Navy: Cuts Threaten 306-Ship Fleet Goal

Navy: Cuts Threaten 306-Ship Fleet Goal

The Navy’s recently released 2015 30-year shipbuilding plan says the service is in danger of not realizing its anticipated vision for a fleet size of more than 300 ships and submarines because there simply is not enough money available to meet stated requirements.

The planned pace of retirement for many of the surface ships built between 1980 and 1990 and the funding needed to secure production in 2021 for the first next-generation ballistic missile submarine, the Ohio Replacement program, are placing extensive strain on available resources, according to the plan.

Navy acquisition executive Sean Stackley recently told Congress that the shipbuilding plan seeks to correctly identify this problem.

“In order to meet our 306 ship requirements, the funding that’s needed greatly exceeds what we have had for the past 20 years,” he said. “We’re identifying this problem years in advance so that we collectively have the opportunity to work on it. The 306-ship plan is under great budget stress.”

The plan, called the “Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY2015,” breaks down required funding for future ships into three ten-year blocks and specifies that the Navy will need $19.7 billion per year for shipbuilding from 2025 through 2034 due to the expected production of the Ohio Replacement Program, or ORP.

Production for the lead ship in a planned fleet of 12 ORPs is expected to cost $12.4 billion — $4.8 billion in non-recurring engineering or development costs and $7.6 billion in ship construction, the plan states. Detailed design for the first ORP is slated for 2017 and some development and early construction is already underway. The Ohio Replacement Program is scheduled to serve out through the 2080s.

“If the DON [Department of the Navy] is unable to sustain the average annual shipbuilding budgets of $19.7 billion over the course of the mid-term planning period, which is unlikely to be the case, the battle force will fall short of meeting requirements,” the plan states.

The ORP, now being engineered with a host of new technologies, is designed to replace the existing Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and provide global undersea strategic nuclear deterrence. At the moment, there isn’t enough money to support this priority, according to the shipbuilding plan.

“The average cost of this plan during the period which the DON is procuring OR SSBN (Ohio Replacement) cannot be accommodated by the Navy from existing resources,” the plan states.

Some influential members of Congress such as House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, have long been concerned about discrepancies between the dollars needed for the service’s shipbuilding plan and the actual dollars spent.

“The 30-year shipbuilding plan normally has had a shortfall in it, as much as four to six billion per year, between what the average amount the Navy has had over the last couple of decades and what it is going to take to do the ship-building plan that they are showing us,” he told Military​.com in an interview.

The congressman advocates several possible avenues for making more shipbuilding funding available, such as increasing the budget or shifting priorities within DoD accounts.

“At some point in time, we need a realistic shipbuilding plan where we come together and say, ‘How do we get the dollars to build the ships the Navy is going to need to defend and protect this country for the next ten to twenty years or longer?’” Forbes said.

If money for the Ohio-replacement is taken from the existing shipbuilding budget and not placed in stand-alone funding stream, then remaining shipbuilding efforts will be severely compromised, he said.

“If we do the Ohio-class — which we are going to have to do –it is going suck out everything else for shipbuilding and it will significantly impact our industrial base,” he explained. “Do you bring funding in from other non-DoD funds? You may have to look within DoD and say what are our priorities? One to one-and-a-half percent of the DoD budget can build the ships we need for the next several decades.”

The Navy’s shipbuilding road map appears to agree with this assessment, stating that the service will only be able to afford ORP procurement costs with significant increases in the budget top-line to fund the submarine, without reducing other resourcing levels.

At the same time, the Navy claims it is making progress with efforts to lower costs for the Ohio Replacement Program.

“A top priority outlined in our plan includes Ohio Class submarine replacement which will continue to provide strategic nuclear deterrence,” Navy spokesman Lt. Robert Myers said. “While our current fiscal environment provides resourcing challenges for the proposed ship building plan, we continue to work with Congress on a way forward and are committed to identifying cost savings for the Ohio Replacement without sacrificing required capability.”

In particular, the ORP program has recognized savings of $800 million to the submarines non-recurring engineering costs, according to a blog post from Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, director of undersea warfare.
Additional cost savings are being achieved by re-using the Trident II D5 missiles and technologies developed for the Virginia-class attack submarines, Tofalo wrote.

Tofalo also added that the Navy has identified a 12-ship class cost reduction of $500 million in construction and $130 million in operation and sustainment costs.

Overall, the Navy needs to make more progress if it hopes to meet its goal of producing the Ohio Replacement Submarines for $4.9 billion each in 2010 dollars.

