Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Ronald O'Rourke Specialist in Naval Affairs May 3, 2010 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL32665 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Summary The planned size of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been matters of concern for the congressional defense committees for the past several years. The Navy’s FY2011 budget submission retains, for the time being at least, the goal of achieving and maintaining a 313-ship fleet that the Navy first presented to Congress in February 2006. Although the 313-ship goal remains in place, some elements of Navy ship force planning that have emerged since 2006 appear to diverge from elements of the 313-ship plan. The Navy’s report on its FY2011 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan refers to a forthcoming force structure assessment (FSA). Such an assessment could produce a replacement for the 313-ship plan. It is not clear when the FSA might be conducted, or when a replacement for the 313-ship plan might be issued. The Navy’s proposed FY2011 budget requests funding for the procurement of nine new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the 313-ship goal). The nine ships include two attack submarines, two destroyers, two Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), one amphibious assault ship, one Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ship (i.e., a maritime prepositioning ship), and one Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). The Navy’s five-year (FY2011-FY2015) shipbuilding plan includes a total of 50 new battle force ships, or an average of 10 per year. Of the 50 ships in the plan, half are relatively inexpensive LCSs or JHSVs. The Navy’s FY2011 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan includes 276 ships. The Navy estimates that executing the plan would require an average of $15.9 billion per year in constant FY2010 dollars. In past years, the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) estimate of the cost of implementing the 30-year shipbuilding plan has been higher than the Navy’s estimate, reinforcing concerns among some observers about the prospective affordability of the plan. CBO is now assessing the potential cost of the Navy’s FY2011 30-year shipbuilding plan. The Navy projects that implementing the 30-year plan would result in a fleet that grows from 284 ships in FY2011 to 315 ships in FY2020, reaches a peak of 320 ships in FY2024, drops below 313 ships in FY2027, declines to 288 ships in FY2032-FY2033, and then increases to 301 ships in FY2039-FY2040. The Navy projects that the attack submarine and cruiser-destroyer forces will drop substantially below required levels in the latter years of the 30-year plan. H.R. 5035, which was introduced on April 15, 2010, would authorize $20 billion per year for the period FY2011-FY2015 for the construction of Navy ships to meet the ship force structure requirements presented in the Navy’s report on its 30-year shipbuilding plan. Congressional Research Service Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Contents Introduction ................................................................................................................................1 Background ................................................................................................................................2 313-Ship Force-Level Objective of 2006 ...............................................................................2 Five-Year (FY2011-FY2015) Shipbuilding Plan ....................................................................4 30-Year (FY2011-FY2040) Shipbuilding Plan.......................................................................6 Resulting Projected Force Levels for FY2011-FY2040..........................................................7 Oversight Issues for Congress .....................................................................................................8 Legislative Activity for FY2011 ................................................................................................ 10 H.R. 5035 (National Shipbuilding Budget Policy Act) ......................................................... 10 Legislation on Specific Navy Shipbuilding Programs .......................................................... 11 Tables Table 1. Navy Ship Force Structure Proposals Since 2001 ...........................................................2 Table 2. Navy Five-Year (FY2011-FY2015) Shipbuilding Plan ...................................................4 Table 3. Navy 30-Year (FY2011-FY2040) Shipbuilding Plan ......................................................6 Table 4. Projected Force Levels Resulting from 30-Year Plan......................................................7 Table B-1. Total Number of Ships in the Navy Since FY1948.................................................... 15 Table B-2. Battle Force Ships Procured or Requested, FY1982-FY2015 .................................... 16 Appendixes Appendix A. Adequacy of Planned 313-Ship Fleet .................................................................... 12 Appendix B. Size of the Navy and Navy Shipbuilding Rate....................................................... 14 Contacts Author Contact Information ...................................................................................................... 