From Aerospace Daily And Defense Report:

The U.S. Navy’s aggressive 30-year shipbuilding and modernization plan suffers from serious deficiencies and could become a victim of its own ambition, according to highly regarded Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) analyst Robert Work.

Named for the number of ships the Navy wants by fiscal 2020, the so-called 313-ship fleet plan would leave the service lacking in important capabilities to meet the operational demands of current strategic challenges, Work says in his new report. “Specifically, [the Navy] lacks the range to face increasingly lethal, land-based, maritime reconnaissance-strike complexes or nuclear-armed regional adversaries,” Work wrote. “Moreover, it does not adequately take into account the changing nature of undersea warfare, or the potential prospect of a major maritime competition with China.”

The former Marine Corps colonel also says the Navy’s plans are “far too ambitious” given likely future budget constraints. According to Work, between FY ’03 and ’08, the Navy spent an average $11.1 billion per year on new ship construction. But the Congressional Budget Office projects that cost will nearly double, to between $20 billion and $22 billion. And those costs do not factor in the funds required to build 12 replacements for the current strategic ballistic missile submarine force. “It seems clear, then, that the Navy needs to scale back its current plans,” Work wrote.


Work offers numerous recommendations, including:

• After completing the ongoing midlife refueling cycle for the first 12 of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs, immediately reduce the strategic deterrent fleet to its final target of 12 boats and start work on the SSBN(X) design immediately;

• Begin a concerted research-and-development program for small, manned undersea vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles and other unmanned underwater systems, as well as a new generation of littoral anti-submarine warfare weapons;

• Slow the production rate of nuclear-powered carriers (CVNs) from one every four years to one every five years, and consider accelerating the current unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstration program and planned operational debut;

• Halt production of DDG-1000 destroyers at three ships and restart the DDG-51 production line in FY ’10 while putting the futuristic CG(X) cruiser off until at least FY ’15;

• Ramp up production of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to four per year; and

• Build six Joint Multimission Submersibles as rapidly as possible.

Work also suggests a variety of additional detailed recommendations covering naval special warfare/Navy Expeditionary Combat Command ships and craft, naval maneuver and maneuver-support ships, joint sealift ships and combat logistics force and support ships.

The Navy’s ship plan has been criticized on Capitol Hill and elsewhere almost since the moment it was unveiled three years ago. The plan, which already acknowledged risk-taking with fewer subs and aircraft carriers than apparently required at times, was an attempt by the sea service to bring order and predictability to its shipbuilding for the Pentagon, Hill and especially industry. But congressional auditors have repeatedly reported on underfunding and disputed accounting methods.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Maritime Security

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  • Work’s ideas are a start but maintains the Big Ship navy which is the root cause of our drastic decrease in ships numbers, and drastic increase in price. Even he admits his own plan is unaffordable and at $20 billion is far higher than the $14 billion the Navy expects to spend over the next decade.

    Can we have helpful solutions PLEASE? How about a freeze on the building of any ship coating $1 billion or more for a decade, since we are already stronger, again according to Work, than the next 13 Navy’s combined. Even the British Royal Navy in its heyday only maintained a Two-Power Standard. Money should then go to building littoral ships, high speed vessels, sea lift ships,ect., as small ships and cargo vessels are always the worse needed in wartime. For mercy’s sake, can’t we at least return to a hi-lo fleet, rather than this unneeded All Battleship Navy?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    There has been, as I am sure you are aware, a giant wrestling match regarding requirements and vision for a future Navy. One of the things that has not gotten much air play is the “Two-power Standard” which was the gauge of the Royal Navy’s appropriation bills for more than a century. With the six missions espoused in the Maritime Strategy, perhaps a “two-power PLUS” (plus being all the forces required for amphib and littoral missions) planning figure would give some form to the shotgun blast debates we have heard.

    Thoughts, anyone?

  • Alex V. Mandel

    The following text was written in 2004 as i remember… Now, after 5 years, i still would not change any word in it.

    A Navy Without Peer – The U.S. Navy at the Crossroads – to Retain or Lose Naval Superiority?

