Report to Congress on U.S. Amphibious Warship Programs

April 25, 2024 9:17 AM

The following is the April 24, 2024, Congressional Research Service report, Navy LPD-17 Flight II and LHA Amphibious Ship Programs: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy is procuring two types of larger amphibious ships: LHA-type “big deck” amphibious assault ships and LPD-17 Flight II class amphibious ships. Both types are built by Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS.

Section 1023 of the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 7776/P.L. 117-263 of December 23, 2022) amended 10 U.S.C. 8062 to require the Navy to include not less than 31 operational larger amphibious ships, including not less than 10 LHA/LHD-type “big-deck” amphibious assault ships and the remaining ships to be LPD-type or older LSD-type amphibious ships. Section 129 of the FY2023 NDAA permits the Navy to enter into a block buy contract for procuring a combination of up to five LHA-type and LPD-17 amphibious ships.

Oversight issues for Congress regarding larger amphibious ships include whether the Navy intends to use the authority for an LHA-LPD-17 block-buy contract, technical and cost risk in the LPD-17 Flight II and LHA programs, and the operational readiness of in-service amphibious ships.

The Navy’s Battle Force Ship Assessment and Requirement (BFSAR) study, which was provided to the congressional defense committees in June 2023, calls for achieving a future fleet of 381 manned battle force ships, including 31 larger amphibious ships, consisting of 10 LHA- and LHD-type “big deck” amphibious assault ships, and 21 LPD- and older LSD-type amphibious ships. While the Biden Administration has not explicitly endorsed the Navy’s 381-ship goal or any other force-level goal for the Navy, the above-mentioned requirement in 10 U.S.C. 8062 for having 31 larger amphibious ships applies in any case. Taking into account the 13 LPD-17 Flight I class ships that were procured in FY1996-FY2017, achieving a force of 21 LPD-type amphibious ships would require procuring a total of 8 ships built to the LPD-17 Flight II design or a follow-on design.

Three LPD-17 Flight II ships were procured in FY2018-FY2023. The Navy’s FY2023 and FY2024 5-year shipbuilding plans did not include the procurement of any additional LPD-17 Flight II ships, and the Navy’s FY2023 and FY2024 30-year shipbuilding plans projected that the Navy in coming years would include fewer than 31 larger amphibious ships. The absence of additional LPD-17 Flight II ships in the Navy’s five-year shipbuilding plans and the projected force of fewer than 31 larger amphibious ships were prominent oversight issues in Congress’s review of the Navy’s proposed FY2023 and FY2024 budgets, leading to the above-mentioned Section 1023 of the FY2023 (NDAA) and additional provisions relating to amphibious ships in the FY2024 NDAA (H.R. 2670/P.L. 118-31 of December 22, 2023).

The Navy’s FY2025 five-year shipbuilding plan includes three additional LPD-17 Flight II class ships to be procured in FY2025, FY2027, and FY2029, and the Navy’s FY2025 30-year shipbuilding plan projects that the Navy in coming years will maintain 31 amphibious ships. The Navy’s proposed FY2025 budget requests $1,562.0 million (i.e., about $1.6 billion) to complete the procurement cost of the LPD-17 Flight II ship requested for procurement in FY2025.

Marine Corps officials in public remarks have called attention to the number of in-service amphibious ships that are not operationally ready because they are undergoing or need maintenance and repair work, and have stated that inadequate numbers of operationally ready amphibious ships have resulted in instances of where the Navy has not been able to meet requests from U.S. regional combatant commanders for amphibious ships for day-to-day forward presence or responding to contingencies.

Download the document here.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox