The Navy has announced plans to retire 48 ships between 2022 and 2026. The decision to do so was articulated in the service’s 2021 shipbuilding plan, which was made public Dec. 9.
The Navy’s planned objectives would follow both the goal of the National Defense Strategy and Defense Planning Guidance. Objectives include:
* Full funding of the Columbia-class SSBN (nuclear-powered ballistic missile) submarine.
* Place a priority upon delivering a near-term force that can project combat capabilities forward.
* Focus on mid- and far-term potential to hold a non-linear lethal advantage over China and Russia.
* Increase the number of ships in the fleet to 316 by 2026.
The plan also calls for continued research, development and fielding of unmanned systems that could operate both in conjunction with human operators and autonomously. Sustenance and improvement to the industrial base staffed by skilled workers would be necessary as well, the report stated. Assessments of industry’s submarine-building capability garners particular attention, particularly in the context of the plans to deliver three SSNs (nuclear-powered, Virginia-class attack submarines) to the fleet by 2026.
Funding for the construction of CVN 80 (to be named Enterprise) and CVN 81 (to be named Doris Miller), and advanced procurement for a future carrier in the class, would continue. Other projects garnering attention include the T-AO 205-class fleet oilers, AS(X) ships, initiation of programs to develop a new light amphibious warship and next-generation logistics ship.
Funding will be key to fulfilling plan’s goals, the Navy stated.
“A consistent funding level scaled to support the size of the fleet is essential to maintain and repair fleet assets in support of strategic guidance,” the white paper stated. “Just as significant is properly phased funding needed for operations and sustainment accounts, again consistent with the size of the battle force and growing over the life of a ship.”