Navy Sets Ambitious Shipbuilding Goal


A new Navy report ambitiously predicts that in the distant future the service will buy many more surface combatants, plus other warships, without boosting the 30-year shipbuilding plan’s average annual funding.

At issue is the production schedule for a notional destroyer called DDG(X), which the department wants to buy about two decades from now to replace existing DDG-51 destroyers.

(The DDG(X) is different than the DDG-1000 program, which is a near-term effort to build seven destroyers, mostly at a rate of one per year.)

Last year’s report to Congress predicted the Navy would buy only two DDG(X)s per year between fiscal years 2025 and 2036. But the new report, issued this month, increases that construction rate to three per year.
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Comment: With commitments as high as ever but declining resources, this is good news. Question is, can they make it happen? Ambitions are one thing, a willingness on the part of Congress to fund it is another matter entirely.
This certainly is good news, not just for the new ships that should be coming on line, but for keeping the shipyards intact and functioning. If Bath and Ingalls each work on just one or two destroyers a year, that will help keep them open. The yards are easily lost and difficult (at best) to restore.
I agree. Still, they still have to get Congress and whoever the sitting president happens to be on board. As notoriously fickle as politicians are, that may be quite a trick.
Perhaps not as difficult as you might think. Convince a bunch of politicians to spend money when they can create jobs AND show their commitment to defense? This is what they live for.
Granted, every now and then someone suggests that they try to restrain the spending, but once the laughter dies down they get back to business.
From The Pilot Online:
Navy says new way of handling shipyard contracts working

By JON W. GLASS, The Virginian-Pilot
© February 16, 2007

NORFOLK – A period of relative stability in the region’s ship repair industry is expected to continue at least for the next two years with a steady flow of Navy work, the director of fleet maintenance for Fleet Forces Command said Thursday.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey Brooks based that outlook on the Navy’s new way of bundling ship maintenance contracts and on a commitment by senior leadership to adequately fund future maintenance budgets.

Speaking before members of the Virginia Ship Repair Association at Nauticus, Brooks gave his first detailed public comments about a three-hour briefing he presented on ship maintenance issues last September to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations, and his senior Pentagon staff .

One of the “most positive takeaways,” he said, was Mullen’s forceful statement of support for meeting the funding requirements to maintain the fleet.
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Comment: If anyone wonders why this matters, just remember that it's not enough to build the ships, one also has to keep them up.
From The Navy Times OnLine:

Lawmakers offer more ships than Navy can take

By William Matthews - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Mar 28, 2007 19:58:05 EDT

Some in the House of Representatives want to buy the Navy 12 new ships next year, not just the seven the service requested in the 2008 budget proposal.

But when asked by appropriators in the Senate “what number is prudent,” the Navy’s top officer suggested maybe eight.

After complaining for years that its fleet is shrinking and that its shipbuilding budget isn’t big enough, the Navy finds itself in the awkward position of having to turn down an opportunity to dramatically increase shipbuilding.

One problem is that U.S. shipyards would be hard-pressed to increase production to 12 ships a year, said Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations.
Story at
From The Pilot

Estimates on Navy ships unrealistic, official says

By DALE EISMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
© April 4, 2007

WASHINGTON - The Navy and its shipbuilders have repeatedly underestimated the cost of major shipbuilding programs, sticking taxpayers with the bill when a ship's final price runs higher than advertised, the service's top civilian complained Tuesday.

In a speech to a roomful of shipbuilding executives and their suppliers, Navy Secretary Donald Winter warned that a "culture of over optimism" is "creating distrust between Congress and the Navy" and threatens the service's ability to build ships at the steady, predictable pace contractors say they need.
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Comment: (Sigh) As always, the games are afoot. Make of this what you will.
From The Norwich Bulletin:

Sub Building Gets a Boost

GROTON -- Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha, chairman of the House subcommittee that writes the defense spending bill, visited Electric Boat Monday to see for himself whether the company was capable of handling an increase in submarine construction from one per year to two per year.

He left impressed, pledging his full support behind the idea and the funding in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget to make it happen.
Story at
From The Pilot OnLine:

Navy may get shipbuilding boost from Congress

WASHINGTON - House Democrats appear increasingly likely to endorse a major boost to the Navy's 2008 shipbuilding budget, even as they and their Senate counterparts also advance legislation to cut off funding for the war in Iraq and bring American troops home.

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who heads the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, reiterated plans Wednesday to add money for five additional ships to the Bush administration's defense program.

Murtha told reporters that one of the extra ships will be an attack submarine but that decisions have not been made about the others.
Story at
You gotta love pork barrel politics. When there are jobs and votes for sale, it's time to go buy the Navy some ships. We don't care what you build, we don't care what you need, we don't even care if they float, just take the d-n ships!

Who knows - it's entirely possible that the Navy will get some vessels it actually wants and needs.
I think the issue as far as the Navy is concerned is not getting unwanted ships. They want the ships plain and simple. What's more, they need them in order to maintain even the existing force levels as older ships approach the end of their useful service lives.

The monkey wrench in these works appears to be the issue of the existing capacity of U.S. shipyards to meet the demand. We need more then we have.

