Defense News (subscription required) reports that the House of Representatives is offering to fund as many as 12 ships next year instead of the 7 the Navy was planning on. Surprisingly to some, the Navy isn’t falling over itself to accept.
One problem is that U.S. shipyards would be hard-pressed to increase production to 12 ships a year, said Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations. Another problem is that two of the Navy’s shipbuilding programs are so problem-plagued that buying more of them poses an unacceptable risk, he said. A third problem is that buying an extra submarine requires about two years of advance procurement.
The Navy would like an extra LPD-17 amphibious ship, but it’s –not affordable,” Mullen told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee March 28.
The one extra ship that the Navy could probably accommodate, Mullen said, would be a T-AKE — a fairly inexpensive, civilian-manned ammunition carrier. That –could be done relatively easily,” he said.
I’m not at all sure how much need for another T-AKE there is, but if it’s truly needed the Navy should jump at the opportunity.
As for some of the rest of the extra cash on the table? I know it won’t help the devastated big shipbuilders or the American shipbuilding supply base in general, but how about another High Speed Vessel and another couple of Sea Fighters?
The uses for this are probably just about endless, particularly if we have 50 of them scattered all over the place.
Pic from Nichols Bros., which built the Sea Fighter.