Monday, September 23, 2019

Carrier Costs

The carrier Ford’s construction costs seem way out of line even allowing for traditional first-in-class elevated costs.  In fact, carrier costs seem to have been increasing over and above simple inflation increases.  Those are my impressions at any rate.  Let’s take a look at some data and see what the situation really is.

The table below shows inflation adjusted construction costs for the nuclear carriers of the Nimitz class and the Ford.  Costs are obtained from the GAO report referenced in the table.  GAO cost figures are about as good as can be had in the public domain.

After adjustment for inflation – meaning all costs are set to FY19 dollars – the costs should all be identical if we were just making serial copies at the same relative cost.  Alternatively, if costs are decreasing due to serial production savings, as so many commenters want to claim, then we should see decreasing costs for each subsequent carrier.  Conversely, if carrier costs are increasing over and above mere inflation, as is my feeling, then we should see increasing cost figures.  Examine the table.

Carrier Construction Costs – Inflation Adjusted
2019 Dollars *
CVN-68 Nimitz (1)
CVN-69 Eisenhower (1)
CVN-70 Vinson (1)
CVN-71 Roosevelt (1)
CVN-72 Lincoln (1)
CVN-73 Washington (1)
CVN-74 Stennis (1)
CVN-75 Truman (1)
CVN-76 Reagan (1)
CVN-77 Bush (2)**
CVN-78 Ford (2)

* Costs for CVN68-76 were taken from Figure 3.2 in Ref 1 and adjusted for inflation.
** Bush costs are suspect and probably reflect the beginning of the accounting games that the Navy began playing with ship costs.

What does the table tell us?

Nimitz.  As expected, the cost of the first-in-class Nimitz is higher than the next couple of carriers.

Trend.  The cost trend shows a steady rise of around $1.5B from the early CVN-69 to the later CVN-76.  That’s an increase of $1.5B over and above inflation.  That’s real increases for reasons unknown.  The Nimitzes are, indeed, as serial a production run as the Navy gets.  Yes, each carrier undoubtedly had small changes but there was nothing particularly major over the course of the run.  So why did the costs increase?  I have no idea but it is clear that carrier costs are rising faster than inflation.  Serial production savings are a myth.

Bush.  As noted, the Bush costs were highly suspect and likely reflect Navy accounting games which began in earnest around that time.  Obviously, the Bush didn’t suddenly drop from around $9B for the previous carrier to $7B.  Also, if we think the Bush numbers are artificially/fraudulently low, what does that tell us about the purported Ford costs?!  We know Ford has been racking up additional construction costs since delivery even though the ship has been supposedly paid for.  The true cost of Ford is likely around $15B by now.

Ford.  The Ford, while a first-in-class, blows any reasonable first-in-class increase out of the water.  The magnitude of the real cost increase is stunningly staggering.  Staggeringly stunning?  Unbelievable!  Yes, the Ford had some new technologies inserted but the basic carrier construction is the same as a Nimitz.  The new tech (EMALS, AAG, weapon elevators, dual band radar) add some cost but none come close to accounting for the increase.  Bear in mind that this is construction costs only.  The development costs for the new tech are staggering but those are not included. 

While some might be tempted to write the Ford costs, staggering as they are, off to first-in-class, we should note that the second and third Fords are also projected to be around $12B each and we know with 100% certainty that those cost estimates will go up!  So, the Ford costs are not just first-in-class costs but real, albeit stunning, cost increases for unknown reasons.

The overall conclusion is absolute, if unexplainable: carrier costs are rising faster than inflation.  I have no idea why carrier costs are rising faster than inflation and without access to a detailed, itemized cost list, I can’t begin to explain it. 

Because of the escalating costs, we are pricing ourselves out of the carrier business.  Carrier numbers have dropped steadily from the 20’s to 15 to 11 to our current 9+1+1 (9 carriers + 1 in long term refit + 1 non-functional Ford).  The Navy has, at least twice, floated/attempted the idea of early retiring a carrier to drop the fleet from the statutory requirement of 11 to 10.  Given the runaway costs, look the Navy to push hard to early retire a carrier in the near future.  Before you protest, recall that we only have 9 air wings which means we can only operate 9 carriers, at most.  Nine air wings makes a tiny bit of sense in a 9+1 fleet but not in a 10+1.  Sooner or later, Congress is going to ask why we need 11 carriers when we only have 9 air wings.  If/when the Ford joins the fleet, we’ll have two carriers without aircraft.  Do you really think the Navy is going to continue to operate 11 carriers when 2 don’t have aircraft?

