Reports: Navy Eyes Combat Fleet Size of 355 Ships

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The U.S. Navy has unveiled a new shipbuilding plan that seeks to increase the service branch’s battle force fleet to 355 ships within the next three decades, USNI News reported Friday.

Sam LaGrone and Megan Eckstein write the 2016 Force Structure Assessment represents a 47 increase in combat vessels from the targeted fleet size of 308 ships set by the military branch in its 2014 FSA.

The Navy called the 355-ship goal a “minimum force structure” in order to comply with the Defense Department’s strategic guidance.

The new plan calls for the service branch to add 18 attack submarines, 16 large surface combatants, eight additional auxiliary ships, four amphibious assault ships and one more aircraft carrier to the current 308-ship requirement, LaGrone and Eckstein report.

The 2016 FSA would retain the 2012 requirement for small surface combatant vessels such as littoral combat ships and frigates at 52, USNI News added.

Several General Dynamics subsidiaries such as Bath Iron Works, Electric Boat and NASSCO are likely to experience an increase in shipbuilding work if the Navy advances its plan for additional attack submarines, destroyers and support vessels, according to a report by Kevin Miller for Portland Press Herald.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the 2016 FSA seeks to recognize the need for a larger fleet in order to protect the U.S. and its strategic interests, support counterterrorism efforts and deal with threats posed by Russia and China, Miller reported.

Hugh Lessig also reports for Daily Press that a new Congressional Research Service report says a fleet size of 350 ships would require the addition of $4 billion in annual funds to approximately $16.3 billion in shipbuilding budget.

Lessig notes that Huntington Ingalls Industries is another shipbuilder that would likely see a rise in ship construction work under the service branch’s fleet expansion plan.

Beci Brenton, a spokeswoman for HII, said in a statement that the company would leverage its suppliers and production lines to “build the full range of warships that our nation may require,” the report added.

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