Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the U.S. shipbuilding industry to execute the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years. On December 9, 2020, the outgoing Trump Administration released a document that can be viewed as its own vision for future Navy force structure and/or a draft version of the FY2022 30-year Navy shipbuilding plan. The document presents an envisioned Navy force-level goal for achieving by 2045 a Navy with a more distributed fleet architecture, including 382 to 446 manned ships and 143 to 242 large UVs. The Biden Administration can choose to adopt, revise, or set aside this document. Biden Administration officials have stated Navy shipbuilding will be a top area of focus for the Administration’s review of the Trump Administration’s defense plans and programs. The Biden Administration will submit the Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget later this year, and is required by law to additionally submit an FY2022 30-year (FY2022-FY2051) Navy shipbuilding plan in conjunction with its proposed FY2022 defense budget. Although the executive branch is required by law to submit a 30-year shipbuilding plan each year in conjunction with its annual budget submission, past Administrations have sometimes chosen to not submit a 30-year shipbuilding plan during their first year in office, on the grounds that they were spending that year reviewing and revising the previous Administration’s defense strategy, plans, and programs, so as to create a basis for subsequently devising a 30-year shipbuilding plan. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s proposed FY2022 shipbuilding program and the Navy’s longer-term shipbuilding plans. Decisions that Congress makes on this issue can substantially affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.

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