• Use It Or Lose It: Navy Forced To BEG Congress For Funds To Keep Up Aging, Dwindling Fleet

    There’s just no way that the Navy’s plans to build a massive battle force fleet will go through without a large influx of funds.

    Back in July 2014, the Department of Defense submitted a 2015 plan from the Navy, detailing the funding requirements necessary to sustain the Navy’s objectives up until 2044. The amount requested is a third higher than in previous budget plans, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

    The final goal is a fleet of exactly 306 battleships, and in order to meet that end, the Navy is looking to purchase 264 ships, which costs an estimated $500 billion dollars. This would amount to $16.7 billion dollars every year.

    A revised estimate from CBO places the amount at a more realistic $18.9 billion per year after factoring in refueling costs and updating weapons and electronics. What this means is that the Navy will have to crawl back to Congress to ask for money to justify the figure, which is 36 percent higher than average.

    The other option is to cut back on the number of ships the Navy wants to build, but the reason this second option is much less likely is because what ships the Navy does have are rapidly aging. Two central Navy fleets, guided-missile cruisers and Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates, were both built in the 1980s under the Reagan administration.

    “It’s really quite simple,” former Department of Defense official Seth Cropsey told Mississippi Watchdog. “If the jobs start to dry up, then the industrial base will go as well for employment. The longer that interval lasts, where the seapower industrial base is draining, the longer it will take to return it, to bring it back to life. We don’t build ships overnight. It’s extraordinarily difficult to bring it back. If solutions are not found to retain the industrial base and keep it from decreasing like the CBO report says it will, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

    “Sea control is very important, because if you can’t control the seas, you cannot use them to project power,” Cropsey added.

    Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley stated that where the money will come from is still a mystery, although $156 million dollars of additional funds for nuclear ballistic missile submarines were slotted into the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2015 budget to cover the costs.

    “The Secretary of the Navy has been almost singularly focused on getting us back to a 300-ship Navy. Today we are at 289. We have 44-ships under construction and a dozen under contract. Another eight are planned for 2015. We are on a path to 300-ships. We’re going to get there,” Stackley told DOD Buzz.

    Defense Tech reports that by 2020, the Chinese plan to have a 351-ship navy.

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