The US Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget requests funding for the procurement of seven new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the Navy’s goal for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 308 ships). The seven ships include two Virginia-class attack submarines, two DDG-51 class Aegis destroyers, two Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), and one LHA-type amphibious assault ship.
The Navy’s proposed FY2017-FY2021 five-year shipbuilding plan includes a total of 38 new ships, compared to 48 new ships in the Navy’s FY2016-FY2020 five-year shipbuilding plan. Most of the 10-ship reduction in the FY2017-FY2021 plan compared to the FY2016-FY2020 plan is due to a reduction in the annual procurement rate for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate program that was directed by the Secretary of Defense in December 2015.
The Navy’s current force-structure goal, presented to Congress in 2015, is to achieve and maintain a future fleet of 308 ships of various kinds. Navy officials in early 2016 have testified that in light of recent changes in the international security environment, the Navy has launched a new analysis of its future force structure needs. Such analyses are called Force Structure Assessments (FSAs). The Navy states that it hopes to complete the new FSA by summer 2016.
Some observers believe this new FSA will result in an increase in the Navy’s force-level goal to a figure higher than 308 ships, in part because it will call for an increased Navy forward-deployed presence in the Mediterranean, a region that was deemphasized as a Navy forward-deployed operating area during the post-Cold War era.
The Navy’s report on its FY2016 30-year shipbuilding plan estimates that the plan would cost an average of about $16.5 billion per year in constant FY2015 dollars to implement, including an average of about $16.9 billion per year during the first 10 years of the plan, an average of about $17.2 billion per year during the middle 10 years of the plan, and an average of about $15.2 billion per year during the final 10 years of the plan.
* First Ohio replacement submarine in FY2021. The plan shows the projected procurement of the first Ohio replacement (SSBNX) ballistic missile submarine in FY2021, with advance procurement (AP) funding for this boat beginning in FY2017 and continuing through FY2020. Many observers have been concerned about the potential impact of the Ohio replacement program on the Navy’s ability to fund the procurement of the other kinds of ships that it wants to procure.
* CVN-80 in FY2018. The CVN-78 class aircraft carrier shown in FY2018 is CVN-80, the third ship in the class. The initial increment of advance procurement (AP) funding for this ship was provided in FY2016. The Navy is requesting an additional increment of advance procurement funding for FY2017. The balance of the ship’s procurement cost is to be funded using incremental funding across the six-year period FY2018-FY2023. The fourth ship in the class, CVN-81, is scheduled for procurement in FY2023, with advance procurement (AP) funding scheduled to begin in FY2021.
* 10 Virginia-class attack submarines. The 10 Virginia-class attack submarines to be procured in FY2014-FY2018 are being procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract. Beginning with the second Virginia-class boat to be procured in FY2019, Virginia-class boats are to be built with an additional ship section called the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) that will substantially increase the boats’ weapon capacity.
* 10 DDG-51 destroyers. The 10 DDG-51 destroyers to be procured in FY2013-FY2017 are being procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract. Beginning with the second of the two DDG-51s procured in FY2016, DDG-51s are to be built to the new Flight III version of the DDG-51 design, which is to carry a new and more capable radar called the Air and Missile Defense Radar(AMDR).
* 7 LCSs/Frigates. As mentioned earlier, reflecting a December 2015 direction by the Secretary of Defense, the annual procurement rate of LCSs/Frigates has been reduced. As a consequence, the FY2017-FY2021 five-year shipbuilding plan includes a total of 7 LCSs/Frigates, compared to 14 LCSs/Frigates in the FY2016-FY2020 five-year shipbuilding plan.
* LHA-8 amphibious assault ship in FY2017. The Navy wants to procure an amphibious assault ship called LHA-8 in FY2017, using split funding (i.e., two year incremental funding) in FY2017 and FY2018.
* First LX(R) amphibious ship in FY2020. The Navy wants to procure the first of a new class of amphibious ships, called the LX(R) class, in FY2020. Congress, as part of its action on the Navy’s FY2016 budget, provided additional funding to accelerate the production schedule for this ship. The Navy has testified that, as a result of this funding, even though the ship is still shown in the FY2020 column, the Navy will now be able to accelerate the construction schedule of the ship to something more consistent with a ship procured in FY2019.
* TATS towing, salvage, and rescue ship. As mentioned above, Congress, as part of its action on the Navy’s FY2016 budget, accelerated the procurement of the first TATS ship from FY2017 to FY2016.
* TAO-205 (previously TAO[X]) class oiler. The first ship in the TAO-205 class oiler (previously TAO[X]) program was funded in FY2016.