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Navy End Strength Not on Pace to Run a 355-Ship Fleet
related:I don't like the viewer used by USNI News so just
From the Report:
In December 2016, the Navy released a new force structure assessment (FSA) that called for a fleet of 355 ships—substantially larger than the current force of 280 ships. In response to a request from the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces of the House Committee on Armed Services, the Congressional Budget Office explored the costs of achieving that goal in a previous report. To expand on that analysis, CBO has estimated the costs of achieving a 355-ship fleet under two alternatives. e agency then compared those scenarios with two other alternatives involving smaller fleets. For all four alternatives, CBO explored shipbuilding and operating costs, the composition and capabilities of the fleet, and effects on the shipbuilding industry.
The four alternatives would affect the size and composition of the Navy in the following ways, CBO estimates:
Congressional Budget Office Report on 355-Ship Navy Costs
- Under the first alternative, the Navy would create a 355-ship fleet by building more ships over the next 20 years, achieving the force goal by 2037. The cost to build, crew, and operate a 355-ship fleet achieved by new construction would average $103 billion (in 2017 dollars) per year through 2047.
- Under the second alternative, the Navy would attain a 355-ship fleet sooner, in about 2028, but would not achieve the composition that the service wants until 2037—by using a new-ship construction schedule similar to the schedule under the first alternative, and also by extending the service life of some large surface combatants, amphibious ships, attack submarines, and logistics ships. Its costs would average $104 billion annually through 2047.
- Under the third alternative, the Navy would maintain a fleet comparable in size and composition to today’s fleet of 280 ships. It would cost an average of $91 billion annually through 2047.
- The fourth alternative would cost the least and illustrates the long-term implications of funding the Navy at roughly the level it has received historically for ship procurement. By 2047, the fleet would fall to 230 ships. In total, that alternative would cost an average of $82 billion per year over the next 30 years.
Navy End Strength Not on Pace to Run a 355-Ship Fleet
... goes on below due to size limitRecent challenges to Navy recruiting and retention have left the sea service 11,000 sailors short of its required manpower level in the short term, and about 50,000 sailors short of the estimated force needed to crew a 355-ship fleet.
Though the Navy has successfully fought for additional manpower funding in the last few years, the service is near its lowest end strength in almost a decade. As of Friday, the Navy had 323,947 active duty sailors, which includes
Navy officials recognize the challenges they’re facing when recruiting and retaining sailors. Service leaders have long hinted at the competition for talent in public speeches and congressional testimony and have waged a campaign to retain sailors. But lawmakers worry the service does not have a long-term manpower ramp-up plan to accompany the shipbuilding ramp-up, and it is also unclear how the Navy will bring in 11,000 new personnel in the next year and a half.
“We are in a growing Navy. This requires more people, at a time when we are still working our way back to desired sea duty manning levels, and when the competition for talent is especially keen. We will certainly recruit and train many more sailors to help meet these demands, but that will not be enough,”
On Wednesday, Burke is scheduled to appear before the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee, where it is likely he’ll be asked by lawmakers about the Navy’s recruiting and retention plans.
However, the Navy currently does not have a long-term force structure strategy. A force structure plan is being created, a Navy spokesperson told USNI News earlier this month, but the Navy would not comment on future personnel needs because force structure plan is still under development.
Some lawmakers are skeptical there is a plan being developed, and if one is created, how well it will address growing manning needs.
“Given the fact that this administration just submitted a 30-year shipbuilding plan that would never actually achieve 355 ships, it seems pretty clear to me that they don’t have a realistic plan to man a 355-ship Navy, nor a realistic plan to build a 355-ship Navy at this point,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the House Armed Services Committee ranking member, told USNI News in a written statement.
Defining the Shortfall
The Navy has 18 months to add the nearly 11,400 new sailors needed to hit its publicly stated projected end-strength goal for Fiscal Year 2019 – the largest proposed increase in active duty personnel in more than a generation.
Within the next five years, the Navy projects growing the number of all active duty sailors by about 20,700 to nearly 344,800, a 6.4 percent jump from the 323,947 sailors now on active duty, according to its
Currently, about one of every three sailors – about 111,600 sailors, including those in carrier air wings – serve aboard ships, according to a USNI News calculation of how many sailors currently serve on each type of ship, based on Navy data.
The Navy is already on a growth path based on an aggressive ship construction program over the last several years that saw the largest increase in shipbuilding in a generation. As the new hulls come online during the next several years the Navy will already need to increase the sea-going force by about 7,700 sailors to man the ships currently under contract.
At a time when the Navy’s size has remained relatively flat – at close to 320,000 sailors for the past five years – such a jump in the number of sailors as proposed by the Navy’s FY 2019 budget request could appear optimistic.
The need for increased manning becomes more pronounced during the next couple of decades as the Navy plans to increase the fleet to 355-ships.
Estimating the total number of sailors the Navy needs for its fleet in the 2050s is difficult, as it is unclear how many sailors will be required to operate new classes of ships; during that time, today’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Littoral Combat Ships may be replaced by a Future Surface Combatant family of ships that’s yet to be designed, for example. Increased automation and a reliance on unmanned systems operating off ships could help reduce the needs for sailors on future classes of ships.
Taking all of these factors into account, a recent study released by the
Overall, if the Navy’s ratio of about one out of every three sailors serving aboard a ship were to hold through the fleet expanding to 355 ships, the Navy would need close to 375,000 total active duty sailors, a 17-percent increase from today’s end strength.
The last time the Navy had 376,000 sailors was 2003 – just before the service instituted its optimal manning program and shed active duty sailors year after year for the next decade, finally settling in 2013 at what has basically been the size of the Navy for the past five years: about 320,000 active duty sailors.