We desperately need to rethink our carrier construction philosophy.  Carriers are increasing in size at the same time that the air wings are shrinking.  There’s a logic disconnect there.  We’ve doubled the cost of carriers by building the Ford class with no commensurate increase in combat capability and, objectively, we’ve decreased combat capability by installing an EMALS that can’t be repaired without shutting down every catapult (and weapon elevator?) and decreased our willingness to risk a carrier in combat due to the massive cost.  We need to return to basic carriers.  I’d prefer returning to the Forrestal pattern (especially with the smaller air wings) but even a return to the Nimitz pattern would save several billion dollars per carrier!!!!!!!!!


(1)General Accounting Office, “Navy Aircraft Carriers”, Aug 1998, Figure 3.2, p.77

(2)CRS, “Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class (CVN-21) Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress”, Ronald O’Rourke, Apr-2008


  1. All naval ship construction costs have grown faster than inflation for a very long time. There is a lot of writing on it and it specifically addresses the added additional cost every time a new ship class is developed. The only place I see this not happening is LPD flight II and it isn't happening their as they are simplifying rather than enhancing the design. VPM on subs and AMDR on DDGs is having a similar effect.

    1. Andy, you're conflating a few different issues. One is legitimate cost increases due to new equipment/capabilities. Those costs are valid and understandable. The other issue is cost increases over and above inflation FOR THE SAME PRODUCT. Those increases are the subject of the post and are unexplained and quite troubling.

      Unexplained cost increases should not be happening. It costs no more to weld together a hull today than it did a couple of decades ago. If anything, the cost should be markedly cheaper due to computer aided design and various other efficiencies that have been implemented. However, despite these improvements in efficiency, costs are going up instead of down. That's a major problem.

      One of the major factors in this unexplained cost increase is the reduced shipbuilding volume. We're building fewer ships every year and yet the shipyards have the same overhead costs. With fewer ships being built, the same overhead costs have to be spread over fewer ships which increases the cost of each ship even though the true construction cost didn't increase and may even have decreased.

      The Burkes are actually one of the few ship programs that have not seen costs increase over inflation, at least through around 2000. I did the same data analysis on the Burkes that I did for the carriers in this post. After 2000, fraudulent Navy accounting practices have obscured the costs and made comparisons impossible.

    2. CVN-78 isn't the same product as CVN-68 by your own criteria. It's cost went up related to new equipment and capabilities as well as lower volume over time. Here's a good read.

    3. "CVN-78 isn't the same product as CVN-68 by your own criteria. It's cost went up related to new equipment and capabilities as well as lower volume over time."

      Yes and no. Ford is not an exact duplicate of Nimitz but the basic ship and function is. Yes, Ford has some new tech but the cost of the new tech comes nowhere near accounting for the giant cost leap - neither does stretched out production. The magnitude of the Ford cost increase is unexplainable with any publicly available data.

  2. You once mentioned to me that the Navy extends build times to make the "yearly" cost lower, but it raises the overall cost. How much do you think is attributed to that? Its surely not enough to explain the ridiculous incresase between Nimitz and Ford, but...???

    1. A quick look showed Nimitzes taking about 5-ish years to build, Stennis only taking 4.5!! So a roughly 40% longer build time incurs lots of extra cost. First in class will be understandably longer, but still, Ford took years longer than the Nimitz (and its really still not done, but i digress...) so it seems the stretching of build time as part of the accounting games must be a large part of this....

    2. Here is another good read on speeding carrier procurement.

    3. Stretching of the build time is a major factor, however, it does not explain the magnitude of the Ford increase. I have no explanation for that. Without an itemized cost list we have no way of knowing what's going on with Ford.

      You might also keep an eye on the next two Fords. Unlike the two carriers that immediately followed the Nimitz and were significantly cheaper, it's looking like the follow on Fords will be the same cost or, more likely, more expensive.

  3. I think an additional reason: as industry closes down, economies of scale disappear, impacting components providers. With deindustrialization we no longer have a healthy ecosystem of auxiliar industries competing each other and running at high percentage of capacity, because there are fewer end industrial clients for the auxiliary industries. So it is not only an issue of having a reduced number of military shipyards, it is also impacted by the lack of civilians shipyards and other industries that make use of the same kind of components.

