The following is the Dec. 23, 2020 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress..
From the report
In December 2016, the Navy released a force-structure goal that calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. The 355-ship goal was made U.S. policy by Section 1025 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017). The Navy and the Department of Defense (DOD) have been working since 2019 to develop a successor for the 355-ship force-level goal. The new goal is expected to introduce a new, more distributed fleet architecture featuring a smaller proportion of larger ships, a larger proportion of smaller ships, and a new third tier of large unmanned vehicles (UVs).
On December 9, 2020, the Trump Administration released a document that can be viewed as its vision for future Navy force structure and/or a draft version of the FY2022 30-year Navy shipbuilding plan. The document presents a Navy force-level goal that calls for achieving by 2045 a Navy with a more distributed fleet architecture, 382 to 446 manned ships, and 143 to 242 large UVs. The Administration that takes office on January 20, 2021, is required by law to release the FY2022 30-year Navy shipbuilding plan in connection with DOD’s proposed FY2022 budget, which will be submitted to Congress in 2021. In preparing the FY2022 30-year shipbuilding plan, the Administration that takes office on January 20, 2021, may choose to adopt, revise, or set aside the document that was released on December 9, 2020.
The Navy states that its original FY2021 budget submission requests the procurement of eight new ships, but this figure includes LPD-31, an LPD-17 Flight II amphibious ship that Congress procured (i.e., authorized and appropriated procurement funding for) in FY2020. Excluding this ship, the Navy’s original FY2021 budget submission requests the procurement of seven new ships rather than eight. In late November 2020, the Trump Administration reportedly decided to request the procurement of a second Virginia-class attack submarine in FY2021. CRS as of December 10, 2020, had not received any documentation from the Administration detailing the exact changes to the Virginia-class program funding lines that would result from this reported change. Pending the delivery of that information from the administration, this CRS report continues to use the Navy’s original FY2021 budget submission in its tables and narrative discussions.
A figure of 7 requested new ships is less than the 11 that the Navy requested for FY2020 (a figure that excludes CVN-81, an aircraft carrier that Congress authorized in FY2019) or the 13 that Congress procured in FY2020 (a figure that again excludes CVN-81, but includes the above-mentioned LPD-31 as well as an LHA amphibious assault ship that Congress also procured in FY2020). The figure of 7 new ships is also less than the 10 ships that the Navy projected under its FY2020 budget submission that it would request for FY2021, and less than the average ship procurement rate that would be needed over the long run, given current ship service lives, to achieve and maintain a 355-ship fleet.
In dollar terms, the Navy is requesting a total of about $19.9 billion for its shipbuilding account for FY2021. This is about $3.9 billion (16.3%) less than the Navy requested for the account for FY2020, about $4.1 billion (17.0%) less than Congress provided for the account for FY2020, and about $3.6 billion (15.3%) less than the $23.5 billion that the Navy projected under its FY2020 budget submission that it would request for the account for FY2021.
The Navy states that its FY2021 five-year (FY2021-FY2025) shipbuilding plan includes 44 new ships, but this figure includes the above-mentioned LPD-31 and LHA amphibious ships that Congress procured in FY2020. Excluding these two ships, the Navy’s FY2021 five-year shipbuilding plan includes 42 new ships, which is 13 less than the 55 that were included in the FY2020 (FY2020-FY2024) five-year plan and 12 less than the 54 that were projected for the period FY2021-FY2025 under the Navy’s FY2020 30-year shipbuilding plan.
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