Construction contracts have been given for the two lead Zumwalt-class ships, but the program is in serious trouble.
The Navy has advertised the first two ships as costing $3.3 billion each to build, although subsequent hulls will be cheaper. Labs now thinks $5 billion is more likely, with higher figures possible.
The Navy is asking for money to buy the third DDG 1000 in the 2009 budget, but support for the seven-ship DDG 1000 program already is waning. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the powerful House Appropriations defense subcommittee, announced Feb. 27 he is considering delaying the destroyer in order to buy other ships, including an LPD 17-class amphibious ship and two more T-AKE ammunition ships.
In Navy posture hearings over the past few weeks, the possibility of delaying or canceling the DDG 1000 program has been routinely discussed. No lawmaker has stood to support the program on its merits – only for the shipbuilding work it represents.
A big part of the problem is that the Nave seems to want to live in imaginary land when talking budgets.
Lawmakers have seen so many big differences between the Navy’s funding requests and its actual outlays that many of them no longer take the Navy’s numbers seriously.
Some members are placing more stock on the cost estimates provided by CBO than by the Navy, O’Rourke said, and he referenced a comment March 14 by Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., who called the Navy’s estimates for its shipbuilding plan “pure fantasy.”
In February, the Navy revised its annual shipbuilding budget requirements from $14.4 billion to $23 billion per year over 30 years. That means they had previously undershot by about 60%.
Last year’s plan showed the Navy buying 60 ships from 2009 to 2013 at a cost of $75 billion. Now the plan is to buy 47 ships for nearly the same amount, $74 billion.
And has anyone seen any evidence anywhere that today’s projections are really any more realistic than yesterday’s?