CAPITOL HILL — Navy leaders told lawmakers today the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request and long-range shipbuilding plan were both crafted with industrial base health in mind, despite worries from some congressmen and shipbuilders that the plan was full of missed opportunities.
From small surface combatants to attack submarines to aircraft carriers, lawmakers have worried about discrepancies between industrial base capacity and the Navy’s stated acquisition plans, which represent a baseline minimum requirement rather than an aggressive stretch goal.
In a House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Vice Adm. Bill Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems (OPNAV N9), said the annual 30-year shipbuilding plan prioritizes industry in a way it never has before, but that “we have to provide a balanced Navy. And with that, we are unlikely to ask for ships above our requirement” as laid out in a 2016 Force Structure Assessment.
That duality – highlighted in the shipbuilding plan itself, in a graphic showing year-by-year tallies of where industry will have additional capacity that the Navy does not plan to take advantage of – was the focus of much discussion during the hearing.
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