Working with ORP-builder Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., the Navy has finished the ship specifications for the boat and made progress with a few cost-cutting initiatives.

The Navy is only building 12 Ohio Replacement submarines to replace 14 existing ones because the new submarines are being built with an improved nuclear core reactor that will better sustain the submarines, officials have said. As a result, the Ohio Replacement submarines will be able to perform a greater number of deployments than the ships they are replacing and not need a mid-life refueling in order to complete 42 years of service.

Also, Navy officials point to a “bankers score card” which catalogs every cost-saving measure identified in the Ohio Replacement program development. The program looks for savings in construction, saving in operation and support and design savings.

For instance, Ohio Replacement program developers saved millions in developmental costs by removing a technology called Salvage Air, a mechanism to bring air into the tank in the event of catastrophe or disaster, service officials said.

On average, the Navy says it will need $16.7 billion per year for the next three decades to reach its goal of 306 ships. Beginning fiscal year 2020, the service will need about $17.2 billion per year for shipbuilding, an amount that is about $4 billion more than the Navy’s historical average annual investment of $13 billion per year, service officials said.

This goal is also complicated by the fact that most of the ships in the fleet were built between 1980 and 1990 at a rate of three or four per year and they’ll likely reach the end of their service life around the same time. In short, surface ships and submarines will retire at a faster rate than they can be replaced.

“These retiring ships will need to be recapitalized at rates that are unaffordable in today’s environment,” according to the shipbuilding plan. “This phenomenon leads to a requirement to increase shipbuilding funding over historic levels. Only with additional funding in 2020 and beyond will we mitigate the impact of these requirements.”

Addressing this issue is a key part of why the Navy plans to lay up one-half of its fleet of Ticonderoga-class cruisers for a period of years to work on maintenance and modernization before returning them to service.

Tags: , ,

Join the Conversation

We spend more on the military now than we did at the peak of the Cold War under Regan when we had a 600 ship Navy, but today’s Navy can’t keep 300 ships afloat? When a DDG-1000 costs more than 2 Iowa Class Battleships that featured 9 16 inch guns, 20 5 inch guns and 13 inches of steel armor, I don’t think the real threat to the Navy is a 10% cut in funding. The biggest threat to our Navy is our Navy. Too many officers are more worried about getting that cushy retirement job with the defense contractor of their choice and not worried enough about doing their damn job. If the Navy would go back to designing their own ships, we could easily have a 300+ ship Navy again while spending less money than we do now. But that would be taking welfare money right out of the bank accounts of the rich, and we all know that ain’t gunna happen.

There’s not enough money for ships and subs, but there’s enough money for the USN to buy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of nonsense “biofuels” at eight to ten times the cost of conventional fuels.

Yup stop building $5billion destroyers and $1billion LCS and maybe then you’d have money to buy REAL warships that can actually do something

We no longer have a surplus of WW2-era ships to keep on upgrading, even though foreign nations are making do on our WW2-era (and cold war era) hardware.

We have failed to build cost-effective combatants because we are in love with very expensive multirole combatants. I doubt we will ever build another DD (instead of a DDG) because we feel that everything must have a SPY-1 and Aegis. A smaller version of the Burke as a large frigate to fill in where the ORP was too small and the DDG is too big is not a bad place to start. We probably will still need even smaller ships for greenwater missions.

Military salaries, benefits, and healthcare costs are much higher now than they were in the ‘80s, even if inflation is removed. And healthcare costs are projected to continue increasing faster than inflation.

Partnering with the UK on a design might not be a bad idea to reduce costs for both sides. They will be using our Tridents anyways, so we might as well design together and split production. It would mean if things went south that their SSBN’s could be repaired on our slips or vice versa, and easier support of SSBN’s if operating near England.

It would probably go as well as “partnering” with the UK on the JSF has gone.

Yeah, whenever I’m in Saks or Neiman Marcus I can hardly get through the place for all the men in uniform.

Damn straight! This thin skinned, not really stealthy but costs like they are Navy is a real piece of crap.

We have failed to build cost-effective ships because we pay contractors more to drag out the design and jack the cost of the ships through the roof. “For profit” companies are real funny about doing whatever pays the best.

Once we buy a few ships from Europe the “free market” will change its tune to the new competition…namely, by provoking Congresscritters into being angry.

