28 April 2017
WASHINGTON – That the Navy should get more money to build up its surface and submarine fleets may be the message Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson sends in an upcoming article which he promises would be a “strong Navy voice” on budget issues.
Richardson told an audience at the Brookings Institution Thursday that he would be publishing an article “in the next couple of weeks” which he appeared to be previewing. He pressed two big ideas of interest to our readers. One, the US must continue to hammer away at short-term innovation because computing power and the spread of advanced technologies through the commercial sector makes it imperative for the Navy to build weapons that can be upgraded every five years or so. Build a hull to last 30 years, he said, but design the guts of the ships and the weapons so they can be improved on a regular basis.
Second, Richardson called on shipbuilders to greatly speed how they design ships, urging them to cut the time it takes by one-third to one-half. On top of that, ways around and through the acquisition process must be found to allow for more classes of ships to be designed and built more quickly.
I hear much of this resulted from an in-depth Navy study of whether the service could actually build a 355-ship Navy, as President Trump has urged, any time soon. The conclusion of the internal study was simple: no, it can’t be done given current design and acquisition timelines. Richardson told the Brookings’ crowd, without mentioning the study: “We’ve been taking too long to get things done.”
My source on the Navy study says the Navy went through Eric Labs’ recent Congressional Budget Office study of the 355-ship Navy and concluded his numbers were sound. Labs estimated that the Navy couldn’t hit that mark until 2032, even if you double shipbuilding budgets compared to historic levels.
Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris told Congress earlier this week that his command is already short of subs and surface ships. Harris said he only has 50 percent of the subs he need to tracks Russian, North Korean and Chinese undersea activity.