  4. Another thing to watch for is the word 'inflation' . Its usually referring to the index based on a basket of consumer items and services. While that will indicate for consumers how prices have changed it can often be a long way from the cost increases faced by heavy engineering business. As wages will outstrip the consumer inflation number, especially highly skilled labour, a industrial product that has a large labour component and is hand made will rise more than say biscuits or TVs which are made in huge volumes in automated processes.

    1. There is an element of truth to that but it's getting into nitpicking, almost. For example, the cost increase after adjustment for inflation from CVN-69/70 to CVN-76
      was around 20% OVER AND ABOVE INFLATION. I understand your point about certain industries having different inflation rates but not by that much - not even close - and if, say, shipbuilding did have an inflation rate 20% higher than the rest of industry, one would have to ask some serious questions about why because all of shipbuilding is, ultimately, supported by those common, mass produced, automated industries. So, that highly specialized pump that's only made for shipbuilders is composed of run of the mill pipes, impellors, rotors, windings, shafts, etc. that, presumably, only increased in price in line with 'normal' inflation. So, why did the final product go up 20% over and above when its components only went up the same as the rest of the economy? This is the point at which you start looking at price gouging, corruption, fraud, profiteering, racketeering, etc.

      Sure, there may be a few products so specialized that they have no commercial dependence but that's not common and their cost contribution to the overall carrier cost is minimal.

    2. Thats right about ship building inflation. The CBO did a study last year on ship costs based on historical trends and the Navys own 'shipbuilding cost index'

      The Ford does have a specialised item which is new . The A1B reactor which was the new reactor design built by Bechtel. They previously were operators of the US government Naval reactors Laboratory.
      Its practically impossible to get much info online about what the development costs and the actual reactor build costs are and some of those costs are intermingled with DOE funded Nuclear labs.

    3. "The Ford does have a specialised item which is new . "

      Yes and no. While the reactor may be a new design, it still uses the same piping, valves, pumps, fasteners, containment vessels, shielding, etc. that the previous model did, just in a new, presumably better design.

      Further, the previous carrier had a reactor, too. So, the only portion of the new A1B reactor cost that we care about is the portion THAT IS GREATER THAN THE OLD ONE. In other words, if the old reactor cost $1B, to make up a number, and the new one costs $1.1B then the contribution of the new reactor to the cost increase is only $0.1B - not much of an increase!

      Further, if the new reactor is more efficient, uses fewer moving parts, is smaller, is easier to build, and requires less maintenance, it may well be that the new reactor is CHEAPER than the old one!!!! I have no idea what either reactor actually costs but the point is that, logically, the new one likely contributes very little, if anything, to the Ford's cost increase.

  5. This really feels like a replay of the 1920's.

    The world's navies had overbuilt for WWI and the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty had severely limited the construction of new warships.

    The shipyards were suffering and were price-fixing. The result was that the Navy started building some of their new warships in Navy yards where the Navy could monitor costs.

    Of course, the Navy had the in-house expertise to do this at that time.

    I think CNO's concept of building a larger number of less expensive, and specific tasked, warships would go a long ways towards both increasing the fighting capabilities of the Navy and would help revitalize the naval shipbuilding yards.

    1. The Navy does not have the shipbuilding expertise any longer. They barely have the expertise to do fundamental repairs to their vessels while underway. If the Navy had the expertise, where are the sub tenders and destroyer tenders? The old SIMAs and shore based repair facilities that used to teach Sailors on shore duty advanced skills are no more. Even during complex overhauls and drydockings, the sound of needle guns you hear are 95% of the time run by contractors. With the exception of some very small projects, by and large the work being done to ships these days are done by contractors. The LCS? Even PMS is done by contractors.
      This observation is based on the last 10 years working in the ship repair industry.

  6. I find it interesting that the Navy has done to itself what the Army and newly found (at the time) Air Force tried to do in 1947. In addition to disbanding the Marine Corps, the Army/Air Force mafia wanted to limit the Navy to 10 carriers and ten carrier airwings...
    Congratulations Navy, you have done their bidding. Not only do you not have enough airwings to emabrk aboard the assets, the airwings you do field are a shadow of those that were fielded just 20 years ago.

  7. Good post

    Better than this from Rand with a deeply unsatisfying report on the same issue.

    Clearly somebody at Rand is sleeping because not retroactively removing the LCS concept as a having the potential for saving any money looks absurd in the light of 2019.

