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2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA)

Donald Trump’s ambition to grow the number of naval ships from 308 to 350 was surpassed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, whose Force Structure Assessment called for a fleet of 355 ships.

Announcing the results of the assessment in December 2016, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said, "To continue to protect America and defend our strategic interests around the world, all while continuing the counterterrorism fight and appropriately competing with a growing China and resurgent Russia, our Navy must continue to grow," adding that, "All of the analysis done to date, inside and outside of the Navy, recognizes, as we have for nearly the last eight years, the need for a larger Fleet".

The 2016 FSA recommends a 355-ship fleet including 12 carriers, 104 large surface combatants, 52 small surface combatants, 38 amphibious ships, and 66 submarines. The assessment will be one input to the Navy's FY-2018 30-year shipbuilding plan. The current proposed Navy budget is seen as a bridge to this larger Navy, with shipbuilding on an upward glide slope towards 308 ships.

During his pre-election speeches, Donald Trump did not just talk about recreating the "great fleet" of America, but he called a specific figure of its necessary composition - 350 units. So, at the pre-election rally in Newton before Pennsylvania voters on October 21 last year, he said: "Our fleet today is the smallest since World War II. My plan is that we will build a fleet of 350 ships. This will be his greatest gain since the era of Ronald Reagan, and this will require truly national efforts ... As our fleet will grow, we must invest in the training of qualified American specialists. We need welders, assemblers, installers and people of many other specialties. We will organize "centers of excellence" in places like Philadelphia and Portsmouth in New Hampshire.

The figure 350 was not invented by Trump. It began to circulate in the walls of the Congress from the beginning of last year, when the election campaign in the US has not even gained momentum yet. The main authors of this "sacred line" were Randy Forbes and Joe Courtney - members of the House of Representatives from the Republican Party. The first is the chairman of the subcommittee on maritime power and the projection of force, and the second is his deputy. And the more likely the figure of Donald Trump to become a presidential post from the Republican Party, the more loudly declared the need for a fleet of 350 ships, Forbes and Courtney. To achieve this goal, it is required to bring today's annual shipbuilding budget of the United States from $ 18.7 billion to about $ 25 billion.

The US Navy announced on 21 Maarch 2019t the latest 30-year shipbuilding plan, claiming that it will reach President Trump’s "355 Big Fleet" goal in 2034; to achieve this plan, the Navy would accelerate the "Ticondero Plus" cruiser, the Avengers mine-hunting ship and the decommissioning plan for the Truman (CVN 75). The US Navy said that although the new plan is different from last year, it cannot increase the number of ships in a short period of time, but it will allow the Navy to "steadily grow". In 2024 and 2034, it will reach a total of 314, 355 ships, and ensure that it will reach 2049. The number will not decline before the year; the fleet's maintenance costs will rise from $24 billion in the 2020 fiscal year to $30 billion and $40 billion in 2024 and 2034.

Under the source of funding, the number of Arleign Burke destroyers will reach a peak of 117 ships in 2034; the number of attack submarines will be affected as the Los Angeles class boats continue to retire, falling to a low of 42 in 2027. However, it was expected that the shipbuilding operation will be stable and will arrive at 66 ships in 2048, achieving the goal of the 2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA).

In addition, although the number is not included in the "355 Fleet" plan, the medium and large unmanned surface vehicles (USV) will also become the focus of the US Navy; according to budgetary requirements, the US Navy hopes to receive US$447 million in fiscal year 2020 ( The funding of approximately NT$13.8 billion is used to accelerate the development of unmanned surface vehicles in the Future Surface Fightership (FSC) program, as well as related sensors and armed systems.

However, in order to raise funds, the Navy’s new “Large Surface Combatant” (LSC) plan was postponed from FY 2023 to FY 2025. The Burke-class destroyer (DDG-51 Flight III) production line will continue to operate until FY 2024 for the construction of an additional number of Flight III-class ships to avoid the loss of manpower caused by the "empty window period" of shipbuilding.

In addition to delaying the LSC project, the US Navy will also slow down the procurement of amphibious ships and cancel the life extension of several Ticonderoga class cruisers, leaving eight of these ships to be retired by 2024; The postponed "Avenger" mine-hunting replacement plan will also be re-launched. It is expected that the "Avenger" of the United States will be retired in the 2020 fiscal year, leaving only eight mine-hunting ships stationed in Bahrain and Japan. The most influential and most controversial thing is to cancel the Truman's Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), which is equivalent to letting the ship retire early in 2020, which will reduce the total number of US aircraft carriers to 9 in 2027.

According to an 06 September 2019 memo signed by CNO Adm. Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, the Department of Navy had a unique opportunity to systemically re-examine requirements and identify the naval force needed to meet the challenges of Great Power Competition. Naval integration is the comerstone of the future naval force, and the challenges facing the nation demand that fully leveraging the strengths of both naval services.

