APRIL 6, 2015 — In its latest 30-year shipbuilding report, submitted to Congress April 2, the Navy has upped its battle force goal to 308 ships from the previous 306 ship target. The two ships added are a twelftth LPD 17-class amphibious transport dock and a third Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB).
The Navy says the changes were made to account for evolving force structure decisions that accommodate real-world changes.
The report also underscores that, as a cornerstone of the country's strategic deterrence triad, the OHIO Replacement (OR) SSBN Program is the Navy's highest shipbuilding priority.
"Although the Secretary of the Navy has made it clear he intends to protect shipbuilding to the maximum extent possible, if additional funding is not available to support the shipbuilding procurement plan throughout this period, knowing that the OR SSBN will be built, the balance of the shipbuilding plan will be significantly impacted," says the report.
The OR SSBN would consume about half of the shipbuilding funding available in a given year – and would do so for a period of over a decade. The significant drain on available shipbuilding resources would manifest in reduced procurement quantities in the remaining capital ship programs.
"Since the CVN funding requirements are driven by the statutory requirement to maintain eleven CVNs, and accounting for one OR SSBN per year (starting in FY2026), there would only be about half of the resources normally available to procure the Navy's remaining capital ships," says the report. "At these projected funding levels, Navy would be limited to on average, as few as two other capital ships (SSN, DDG, CG, LPD, LHA, etc.) per year throughout this decade.
"Such low shipbuilding rates for an extended period of time would result in a battle force inadequately sized to meet our naval requirements in support of the DSG. Further, there is significant risk to the industrial base in this case since low production rates outside of the SSBN and CVN production lines may not provide adequate work to keep shipyards operating at minimum sustaining levels and could result in shipyard closures."
The report also warns of the impact of the Budget Control Act (BCA) and sequestration.
"If the BCA is not rescinded, it may impact Navy's ability to procure those ships we intend to procure between now and FY2020. Although Navy would look elsewhere to absorb sequestration shortfalls because of the irreversibility of force structure cuts, a result might be that a number of the ships reflected in the current FYDP may be delayed to the future," says the report. "The unintended consequence of these potential delays would be the increased costs of restoring these ships on top of an already stretched shipbuilding account that is trying to deal with the post FY2021 OR SSBN costs."
Download the report HERE