16 Congressional Research Service Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Introduction The planned size of the Navy, the rate of Navy ship procurement, and the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been matters of concern for the congressional defense committees for the past several years. The Navy’s FY2011 budget submission retains, for the time being at least, the goal of achieving and maintaining a 313-ship fleet that the Navy first presented to Congress in February 2006. Although the 313-ship goal remains in place, some elements of Navy ship force planning that have emerged since 2006 appear to diverge from elements of the 313-ship plan. The Navy’s report on its FY2011 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan refers to a forthcoming force structure assessment (FSA). Such an assessment could produce a replacement for the 313-ship plan. It is not clear when the FSA might be conducted, or when a replacement for the 313-ship plan might be issued. The Navy’s proposed FY2011 budget requests funding for the procurement of nine new battle force ships (i.e., ships that count against the 313-ship goal). The nine ships include two attack submarines, two destroyers, two Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), one amphibious assault ship, one Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ship (i.e., a maritime prepositioning ship), and one Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). 1 The Navy’s five-year (FY2011-FY2015) shipbuilding plan includes a total of 50 new battle force ships, or an average of 10 per year.2 Of the 50 ships in the plan, half are relatively inexpensive LCSs or JHSVs. The Navy’s FY2011 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan includes 276 ships. The Navy estimates that executing the plan would require an average of $15.9 billion per year in constant FY2010 dollars. In past years, the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) estimate of the cost of implementing the 30-year shipbuilding plan has been higher than the Navy’s estimate, reinforcing concerns among some observers about the prospective affordability of the plan. CBO is now assessing the potential cost of the Navy’s FY2011 30-year shipbuilding plan. The Navy projects that implementing the 30-year plan would result in a fleet that grows from 284 ships in FY2011 to 315 ships in FY2020, reaches a peak of 320 ships in FY2024, drops below 313 ships in FY2027, declines to 288 ships in FY2032-FY2033, and then increases to 301 ships in FY2039-FY2040. The Navy projects that the attack submarine and cruiser-destroyer forces will drop substantially below required levels in the latter years of the 30-year plan. 1 The proposed FY2011 budget also requests funding for the procurement of an oceanographic ship that does not count against the 313-ship goal. 2 The five-year plan also includes two oceanographic ships (one in FY2011 and one in FY2012) that do not count against the 313-ship goal. Congressional Research Service 1 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Background 313-Ship Force-Level Objective of 2006 The Navy’s FY2011 budget submission retains, for the time being at least, the goal of achieving and maintaining a 313-ship fleet that the Navy first presented to Congress in February 2006. Table 1 shows the composition of the Navy’s planned 313-ship fleet and compares it to previous Navy ship force structure proposals. Table 1. Navy Ship Force Structure Proposals Since 2001 Ship type February 2006 Navy proposal for 313ship fleet Early-2005 Navy proposal for fleet of 260-325 ships 260-ships 325-ships 2002-2004 Navy proposal for 375ship Navya 2001 QDR plan for 310ship Navy 14 Ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) 14 14 14 14 Cruise missile submarines (SSGNs) 4 4 4 4 Attack submarines (SSNs) 48 37 41 55 55 Aircraft carriers 11c 10 11 12 12 Cruisers, destroyers, frigates 88 67 92 104 116 Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) 55 63 82 56 0 Amphibious ships 31 17 24 37 36 12d 14d 20d 0d 0d Combat logistics (resupply) ships 30 24 26 42 34 Dedicated mine warfare ships 0 0 0 26e 16 Otherf 20 10 11 25 25 313 260 325 375 310 or 312 MPF(F) shipsd Total battle force ships 2 or 4b Sources: U.S. Navy data. a. Initial composition. Composition was subsequently modified. b. The report on the 2001 QDR did not mention a specific figure for SSGNs. The Administration’s proposed FY2001 Department of Defense (DOD) budget requested funding to support the conversion of two available Trident SSBNs into SSGNs, and the retirement of two other Trident SSBNs. Congress, in marking up this request, supported a plan to convert all four available SSBNs into SSGNs. c. For a time, the Navy characterized the goal as 11 carriers in the nearer term, and eventually 12 carriers. Congressional Research Service 2 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress d. Today’s Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) ships are intended primarily to support Marine Corps operations ashore, rather than Navy combat operations, and thus are not counted as Navy battle force ships. The MPF (Future) ships, however, would contribute to Navy combat capabilities (for example, by supporting Navy aircraft operations). For this reason, MPF(F) ships are counted by the Navy as battle force ships. e. The figure of 26 dedicated mine warfare ships includes 10 ships maintained in a reduced mobilization status called Mobilization Category B. Ships in this status are not readily deployable and thus do not count as battle force ships. The 375-ship proposal thus implied transferring these 10 ships to a higher readiness status. f. Includes, among other things, command ships and support ships. Although the 313-ship goal remains in place, some elements of Navy ship force planning that have emerged since 2006 appear to diverge from elements of the 313-ship plan. For example: • The Navy is planning to replace its 14 existing ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) with a new class of 12 next-generation SSBNs.3 • The planned composition of the Navy’s cruiser-destroyer force has changed considerably since 2006 due to the truncation of the Zumwalt (DDG-1000) destroyer program to three ships, the restart of Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyer procurement, and the Navy’s proposed cancellation of the CG(X) cruiser program. 