided $350 million in unrequested advance procurement (AP) funding for a second LPD-17 Flight II ship, LPD-31, to be procured in FY2020. This was consistent with the Navy’s FY2019 budget submission, under which LPD-31 was planned for procurement in FY2020 and the remainder of its procurement cost was to be requested in FY2020. The Navy’s FY2020 budget submission, however, proposes deferring the procurement of LPD-31 by one year, to FY2021, and the Navy’s proposed FY2020 budget, rather than requesting the remainder of LPD-31’s procurement cost, instead requests $247.1 million in AP funding for the ship.
Navy officials state that if no LPD-17 Flight II ship is procured in FY2020, the $350 million in FY2019 AP funding that Congress provided for the LPD-17 program would become unexecutable, because that funding was provided specifically for use in building an LPD-17 Flight II ship procured in FY2020, not an LPD-17 Flight II ship procured in FY2021. The $350 million in FY2019 AP funding can be made executable by procuring LPD-31 in FY2020 or by passing legislation permitting the FY2019 AP funding to be used for an LPD-17 Flight II ship procured in FY2021. One alternative for procuring LPD-31 in FY2020 would be to do so with full funding (i.e., with the remainder of the ship’s procurement cost provided in FY2020). Another alternative would be to pass legislation giving the Navy the authority to procure LPD-31 in FY2020 using incremental funding. Navy officials state that under the latter alternative, the amount of procurement funding needed for LPD-31 in FY2020 would be, at a minimum, roughly $200 million, and not more than the requested amount of $247.1 million.
As part of its action on the Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget, Congress also provided $350 million in unrequested AP funding for a different kind of amphibious ship—an amphibious assault ship called LHA-9. This ship is considerably larger and more expensive than an LPD-17 Flight II ship. The Navy’s FY2020 budget submission estimates LHA-9’s procurement cost at $4,076.4 million (i.e., about $4.1 billion). Under the Navy’s FY2019 budget submission, LHA-9 was planned for procurement in FY2024. The $350 million in FY2019 AP funding that Congress provided was intended to encourage the Navy to accelerate the procurement of LHA-9 from FY2024 to an earlier fiscal year, such as FY2020 or FY2021. Under the Navy’s FY2020 budget submission, the Navy continues to show LHA-9 as a ship planned for procurement in FY2024, and the Navy’s proposed FY2020 budget does not request any additional procurement or AP funding for the ship.
Issues for Congress include whether to procure LPD-31 in FY2020 or FY2021; whether to procure LPD-31 (if it is procured in FY2020) with full funding or incremental funding; the amount of procurement or AP funding to provide for LPD-31 and LHA-9 in FY2020; more generally whether the Navy is placing too much, too little, or about the right amount of emphasis on amphibious ships in its FY2020 budget submission, particularly compared to other Navy shipbuilding programs; whether the Navy’s next Force Structure Assessment (FSA) will change the required number of amphibious ships, and if so, whether and how that might change the required number of LPD-17 Flight II ships; and technical and cost risk in the LPD-17 Flight II and LHA programs.
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