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Transforming the Navy's
Surface Combatant Force

  March 2003  


The cover shows the Preble, an Arleigh Burke class (DDG-51) guided-missile destroyer (top), and an artist's rendering of the DD(X) future destroyer (bottom). (Pictures are courtesy of the Navy and Northrop Grumman, respectively.)




Notes

Unless otherwise indicated, the years referred to in this study are fiscal years and the dollar amounts are in 2003 dollars.

Numbers in the text and tables may not add up to totals because of rounding.

The cover shows the Preble, an Arleigh Burke class (DDG-51) guided-missile destroyer (top), and an artist's rendering of the DD(X) future destroyer (bottom). (Pictures are courtesy of the Navy and Northrop Grumman, respectively.)





                

Preface

Today, the U.S. Navy numbers about 300 ships, including a force of 115 surface combatants (cruisers, destroyers, and frigates). For the past six years, the official force goal for surface combatants was 116. But recently, senior Navy officials have argued that the nation needs a larger Navy: 375 ships, including a surface combatant force of 160 ships. That force would comprise 104 large cruisers and destroyers as well as 56 new, much smaller vessels called littoral combat ships--which are expected to be an important element of the Bush Administration's plans for transforming the Navy. Those ships are intended to counter potential threats in the world's coastal regions that, if left unchecked, could inhibit the Navy's freedom of action. At the same time that it hopes to expand the fleet, however, the Navy plans to retire many existing surface combatants early.

Reaching the Navy's new force goal by building more surface combatants would require a substantial investment, which would compete with other demands, including different transformation efforts and ship programs. Are there ways to transform the surface combatant force within today's funding level? This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study--prepared at the request of the Subcommittee on Seapower of the Senate Committee on Armed Services--examines that question. It looks at the Navy's modernization plans for the surface combatant force and their budgetary implications. The analysis also evaluates three options that would modernize and transform that force at the current funding level. In keeping with CBO's mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this study makes no recommendations.

Eric J. Labs of CBO's National Security Division wrote the study under the general supervision of J. Michael Gilmore. Raymond Hall of CBO's Budget Analysis Division prepared the cost estimates and wrote the appendix under the general supervision of Jo Ann Vines. Ian MacLeod of the National Security Division helped review the manuscript for factual accuracy. Lyle Nelson, Arlene Holen, David Moore, Dennis Zimmerman, Tracy Foertsch, and R. William Thomas of CBO provided thoughtful comments on an earlier draft of the study, as did several officials of the Department of the Navy. In addition, numerous Navy officials and analysts answered many requests for information. The author is especially grateful to Robert Work of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, whose insights and comments were extremely valuable. (The assistance of such external participants implies no responsibility for the final product, which rests solely with CBO.)

Joseph Foote and Christian Spoor edited the study, and Leah Mazade proofread it. Kathryn Winstead prepared the study for publication. Lenny Skutnik printed the initial copies, and Annette Kalicki prepared the electronic versions for CBO's Web site.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Director
March 2003




CONTENTS


  Summary
   
Modernizing the Surface Combatant Force and the Implications for the Navy's Budget
      Transformation and What It Means for the Navy
      The Current Surface Combatant Force
      Evolving Roles and Missions of Surface Combatants
      Stated Requirements for Surface Combatants
      The Navy's Plan for Transforming the Surface Combatant Force
      Budgetary Implications of the Navy's Plan
   
Options for Managing the Transformation to the Future Surface Combatant Force
      Option I: Delay the Transition to Next-Generation Ships by Making the Most of the Existing Fleet
      Option II: Accelerate the Transition to Next-Generation Ships by Retiring Much of the Existing Force Early
      Option III: Buy Fewer Next-Generation Ships by Assigning Multiple Crews to New Ship Classes
   
Measures of Capability Under the Various Options
      Number of Surface Combatants
      Ships Capable of Long-Range Fleet Air and Missile Defense
      Helicopter Hangars
      Vertical Launch System Cells
      Penetrating Littoral Antisubmarine Warfare Suites
      ERGM and 155-Millimeter Guns
      Next-Generation Ships
      Total Crew Size
      Average Age
      Implications of the Analysis
   
