Today is federal budget day. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chair and Adm. Mike Mullen will rollout DoD’s 2011 budget request this afternoon at the Pentagon followed by separate briefs from each of the services. We’ll be providing updates throughout the day.
One area we’ll be closely looking at is the Navy’s shipbuilding budget. Particularly in light of recent statements from Eric Labs, head naval forces analyst at the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. A couple of weeks back, Labs told the seapower subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee that there is no way the Navy can reach its aspirational 313 ship fleet, at least not under current budget projections.
To build a 313-ship fleet would cost around $800 billion over 30 years, or almost $27 billion a year. Over the past decade, the Navy’s annual shipbuilding budget has averaged between $13-15 billion a year. Last year, the Navy got $15 billion for ship construction. Labs said that $15 billion a year just won’t buy enough ships; under that funding profile he projects the fleet will fall to about 270 ships by 2025.
Labs took a look at the Navy’s draft 2011 shipbuilding plan that increased the aspirational fleet from 313 ships to 324 ships. Problem is, the production schedule in that plan buys only 222 ships, far too few. In fact, under the 2011 draft plan, the fleet would fall to 237 ships by 2040, Labs said.
Lots of questions surrounding the Navy’s long range shipbuilding plan. We’ll try to get a few answers today.
DoD Buzz will cover all the budget briefs and the QDR briefing today. Watch us for minute by minute updates.