Periodic Navy Force Structure Assessments (FSAs) provide the foundation for the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels. An Interim 2019 FSA, based on the new National Defense Strategy and coordinated with the Marine Corps, was on schedule to complete inlate September to support the Fall Program and Budget Review. This work is based on a 2030 global campaign. The Interim 2019 FSA was noteworthy in being the first FSA to assess an optimal force mix that included Large Unmanned Surface Vessels, Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vessels, and Expeditionary Advanced Bases (EABs).

Concurrent with the work to complete the Interim 2019 FSA, the Navy worked to develop a new, comprehensive naval force architecture which integrates the concepts and doctrines required to project naval power globally in the year 2030 and beyond. This architecture was evaluated analytically, with insights informing an initial Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment - an update to the Interim 2019 FSA - characterizing the integrated naval warfighting capability and capacity required to conduct missions, functions, roles, andtasks in support of the National Defense Strategy.

The analytic work supporting the FSA leveraged ongoing Joint Force Operating Scenario(JFOS) development, which integrate the Navy and Marine Corps emerging warfighting concepts of Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment / Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (LOCE/EABO). The analysis also provided additional detail of the effects of afloat and ashore EABs and the connectors andamphibious platforms that enable those operations.

Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced plans in December 2019 to pursue the goal of increasing the country's fleet to 355 ships. "[Three hundred and fifty-five ships] is stated as national policy. We have a goal of 355; we don’t have a plan for 355. We need to have a plan, and if it’s not 355, what’s it going to be and what’s it going to look like?" Modly elaborated during his speech at the US Naval Institute Defence Forum on 5 December 2019. The acting Navy chief stated in the memo that he wants to achieve this goal by 2030. He also noted that the desired fleet of 355 ships will include, among other things, "unmanned underwater vehicles, and unmanned surface vehicles".

The statements by the acting Navy chief were echoed by US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who stated that President Donald Trump was serious about boosting the Navy's fleet, which currently has only 292 ships at its disposal. He added that the 355 goal must be reached "not decades from now", but much sooner. Modly's predecessor, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer was more sceptical about Trump's pledge, first made during the 2016 election campaign. While he called it an "important aspirational goal", the former Navy chief opted for ensuring the existing’s fleet’s "maximum capability" instead. Spencer's Vice Chief of Naval Operations Robert Burke went even further, saying that the Navy's current funding allows to properly maintain a fleet of around "305 to 310 ships", but no more.

In early October 2019, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office released an assessment report, which believes that if the Navy follows the existing ship purchase plan, the annual cost of ship purchases in the next 30 years will be about $ 22 billion, and this number may continue to rise. Thomas Modi, then Deputy Secretary of the Navy, told the media: "It must be taken into account that the future unit price and operation and maintenance costs of warships will only become more and more expensive. Although the size of the current fleet is less than half that of 40 years ago, The operating cost is more than doubled. "He also questioned the feasibility of forming a 355 fleet with traditional warships, and supported the addition of unmanned warships to the larger fleet to enhance the" distributed operations "capability.

The Associated Press published a report entitled "The US Navy Considers Reducing Ship Construction Costs in the New Budget" on 28 December 2019. It is reported that the plan is only being served for discussion and has not yet been approved, so it is likely to be just a "fake shot". In order to show the White House that the Department of Defense is skeptical of the Big Fleet plan and to gain more tilt in the budget by applying pressure.

A memorandum showed that the US Navy proposed to reduce ship construction costs and apeed up ship decommissioning. It is reported that this move will delay or abolish the US Navy's goal of expanding its fleet size-and may harm the interests of shipyards. The proposal will reduce the size of the U.S. Navy fleet from the current 293 ships to 287 ships, far from the official target of 355 ships established by the FY 2018 Defense Authorization Act.

The report cited a defense official familiar with the memo as saying that budget negotiations are ongoing and no final decision has been made. But the official said that the US Navy is considering multiple ways to cut costs in order to fund other priority tasks. The official said that one of the proposed budget cuts would reduce the number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers planned to be built in the next five years from 12 to 7, reducing the shipbuilding budget by $ 94 billion, about the total 8%. The report pointed out that another possible reduction would allow the Ticonderoga-class cruiser to accelerate its retirement in the next 5 years, leaving only 9 instead of 13 ships.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also spoke about discussions of a preliminary budget plan that has not yet been made public. "Either choice violates the requirements of the US Navy to build a '355 warship' fleet, and Congress will not accept it happily," said Jay Coman, a naval analyst at Avacent Consulting. It is agreed that military and strategic threats from Russia will only increase. " US defense analyst Norman Friedman said the proposal would mean a significant reduction in the fleet's air defense capabilities provided by destroyers and cruisers.

there are plans to reduce at least 22 surface combatants over the next five to ten years. Including the reduction of 12 "Arleigh Burke" Flight III destroyers ordered to be built between 2021 and 2025 to 7 and 5; the number of 22 active "Ticonderoga" class cruisers will be reduced by 2025. Thirteen retired, four more retired than previously planned; and four coastal combatants originally commissioned in 2021. In addition, the "Virginia" class of attack nuclear submarines and FFG (X) frigates are also being reduced.

