Bush goal: 375 ship Navy?
While the American Shipbuilders Association has warned that present defense spending plans mean a 244 ship U.S. Navy, a senior Bush Administration official last week said the Navy fleet may be boosted by as many as 58 ships "over the next several years," bringing the total to 375.
The Bioxi, Miss., Sun Herald reports that Pete Aldridge, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, made the comments during a visit to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems' Ingalls and Avondale operations.
"I'm visiting various shipyards because we're going to get Navy ship production back on the path," said Aldridge, during a brief press conference at Ingalls. "Next year, we're going to build five ships and production will pick up from there."
Next year, after President Bush submits his fiscal 2004 budget, the Defense Department will develop a six-year budget plan, which will have a schedule for more ships.
"We're going to have to make a lot of trade-offs," Aldridge reportedly said.
One possible way to increase the size of the fleet, says the Sun Herald story, is the DD (X) family of vessels, which will include destroyers, cruisers and a smaller ship for coastal operations.
"We may be able to buy more of the smaller ships so we can bring the fleet to 375 vessels," Aldridge reportedly said.