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Navy makes ‘largest ship construction budget request in 20 years’

Workers put the finishing touches on the camouflage paint for the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth. (Lt. Kurt Draper/U.S. Navy)

The latest budget request for the Navy, released Tuesday, calls for $194.5 billion for more personnel and ships to meet the challenges of increased activity and competition in the maritime domain.

The Department of the Navy’s total proposed budget, which includes funding for the Marine Corps, is $205.6 billion — making it the largest service request for fiscal year 2020.

“Our budget is strategy driven, and it’s focused on maximizing our naval power,” said Rear Adm. Randy Crites, deputy assistant Secretary of the Navy for management and budget, during the Navy’s presentation at the Pentagon. “It resources the force required to implement the National Defense Strategy and aligns our people, capability, and processes.”

The largest request in the overall Navy budget is for operation and maintenance, at $68.5 billion, an increase of $5.6 billion. Of that, $57.8 billion would be used specifically for the Navy, including ship operations ($19.1 billion) and air operations ($11.7 billion).

For active duty personnel, the Navy requested 5,100 sailors for an end strength of 340,500, up from 335,400 for fiscal 2019.

One of the Navy’s long-term plans is to increase battle force ships to 355 by fiscal year 2034. Tuesday’s budget request would bring the deployable battle force count to 301 ships. Currently, the Navy has 289 ships, and by the end of fiscal year 2019, there could be 296 ships.

The sical 2020 budget is “the largest ship construction budget request in 20 years,” Crites said.

The Navy says its request would support 11 aircraft carriers and 33 amphibious ships that serve as the fleet’s foundation. Ten battle force ships will be delivered in fiscal 2020: four destroyers, three nuclear attack submarines, two littoral combat ships and one expeditionary fast transport. Two nuclear attack submarines and three mine warfare ships will be retired.

The retirement of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier was confirmed Tuesday, with Crites saying the Navy’s decision was based on reinvesting the money into other capabilities instead of spending it on the ship’s planned refueling complex overhaul in fiscal 2024. Crites said the Navy still has time to reassess its decision on the ship’s retirement, considering analysis from an ongoing force structure assessment, for example.

Twelve battle force ships would be purchased with the Navy’s $23.8 billion shipbuilding procurement request: a Ford class aircraft carrier, a FFG(X) guided-missile frigate, two John Lewis class oilers, three Virginia class submarines, three Arleigh Burke class destroyers, and two T-ATS towing, salvage and rescue ships. Additionally, two large unmanned surface vessels would also be funded.


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