    But I think they do usefully mention a magic word in Monopsony but fail to fully qualify what is almost assuredly a defective Monopoly/Monopsony relationship.

    Since the only buyer of a unique national security good has only source and that source is a profit driven private company and the Monopolist is beset my any number of barriers to effectively bargain it is no wonder the price goes up.

    First the Pentagon and the USN lay out a plan: X number of CVs in the fleet of a type that only HI can build and service via Newport News Shipbuilding... Right there HI looses any real incentive to make the process efficient or save money.

    USS Stennis LD – 03-13-91 – Launched 11-11-93
    USS Truman LD – 11-29-93 – Launched 10-7-96
    USS Reagan LD – 02-12-98 Launches 03-04-01

    So the USN was in no hurry to build them, and with no potential US competitor. I mean somebody would have to up front not only build the infrastructure but find the personal to bid and than on what the chance to loose outright or at best get what maybe half of of a decades long business. Even a screw-up like the Ford even to the extent it can be traced to HI will likely result in only tiny penalties that were probably rolled into the firm's profit expectations (compare do really thing Google is going to deterred by 170 million fine?). In any cast the nuclear CV is a reliable known profit stream, I bet HI has almost no interest in improving its performance, controlling costs or even maintaining it facilities or performance at anything other than good enough.

    A return to a new Forrestal would likely be a great correction to that. Not only would it lower the bar for a domestic rival it would gasp if Congress allowed possibly open the way to fishing for a French or (maybe future) Japanese bid. But if there is no market I really think it would not hurt to simply make nuclear CV production a national good. You trade some inefficiency maintaining a work force and facility in down time on the public dollar for loosing corporate profit interest in what is a an almost unkillable revenue cow.

  8. “Carriers are increasing in size at the same time that the air wings are shrinking. There’s a logic disconnect there.”

    That pretty much says it all. Our carriers cost too much, so we can’t build enough of them. Our airplanes cost too much, so we have to reduce the number and size of air wings. We can continue the carrier death spiral or look at alternatives.

    We have sunk $45B in three Fords ($15B each) which may never work. The Navy wants 11 carriers. If we build 8 more Fords to get there, that’s $120B.

    I think we need a minimum of 12 carrier battle groups, each ideally with two carriers. One can be a supercarrier and the other less capable. So what are the other options? Let’s list them, class, unit cost, tons, propulsion, potential air wing size:

    - Ford, $15B, 110,000, nuke, 80
    - Nimitz, $9.5B, 100,000, nuke, 80
    - RAND CVN-LX, $9.5B, 70,000, nuke hybrid, 80
    - Kitty Hawk, $6B, 80,000, steam, 80
    - ComNavOps’s Midway-sized small carrier, $5B, 50,000, steam, 60
    - RAND CV-LX, $4B, 40,000, conventional, 35

    For $120B we could do 9 Nimitzes or CVN-LX to get to 12 supercarriers ($85.5B). For the second carrier we could do 6 Kitty Hawks ($36B, $121.5B total) or 7 Midways ($35B, $120.5B total), or 9 CV-LX ($36B, $121.5B total). Getting to 12 CVBGs with 2 carriers each would require 6 more Kitty Hawks ($36B more, $157.5B total), or 5 more Midways ($25B more, $145.5B total), or 3 more CV-LX ($12B more, $133.5B total).

    One possibility might make the CV-LX a more viable option. We could convert some existing LHA/LHD to interim CV-LX by widening the flight deck; adding a ski jump; converting troop, equipment, and well deck spaces to additional aircraft, fuel, and magazine spaces; and upgrading propulsion systems (28-30 knots would be the goal, but Makin Island can do 25 knots with its hybrid system and that might be good enough for most operations). If those conversions could be done for $2B per ship, we could convert the 5 whose useful lives potentially extend past 2040 for $10B and build 7 more for $28B, giving 12 big carriers plus 12 CV-LX for $123.5B total, the only way to get to 24 carriers for anything close to $120B.

    We would need to replace the lost phib lift capability. But the LHA/LHD currently forces a non-viable assault concept of standing offshore 25-50 miles and sending everything ashore by air. We don’t even exercise it because we know it won’t work. A number of smaller and more versatile and cheaper ships that could go into harm’s way to conduct a proper assault -- smaller LHA/LHD like the Spanish Juan Carlos, LPH like the French Mistral, LSD/LPD like the British Albion, real LST with an LST bow, and LPA/LKA -- could all be build for about $3.5B, or roughly the cost of one LHA/LHD. So that “bug” could actually be a feature.


