Navy’s amphibious fleet could fall short of goals, CBO says

None U.S. Navy
The Navy's hopes to grow its fleet of amphibious ships are apt to go unfulfilled during much of the next 30 years, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office report.

The nonpartisan analysis does not factor in the new likelihood of further Pentagon budget cuts.

The Navy currently deploys 29 amphibious warfare ships to carry Marines and equipment into combat and to perform peacetime missions. Under the service's 2012 shipbuilding plan, the amphibious fleet was to rise to 33 over 30 years, at an estimated cost of $50 billion.

But CBO analysts determined that current progress "would not provide enough amphibious ships for the Marine Corps to prepare and train for all of the missions it might be called on to perform over the next three decades."

In projecting the fluctuating size of the amphibious fleet between now and 2041, CBO said the Navy's inventory will reach its goal of 33 ships in only half of those years, from 2017 to 2031. The demand for amphibious ships on routine peaceful missions has risen by 80 percent since 2007, the report said.

Requested by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the report evaluated the Navy commanders' goals expressed in a 2010 exercise that was "fiscally unconstrained" to reflect their needs for fulfilling their mission regardless of the budget situation or current ship deployments. CBO stressed that the Navy is in a position to achieve the goals for its amphibious fleet set in a fiscally constrained exercise in 2007. Meeting the loftier goal from three years later, it added, also would lengthen troop deployments and reduce time in the ships' home ports.

"It is unclear how useful an unconstrained measure of demand is for force planning," wrote Eric J. Labs of CBO's national security division. "Without constraints, the desire for any asset usually exceeds its supply."

The Navy did not have a comment for this story by the time of publication.

William Hartung, a defense specialist at the Center for International Policy, told Government Executive that the report seemed "to acknowledge that cutting back on the Navy's desired ability to project force globally would be manageable. So, if they took that logic a step further, it might allow for actual reductions without substantially undermining the Navy's global reach."

Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the report means "the Navy is going to have to scale back from what it wants to have, to go from wants to real needs." If the current debt ceiling law's across-the-board sequestration cuts take effect at the Pentagon, he added, the spending assumptions would go back to 2007 levels, "which is not unreasonable."

Winslow Wheeler, director of the military reform project at the Center for Defense Information, said, "There is nothing new in any finding that a `fiscally unconstrained' set of requirements leaves any military service short of its desires. The real world operates differently, however; resources are an essential element for putting together any shipbuilding or force deployment plan. The fact that the Navy has failed to include such realities in its planning and is now whining that its desires are not met demonstrates vividly how broken the DoD planning process is."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.