The DDG-1000 will be fighting for pier space with the LCS ships while the Burkes will be where they belong—at sea protecting our nation

Keep pissing money into revising Powerpoint cartoons that don’t evolve into real improvements in Naval force, and you will soon have museums full of old warships, and Admirals commanding sea kayaks armed with BB guns and bottle rockets.

More subs please.

We need more subs the idiots who make up Navy brass could save lots of $ buy killing LCS off and kill JSF off and have money to save Subs and cruisers. But that puts practicality over personal ego and that to much for brass to handle.

There’s no “free market” in weapons. It’s a political problem and it requires a political solution. We live in a republic, let’s make it work for us, for a change. We have the votes even if we don’t have the bucks.

It’s not partnering if we have the expertise. They couldn’t build the Astute Class without US contractor support.

be careful 1 Star, you might incur the wrath of the LCS mafia,

they are very desperate right now, and desperate people do desperate things

The bubble heads are the only branch of the Navy that seems to have their act together right now.

The black shoes have their collective heads up the LCS butt so far the are doing the Sgt Shultiz “I see nothing.…” But for some reason, they like it up there and don’t want to come out.

The Brown shoes slept with a nasty ho, the F-35, after drinking too much one night, and now they can’t seem to get rid of her, she follows him everywhere saying “I need money, I need money, I need money.” The Brown shoes give her a few billion and say “go away” but the next day she shows up again “I need more money…” The Brown shoes are just hoping that the nasty ho doesn’t find out that they are already married with children (the Hornet family you know)

The Corp slept with the same nasty ho but before the Brown shoes did (they told their Brown shoe buddy “yes she’s a great ‘sc..w” and got him drunk). But they are think they can make that ho into a proper Marine with discipline and training, but so far, after 15 years of effort…

The the meantime, the ho’s pimp, his name is Mr Lockheed, is sitting in his Caddy smoking a bong with his good buddy Gen Walsh and having a good laugh.

Thank Obama!!!!! He is the person behind it!!!!

They need a job! POST RETIREMENT! Do you really think they give a s**t?

DDG-1000 has certainly had its share of issues but when you cut something incorporating that many new systems from 32 ships to 3 a massive increase in per-unit cost is inevitable. LCS doesn’t have that excuse but it is probably the greatest example of the Navy not knowing what the hell they want. A 3,000 ton corvette with the firepower and crew size of a patrol boat designed for action in the littoral waters the Navy doesn’t want to fight in due to the threat of shore based AShMs.

The Navy has backed away from the SC-21 “vision” for the future and while that had its share of flaws they now seem to be wandering around aimlessly when it comes to the topic of surface combatants. Now they want to jam so much new tech into the Flight III Burke that it will be a new class in all but name. I’m sure that will work out just fine…

The USN has gotten rid of all its tactical nuclear cruise missiles. If it reintroduces at least 500 nuclear cruise missiles to its surface ships and subs, it would project deterrence to an attack. Right now the Russian or Chinese Navy can take out the USN in one coordinated strike with their own tactical navy nukes without using their strategic nukes. We are really in trouble here. If Obama continues to unilaterally cut our own nukes, we will be attacked and maybe as early as next year

Couldn’t or wouldn’t? With our Navy you can always buy better, but you just can’t pay more.

Nice allegory. The Navy doesn’t seem to know what it wants. The contractors are sure they know the answer and even if they don’t they want the money and the Navy keeps listening because they have no agenda of their own. Surface ships should cost less than submersibles but when you add stealth the cost goes through the roof. It would be cheaper to make all naval vessels submersible than it is to pay out the ass for the low degree of stealth the Navy gets for its dollars on surface ships. And their “one size fits all” approach to aircraft is ludicrous. How this can be the same Navy that revolutionized nuclear reactors a few decades back is a complete mystery.

Read “Prophets of War”, this history of Lockheed. Those familiar with their business say “Lockheed can build anything, once”. Should have added at obscene cost.

He made a mistake, its defense contractors and Wall Streeters.

Great story. Now you just need to extend the solution.

Hap Arnold’s Air Force is in a tailspin. Managed to cut bombers to single digits, which cost more than a Navy destroyer. Classic case of mismanagement. Their “reward” — give them back to the Army.

Navy’s only “commissioned” ship that was build for a real war — and won every one of its one-on-one fights (and won a two-of-them-against-one-of-us) battle — is sitting in Boston. It unfurls its sails a few times a year. And, it has better protection (“Ironsides”) and more firepower than the LCS!

Army last major acquisition, its sardine can MRAP, is being scrapped. Afghan insurgents loved it because it put all their targets in one basket. Plus, they can’t even manage a vehicle/truck modernization program!