4 The Navy’s new mission of ballistic missile defense (BMD) operations in Europe may also put upward pressure on the cruiser-destroyer force-level goal.5 • The Navy acknowledges that meeting a requirement for being able to lift the assault echelons of 2.0 Marine Expeditionary Brigades (MEBs) would require a minimum of 33 amphibious ships rather than 31.6 • Within the category of support ships, the original 313-ship plan included 3 Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs), but the Navy now plans to build and maintain a force of about 23 JHSVs.7 • Navy shipbuilding plans no longer call for building a 12-ship squadron of nextgeneration Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future), or MPF(F), ships; they now call for building six new maritime prepositioning ships—three Lewis and Clark (TAKE-1) class dry cargo ships (which have already been funded) and three Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ships—that are to augment the three existing squadrons of maritime prepositioning ships. 3 For further discussion, see CRS Report R41129, Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. 4 For further discussion, see CRS Report RL32109, Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke, and CRS Report RL34179, Navy CG(X) Cruiser Program: Background for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. 5 For further discussion, CRS Report RL33745, Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. 6 For further discussion, see CRS Report RL34476, Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. 7 Source: Navy briefing to CRS and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on FY2011 30-year shipbuilding plan, March 17, 2010. Congressional Research Service 3 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress The Navy’s report on its FY2011 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan refers to a forthcoming force structure assessment (FSA).8 Such an assessment could produce a replacement for the 313-ship plan. It is not clear when the FSA might be conducted, or when a replacement for the 313-ship plan might be issued. Five-Year (FY2011-FY2015) Shipbuilding Plan Table 2 shows the Navy’s proposed five-year (FY2011-FY2015) shipbuilding plan. Table 2. Navy Five-Year (FY2011-FY2015) Shipbuilding Plan (Battle force ships—i.e., ships that count against 313-ship goal) Ship type FY11 FY12 Ford (CVN-78) class aircraft carrier FY13 FY14 FY15 1 Total 1 Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarine 2 2 2 2 2 10 Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyer 2 1 2 1 2 8 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 2 3 4 4 4 17 San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship Large-deck amphibious assault ship (LHA[R]) 1 1 1 1 Fleet tug (TATF) 1 1 1 1 3 Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ship 1 Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) 1 1 2 2 2 8 TOTAL 9 8 12 9 12 50 Source: FY2011 Navy budget submission. Note: The FY2011-FY2015 shipbuilding plan also includes two oceanographic ships (one in FY2011 and one in FY2012) that do not count against the 313-ship goal. Observations that can be made about the Navy’s proposed five-year (FY2011-FY2015) shipbuilding plan include the following: • The plan includes a total of 50 new battle force ships, or an average of 10 per year.9 This is an increase from the single-digit numbers of battle force ships that have been funded each year since FY1993. Shipbuilding supporters for some time have wanted to increase the shipbuilding rate to 10 or more ships per year. A rate of 10 ships per year is above the steady-state replacement rate for a fleet of 313 ships with an average service life of 35 years, which is about 8.9 ships per year. The average shipbuilding rate since FY1993 has been substantially below 8.9 ships per year. 8 U.S. Navy, Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY 2011, February 2010, pp. 14, 19, 25. 9 The five-year plan also includes two oceanographic ships (one in FY2011 and one in FY2012) that do not count against the 313-ship goal. Congressional Research Service 4 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress • Although LCSs and JHSVs account for less than 25% of the 313-ship requirement, they account for 50% of the ships in the five-year plan. In this sense, these relatively inexpensive ships are overrepresented in the five-year shipbuilding plan relative to their portion of the 313-ship requirement, making it easier to procure an average of 10 ships per year within available resources. At some point in the future, when the LCS and JHSV programs run their course and are no longer over-represented in the shipbuilding plan, procuring an average of 10 ships per year could become a considerably more expensive proposition. On this basis, the FY2011-FY2015 shipbuilding program’s average of 10 ships per year does not necessarily imply that the Navy has solved the challenge it faces concerning the long-term affordability of its shipbuilding plans. • The FY2010 budget shifted the procurement of the next aircraft carrier from FY2012 to FY2013. • The planned procurement rate of Virginia (SSN-774) class submarines is consistent with Navy planning since the submission of the FY2009 budget to increase the procurement rate of these ships to two per year starting in FY2011. Virginia-class submarines were procured in FY2010 and previous years at a rate of about one per year.10 • The planned procurement rate for DDG-51 class destroyers reflects the Navy’s proposal, approved