If this proposal is passed, it means that by 2025, the size of the US Navy's fleet will drop from about 290 today to about 280. The "National Defense Authorization Law" passed in 2018 stipulates that the construction of "355 joint fleets" is a mid-to-long-term goal for the development of the Navy. Such a reduction in scale will only make the US Navy farther and farther from its target.

David B. Larter writing in Defense News reported 24 December 2019 that the Department of Defense sent a plan to the White House to cut the construction of Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyers by more than 40 percent in fiscal years 2021 through 2025. The proposal would cut five of the 12 DDGs planned through the so-called future years defense program, or FYDP. In total, the plan would cut about $9.4 billion, or 8 percent, out of the total shipbuilding budget.

Larter reported that a memo from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to the Defense Department outlined plans to accelerate the decommissioning cruisers, cutting the total number of Ticonderoga-class cruisers in the fleet down to nine by 2025, from a planned 13 in last year’s budget. "The new proposal would accelerate the decommissioning of the Monterey. Vella Gulf and Port Royal to 2022, which would cut between three and seven years off each of their planned lives. The plan would also advance the decommissioning of the Shiloh to 2024, three years earlier that previously planned."

The 2021 shipbuilding budget of $19.9 billion — ratherless than the $24 billion enacted for 2020 — would fund the construction of the first Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine. Other ships funded are one [not two] Virginia-class attack submarine; three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; the first FFG(X) next-generation guided-missile frigate; one Flight II San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship; and two Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ships. The five-year Future Years Defense Plan includes plans for an amphibious assault ship in 2023; a replacement submarine tender in 2024; a new ocean surveillance ship in 2022; and a new cable-laying ship and a new sealift ship in 2023.

The shipbuilding budget included funds for five LCU 1700-class utility landing craft. Two large unmanned surface vessels (LUSVs) were funded by research and development funds, with seven LUSVs to be built in the future using shipbuilding funds. The shipbuilding request also restored the Refueling and Complex Overhaul of the USS Harry S. Truman, which last year the Navy wanted to retire.

The Navy planned early retirements in an effort to garner $1.4 billion in savings to help fund modernization. Four littoral combat ships (LCSs) to be retired were the first four commissioned — Freedom, Independence, Fort Worth and Coronado — and are considered test and training ships. The LSD being retired in 2021 would be one of three — Germantown, Fort McHenry and Gunston Hall.

The service also announced plans to decommission its four least modern Ticonderoga-class cruisers that have ballistic-missile defense (BMD) capability — Monterey, Shiloh, Vela Gulf and Port Royal — although no timetable was announced. The Navy also plans to decommission its 12 Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships, but no timetable has been announced yet. R&D funds will be invested in 2021 for two new intra-theater lift vessels.

The Navy's ship count in the five-year plan was reduced by about 20% (from 55 to 44). The admiral at the press conference made the following comment: "Columbia is going to result in consuming over 20% of our [shipbuilding] account as we get toward the end of the FYDP, and once we get to serial production, it will be over 30 percent." So that's the impact of the Navy not getting additional money or top-line "relief" for Columbia -- less of other ships. IT seemed unlikely that the Navy will get extra money for Columbia but Congress will plus up other ships when it can.

The “Stem-to-Stern Capability Strategic Review”, which kicked off on 18 February 2020 and wrapped up on 31 March, aimed to find “an average of eight billion dollars of savings per year between Fiscal Years 2022 and 2026. An internal Office of the Secretary of Defense assessment called for the Navy to cut two aircraft carriers, a surface force of between 80 and 90 large surface combatants, and an increase in the number of small surface combatants – between 55 and 70, substantially more than the Navy currently operated. The Navy’s small surface combatant program is 20 littoral combat ships already in commission with another 15 under contract, as well as the 20 next-generation frigates, with the additional 15 presumably being more frigates. The big change comes in the small unmanned or lightly manned surface combatants, which would allow the Navy to get the total fleet to 355, if not higher, by 2030. This would constitute a new pattern that moved away from presence and moved towards surge and exercise as a model for carrier employment. Regional combatant commanders would get carriers when they were available, or when they are needed in an emergency. The Navy would have six or seven carriers available at any given time, with one in its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul [RCOH] and one or two in significant maintenance



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Page last modified: 01-07-2021 14:52:54 ZULU