Friday, March 1, 2013

FY2013-FY2017 Shipbuilding Plan

Here’s a quick update reminder about the Navy’s near-term shipbuilding plans.

For the five year period 2013-2017 inclusive, the Navy’s shipbuilding plan calls for 41 new vessels of all types.  Of the 41, only 19 are combat ships (carriers, subs, destroyers).  That’s an average of 3.8 new combat vessels per year.  For a 35 year lifespan, that translates to a combat fleet of 133 versus the 185 or so currently.  Our combat power is vanishing!

During the same period, the Navy plans to build 16 LCS which, even under the most optimistic wishing, will never be combat vessels.  That’s a lot of construction and budget devoted to an extremely marginally useful vessel!

The fleet’s numbers and combat power are shrinking and the current budget issues will only exacerbate the trend.


  1. The whole Pentagon has known for years that its budget and its procurement plans did not add up.

    Unfortunately their solution to it, “transformation”, has made it even worse. They tried to jump ahead a generation or more often with little or no research or preparation. Not only did they not first try out their ideas in small scale or prototype, they based their entire procurement plan on systems which were just on Power Point. Its like a baseball team which decides that they are going to base their success on hitting it out of the park every time without doing any prior research to see if they had any Babe Ruth’s on the team.

    And these systems were going to be faster, smarter, more durable, need less personnel, require less maintenance, etc. Or as the joke says, you can have it faster, cheaper, better, choose any two of the three.

    The Pentagon as a whole and the Navy in particular need to get back to basics, go for step by step improvements for most items and anything transformational should have a solid base of testing and prototyping to increase it chances of success before it gets made a center piece of the procurement budget.

    One big problem that is going to be difficult to solve is the slow speed of many procurement programs which means that the people originally proposing the program are long retired by the time the system is in the field so there is no downside for them. They can propose almost anything and they have no responsibility when it fails. On the other hand incremental improvements are usually quicker to reach the field so these are often based more in reality.

    1. DJF, you make several excellent observations.

      The Navy knows that it's stated goal of a 313 ship fleet isn't even remotely attainable and yet they continue to put out ridiculous 30 year building plans. Navy leadership has simply become a PR function of the political administration of whichever party is in power. Astute observation on your part.

      Transformation badly hurt the Navy and they have yet to recover from it. Great point.

      You make a truly great observation by pointing out that the with the demise of its in-house ship design group, the Navy has lost all accountability for what it produces. It's not just a loss of people due to retirement, though that's part of it. The people who initiated the LCS served their one year assignments in the LCS program and have long since moved on. I'll be doing a post on the loss of in-house design in the near future. You continue to anticipate me. Well done!


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