by Congress as part of its action on the FY2010 defense budget, to stop procurement of DDG-1000 class destroyers and restart procurement of DDG-51s. • The planned procurement rate of Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) does not rise above four per year. Previous Navy plans called for building as many as six LCSs per year. The new planned maximum rate of four ships per year reflects a new acquisition strategy for LCSs announced by the Navy in September 2009.11 • The San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship planned for FY2012 would be the 11th ship in the class. The 33-ship goal for amphibious ships includes 11 LPD17s. • The FY2011-FY2015 plan contains no amphibious ships in FY2013-FY2015. This could result in a dip in workload starting in FY2013 at the yards that build amphibious ships—Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s (NGSB’s) Gulf Coast yards (the Avondale yard upriver from New Orleans, LA, and the Ingalls yard at Pascagoula, MS). • The three Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ships in the plan reflect the Navy’s decision to cancel the planned MPF(F) squadron and instead build six new ships, including three MLPs, to augment the three existing squadrons of maritime prepositioning ships. 10 For further discussion, see CRS Report RL32418, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. 11 For further discussion, see CRS Report RL33741, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. Congressional Research Service 5 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress 30-Year (FY2011-FY2040) Shipbuilding Plan Table 3 shows the Navy’s FY2011 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan. The plan includes 276 ships. The Navy estimates that executing the plan would require an average of $15.9 billion per year in constant FY2010 dollars. In past years, the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) estimate of the cost of implementing the 30-year shipbuilding plan has been higher than the Navy’s estimate, reinforcing concerns among some observers about the prospective affordability of the plan. CBO is now assessing the potential cost of the Navy’s FY2011 30-year shipbuilding plan. Table 3. Navy 30-Year (FY2011-FY2040) Shipbuilding Plan FY LSC SSC SSN 11 2 2 2 12 1 3 2 2 4 2 13 CVN 1 SSBN AWS CLF Supt Total 1 2 9 1 1 8 3 12 14 1 4 2 2 9 15 2 4 2 4 12 16 1 3 2 1 17 2 3 2 1 1 3 1 18 1 19 2 3 2 20 1 2 2 21 2 2 2 22 1 2 2 2 2 1 23 1 1 2 24 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 26 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 27 1 29 2 1 1 1 30 1 2 1 1 31 2 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 1 32 33 1 34 2 2 1 35 2 2 2 36 2 2 1 37 38 1 1 3 11 1 2 8 2 1 1 8 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 2 7 1 1 1 1 9 1 2 2 13 11 1 2 3 4 10 2 2 9 2 2 2 3 3 2 39 9 12 1 2 40 1 2 3 1 1 25 28 1 1 7 1 8 1 2 8 1 1 8 1 1 8 1 2 11 1 2 8 1 2 10 2 7 1 1 1 8 2 10 2 9 2 10 2 7 Source: Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY2009. Congressional Research Service 6 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Key: FY = Fiscal Year; CVN = aircraft carriers; LSC = surface combatants (i.e., cruisers and destroyers); SSC = small surface combatants (i.e., Littoral Combat Ships [LCSs]); SSN = attack submarines; SSGN = cruise missile submarines; SSBN = ballistic missile submarines; AWS = amphibious warfare ships; CLF = combat logistics force (i.e., resupply) ships; MPF(F) = Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) ships; Supt = support ships. Resulting Projected Force Levels for FY2011-FY2040 Table 4 shows the Navy’s projection of force levels for FY2011-FY2040 that would result from implementing the 30-year shipbuilding plan shown in Table 3. Table 4. Projected Force Levels Resulting from 30-Year Plan FY CVN LSC SSC SSN SSGN SSBN AWS CLF Supt Total Goal in 313-ship plan 11 88 55 48 4 14 31 30 20 313a 11 11 84 42 53 4 14 29 29 18 284 12 11 84 41 54 4 14 30 29 20 287 13 10 85 37 55 4 14 30 29 23 287 14 10 86 32 55 4 14 30 30 24 285 15 11 88 28 54 4 14 31 30 25 285 16 11 90 32 51 4 14 33 30 27 292 17 11 91 33 51 4 14 33 30 31 298 18 11 93 37 50 4 14 33 30 33 305 19 11 94 37 51 4 14 33 30 37 311 20 12 96 39 49 4 14 33 30 38 315 21 12 96 39 49 4 14 34 31 39 318 22 12 95 41 48 4 14 34 29 41 318 23 11 94 39 48 4 14 35 29 45 319 24 11 94 40 46 4 14 36 28 47 320 25 12 92 41 45 4 14 35 28 46 317 26 12 89 43 44 4 14 36 28 45 313 27 12 87 45 43 2 13 35 26 46 308 28 11 85 46 41 1 13 36 26 46 304 29 11 81 48 40 0 13 34 25 44 296 30 12 77 49 39 0 12 33 25 44 291 31 12 73 51 41 0 12 33 24 44 290 32 11 71 52 41 0 12 32 25 44 288 33 11 69 53 42 0 12 31 26 44 288 34 11 67 54 43 0 12 33 26 44 290 35 12 68 55 44 0 12 30 25 44 290 36 11 70 56 45 0 12 30 26 44 294 Congressional Research Service 7 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress FY CVN LSC SSC SSN SSGN SSBN AWS CLF Supt Total 37 11 72 56 46 0 12 29 27 44 297 38 11 74 56 45 0 12 29 27 44 298 39 11 76 56 45 0 12 29 28 44 301 40 11 76 55 45 0 12 30 28 44 301 Source: Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY2009. Key: FY = Fiscal Year; CVN = aircraft carriers; LSC = surface combatants (i.e., cruisers and destroyers); SSC = small surface combatants (i.e., frigates, Littoral Combat Ships [LCSs], and mine warfare ships); SSN = attack submarines; SSGN = cruise missile submarines; SSBN = ballistic missile submarines; AWS = amphibious warfare ships; CLF = combat logistics force (i.e., resupply) ships; MPF(F) = Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) ships; Supt = support ships. a. The 313-ship plan also includes a 12-ship Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future), or MPF(F), squadron. The Navy’s FY2011 30-year shipbuilding plan does not contemplate building