I wrote earlier this week about the apparent demise of the DDG 1000 in the Navy's future budget planning. Well, in an unusual step, two very key lawmakers have come out in favor of curtailing the program.
I am pleased with the Navys decision to focus its resources on the DDG 51 destroyer, with its known costs and capabilities, rather than the increasingly expensive DDG 1000, said Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO). Our committee recommended this action in the fiscal year 2009 Defense Authorization Act, and I am pleased to see the Navy heed our advice. It is a responsible decision that will benefit both the Navy and the taxpayer for years to come.
I believe this is the right thing for the men and women of our Navy and the citizens who pay for these ships, Subcommittee Chairman Gene Taylor (D-MS) commented. The DDG 51 class destroyer is the premier destroyer in the world today. The ship has tremendous flexibility in a variety of warfighting missions, including the ability to serve as a ballistic missile defense platform. Just as important, the costs of these ships are well known. The Navy has built 62 of these superb vessels and our shipyards know how to build them on budget and on schedule.
Taylor continued, The two DDG 1000s that our nation will build will be extremely capable ships. However, virtually every independent organization with expertise in ship cost analysis has predicted the first two ships will cost up to $5 billion each, or more than $1.5 billion more than the Navy has budgeted. Such cost overruns would cripple the Navys plan to reach a 313-ship fleet.
Now, as DT reader George Skinner noted in his comments from Monday's post, the DDG 1000 has been a great incubator for new naval technologies. I'm in favor of using programs such as this to develop new gear for the next generation of hardware -- I see the same thing happening with the FCS program and I'm all for it. And it's refreshing when services make a tactical retreat on some programs and admit that they'll be used essentially as R&D labs.
"I believe that our Navy and our nation are better served by building a large number of DDG 51s and then proceeding with a timely and orderly plan to begin construction of the next generation of nuclear powered cruisers. I look forward to working with Admiral Roughead and Secretary Winter during the return to DDG 51 production."