The FY23 National Defense Authorization Act released by Congress this week recommends adding $4.7 billion to the FY23 budget for Navy shipbuilding programs, which would lift the shipbuilding account to $32.6 billion. That funding would support procurement of 11 battle force ships: three Arleigh Burke class destroyers; two Virginia class submarines; two expeditionary fast transports; one Constellation class frigate; one San Antonio class amphibious ship; one John Lewis class oiler; and one Navajo class towing, salvage, and rescue ship.
The largest change from the request is the inclusion of a third destroyer, which accounts for $2.2 billion of the added funding. The bill also authorizes a multiyear procurement deal for up to 15 destroyers over the next five years. The FY23 request only sought procurement authority for a nine-ship multiyear deal, with an option for a tenth ship. Lawmakers questioned why the Navy only sought nine ships in the initial multiyear deal, and service officials said their approach would provide more flexibility if resources became constrained. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has said industry capacity would need to improve to support procurement of three destroyers per year, and that the DoD needs to send that demand signal to help drive that capacity growth. The bill also adds advance procurement funding for a third destroyer in FY24.
The Navy’s FY23 request sought to end production of the Flight II LPD program after just three ships, rather than build all 13 that were originally planned. The Marine Corps has pushed back against the production cut, and lawmakers appear to be on the Marines’ side for now. The bill adds advance procurement funding to support an LPD in the FY24 budget. Lawmakers have also recommended additional advance procurement funding for the big deck amphibious warship, LHA 10. The previous ship in the class, LHA 9, is funded in the FY23 request after being authorized for construction in FY20. However, the Navy currently doesn’t plan to procure LHA 10 until FY31. That gap creates potential issues with sustaining the production line and supply base. The ship may ultimately be moved to the left, either due to revised construction plans or via congressional mandate.
Further, the legislation establishes a statutory floor of 31 large amphibious warships. To that end, lawmakers have blocked the Navy’s effort to retire four LSD warships that are being replaced by the Flight II LPD. The bill also prevents the Navy from retiring the cruiser CG 69, blocks retirement of five of the nine Freedom class Littoral Combat Ships targeted for early decommission and saves two expeditionary transfer docks.
The defense policy bill authorizes a block buy of eight TAO 205 class oilers and a block buy of 25 LCAC 100 Ship-to-Shore Connectors. The legislation adds two expeditionary fast transport EMS variants, three Ship-to-Shore Connectors, and one barracks craft.