Marine Log - June 2008 - (Page 41)
BY NICK BLENKEY USSHIPBUILDING CAN CONGRESS KEEP NAVY SHIPBUILDING OFF THE ROCKS? C ongressman Gene Taylor, Chairman of the House Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee had some plain words at a March hearing on the FY 2009 Navy ship construction budget request. “It is no secret that the current administration has not been a friend to the Navy,” he declared. “By the time this President leaves office the Navy will have about 60 ships less than when he started. It will be up to the next President and the next Congress to put our nation back on track to building and maintaining a powerful fleet. However, there are some things we can do and we must do this year to set the course for recovery.” Congressman Taylor has been as good as his word. The House version of the FY 2009 ship construction budget is markedly different from the administration request. Before getting into the nitty gritty of what the House is proposing in the way of FY 2009 ship acquisitions, we should remind ourselves that the Navy is supposedly working in the context of a 30 year shipbuilding plan that will result in a 313-ship Navy. The Navy first presented the 313ship plan in February 2006 after a lot of prodding from Congress, which believes that such a long term plan is necessary for purposes of shipbuilding planning and stability. In fact, over the last few years, the Navy’s published thinking on the desirable size of the future fleet has fluctuated between 260 ships and 325 ships. There’s also been quite a variation in the ship mix making up that total—and in the year-by-year procurement total needed to reach the desired target. Alas, one thing remains consistent: There’s always catchup to be played in future years when, cynics would say, those responsible for the plan du jour have retired (often to take up new careers with defense contractors). The FY 2009 edition of the plan appears to be a particularly bad case of trying to kick the cost program further down the road! Here’s how respected Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald O’Rourke put things in an April 2009 Report to Congress: “Although the FY2009 30-year shipbuilding plan, if implemented, would generally be adequate to achieve and maintain a fleet of about 313 ships, it does not include enough ships to fully support certain elements of the 313-ship fleet consistently over the long run — shortfalls would occur in areas such as amphibious lift capability and the number of attack submarines. The FY2009 30-year plan, moreover, includes new assumptions about extended service lives NEW SHIP CONSTRUCTION ONLY CBO analysis shows FY2009 version of Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan would impose huge future costs. Some in Congress see the solution as cutting back on programs such as the hugely expensive DDG 1000, which incorporates many still-to-be-completed technologies www.marinelog.com JUNE 2008 YEARBOOK MARINE LOG 41
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Marine Log - June 2008
Marine Log - June 2008
Innovation Needed to Meet Crew Shortage
Optimism Abounds Despite Slowing Economy
Can Shipping's Shopaholics Keep Up the Buying Binge?
Can Congress Keep Navy Shipbuilding Off the Rocks?
Fitting the Ultra-deepwater Pieces Together
Higher Demand, Higher Prices
Demand Up For Large Combination Vessels
The Dirty Truth About Emissions
SSAS: Realizing Its Potential
Fuel Saving Technology
Marine Log - June 2008