  9. Part 2

    The CV-LX is no match for a Ford (if all the gadgets work) or any of the others. But it won’t be going against Fords (or any of the others), and it is more than a match for what it might be up against in other navies. Plus it won’t be operating alone, and can use helos for AEW and ASW like the Brits and/or can depend on the other bigger carrier for AEW and ASW.

    As far as aircraft, 11 Fords give us 880, and 3 Fords plus 9 Nimitz/CVN-LX would give us 960. 6 Kitty Hawks would be 480 more for 1440 total, 7 Midways would be 420 more 1380 total, or 12 CV-LXs would be 420 more for 1380 total. We are looking at 500-600 additional aircraft, with trainers and spares probably 750-900. Assuming $100 million per aircraft, that is an additional $75B-90B, plus costs of pilots and training and maintenance. Over a 40-year horizon, that’s $2B+ per year more. But that forces the question of what kind of navy do we want.

    One other idea that I would consider for the CVN-LX or Kitty Hawk options (and possibly others) is doing something like the unbuilt Russian Ulyanovsk, with 2 waist cats and a ski jump forward. This gives up some deck parking space, at least partly offset by increased hangar space from elimination of the forward catapult equipment. Another would see the CV-LX evolving to something more like the similar-sized UK Audacious class with one waist cat and the ski-jump forward, and carrying around 50 aircraft. Either of those ships could operate a mix of CATOBAR, STOBAR, and STOVL aircraft. With so many other navies going to STOVL or STOBAR designs, I would anticipate some substantial advances in such aircraft going forward, and being able to take advantage could give us some cheaper viable aircraft options.

    1. Without getting into specifics, the one aspect of all this that you aren't addressing is what do you want the carriers to do. And no, 'everything' isn't a viable answer because that results in $15B+ ships.

      What is the main mission of the carrier, in your concept? If you can answer that, you'll answer what kind of carrier you need.

      At the moment, you seem more focused on the technology than the mission. That's the same mistake the Navy makes!

      Define the mission and you'll know exactly what carrier you need.

      To provide an example, I've stated that the mission of the carrier is Tomahawk escort and local air superiority. Thus, the carrier is an escort/air superiority platform as opposed to strike or ASW or whatever else.

      What's your mission?

    2. I think the primary mission is an air superiority platform rather than a strike platform. I do see ASW patrol as part of that mission, since protection underwater is as important as protection overhead. I see SSGNs as the primary Tomahawk platform, primarily because they don't really need carrier escorts. I do see a short-range strike mission in support of amphibious assaults.

      But I don't see a carrier launching an air strike into the interior of Russia or China. That's going to be Tomahawks or a successor missile if that happens, and that may come from SSGNs and cruisers.

      The thing that I am trying to factor in is cost. The military lives in a world controlled by budgets. Obviously my proposal above means we need cheaper airplanes. But that's a subject for another post.

  10. ComNavOps,

    My point was not so much to determine what kind of carrier(s) we need, but rather simply to identify the pricing trade-off points. What we need ideally, and what we can afford, may be two entirely different things.

    Questions about mission and CONOPS drive questions of how many and what kind we need. I think some kind of high/low combination may be the best approach. But that is open to discussion.

    At the end of the day,the numbers are the numbers. And on at least some level, we have to deal with that.

    1. "What we need ideally, and what we can afford, may be two entirely different things."

      Not quite. The armed forces exist to defeat existential threats. By definition, then, what we need is what we MUST afford. All that's left is to best determine how to pay for it. For example, we might scale back public entitlements by more ships. And so on.

      A nation would be foolish, indeed, to relegate its very existence to only what's affordable.

      Equipment acquisition must be determined by the dictates of combat effectiveness (which is what we're really talking about) rather than the dictates of budget.

  11. "The armed forces exist to defeat existential threats. By definition, then, what we need is what we MUST afford. All that's left is to best determine how to pay for it."

    Back when I was on active duty, I would have agreed with you 100%, but from the perspective of a few decades in the civilian world, I think there needs to be some budgetary discipline. I think that if we gave the navy leadership unlimited resources, they would simply buy more Fords and Zumwalts and F-35s and LCSs, rather than thinking about cost effectiveness.

