CAPITOL HILL: Republicans think the Navy’s new 30-year shipbuilding plan marks a fundamental mistake: cutting the size of the fleet from 313 to 300 or so when we are increasing our focus on the Asia-Pacific
And you can be sure they will let the Navy’s top acquisition officials know that at tomorrow morning’s House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing about the Navy budget.
“It largely confirms our concerns that we’re cutting shipbuilding while ‘pivoting’ to Asia. The Navy is going from a fleet of roughly 313 to a fleet of roughly 300, a GOP congressional aide said in an email. “It also confirms our concerns about amphib numbers that are low in the near term. Dropping the SSBN fleet to 10 in the 30’s is a real big question. And we continue to be short on the DDG and SSN categories. Bottom line, we’re shrinking the Navy, cutting shipbuilding money by 20% and somehow pivoting to Asia.”
But one of the nation’s most respected naval analysts says the new shipbuilding plan, which does see the number of ships dip to 279 in 2014 from the earlier planned fleet of 287, offered a much less glum assessment.
“This 30-year plan mitigates the projected shortfalls in cruisers-destroyers and attack submarines that showed in last year’s 30-year plan, in part by putting additional destroyers and attack submarines into the plan,” said Ron O’Rourke, naval analyst at the Congressional Research Service. “As a result, analysis of the 30-year plan this year may feature somewhat less (but still some) emphasis on the projected shortfalls, and somewhat more emphasis on the Navy’s prospective ability to afford all the ships in the plan.”
Republicans and senators from states with submarine bases and shipbuilding yards have highlighted their concerns about the delay in building the first Ohio-class replacement. It will almost certainly come up again at the Thursday morning HASC hearing.