Navy con­sid­ers ship­build­ing cuts for up­com­ing bud­get

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Business -

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.

Sean D. El­liot/The Day via AP, File

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.

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