There is strength in numbers, which may be why the Navy objects to Congress’ prohibition of counting deployed patrol coastal ships as part of the battle force, a policy which reduces the total number of ships in the Navy’s fighting fleet. By 2015 the Navy was building towards a fleet goal of 308 ships, according to the latest edition of its annual 30-year shipbuilding plan.
That number was up from the 306-ship target cited in the Navy’s previous report. The two ships added to the fleet total are a 12th LPD 17-class amphibious transport dock and a third Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB). The addition of the LPD and AFSB to the fleet objectives mean the number of amphibious warfare ships has grown from 33 to 34 ships, along with the same growth in the number of support vessels – 33 to 34 ships.
|Report to Congress on the |
Annual Long-Range Plan for
Construction of Naval Vessels
"The Navy does not agree with the current NDAA language," the report says, noting that the PCs fulfill specific Congressional requirements for what constitutes a combatant vessel. The prohibition to counting the PCs, the Navy said, is a contradiction to Congress' own language. Nevertheless, the Navy returned to the same ship-counting methodology used in the fiscal year 2014 report, removing 10 deployed PCs and the fleet's two hospital ships from the battle force computations.
The 1993 Bottom-Up Review (BUR) called for a fleet size of 346 ships. Sizing naval forces for two nearly simultaneous MRCs provided a fairly large and robust force structure that can easily support other, smaller regional operations. However, overseas presence needs imposed requirements for naval forces, especially aircraft carriers, that exceeded those needed to win two MRCs.
The 1997 QDR concluded that a force structure of approximately 305 ships fully manned, properly trained, and adequately resourced is assessed to be the minimum acceptable to satisfy the Navy's forward presence and warfighting requirements. The centerpiece of the Navy's force structure was 12 CV/CVN battle groups and 12 amphibious ready groups.
Force structure requirements depend on the roles, missions, and tasks the Naval Services must perform. After careful and comprehensive assessments of current and future operational needs, in 2000 the Navy was committed to sustaining a force structure including:
- 12 aircraft carrier battle groups
- 10 active and one reserve carrier air wings
- 12 amphibious ready groups
- 116 surface warships - 108 in the active Fleet and eight in the Naval Reserve Force
- 50 nuclear-powered attack submarines
- 14 nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarines armed with Trident II/D5 ballistic missiles and operated in two oceans
Funding for DDG 51 procurement continued in FY 2001 into the last year of the four-year multiyear contract. The fifth and sixth ships of the USS San Antonio (LPD 17) Class amphibious transport dock ship, which will serve as the functional replacement for four existing amphibious ship classes, were also funded in FY 2001. Additionally, the second Auxiliary Dry Cargo Vessel (T-ADC(X)) was funded in FY 2001. This ship class will serve as replacement for the Navy's aging Combat Logistics Force. The Navy Department fully funded the CVN 77 in FY 2001, and the FY 2001 budget also included full funding for the third and advance procurement for the fourth and fifth VIRGINIA Class submarines.
In July 2001 Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark said the Navy needs about $12 billion per year -- $3 billion more than the Bush Administration's budget provided -- to maintain the exsisting 317-ship fleet force level. In 2001 the Navy envisioned a fleet of 375 ships, a 70-ship increase. The fleet will include 12 aircraft carriers, 37 amphibious ships, 160 surface combatants and 73 submarines.
In October 1995, the Naval Research Advisory Committee (NRAC) briefed reduced manning concepts applicable on U.S. Navy ships. Based on the NRAC findings, the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command and the Commanding Officer, NSWC Carderock, stood up a team of volunteers in November 1995 to research labor and manpower saving ideas. This Program, title Smart Ship, was endorsed by the CNO in February 1996. From the outset, the Smart Ship Program has used the USS YORKTOWN (CG 48) as the platform for demonstrating innovative technology aimed at reducing manning requirements and life cycle costs. The Smart Ship Program had over five dozen initiatives on board YORKTOWN, within the catagories of Combat Systems, Hull Mechanical & Electrical, Own Unit Support and Manpower Personnel Training & Assessment. These initiatives continue to support the Smart Ship Charter - reduction of manning and related cost savings on present and future U.S. Navy Surface Ships. The methodology that has been developed by the Smart Ship Program for reviewing, testing, evaluating and reporting new ideas will continue in the outyears. The Program has also begun to leverage the success of YORKTOWN onto other AEGIS Cruisers through the Integrated Ship Controls (ISC) Program. It is clear that reduced manning is an essential element, if not the essential element, in affording the Navy of the future.
In the Smart Ship area, the Navy moved rapidly to apply the lessons learned in USS Yorktown in 1997, and more recently in USS Ticonderoga, and the first Smart amphibious ship, USS Rushmore. Installation of seven core technologies-Integrated Bridge System, Integrated Condition Assessment System, Damage Control System, Machinery Control System, Fuel Control System, Fiber Optic LAN, and Wireless Internal Communication System-is planned for most of the Fleet. Innovative ideas such as new watchstanding regimes and expanded inport duty sections are already replacing old ways of doing business and are yielding tangible benefits. Given the program's success, the Navy recently chartered a Smart Ship Summit. This top-level approach will provide a mechanism to ensure efforts are coordinated across the Navy in the most cost efficient manner.
In March 2005 Adm. Vernon Clark, the chief of naval operations, abandoned his goal of building the Navy to a 375-ship fleet. New procedures like keeping ships deployed overseas while rotating the crews mean the Navy will need no more than 325 ships and possibly as few as 260. "Sea Swap and the Fleet Response Plan have changed our Navy," he said. "We have literally bought much more operational availability with these concepts, so we can provide the same kind of combat capability for less than 375 (ships)," he said. The new 30-year shipbuilding plan, delivered to Congress in late March 2005, called for reducing today's fleet of 12 aircraft carriers to as few as 10 by 2035. The plan proposed 11 aircraft carriers at the 325-ship level but only 10 if the fleet shrank to 260. The Clinton Administration's planned for a 360-ship Navy, with 15 aircraft carriers, but this was not funded. As of 2005 the fleet had about 290 ships, and operated 12 carriers. The rate of building new destroyers would not support more than one shipyard at acceptable costs. The plan envisions building about 1.4 destroyers annually, but never two a year. Building those ships in two yards would cost an extra $300 million per ship.
Roman Schweizer, an analyst with Cowen and Co. said in a note to investors 09 November 2016 [ commentary on political, economic or market conditions and is not intended as a research report ]: "Trump's defense plan is thin on specifics but The Heritage Foundation report he used as a template is very positive for Navy shipbuilding, calling for a fleet size of 346, up from 287. It also has a goal of 13 aircraft carriers, compared to current target of 11. Combine with this with the Navy's fleet-size studies under way (which will call for a larger force), and we see shipbuilding as a particularly strong candidate for additional budget resources."
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