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Feb 5, 2009

Gene Taylor sets out Navy shipbuilding plan

Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS), Chairman of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee released the following statement on the future of Navy shipbuilding.

"For far too many years I have watched as the size of the Navy fleet has decreased. Each year the Navy changes its plan on how many ships will be built and delays the procurement of ships to future years. The Bush administration's failed strategy of trying to build 'transformational' ships, such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the DDG 1000 destroyer, has crippled the Navy shipbuilding budget and forced years of delays in providing needed capability to the Fleet.

"In particular, the failure of the LCS program to deliver on the promise of an affordable, capable, and reconfigurable warship only puts the exclamation point on a Bush administration's strategy that was neither well envisioned nor properly executed. As for the DDG 1000, we will not know the true cost of that program for a number of years but significant cost growth on that vessel will require diverting funding from other new construction projects to pay the over-run.

"Lacking the expectation of increased funding available for ship procurement, it is more important than ever to set the Navy on an affordable strategy for ship procurement. Continuing resistance from outgoing Bush administration officials to the common sense strategy of restarting the DDG 51 destroyer class is not helpful to the Navy and the nation. The shipbuilding plan needs less meddling, not more. In my opinion there is absolutely no value in spending even more precious shipbuilding funds to re-design the DDG 1000 as a ballistic missile capable platform when the affordable vessel already exists in the DDG 51 destroyer.

"I hope that the new officials within the Obama administration will reach out to the Congress for ideas and suggestions on shipbuilding programs before creating even more imbalance and uncertainty in the shipbuilding master plan. To achieve an affordable, stable shipbuilding plan I recommend the following to the new administration:

  • Restructure the LCS program with common combat and propulsion systems between the two variants of ships. Divorce from the use of the defense firms as Lead Systems Integrators and bid a fixed price contract directly on a "build to print" basis with any shipyard that possesses the industrial capability to build the vessels.
  • Truncate the DDG 1000 program. The ship is unaffordable.
  • Restart the DDG 51 program. Not only is it the finest destroyer in the world but it possesses the capability for strategic missile defense, area air defense, and highly capable anti-submarine defense. Build these ships in quantity. If it improves efficiency to computerize the ship's design into a 3-D modern ship design tool, then Navy should request that non-recurring engineering funding.
  • Build combatant amphibious assault vessels, vice the non-combatant versions of the proposed Maritime Pre-Positioning Force (Future) or MPF(F). Use the basic LPD or LHD hull form for any other future large ship, including the next generation cruiser, instead of designing a new hull.
  • Build a frigate on the common hull of the Coast Guard National Security Cutter. This is an affordable ship (without Navy making wholesale changes in the design) which is exactly the type of vessel necessary for 80% of the Navy's core missions, including anti-piracy and homeland defense.

"I look forward to working with the administration and the Department of the Navy in discussing these issues and implementing the ones that provide the best capability for the Navy. In my opinion, the worst thing that the Department can do is continue the policy of the previous administration and not seek any guidance from the Congress prior to submitting shipbuilding plans that were unacceptable in cost and quantity."


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