a 12-ship MPF(F) squadron. Observations that can be made about the above force-level projections include the following: • The Navy projects that implementing its 30-year shipbuilding plan would result in a fleet that grows from 284 ships in FY2011 to 315 ships in FY2020, reaches a peak of 320 ships in FY2024, drops below 313 ships in FY2027, declines to 288 ships in FY2032-FY2033, and then increases to 301 ships in FY2039-FY2040. • The Navy projects that the attack submarine and cruiser-destroyer forces will drop substantially below required levels in the latter years of the 30-year plan. The projected number of attack submarines drops below the required level of 48 boats in FY2022, reaches a minimum of 39 boats in FY2030, and remains below 48 boats through 2040. The projected number of cruisers and destroyers drops below the required level of 88 ships in 2027, reaches a minimum of 67 ships in FY2034, and remains below 88 ships through FY2040. • The Navy projects a force of more than 40 support ships in FY2022 and beyond, compared to a goal of 20 support ships in the 313-ship plan. The 20 support ships in the 313-ship plan include three JHSVs, but the Navy now plans to build and maintain a force of about 23 JHSVs. Oversight Issues for Congress Potential oversight issues for Congress concerning the Navy’s planned 313-ship fleet, the fiveyear (FY2011-FY2015) shipbuilding plan, and the 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan include the following: • What is the Navy’s schedule for performing the new force structure assessment (FSA) mentioned in the Navy’s report on its 30-year shipbuilding plan? Will this FSA result in a new force-level goal to replace the 313-ship plan? If so, when does the Navy intend to issue the replacement plan? Why has the Navy decided to retain, the for time being at least, the 313-ship plan, when certain elements of Navy ship force planning that have emerged since 2006 appear to diverge from that plan? Congressional Research Service 8 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress • Given the Administration’s September 2009 announcement of its new plan for ballistic missile defense (BMD) in Europe, which includes a significant use of BMD-capable cruisers and destroyers, would the 88-ship force of cruisers and destroyers called for in the 313-ship plan be adequate? • Has the Navy accurately estimated the cost of implementing the 30-year shipbuilding plan? In past years, the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) estimate of the cost of implementing the 30-year shipbuilding plan has been higher than the Navy’s estimate, reinforcing concerns among some observers about the prospective affordability of the plan. CBO is now assessing the potential cost of the Navy’s FY2011 30-year shipbuilding plan. • What would be the operational implications of the shortfalls in attack submarines and cruisers-destroyers that the Navy projects for the latter years of the 30-year shipbuilding plan? Regarding the prospective affordability of the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated the following in May 3, 2010, speech: I have in the past warned about our nation’s tendency to disarm in the wake of major wars. That remains a concern. But, as has always been the case, defense budget expectations over time, not to mention any country’s strategic strength, are intrinsically linked to the overall financial and fiscal health of the nation. And in that respect, we have to accept some hard fiscal realities. American taxpayers and the Congress are rightfully worried about the deficit. At the same time, the Department of Defense’s track record as a steward of taxpayer dollars leaves much to be desired. Now, I know that part of the problem lies outside the Defense Department—and it has been this way for a long time.… None of that, however, absolves the Pentagon and the services from responsibility with regards to procurement. These issues are especially acute when it comes to big-ticket items whose costs skyrocket far beyond initial estimates. Current submarines and amphibious ships are three times as expensive as their equivalents during the 1980s—this in the context of an overall shipbuilding and conversion budget that is 20 percent less. Just a few years ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected that meeting the Navy’s shipbuilding plan would cost more than $20 billion per year—double the shipbuilding budget of recent years, and a projection that was underfunded by some 30 percent. It is reasonable to wonder whether the nation is getting a commensurate increase in capability in exchange for these spiraling costs. The Navy’s DDG-1000 [destroyer] is a case in point. By the time the Navy leadership curtailed the program, the price of each ship had more than doubled and the projected fleet had dwindled from 32 to seven. The programmed buy is now three. Or consider plans for a new ballistic missile submarine, the SSBN(X). Right now, the Department proposes spending $6 billion in research and development over the next few years—for a projected buy of twelve subs at $7 billion apiece. Current requirements call for a submarine with the size and payload of a boomer—and the stealth of an attack sub. In a congressional hearing earlier this year, I pointed out that in the later part of this decade the new ballistic missile submarine alone would begin to eat up the lion’s share of the Navy’s shipbuilding resources. Congressional Research Service 9 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress To be sure, the most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan is a step in the right direction. Secretary Mabus and Admiral Roughead have worked hard to create reasonable budgets and reset the service “in stride” to reduce operational