25 May 2017

News Story: Trump Budget Reduces Funds for Naval Shipbuilding

Image: Flickr User - Greg Bishop
On Tuesday, the Trump administration released its proposed budget for FY2018, including $639 billion in defense spending. The Navy would receive $171.5 billion of this amount, $6.5 billion more than in 2017. 

As expected, the budget would fully fund all planned ship depot maintenance, long under-resourced due to sequestration. This would would help clear a severe backlog of deferred maintenance on the attack submarine fleet, and would give the Navy ten more vessel maintenance availabilities than in the prior year. It also funds the continuation of a controversial refit for the Navy's aging Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers, the so-called "2/4/6" plan. In addition, the budget would fund aviation maintenance depots to their maximum current capacity. In a statement, the Navy said that these investments reflect the "importance of restoring wholeness in order to build capacity and improve lethality in the future."

Navy leaders have warned for years that underinvestment in maintenance is reducing readiness. In January, vice chief of naval operations Adm. Bill Moran cautioned that extended deployments and cost-cutting were a risky combination. “This long war we’re in and emerging or re-emerging threats have raised the stakes and kept us on the field longer than our bullpen is able to stay healthy . . . Deferred maintenance is insidiously taking its toll on the long-term readiness of our fleet.” 

However, the proposed budget would not provide as much for naval shipbuilding as some had hoped. A shipbuilding procurement budget of $20 billion would go towards one Ford-class carrier, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, two Virginia-class subs and only one Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). This list mirrors the Obama administration's plan, and it reduces funding for shipbuilding by about $1 billion compared with the enacted budget for FY2017.

Read the full story at MarEx