Report to Congress on Next Generation Destroyer Program

January 2, 2024 11:14 AM

The following is the Dec. 20, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Navy DDG(X) Next-Generation Destroyer Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

Navy Large Surface Combatants (LSCs)

Force-Level Goal

The Navy refers to its cruisers and destroyers collectively as large surface combatants (LSCs). The Navy’s current 355-ship force-level goal, released in December 2016, calls for achieving and maintaining a force of 104 LSCs. The Navy’s FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan, released on April 20, 2022, summarizes Navy and OSD studies outlining potential successor Navy force-level goals that include 63 to 96 LSCs.

Existing LSCs

The Navy’s CG-47s and DDG-51s are commonly called Aegis cruisers and destroyers because they are equipped with the Aegis combat system, an integrated collection of sensors and weapons named for the mythical shield that defended Zeus. The Navy procured 27 CG-47s between FY1978 and FY1988. The ships entered service between 1983 and 1994. The first five, which were built to an earlier technical standard, were judged by the Navy to be too expensive to modernize and were removed from service in 2004-2005. The Navy began retiring the remaining 22 ships in FY2022 and wants to retire all 22 by the end of FY2027.

The first DDG-51 was procured in FY1985 and entered service in 1991. The version of the DDG-51 that the Navy is currently procuring is called the Flight III version. The Navy also has three Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class destroyers that were procured in FY2007-FY2009 and are equipped with a combat system that is different than the Aegis system. (For more on the DDG-51 and DDG-1000 programs, see CRS Report RL32109, Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.)

LSC Industrial Base

All LSCs procured for the Navy since FY1985 have been built at General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works (GD/BIW) of Bath, ME, and Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are major contractors for Navy surface ship combat system equipment. The surface combatant industrial base also includes hundreds of additional component and material supplier firms.

DDG(X) Program

Program Designation and Lead Ship Procurement

In the program designation DDG(X), the X means the precise design for the ship has not yet been determined. As mentioned earlier, the Navy wants to procure the first DDG(X) in FY2032, though the date for procuring the first ship has changed before and could change again. Procurement of DDG-51s—the type of LSC currently being procured by the Navy—would end sometime after procurement of DDG(X)s begins.

Navy’s General Concept for the Ship

Figure 1 shows a Navy rendering of a notional DDG(X) design concept. The Navy approved the DDG(X)’s top-level requirements (i.e., its major required features) in December 2020. An October 2023 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Navy’s FY2024 30-year shipbuilding plan states that “the Navy has indicated that the initial [DDG(X)] design prescribes a displacement of 13,500 tons,” which would be about 39% greater than the 9,700-ton Flight III DDG-51 design.

Download the document here.

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