    Case in point. My original post listed several different carrier force configurations for the same amount of money. We might disagree on which is best, but I'm fairly certain that most of us who post here would consider any of those alternatives to be better than building nothing but Fords.

    Give people unlimited budgets and they exceed them on stupid stuff. Impose some fiscal discipline and they get smarter.

    1. " I think there needs to be some budgetary discipline."

      NO! Well, yes, of course there needs to be budgetary discipline but not in the way you mean it. What we need instead of budgetary discipline is design discipline. We need to stop designing multi-function, unused function (like ASW on a Burke) warships and get back to smaller, simpler, single-function ships which would have the inherent quality of being cheaper - THERE'S YOUR BUDGETARY DISCIPLINE!

      So, no, budget cannot drive military acquisition. You either acquire what you need to survive as a country or you live at the sufferance of others which is unacceptable. Budget is a secondary factor. Need is primary.

      To address your comment about Ford/Zumwalt/LCS/F-35, they were not NEEDS since they filled no vital combat role. This is where design discipline comes in. We have to design what we really need. Every flag officer in the Navy should be fired over these debacles. If we keep firing flag officers we'll eventually find someone who can lay out the requirements for assets we actually need. Those people are in the service. They're just being stifled and we need to find and promote them just like we found and promoted the combat leaders during the early years of WWII.

  12. " Well, yes, of course there needs to be budgetary discipline but not in the way you mean it. What we need instead of budgetary discipline is design discipline"

    But I would argue that the only way to get design discipline is to have budgetary discipline. Ford/Zumwalt/LCS/F-35 happened because there was no budgetary discipline so there was no design discipline.

    We need more of a design and build to cost mentality. I heard a presentation of the Ford design It was all about, "Oh, this would be nice to have, so let's do it that way." Suppose somebody had told them, "OK, you've got $10 billion per ship to build a carrier in the 90-100,000 ton range. Not a penny more. Make whatever tradeoffs you need to give us the best ship you can for that number." My guess is that we would ended up with a very different--and very much better--Ford. And it would be in the fleet working today.

    Agree that need is primary, but when you have no constraints, you lose your focus on need. Look back at WWII. Need was clearly paramount. But they were working under very stringent money--and more critically, time--constraints. There was no time or money to waste spending three years trying to make newfangled catapults and arresting gear work. It had to be built in a hurry and it had to work and we had to build a lot of them. So those constraints focused the effort on need. And we built the stuff that won the war.

    If you don't need it, you can't afford it. If you can't afford it, you don't need it. That's how you get design discipline.

    1. "Ford/Zumwalt/LCS/F-35 happened because there was no budgetary discipline"

      No, it happened because there was no military strategy to build to - strategy drives development and acquisition - and no design competence to recognize real requirements from fantasy wish lists.

      Budget is not the disciplining factor you believe it to be. As proof, the LCS was an attempt to build a budget constrained ship. It was built to a cost target. Yes, they blew threw that target but the original design was built to the target and it produced an absolutely useless vessel. It was a lack of design discipline and competence that rendered the LCS useless. The LCS was, initially, quite cost-constrained and produced a total failure.

      The Ford was constrained, too. There were Congressional cost caps in place. You and I might believe that the cost constraints were obscenely large but they were there. Despite those constraints, we produced a failure and had to blow through the cost caps to try to save it (still doing so!).

      In both examples, it was the lack of design discipline that produced the failures.

      It seems pretty clear that building to cost does not produce success.

      Design discipline means having a guiding strategy, defining the MINIMUM (not maximum) requirements to execute that strategy for the asset in question, and then running every aspect of the design through the filter of, 'does this support the asset's execution of its strategy (CONOPS)?.

  13. I would start from the following proposed employment:

    - 12 CVBG, each 1 large carrier, 1 small carrier, 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers, 3 escorts, 4 ASW frigates, could be split into 2 units, each with one carrier
    - 8 surface action/HUK groups, each 1 battleship, 1 ASW cruiser, 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers, 3 escorts, 4 ASW frigates, could be split into 2 units, surface and ASW
    - 10 phib groups, each 1 LHA/LHD, 1 LPH, 1 LPD/LSD, 1 LST, 1 LPA/LKA, and 1 land attack frigate, escorted in combat environment by CVBG and/or SAG/HUK

    Each task group would have an AOE/AOR/AFS assigned, and possible SSN/SSGN.

