The U.S. Navy’s highest-ranking official sidestepped queries about a recent study that projected eye-popping construction costs to build a fleet of 355 ships.
The Congressional Budget Office April 24 released a report estimating that, over the next 30 years, meeting the 355-ship objective would cost the Navy an average of more than $26 billion in 2017 dollars annually for ship construction, “more than 60 percent above the average amount the Congress has appropriated for that purpose over the past 30 years and 40 percent more than the amount appropriated for 2016.”
The lack of stable funding in a time of strained defense budgets “takes a tremendous toll” on the service’s ability to execute programs, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said April 27 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
In order to properly assess any budgetary report, “it has got to be resource-based if it’s going to be legitimate,” Richardson said. He said he had not had a chance to analyze the study’s numbers in detail.
The Navy last December released a force structure assessment that called for a fleet of 355 ships, significantly more than the service’s current roster of 275 ships, and more than the previously announced shipbuilding program of record for 308 ships. CBO estimated that the earliest the Navy could achieve its goal would be in about 2035, provided the service received sufficient funding.
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