Marines are fighters and not managers. They’re on Round 3 with billions of dollars wasted on their amphibious assault vehicle. And that’s not even a complex system!

Navy needs a new cruiser, a large fast CGN to provide air and missile defense in the CSGs, a warship large enough to carry much larger radar than a DDG can carry and more missiles in VLS/PVLS than a DDGs can carry, a warship with the speed and endurance that equals or exceeds the CVN, a flagship to provide C2 for the surface warfare group and submarines. Navy needs a new CGN.

““In order to meet our 306 ship requirements, the funding that’s needed greatly exceeds what we have had for the past 20 years,” he said. “We’re identifying this problem years in advance so that we collectively have the opportunity to work on it. The 306-ship plan is under great budget stress.””

The Navy’s plan prior to sequestration was for 313 ships that they were never going to have the funds for anyways. I sat in on a briefing in 2009 that showed the requirement and a bunch of dotted lines where they had no idea how to pay for it.

I expect that the Zumwalts will more likely operate in the surface warfare group of an ESG. And with only three, they won’t have enough Zumwalts to keep one actively deployed. They need four for that.

Couldn’t the next generation SSBN carry 32 missiles instead of 24, that would enable to cut the number of submarines from 12 to 9. Wouldn’t 9 ships provide enough redundancy?

As long as we can still keep our children on school maybe college and work wich seems to get better we are slowlly going the right way. And lets not all down the national health plan things are looking good,
The newer generation can have their say now, So lets all stay healthy and keep that job and school,
the services have good opertunities also, We have to keep ourown country safe, let other war hunger countries fight their own arguments.
We cannot look at some criminals force others to join them

As to number of boats needed, the only number that matters is the number that can be kept actively deployed, as those are the only ones providing the deterrent, which is a much smaller number than the total number of boats.

The stated plan is 12 boats, 16 launchers/tubes each, for 192 total. I think they are limited by treaty to a maximum of 240 launchers/tubes total.

The navy retires ships and subs to early. Other nations take them over and use them and do not complain. Add the cost of the LCS program and the F35 and you would have what you need.

Our SSBNs could be repaired in their shipyards? Dream on. The RNA (Royal Navy Auxiliary, their equivalent of our Military Sealift Command) is building support ships in Korea. Our shipbuilding industrial base is in bad shape, but the British one is in FAR worse condition.

Don’t they have 2 crews per boat?

It is stupid for our country to down size on amount of ships whats wrong with this President impeach him now

They do. JRT may be alluding to the fact that present-day reactors need to be refueled once during a ship’s lifetime. Likely ORP will not need refuelling during its lifetime (unless life is extended). In which case, the number of ships available is much larger, with the only ships unavailable being those at port. And with blue/gold crew ORP won’t be at port for long: long enough to take on supplies and head out again. So long as no major damage occurs (mechanical issue, hit a seamount) the overall availability of the new force should be very high.

Without the Jones Act the “Free Market” would have gutted us too.

I wonder what free market Thatcher thought of the Jones Act…

Which ship is building built in South Korea? Looking over the RFA lists, I see a lot of leased vessels…

Unfortunately, Flight III costs are rising to point that their nearing on par with Zumwalt.

We just pushed all the programs we wanted onto the Burke.

If our navy was worth a damn, instead of trying to make surface ships somewhat stealthy, which yields poor stealth and huge costs, they’d make them submersible. China is talking about subs that can go supersonic (http://​www​.scmp​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​c​h​i​n​a​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​1​5​8​0​2​2​6​/​s​h​a​n​g​h​a​i​-​s​a​n​-​f​r​a​n​c​i​s​c​o​-​1​0​0​-​m​i​n​u​t​e​s​-​c​h​i​n​e​s​e​-​s​u​p​e​r​s​o​n​i​c​-​s​u​b​m​a​r​ine). All our navy can do is break un-f’ing-believable price barrier.

The key point with putting half of the cruisers in laid-up status and then bringing them back one by one as the older ones retire is a great one. At this pace, the Navy is not going and will not have the money to replace the current Cruiser type ships. With this it would be cost effective and we will have Cruisers until 2040. GO Navy!!

The only cruisers we’ve got left are Ticos. Laying them up 1:1 as the new Burkes (cruisers in all but name?) may be the price of doing business. However, we still need some ships to shore up the “low end”. Not every destroyer need be an Aegis combatant.


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.