    SSGNs are the major attack platform. SSBNs and ABM cruisers would operate under strategic command.

    Corvettes, patrol craft, minesweepers, and conventional SS would be organized in 15 littoral squadrons that would train together and could be deployed together to littoral combat areas.

    Detailed CONOPS drilled down from employment plan, and evolved over 40-year operating experience. Ships designed for 40-year life, major overhaul/upgrade in years 20-21 and major maintenance in years 10 and 31.

    This is how I would do it on a budget, using a high-low mix philosophy:

    High end - super carrier - 90-100,00 tons, $9-10 billion, 90 aircraft, 30+ knots, nuclear or nuclear/electric, unless and until EMALS works, steam cats and conventional arresting gear
    Low end - 40-60,000 tons, $5-6 billion, 40-60 aircraft, 30 knots, conventional, could be CATOBAR, STOBAR, STOVL, or hybrid

    Surface fleet
    Battleship - $5 billion, 50,000 tons, 2x3 or 3x3 16" guns, huge VLS capacity, 30+ knots, sonar and minimum ASW weapons, consider battle carrier vs 3rd 16” mountand IEP but do not exceed cost
    Cruiser - $3.5 billion, 15-20,000 tons, 2x3 8" guns, large VLS, Aegis/AMDR, large UAV/helo deck, air defense control platform for task group
    ASW cruiser – 15-20,000 tons, $1.25 billion, like Japanese Hyuga
    BMD cruiser – $1.5 billion, converted San Antonio class
    Destroyer - $2.5 billion, 9-10,000 tons, basically Burke
    Escort - $1-1.25 billion,6-7,000 tons, basically European mini-Burke, less capable than Burke, but built in greater numbers
    Frigate - $350 million, 3-4,000 toms, ASW specialist

    SSBN - $9 billion
    SSGN - $3.5 billion, VPM
    SSN, high end - $2.5 billion, Virginia
    SSN, low end - $1.5 billion, French Barracuda/DARPA Tango Bravo
    SS, low end - $750 million, Swedish A-26

    All ships would have at least minimal air, surface, and sub detection and self-defense capability.

    LHA/LHD - $1.5 billion, Spanish Juan Carlos/Australian Canberra
    LPH - $600 million, French Mistral
    LPD/LSD - $600 million, UK Albion
    LST - $350 million, conventional LST bow
    LPA/LKA - $300 million
    Frigate - $350 million, land attack with 3 5-inch guns and large anti-surface VLS
    Corvette 1500-2000 tons, $250 million, one version for littoral ASW and one version to support amphib ops as a mini-arsenal ship
    Patrol 750-1000 tons, $200 million, basically a Swedish Visby
    MCM - $300 million, like small LPD/LSD, mother ship for sweep helicopters and drone sweeps
    MHC - $100 million, like UK

    AOE/AOR - $500 million
    Maritime prepositioned force - $600 million

    Give LCSs to CG as cutters, convert San Antonios to ABM cruisers, convert existing LHA/LHD to interim small carriers.

    Fleet cost
    12 super carriers - $120B
    12 smaller carriers - $65B
    8 battleships - $40B
    20 cruisers - $70B
    8 ASW cruisers - $10B
    12 BMD cruisers - $20B
    40 destroyers - $100B
    60 escorts - $70B
    80 ASW frigates - $28B
    10 land attack frigates - $3.5B
    30 corvettes - $7.5B
    15 patrol boats - $3B
    12 SSBN - $108B
    20 SSGN - $70B
    30 Virginia SSN - $75B
    30 Barracuda/Tango Bravo SSN - $45B
    30 SS - $22.5B
    10 LHA/LHD - $15B
    10 LPH - $6B
    10 LSD/LPD - $6B
    10 LST - $3.5B
    10 LPA/LKA - $3B
    15 MCM - $4.5B
    15 MHC - $1.5B
    40 AOR/AOE/AFS - $20B
    20 MPS - $12B

    569 ships - $929B

    Over 40-year cycle, $23.2B per year, or not out of line with current Navy shipbuilding budget plans (less than recent 355-ship proposal, because more low end ships).

    4,000 character limit prevents more detail.

  14. Re: CONOPS, not ignoring or suggesting we proceed without detailed CONOPS. I think it's pretty clear from propsed employment what CONOPS would need to be for each unit. And I would expect evolution over 40-year operating cycle.


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