The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), and USS Barry (DDG 52) maneuver near the USS Stethem (DDG 63) during a surface exercise in waters south of Japan on Feb. 27, 2017. The destroyers eventually sailed to Guam to participate in the Multisail 2017 exercise with Japanese forces. US Navy Photo WASHINGTON NAVY YARD – The upcoming Fiscal Year 2019 budget request will begin to reveal the Navy’s plans for building up the fleet – both through new shipbuilding investments and through a plan to keep current surface ships in service longer, the head of Naval Sea Systems Command told USNI News in an interview.
Reaching 355 ships, the requirement laid out by the Navy in December 2016, “is a primary focus of the Navy,” NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. Tom Moore told USNI News.
“We’re having ongoing discussions about how we’re going to do this. I think you’ll see the budget that comes out for ‘19 is going to significantly add to shipbuilding, and you’ll see that we’re leaning forward on the looking at what we can do to SLEP (service life extension program) some ships and also make the necessary investments in the shipyards. It’s really an integrated plan,” Moore said in a Dec. 18 interview at Washington Navy Yard.
Moore said the Navy began studying what it would take to build to 355 ships when President Donald Trump was elected and expressed early support for that larger fleet. New construction alone would take into the 2040s, Moore said, which doesn’t help the Navy address urgent needs around the globe today. He said the service has spent the last six months studying SLEPs for current surface ships, as well as other options, and said a SLEP for some destroyers and amphibious ships is “technically feasible.”
“Both the secretary of the Navy and the [chief of naval operations] are very interested in a program that would extend the service life of the DDGs in particular. It has great interest from the Hill as well. I think we’ve come through the technical hurdles and it’s just at this point, like everything else, it’s balancing everything else we want to get done in the budget. But I think, like I said, when the ‘19 budget comes out I think you’ll see some things that will tell you we’re ready to make an initial investment in some of these ships to keep them around a little bit longer,” Moore said.
“Without getting way too far in front of Navy leadership here, it’s got to be part of our overall strategy to get to 355. It’s the only way you can get there – instead of getting there in 30 years, it’s the only way you can get there in say maybe 10 to 15 years. So I think that’s something we really want to go look at.” Vice Adm. Thomas J. Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, delivers remarks during an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay for […]