disruptions. At the same time, the Navy’s innovative energy security and independence initiative not only helps the environment, but also will save money in the long term. Even so, it is important to remember that, as the wars recede, money will be required to reset the Army and Marine Corps, which have borne the brunt of the conflicts. And there will continue to be long-term—and inviolable—costs associated with taking care of our troops and their families. In other words, I do not foresee any significant top-line increases in the shipbuilding budget beyond current assumptions. At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 to 6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines, and $11 billion carriers. Though I have addressed a number of topics today, I should add that I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But, mark my words, the Navy and Marine Corps must be willing to reexamine and question basic assumptions in light of evolving technologies, new threats, and budget realities. We simply cannot afford to perpetuate a status quo that heaps more and more expensive technologies onto fewer and fewer platforms—thereby risking a situation where some of our greatest capital expenditures go toward weapons and ships that could potentially become wasting assets.12 Legislative Activity for FY2011 H.R. 5035 (National Shipbuilding Budget Policy Act) H.R. 5035, which was introduced on April 15, 2010, would authorize $20 billion per year for the period FY2011-FY2015 for the construction of Navy ships to meet the ship force structure requirements presented in the Navy’s report on its 30-year shipbuilding plan. (It would also authorize $60 million per year for the period FY2011-FY2015 for loan guarantees for the construction of commercial ships.) The text of H.R. 5035 states: A BILL To authorize appropriations for the construction of vessels for the Navy and to authorize appropriations for loan guarantees for commercial vessels. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the `National Shipbuilding Budget Policy Act’. SEC. 2. NATIONAL SHIPBUILDING AUTHORIZATIONS OF APPROPRIATIONS. 12 Source: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, address to Navy League Sea-Air-Space Expo, Gaylord Conventional Center, National Harbor, MD, Monday, May 3, 2010, remarks as prepared. Congressional Research Service 10 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress (a) Navy- Funds are hereby authorized to be appropriated for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2015 for the construction of vessels for the Navy to meet the force requirements of the Navy (as described in the annual naval vessel construction plan required by section 231 of title 10, United States Code) in the amount of $20,000,000,000. (b) The Merchant Marine- Funds are hereby authorized to be appropriated for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2015 for loan guarantees and commitments authorized under chapter 537 of title 46, United States Code, for the construction of new vessels to replace and expand the domestic fleet of commercial vessels (as that term is defined in that chapter) in the amount of $60,000,000. Legislation on Specific Navy Shipbuilding Programs For legislative activity on individual Navy shipbuilding, conversion, and modernization programs, see the following CRS reports: • CRS Report RS20643, Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. • CRS Report R41129, Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. • CRS Report RL32418, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. • CRS Report RL32109, Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. • CRS Report RL33741, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. • CRS Report RL34476, Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. Congressional Research Service 11 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Appendix A. Adequacy of Planned 313-Ship Fleet Some observers have questioned whether the overall planned total of 313 ships would be adequate, particularly in light of Navy plans in recent decades for larger total numbers of ships. One possible method for assessing the appropriateness of the total number of ships being proposed by the Navy is to compare that number to historical figures for total fleet size. Historical figures for total fleet size, however, might not be a reliable yardstick for assessing the appropriateness of the Navy’s proposed 313-ship fleet, particularly if the historical figures are more than a few years old, because the missions to be performed by the Navy, the mix of ships that make up the Navy, and the technologies that are available to Navy ships for performing missions all change over time. The Navy, for example, reached a late-Cold War peak of 568 battle force ships at the end of FY1987,13 and as of September 30, 2009, had declined to a total of 285 battle force ships. The FY1987 fleet, however, was intended to meet a set of mission requirements that focused on countering Soviet naval forces at sea during a potential multi-theater NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict, while the September 2009 fleet is intended to meet a considerably different set of mission requirements centered on influencing events ashore by countering both land- and seabased military forces of potential regional threats other than Russia, including non-state terrorist organizations. In addition, the Navy of FY1987 differed substantially from the September 2009 fleet in areas such as profusion of precision-guided air-delivered weapons, numbers of Tomahawk-capable ships, and sophistication of C4ISR systems. 14 In coming years, Navy missions may shift again, to include, as a possible example, a greater emphasis on being able to counter improved Chinese maritime military capabilities. 