Shipbuilding Crisis Continues

Despite positive steps taken by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen, shipbuilding remains in a critical state. By fencing the Ship Construction Navy (SCN) budget and laying out a 30-year ship construction blueprint, the CNO has taken two dramatic steps essential to stability and efficiency for both the Department of the Navy and the industrial base. However, there are serious problems in the execution of this plan. If these problems are not recognized and resolved soon, shipbuilding will slide back into a morass of unrealistic expectations and budget overruns that will lead to inadequate force structure. We see several problems.
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From The Virginia Pilot Online:

Shipyards more likely to protest losing multiship contracts

Local shipyard executives no longer shrug it off when their yards lose lucrative contracts for Navy ship repair.

They say they can't afford to. The Navy now awards contracts that give a shipyard a group of ships to maintain over several years, so there's more to win - and lose.

As a result, the shipyards are more likely to file legal protests - with a good chance of success.

All of the biggest yards in Hampton Roads - Earl Industries Inc., Metro Machine Corp., Marine Hydraulics International Inc. and BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair - have protested Navy contract awards with the Government Accountability Office, a federal oversight agency.
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Comment: It's not just shipbuilding but repair work as well. With fewer ships being built, the competition is going to be downright cut throat.
From The Navy Times:

Navy denies interest in new force options

The Navy’s top strategist has floated to the chief of naval operations three alternatives to the service’s current 30-year shipbuilding plan that if adopted would radically reshape American naval power.

The three options are contained in a 26-page briefing titled “Three Futures, One Navy, A Portfolio Analysis” by Vice Adm. John Morgan, the service’s strategy chief, which was e-mailed to Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The force structure options – a 263-ship fleet optimized for major combat operations against a peer competitor; a 534-ship shaping force tailored for coalition and maritime security operations; and a 474-ship balanced force able to perform high- and low-end missions – would replace the current 30-year shipbuilding plan.
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Comment: As you'll see, this report is not being endorsed by the Navy.
From The Navy Times:

Sacre bleu! Another warship named LaFayette?

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and another lawmaker want the Navy to name its next ship after a Frenchman.

Reps. Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, and Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican, said Tuesday they want the next Navy warship to bear the name of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, better known as Marquis de Lafayette.
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From The Navy Times:

P-3 fixes, new amphib top Navy wish list

The Navy wants roughly $4.6 billion in extra funding on top of its $149 billion fiscal 2009 Navy Department budget request to fix maritime patrol aircraft, buy another amphibious ship and enhance weapons.

The service’s prioritized list of items that didn’t make it into the budget request is sent annually to the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee by the chief of naval operations. This year’s list has 20 items.
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From National Defence:

Government Action Needed to Fix Troubled Shipbuilding Sector

Shipbuilding is critical to both national security and global stability. This industry, however, is not globally competitive in the production of large oceangoing vessels and depends on government procurement and a protected domestic market to remain viable.

The limited commercial market, combined with a decline in Navy orders, has resulted in excess production capacity, underused larger shipyards and high vessel costs. The combination of high costs and limited budgets, in turn, threatens the Navy’s ability to meet its stated goal of a 313-ship fleet by 2020.

There are no easy solutions to the dilemma, but there are a number of steps the U.S. government can take to bolster this critical component of the defense industrial base, concluded a team of military and civilians students at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
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From The Navy Times:

Congress eyes navy shipbuilding programs

Congressional scrutiny of the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding programs is likely to continue to be sharp, if the new budget season’s first two naval hearings are any indication.

On Wednesday, House Appropriations Defense subcommittee chairman Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., signaled a possible lack of support for the new Zumwalt class DDG 1000 destroyer program when he asked about the effects of delaying the 2009 ship in favor of more auxiliary cargo ships. Murtha later said he’d like to examine cutting short the planned buy of seven Zumwalts and moving up acquisition of the follow-on CG(X) cruiser, now scheduled to begin in 2011.
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From The Navy Times:

Risky business

Like no other military service in history, the Navy is betting a very large – and expensive – chunk of its future fleet on untested technologies and unprecedented practices. Large destroyers built to a hull design no one has ever ridden. Aircraft carriers launching planes by a method yet to send a single aircraft aloft. Littoral combat ships operated in ways new to any navy.

The projects have been in the works for years: more than a decade for the DDG 1000 destroyer, about that long for the CVN 78 carrier and about five years for the LCS.

But now all three projects are at something of a nexus: After years of existing only as promises and PowerPoint presentations, all three projects are about to turn into real ships. The service is about to begin building the destroyers, construction has just begun on the first of the new carriers, and the first LCS will take to sea in a few months.
Full story at

Comment: Lots of gambles here and they had better get it right. With so much at stake, failure really is not an option.
From The Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Ship to be named after Navy's first black deep-sea diver

NEWPORT NEWS -- A new cargo ship will bear the name of the Navy's first black deep-sea diver.

Carl Brashear joined the Navy in 1948 when he was 17 years old. One of six children born to a sharecropper in Kentucky, he dreamed of becoming a Navy diver. No blacks were Navy divers at the time.
More at

Comment: A well deserved honour.