    “A Navy Without Peer.” This motto has been placed on the cover of US Naval Institute Proceedings magazine and represents both the existing status achieved by the US Navy during the past few decades and the programs and aspirations for the future. The first aspect – the status existing today – is without question. However the future looks more uncertain and foggy – and not necessarily because of any aggressive potential rival that can move the US Navy from its leading position. The potential menace – if it can be called so – appears to come from inside the US Navy itself. It is a perceived “readiness to weaken” that crops up sometimes in the discussion of strategy and tactics – some of these discussions even coming from active duty naval officers, which is particularly alarming.
    As far as I remember, no leading world superpower having a “Navy Without Peer” in modern history ever lost its superiority as a direct result of defeat from another country. Wars and their influence have always played the fatal role in weakening a superpower and softening its ability and resoluteness for world leadership. Internal dissension and resulting action have always been a key factor in the gradual erosion of this ability.
    Consider Great Britain. The British Navy was certainly without a peer 100 years ago, but its superiority was gradually lost during the interim. That loss was not the direct result of enemy actions. In both World War I and II, Great Britain finished with a more powerful Navy than prewar. Its superiority was lost because of economic and other related reasons – and the process took little time. In just two decades, the 1950s and 1960s, there was a great degradation in the size and potential of the British Navy as a dominant political and military instrument.
    The situation of the United States in this respect is more complex and unique. While Great Britain’s economic troubles can explain the quick erosion of its naval power, the United States today is still the most potent and richest economic superpower in the world – very able to pay the price for a Navy “without peer” today and tomorrow. But it appears that some opinions inside the Navy can place this leadership position in jeopardy. I see such a warning sign in recent discussions about littoral warships vs. big blue water naval warships.
    For example, in Proceedings for June 2003 in the article Naval Aviation Delivered in Iraq, it was mentioned that the mothballing of US super carriers was being considered seriously before the tragic attacks of 11 September 2001. Some opinions at very high levels seem to say that the peacetime usage of such ships does not align with the vision of the future. It appears that budgetary reasons were the main point of concern. This is exactly how the postwar erosion of the British naval power started. It appears that the US Navy was one step from taking the same fatal road.
    I realize that the situation today is significantly different than during the cold war. The US Navy is certainly without a peer today, but I fear this situation may be creating a false sense of security in many who are in danger of falling into some trap of flawed logic. They seem to be asking why such a huge fleet of big “blue water” ships is needed when the situation for the future requires more frequently, some police action capability for operations in littoral waters.
    There was also some discussion in a recent issue of Proceedings centered on the question “Where are the new SSNs?” The opinion proposed that new attack submarines must be “littoral warfare” ships with their “blue-water” abilities significantly reduced as some “rudiment” of the cold war times.
    In Proceedings for June 2003 there is an interesting article titled “High Speed is the Future.” The author contends that fast littoral warships – like the new HSV-X1 – represent a better direction for the main development of the US Navy, because the “DDG-51 class destroyers are awesome platforms with unparalleled flexibility, but these ships are tremendously overqualified for many of the missions they are assigned.” The author went on to state that in his five years “on guided missile destroyers, a number of missions that occupied more than 75 % of our deployed operations could have been performed as well or better by a vessel such as the Joint Venture” (a proposed littoral control ship).
    Why do these opinions appear today? How is it possible? It seems to me that the answers to these questions are necessary in order to reach proper conclusions about the best direction for the future development of the US Navy. I fear some people – even qualified professionals – are sometimes forgetting the reasoning that led to the current status of the US Navy. The total superiority of the US Navy on the oceans of the world was created and exists today because of the existence of the big warships – carriers, cruisers, destroyers and submarines. Their technical superiority and presence in different parts of the world is the exact reason why no other navy can challenge the position of US Navy today. It may be that since some of these units appear to be less than fully employed at all times, the impression is created that “littoral warfare” is the only need for the future.
    Remember, the mere existence of a superior unit is a major deterrent, whether or not it is operating in a combat mode. Naval superiority is the only thing that can force any enemy to abandon its far-flung offensive plans. The superiority of the US Navy and the absence of naval rivalry today is not something that just fell from the heavens. It came about through the creation of these “expensive and overqualified” traditional ocean-going warships and their associated weapons systems – and the price was not cheap. The cost to create that superior capability is the real price of national and international security.
    Any number of even the most ultra modern corvettes, air-cushion ships and cutters will be unable to meet the principal requirement – namely superiority on the sea, a condition that has created such a favorable geopolitical situation for the United States. In many ways US Navy superiority is really a most important factor affecting the general world situation – not only in a purely military sense, but also in political and economic affairs as well.
    It is the existence of these big, seaworthy, capable ships with their technical superiority that guarantees that security “from the sea” will continue. A lot of money, effort, and the experience of decades have gone into building the carrier and submarine fleets as well as ships like the CG47s and DDG51s. Keeping them in service is also costly. No other country can do it. It has been the cause of US naval dominance. But if the direction of naval development in the future is shifted to small littoral ships, the existing position of superiority that was bought with so much money and effort can be lost very quickly.
    There are many countries – including hostile or at least nonallied regimes – that are very able to quickly build corvettes and other littoral ships, or to buy them abroad, thereby creating a challenge to a US naval littoral capability. The first warning signs of this tendency are already obvious. While the littoral ship concept seems to be gaining more support and interest in US naval circles, the Chinese Navy grows in a rapid tempo and has not limited its efforts to a “littoral warfare concept” (See “Managing China’s Transition,” Proceedings, July 2003).
    The loss of US superiority can take much less time than can be imagined. The current situation looks warningly familiar. In 1900 nobody in the British Navy considered Germany as equal or even a serious rival. By 1914, the Germans challenged the world’s greatest Navy with surprising results.
    I can’t understand why a condition of superiority is being questioned and consideration being given to changing direction. Therefore I cannot subscribe to the concept of “littoral warfare ships” as the “future of US Navy.” I have no doubt about the need for such warships, but to declare them as sole “future” of the Navy is an error in my opinion. It is the same as the story about the apple tree. “Why does this tree grow here? It is not tasteful. Only the apples on the tree can be eaten; so we don’t need the tree itself, only the apples. So let us cut down the tree!”
    Let us hope that for the cause of worldwide security, the US Navy continues on the path that has enabled it to arrive at its current position as a major factor in world stability – a Navy Without Peer…

    P.S. from 2009.
    If about the expenses, the current military spendings – in relation to the yearly GDP of the country – are still almost twice SMALLER then it was in the Reagan’s years, when the country won in the Cold War.
    So, the real need is not to cut the military spendings but to increase them – and, economically, it is pretty possible. Thus, the question is not about any alleged principal economic/financial impossibility (that just does not exist) but rather only about political will and choused course oft he political leadership of the country, exclusively.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Superb comment. Nowhere do we seem as a nation to feel more guilty regarding our superiority than at sea. Perhaps this is due to the unalterable fact that warships still represent the most expensive weapon systems to build and operate that exist today and for the foreseeable future.

    Using the Royal Navy as a highly pertinent case, we should weigh the cost of such superiority against the cost of losing it.