February 9, 2006

Navy sends shipbuilding plan to Congress

The Navy has submitted a long range shipbuilding plan to Congress that sees the fleet growing from 281 ships today to about 313 ships in future.

The plan has been sent to the Armed Forces Committees of both chambers, Lawmakers--and shipbuilders--have been frustrated in recent years by the Navy and Pentagon putting out conflicting numbers on planned future fleet size.

Under the 30 year plan now submitted, the optimum fleet force is put at 11 aircraft carriers, 88 large surface combatants, 55 littoral combat ships, 48 attack submarines, 14 ballistic missile submarines, 4 SSGN former ballistic missile converted to carry conventional missiles and special operations troops, 31 expeditionary vessels, 30 combat logistic ships, 12 Maritime Preposition Force (Future) ships and 20 support vessels.

The plan would require an increase in annual ship construction funding to $13.5 billion in two years, coupled with getting the average cost of down "substantially."

U.S. NAVY PHOTOGRAPH: Adm. Michael MullenAdm. Michael Mullen, the Chief of Naval Operations, said at a Pentagon briefing: "I have a cost-reduction requirement. I intend to take cost out of all our ships."

Although Mullen said the optimum size of the fleet is 313 ships, the long-range plan sees a growth to 315 ships in 2012 increasing to 330 by 2018. Numbers would then drop again, dipping below 300 by 2020.