  Appendix
Cost Estimates for New Ships in the Navy's 160-Ship Plan and CBO's Option I


Tables
   
S-1.  Average Annual Spending for Ship Construction, by Category, 1990-2020
S-2.  The Surface Combatant Force in 2010 and 2025 Under Alternative Force Structures
1.  Characteristics of Current and Proposed Surface Combatants
2.  Annual Operating Costs for Present and Future Classes of Navy Ships
3.  Average Annual Construction Spending and Procurement for Navy Ships, by Category, 1990-2020
4.  Summary of Program Changes and Assumptions Under Alternative Force Structures Through 2025
5.  Average Annual Spending for Procurement and Operation and Support, 2003-2025
6.  Estimated Operating Costs for Future Classes of Navy Ships Using Single Crews or Multiple Crews
7.  The Surface Combatant Force in 2025 Under Alternative Force Structures
A-1.  Estimated Production Schedule for New Surface Combatants, 2005-2025
A-2.  CBO's Cost Estimate for the First DD(X) Destroyer
A-3.  CBO's Cost Estimate for the First CG(X) Cruiser
   
Figures
   
S-1.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under CBO's Estimate of the Navy's 160-Ship Plan, 2001-2025
S-2.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under Option I, 2001-2025
S-3.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under Option II, 2001-2025
S-4.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under Option III, 2001-2025
1.  Composition of the Surface Combatant Force, 2002
2.  The Number of Surface Combatants the Navy Needs, According to Various Sources
3.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under CBO's Estimate of the Navy's 160-Ship Plan, 2001-2025
4.  Annual Purchases of Surface Combatants Under CBO's Estimate of the Navy's 160-Ship Plan
5.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under Option I, 2001-2025
6.  Annual Purchases of Surface Combatants Under Option I, 2001-2025
7.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under Option II, 2001-2025
8.  Annual Purchases of Surface Combatants Under Option II, 2001-2025
9.  Inventory of Surface Combatants Under Option III, 2001-2025
10.  Annual Purchases of Surface Combatants Under Option III, 2001-2025
11.  Notional Multiple-Crew Deployment Cycle for Future Surface Combatants
12.  Number of Surface Combatants On-Station in Peacetime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2001-2025
13.  Number of Surface Combatants That Could Be Surged to Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf in Wartime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2010-2025
14.  Number of Ships Capable of Long-Range Air and Missile Defense On-Station in Peacetime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2001-2025
15.  Number of Ships Capable of Long-Range Air and Missile Defense That Could Be Surged to Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf in Wartime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2010-2025
16.  Number of Helicopter Hangars On-Station in Peacetime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2001-2025
17.  Number of Helicopter Hangars That Could Be Surged to Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf in Wartime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2010-2025
18.  Number of VLS Cells on Surface Combatants On-Station in Peacetime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2001-2025
19.  Number of VLS Cells on Surface Combatants That Could Be Surged to Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf in Wartime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2010-2025
20.  Number of Ships with Penetrating Littoral ASW Suites On-Station in Peacetime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2010-2025
21.  Number of Ships with Penetrating Littoral ASW Suites That Could Be Surged to Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf in Wartime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2010-2025
22.  Amount of Gunfire Support On-Station in Peacetime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2015 and 2025
23.  Amount of Gunfire Support That Could Be Surged to Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf in Wartime Under Alternative Force Structures, 2015 and 2025
24.  Total Number of Next-Generation Ships Under Alternative Force Structures, 2010-2025
25.  Total Crew Size of the Surface Combatant Force Under Alternative Force Structures, 2001-2025
26.  Average Age of the Surface Combatant Force Under Alternative Force Structures, 2001-2025
   
Boxes
   
1.  Force Structure Under the Navy's New Operational Concept
2.  The Role of Helicopters in Countering Area-Denial Threats
3.  Providing Logistics Support to a Navy That Has Littoral Combat Ships



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