15 In addition, the capabilities of Navy ships will likely have changed further by that time due to developments such as more comprehensive implementation of networking technology and increased use of shipbased unmanned vehicles. The 568-ship fleet of FY1987 may or may not have been capable of performing its stated missions; the 285-ship fleet of September 2009 may or nor may not have been capable of performing its stated missions; and a fleet years from now with a certain number of ships may or may not be capable of performing its stated missions. Given changes over time in mission requirements, ship mixes, and technologies, however, these three issues are to a substantial degree independent of one another. 13 Some publications, such as those of the American Shipbuilding Association, have stated that the Navy reached a peak of 594 ships at the end of FY1987. This figure, however, is the total number of active ships in the fleet, which is not the same as the total number of battle force ships. The battle force ships figure is the number used in government discussions of the size of the Navy. In recent years, the total number of active ships has been larger than the total number of battle force ships. For example, the Naval Historical Center states that as of November 16, 2001, the Navy included a total of 337 active ships, while the Navy states that as of November 19, 2001, the Navy included a total of 317 battle force ships. Comparing the total number of active ships in one year to the total number of battle force ships in another year is thus an apple-to-oranges comparison that in this case overstates the decline since FY1987 in the number of ships in the Navy. As a general rule to avoid potential statistical distortions, comparisons of the number of ships in the Navy over time should use, whenever possible, a single counting method. 14 C4ISR stands for command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. 15 For a discussion, see CRS Report RL33153, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities— Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke. Congressional Research Service 12 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress For similar reasons, trends over time in the total number of ships in the Navy are not necessarily a reliable indicator of the direction of change in the fleet’s ability to perform its stated missions. An increasing number of ships in the fleet might not necessarily mean that the fleet’s ability to perform its stated missions is increasing, because the fleet’s mission requirements might be increasing more rapidly than ship numbers and average ship capability. Similarly, a decreasing number of ships in the fleet might not necessarily mean that the fleet’s ability to perform stated missions is decreasing, because the fleet’s mission requirements might be declining more rapidly than numbers of ships, or because average ship capability and the percentage of time that ships are in deployed locations might be increasing quickly enough to more than offset reductions in total ship numbers. Previous Navy force structure plans, such as those shown in Table 1, might provide some insight into the potential adequacy of a proposed new force-structure plan, but changes over time in mission requirements, technologies available to ships for performing missions, and other forceplanning factors suggest that some caution should be applied in using past force structure plans for this purpose, particularly if those past force structure plans are more than a few years old. The Reagan-era plan for a 600-ship Navy, for example, was designed for a Cold War set of missions focusing on countering Soviet naval forces at sea, which is not an appropriate basis for planning the Navy today.16 16 Navy force structure plans that predate those shown in Table 1 include the Reagan-era 600-ship plan of the 1980s, the Base Force fleet of more than 400 ships planned during the final two years of the George H. W. Bush Administration, the 346-ship fleet from the Clinton Administration’s 1993 Bottom-Up Review (or BUR, sometimes also called Base Force II), and the 310-ship fleet of the Clinton Administration’s 1997 QDR. The table below summarizes some key features of these plans. Features of Recent Navy Force Structure Plans Plan 600-ship Base Force 1993 BUR 1997 QDR a 346 ~305/310b ~600 ~450/416 Total ships c 45-55 50/55d 100 80/~55 Attack submarines 12 11+1f 11+1f 15e Aircraft carriers g ~150 ~124 116 242/228 Surface combatants 51i 36i 36i ~75h Amphibious ships Source: Prepared by CRS based on DOD and U.S. Navy data. a. Commonly referred to as 450-ship plan, but called for decreasing to 416 ships by end of FY1999. b. Original total of about 305 ships was increased to about 310 due to increase in number of attack submarines to 55 from 50. c. Plan originally included 80 attack submarines, but this was later reduced to about 55. d. Plan originally included 50 attack submarines but this was later increased to 55. e. Plus one additional aircraft carrier in the service life extension program (SLEP). f. Eleven active carriers plus one operational reserve carrier. g. Plan originally included 242 surface combatants but this was later reduced to 228. h. Number needed to lift assault echelons of one Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) plus one Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). i. Number needed to lift assault echelons of 2.5 MEBs. Note how number needed to meet this goal changed from Base Force plan to the BUR plan—a result of new, larger amphibious ship designs. Congressional Research Service 13 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Appendix B. Size of the Navy and Navy Shipbuilding Rate Size of the Navy