USNI News polled its writers, naval analysts and service members on what they consider the most important military and maritime stories in 2017.
The following is part of a series. Please also see Top Stories: International Acquisition, Navy Operations, Marine Corps Operations, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Acquisition, International Operations and New Administration.
2017 began with the promise of planning for a larger fleet: at the end of 2016, the Navy announced a 355-ship requirement, and the incoming Trump Administration expressed its support for a larger military and a heftier Navy. Few concrete steps were taken this year, though, to begin a buildup – though many programs that will be pivotal to the 355-ship fleet of the future reached significant programmatic milestones in 2017.
Newport News Shipbuilding cut a 35-ton steel plate to kick off advance construction of the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN 80) on Aug. 24, 2017. Ship’s sponsors and U.S. Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles (left) and Katie Ledecky (center), along with Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin (right), signed the steel that will become part of Enterprise’s foundation. Newport News Shipbuilding photo.
The upcoming contract award for the future aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80) will be part of a Defense Department pilot program to award major contracts faster, and Navy leadership is eyeing it as an opportunity to save money by buying two carriers instead of one. Read More
The House Armed Services Committee passed its annual defense bill on Thursday after a 14-hour markup, sending the bill to the full House of Representatives with no major changes to its recommended procurement profile.
Though few amendments that passed directly affect Navy and Marine Corps programs, several that failed or were withdrawn sparked serious debates about how the Navy ought to address pressing issues of the day: hypoxia concerns in the Navy’s fighter fleet, how to transition from the Littoral Combat Ship, industry’s ability to upgrade to the Flight III guided-missile destroyer design and more. Read More
Aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transits the Elizabeth river from its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in August 2016. US Navy photo.
The Navy is planning a multi-billion-dollar shipyard upgrade effort to help its four yards that maintain submarines and aircraft carriers do so more efficiently and accommodate the newest ships coming into the fleet. Read More
Newport News Shipbuilding placed a 900-ton superlift into dry dock, continuing construction of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). Nearly 90 lifts have been placed in the dock and joined together since the ship’s keel was laid in August 2015. Newport News Shipbuilding photo.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Navy and many lawmakers want a massive increase in Navy spending but haven’t yet put forward a plan to start ramping up spending – and one shipbuilding executive said he wouldn’t feel comfortable investing in a larger workforce until certain signs of Navy commitment appear in the budget. Read More
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) steams in formation with USS Independence (LCS-2) on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo
The Navy will need a larger engineering directorate as it grows the fleet in coming years, to avoid problems faced in past ship classes like the Littoral Combat Ship and the Zumwalt guided missile destroyer stemming from the Navy being too hands-off on technical specifications. Read More
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) under construction in 2013. Newport News Shipbuilding photo.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Building the 350-ship Navy fleet that President-elect Donald Trump has advocated would be a “herculean task,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said Wednesday, though industry could do it if the buildup were done in a stable and strategic way. Read More
F/A-18E Super Hornet lands with the Advanced Arresting Gear at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in Lakehurst, New Jersey, on March 31, 2016. US Navy Photo
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) test schedule for aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was pushed back again, but the delay may cause little impact thanks to a slew of post-delivery test requirements for the first-in-class ship, the CVN-78 class program manager told USNI News. Read More
Workers stand pose for a photo in the four-tube “quad-pack” built for the U.S. Ohio Replacement-class and U.K. Successor-class. General Dynamics Electric Boat Photo via US Navy
The Navy could cut Ohio Replacement Program (ORP) missile tube acquisition costs by 25 percent if Congress granted a “continuous production” authority that would allow the U.S. and UK ballistic missile submarine replacement programs buy the tubes at a steady pace, according to a recent report obtained by USNI News. Read More
Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) sits pier side in the early morning light at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2014. US Navy Photo
The House Armed Services authorizes $20.6 billion in spending for Navy shipbuilding programs, prohibits the inactivation of cruisers as part of the Navy’s proposed phased modernization plan, and calls for the Navy to build aircraft carriers in four-year periods instead of five, according to its version of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, released today. Read More