The Navy has released data tables from its FY2014 long range, 30 year, building plan. There are plenty of interesting bits of information contained therein.
The construction/retirement numbers by class are revealing. The “+” numbers are new construction and the “-“ numbers are retirements. The number following that is the net change over the period, either positive or negative.
CVN +6 / -6 ; 0
DDG/CG +70 / -61 ; +9
LXX (amphibs) +19 / -20 ; -1
LCS/FFG +66 / -50 ; +16
SSN +47 / -52 ; -5
SSBN +12 / -14 ; -2
SSGN +0 / -4 ; -4
We see that major surface combatants, DDGs and CGs will increase by 9. All other classes of ship except the LCS/FFG will either remain unchanged or decrease. Discounting the LCS which has no credible combat capability, the net change across all ship classes is -3. The Navy is banking heavily on the LCS to maintain ship numbers. What that means is that Ticos and Burkes will be retired and replaced, numerically, by the LCS. That seems like a reasonable swap, doesn’t it?
Another noteworthy item is that over the next two years, FY14 and FY15, the Navy proposes to build 16 ships of all types and retire 31 for a net change of -15. Yikes! That will drop the fleet size from the current level of about 285 to 270.
The Navy is saying that over the next couple years when we have a pretty solid idea of what budgets and costs will be, the fleet will shrink significantly due to lack of construction funds. During the out years in the 2020’s and beyond, when we have no idea what budgets and costs will be, the Navy rosily forecasts growth from 270 ships back to around 306. Hey, Navy, as long as you’re making stuff up, why not forecast growth to 400 or 500 ships? You won’t have to actually do it and it will sound way more impressive for public relations and political purposes.
We’ve already demonstrated that the Navy’s 30 year shipbuilding plan isn’t even remotely achievable, financially. Indeed, the next two years, which most accurately reflect the fiscal realities, clearly show that the fleet will shrink significantly. The Navy is, at best, engaging in wishful thinking with the 30 year plan and, more realistically, is engaging in misinformation, misdirection, and fraud.