The Navy sent Congress a 30-year shipbuilding plan that would reverse the decline in the fleet and build it up from the current 285 ships to 315 in five years and sustain it above that number for more than a decade.
But to make that plan work, the Navy must get its annual ship construction funding up from the proposed fiscal 2007 level of $9.7 billion to $13.5 billion in two years, keep it at that level or higher for decades and get the average cost of its ships down substantially. A number of naval analysts have warned that getting the higher amount of shipbuilding funds that the plan requires and getting a lower cost of ships would be very difficult. The plan was required by the Armed Services committees
, whose members have complained repeatedly over the years of the rapid drop in the size of the combat fleet, from the high of nearly 600 in the early 1990s. The current fleet is the Navy's smallest since just before World War I. To maintain the buildup would require an average annual ship construction account
of $13.5 billion over the decades. The plan sets out the optimum fleet force structure as 11 aircraft carriers
, 88 large surface combatants -- destroyers and cruisers -- 55 of the relatively small Littoral Combat Ships
, 48 attack submarines, 14 ballistic missile submarines, four of the missile boats converted to carry conventional missiles and special operations troops, 31 "expeditionary" vessels, 30 combat logistic ships, 12 Maritime Preposition Force (Future) ships and 20 support vessels. But the plan shows that force rising above those numbers in some classes and falling below in others. The attack submarine force, for example, falls to 40 near the end of the plan. (Source: www.govexec.com)