The Navy plans to enter into another multi-year contract for the Arleigh Burke-class Flight III destroyers, the acting secretary confirmed to Congress today.
The service will sign a contract for Fiscal Year 2023 through 2027, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.
“Multi-year contracts are very important to us. We do intend to sign another multi-year for DDGs starting in ‘23 through ‘27 and continue that procurement into the foreseeable future,” Harker told Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the panel’s ranking member. “DDG-51 is a very valuable asset for us.”
Harker did not say how many more destroyers the service plans to purchase under the future multi-year contract.
The acting secretary defended the Navy’s decision in the FY 2022 budget submission to only ask for one destroyer, as opposed to the two planned under the current multi-year procurement contract.
“We really struggled with the decision to take that out of this year’s budget. It was the hardest decision we made. And we would loved to have been able to include it,” Harker said. “Going into this next year, we are committed to multi-years for both submarines and for DDGs.”
When asked by Shelby if the service no longer needed the second destroyer, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday during the hearing emphasized that the service had to manage several priorities, including readiness.
“No, sir it wasn’t playing with the numbers. So, I go back to the thesis of our budget proposal, which is to field the best, most capable and most lethal fleet that we can – and that’s 296 ships – and make it the best that we can, including a modernization plan that gives us increased capabilities and then growing the Navy at an affordable rate. And so it was a balance across those three areas, sir,” Gilday told Shelby.
“Based on instances like the collisions in 17, we are unwilling – at least my best advice, sir – is to continue to prioritize training and readiness as our top priority,” he added.
While the service only asked to buy one destroyer in the FY 2022 shipbuilding request, the second destroyer appeared as the Navy’s top unfunded priority on its annual wish list.
If the Navy only buys one destroyer in FY 2022, it will incur a $33 million penalty for breaking the current multi-year contract, USNI News previously reported.
Service officials have cited cost as the reason why the Navy only sought one destroyer in the recent shipbuilding request. The move has irked lawmakers, who expected the Navy to ask for two destroyers to adhere to the multi-year contract currently in place between the service and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Ingalls Shipbuilding.
The new multi-year Harker announced today would come as the service continues the early research and development stages of the DDG(X) program. The Navy’s FY 2022 budget submission asked for $79.7 million in research and development money for “concept development” of DDG(X).