JUST IN: Navy Leader Defends Fleet Assessment, Shipbuilding Numbers

By Meredith Roaten

Navy photo

The chief of naval operations pushed back against criticism of the Navy’s shifting plans for its future fleet, saying leadership is focusing on the data on hand to inform future investments.

While members of Congress have questioned the fluctuating fleet size, analyses of the service’s needs come from a broad coalition of experts, not just from the Navy, Adm. Michael Gilday said April 4 at a Defense Writers Group event.

“This wasn't just Navy self speak, where the Navy did the analysis on its own, to come up with a composition of the future fleet, and included a range of numbers for different types of platforms,” he said.

The Future Naval Force Study called for 143 to 242 unmanned surface and undersea vessels, including 119 to 166 USVs and 24 to 65 UUVs.

He noted that industry, academia, the Marine Corps and the office of the secretary of defense contributed experts to put together the Future Naval Force Structure Assessment, which was released last year. Because of the analysis, the service has the data to make the case for a “bigger, better” Navy, he added.

“From a budget informed or fiscally informed position, this wasn't just a pie in the sky, this is the Navy we need,” he said.

The blueprint for shipbuilding for fiscal years 2022-2051 was released in December under the direction of former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. It called for 316 manned battle force ships by fiscal year 2026.

The new numbers were calculated using total ownership costs, maintenance requirements, technical risk of delivering new capabilities and industrial base capacity, Gilday noted.

“All those things are folded into what I thought was a very, very realistic, candid frank shipbuilding plan,” he said.

Esper also released a vision of a future fleet for superiority over China dubbed Battle Force 2045.

Gilday said it was perfectly fine to have a debate about the costs and benefits of investing in existing technologies or new platforms. “It’s not that we all have to agree in the end, but I think that kind of open debate — in the end — will likely lead us to a better solution,” he said.

Gilday acknowledged that no shipbuilding plan is set in stone. Officials will continue to assess the needs of the service for budget considerations.

For example, the Navy will perform an exercise next month where a team on a Zumwalt-class destroyer will control unmanned platforms that are on, under and above the sea.

“Those kinds of experiments and analysis, as well as wargames that we've continued to do through COVID, that's all put back into the analytics cell, that that is actually taking a look at shipbuilding numbers right now to inform the ‘22 budget, and then the ‘23 budget,” he said.

Though he declined to give hints on how the Pentagon’s budget would shake out, he said the Navy’s analysis of future fleet composition put the service in a place of strength.

“When we finally do get a budget, taking a look at how those attributes of the Navy applied to gaps across the joint force or vulnerabilities in the Joint Force are going to be critically important,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s administration was expected to release budget top lines last week, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki has now said they are being delayed.

Topics: Budget

Comments (1)

Re: JUST IN: Navy Leader Defends Fleet Assessment, Shipbuilding Numbers

Congressional leaders believe that the US Navy has lost its direction and boldness.

There is an article stating that extending the lives of the Cruisers is becoming harder than anticipated because of COVID and the shipyard doesn't have the expertise to do this. After all, the Ticonderoga cruisers are 30+ years old and the workforce that built them have retired in 30 years.

The idea of having unmanned ships, as Congress said, has to revolve around deterrence at keeping peer nations at bay, not to boost the US Navy's ship count just to carry an unmanned .50cal M2HB and a few thousand rounds 5,600 miles across the Pacific. What deterrent is that with one .50cal on a USV?

For missiles, the USN should look into building new SSGNs with SHORADS, Hypersonics, ASROCS, LRPFs, ASCMs, Tomahawks, and other VLS tubes and perhaps leave ASW to P-8s for a more P-8s and halt SSN VPM production and build new SSGNs in parallel with new SSBNs or else the Ohio SSGN crews will be lounging on the beach, prematurely retired, when their old Ohio SSGNs retire. The USN should equip LCSs with NSMs ASAP. The FFG(X) frigate program cannot fail. The USN should press Lockheed's JQL/JAGM forward and field SPIKE NLOS to extend the range and possibly replace Longbow Hellfire from 5mi to SPIKE's 15mi range. There are ways to increase ship potency with the existing US Navy ships. The ESBs should get some CIWS and SHORAD armament besides .50cal and 7.62mm machine guns; I mean come-on...that is very weak self-protective armament for ESBs that are that huge.

Instead of the Navy rattling sabers with Congress and putting out Media-thrown fireballs, I think what the Media wants are answers to the US Navy's problems. But the USN is saying (as usual), "NEED MORE money, money, money!" Asking for "more money" isn't going to win friends because almost everyone has a Christmas Wish List before Christmastime. How to pay for that "Wish List" comes DURING Christmastime. So Media is asking what is the "Wish List," US Navy---what is THE FUTURE plan? Nonetheless, I wasn't at the Defense Writers Group Event so I can't say what happened there, but I will say this...going "future unmanned" sounds kind of if in the future no one wants to join the US Navy so robots will replace sailors and the robots will carry small pop-guns that the sailors control remotely from CONUS. So the Media throws even more fireballs and the US Navy squirts around more fire extinguishers...sounds like a PRESS siege to me.

Krashnovians at 12:40 PM
Retype the CAPTCHA code from the image
Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Please enter the text displayed in the image.