Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen submitted his long-range shipbuilding plan to Congress Feb. 7, designed to grow the fleet to about 313 ships – up from 281 today.
“We need a fleet for the future which is balanced in many capabilities,” Mullen told reporters at the Pentagon. His plan will meet the requirements of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and reverse the recent trend of shrinking the fleet.
“We’re at 281 ships today and it’s my view we need to turn that around with the embedded capabilities that we’ve looked at,” he said.
The Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan is required by law and accompanied the Navy’s FY'07 Budget submission to Congress. It supports the new emphasis on expeditionary and conventional warfighting missions expressed in the QDR. The QDR was submitted to Congress Feb. 3.
The plan is also designed to stabilize the Navy’s shipbuilding future for warfighting Sailors and industry partners. Building a fleet for the future is one of Mullen’s top three priorities, which also include sustaining current readiness and developing 21st Century leaders
. Shipbuilding, he said, is one of the most daunting challenges the Navy faces today.
Endorsed by the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy, the plan supports the Navy’s continuing trend toward modernization and a larger force than the one currently deployed around the globe to win the global war on terrorism, respond to humanitarian crises, and deter future competitors in the maritime domain.
Highlights of the plan call for a fleet of 11 carriers starting this year, and populating the fleet with 15 Littoral Combat Ships and 113 Surface Combatants by FY'11. The first LCS
is scheduled to be christened this fall and commission early in 2007.
“I have got to invest the resources, stabilize the plan, and in my expectations for industry, establish it,” Mullen said. “[We must] support a strategic partnership between the Hill, industry and ourselves.”
Mullen also responded to questions regarding the Navy’s increasing role in Iraq and new missions, including taking command of Joint Task Force Horn Of Africa (JTF-HOA), assuming responsibility for detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the establishment of the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command with it’s related missions, increased demand for Special Operations Forces, and the creation of a Foreign Area Officer community.
“Basically you take skill sets that we have to assist, take the talent that we have to assist in what’s going on over there, and to look at it really from as joint a perspective as we can,” Mullen said about the Navy
’s expanding roles and missions. “It’s very clear that the ground forces have been in a very tough rotation over the last several years, and if we can pitch in and help relieve some of that we’re going to.”
By Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs