The Navy is proposing construction cutbacks and accelerated ship retirements that would delay, or sink, the Navy's goal of a larger fleet—and potentially hurt shipyards, according to an initial proposal. The proposal would shrink the size of the fleet from today’s level of 293 ships to 287 ships, a far cry from the official goal of 355 ships established in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. According to a defense official, budget negotiations are ongoing and no final decisions have been made, the AP reports. But the Navy is looking at a number of ways to cut costs to fund other priorities, the official said. One of the proposed cuts would reduce the number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers planned for construction from 12 to seven over the next five years, trimming $94 billion, the official said.
Another potential cut would decommission Ticonderoga-class cruisers more quickly over the next five years, leaving nine in the fleet, rather than 13. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss preliminary budget planning discussions that have not been made public. "Either option runs counter to the Navy’s stated requirement for a 355-ship fleet, and would not be well received on Capitol Hill given there's still consensus that the military and strategic threat from Russia and China is only increasing," says a naval analyst. The proposed cost cutting comes as the Navy works to modernize its ballistic missile submarine fleet, replacing aging current Ohio-class subs with new Columbia-class nuclear subs. That program is putting pressure on the shipbuilding budget.
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