Navy considers shipbuilding cuts for upcoming budget
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Navy is proposing construction cutbacks and accelerated ship retirements that would delay, or sink, the Navy’s goal of a larger fleet — and potentially hurt shipyards, according to an initial proposal.
The proposal would shrink the size of the fleet from today’s level of 293 ships to 287 ships, a far cry from the official goal of 355 ships established in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
According to a defense official familiar with the memo, budget negotiations are ongoing and no final decisions have been made. But the Navy is looking at a number of ways to cut costs to fund other priorities, the official said.
One of the proposed cuts would reduce the number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers planned for construction from 12 to seven over the next five years, trimming $9.4 billion, or about 8%, from the shipbuilding budget, the official said.
Another potential cut would decommission Ticonderoga-class cruisers more quickly over the next five years, leaving nine in the fleet, rather than 13.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss preliminary budget planning discussions that have not been made public.
“Either option runs counter to the Navy’s stated requirement for a 355ship fleet, and would not be well received on Capitol Hill given there’s still consensus that the military and strategic threat from
Russia and China is only increasing,” said naval analyst Jay Korman of Avascent Group.
Defense analyst Norman Friedman said the proposal would represent a major reduction in anti-aircraft capability that is provided by destroyers and cruisers at a time when the Navy is facing more sophisticated threats from aircraft and missiles.
“If you were serious about facing down the Chinese, you’d probably want more of that than less,” said Friedman.
In this Sept. 6 photo, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) moors at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London, Conn.