Table B-1 shows the size of the Navy in terms of total number of ships since FY1948; the numbers shown in the table reflect changes over time in the rules specifying which ships count toward the total. Differing counting rules result in differing totals, and for certain years, figures reflecting more than one set of counting rules are available. Figures in the table for FY1978 and subsequent years reflect the battle force ships counting method, which is the set of counting rules established in the early 1980s for public policy discussions of the size of the Navy. As shown in the table, the total number of battle force ships in the Navy reached a late-Cold War peak of 568 at the end of FY1987 and began declining thereafter.17 The Navy fell below 300 battle force ships in August 2003 and included 285 battle force ships as of September 30, 2009. As discussed in Appendix A, historical figures for total fleet size might not be a reliable yardstick for assessing the appropriateness of the Navy’s proposed 313-ship fleet, particularly if the historical figures are more than a few years old, because the missions to be performed by the Navy, the mix of ships that make up the Navy, and the technologies that are available to Navy ships for performing missions all change over time. For similar reasons, trends over time in the total number of ships in the Navy are not necessarily a reliable indicator of the direction of change in the fleet’s ability to perform its stated missions. An increasing number of ships in the fleet might not necessarily mean that the fleet’s ability to perform its stated missions is increasing, because the fleet’s mission requirements might be increasing more rapidly than ship numbers and average ship capability. Similarly, a decreasing number of ships in the fleet might not necessarily mean that the fleet’s ability to perform stated missions is decreasing, because the fleet’s mission requirements might be declining more rapidly than numbers of ships, or because average ship capability and the percentage of time that ships are in deployed locations might be increasing quickly enough to more than offset reductions in total ship numbers. 17 Some publications have stated that the Navy reached a peak of 594 ships at the end of FY1987. This figure, however, is the total number of active ships in the fleet, which is not the same as the total number of battle force ships. The battle force ships figure is the number used in government discussions of the size of the Navy. In recent years, the total number of active ships has been larger than the total number of battle force ships. For example, the Naval Historical Center states that as of November 16, 2001, the Navy included a total of 337 active ships, while the Navy states that as of November 19, 2001, the Navy included a total of 317 battle force ships. Comparing the total number of active ships in one year to the total number of battle force ships in another year is thus an apple-to-oranges comparison that in this case overstates the decline since FY1987 in the number of ships in the Navy. As a general rule to avoid potential statistical distortions, comparisons of the number of ships in the Navy over time should use, whenever possible, a single counting method. Congressional Research Service 14 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Table B-1.Total Number of Ships in the Navy Since FY1948 FYa Number FYa Number FYa Number 1948 737 1969 926 1990 547 1949 690 1970 769 1991 526 1950 634 1971 702 1992 466 1951 980 1972 654 1993 435 1952 1,097 1973 584 1994 391 1953 1,122 1974 512 1995 373 1954 1,113 1975 496 1996 356 1955 1,030 1976 476 1997 354 1956 973 1977 464 1998 333 1957 967 1978 468 1999 317 1958 890 1979 471 2000 318 1959 860 1980 477 2001 316 1960 812 1981 490 2002 313 1961 897 1982 513 2003 297 1962 959 1983 514 2004 291 1963 916 1984 524 2005 282 1964 917 1985 541 2006 281 1965 936 1986 556 2007 279 1966 947 1987 568 2008 282 1967 973 1988 565 2009 285 1968 976 1989 566 2010 Source: Compiled by CRS using U.S. Navy data. Numbers shown reflect changes over time in the rules specifying which ships count toward the total. Figures for FY1978 and subsequent years reflect the battle force ships counting method, which is the set of counting rules established in the early 1980s for public policy discussions of the size of the Navy. a. Data for earlier years in the table may be for the end of the calendar year (or for some other point during the year), rather than for the end of the fiscal year. Shipbuilding Rate Table B-2 shows past (FY1982-FY2010) and requested (FY2011-FY2015) rates of Navy ship procurement. Congressional Research Service 15 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress Table B-2. Battle Force Ships Procured or Requested, FY1982-FY2015 (Procured FY1982-FY2010; requested FY2011-FY2015) 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 17 14 16 19 20 17 15 19 15 11 11 7 4 4 5 4 5 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 5 6 6 6 5 7 8 4a 5a 3a 8 7 9 8 12 9 12 Source: CRS compilation based on examination of defense authorization and appropriation committee and conference reports for each fiscal year. The table excludes non-battle force ships that do not count toward the 313-ship goal, such as certain sealift and prepositioning ships operated by the Military Sealift Command and oceanographic ships operated by agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). a. The totals shown for FY2006, FY2007, and FY2008, have been adjusted downward to reflect the cancellation two LCSs funded in FY2006, another two LCSs funded in FY2007, and an LCS funded in FY2008. Author Contact Information Ronald O'Rourke Specialist in Naval Affairs rorourke@crs.loc.gov, 7-7610 Congressional Research Service 16