Senate Appropriators Fund Ship Repairs, New Ships And Naval Aircraft

Senate appropriators agreed to increase Navy funding by billions to add new ships, new aircraft, and repair damaged destroyers as part of funding bill proposed on Nov. 21.

The appropriations bill, released last week, adds billions beyond the Trump administration’s budget request (Defense Daily, Nov. 21).

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released.

The chairman’s mark notably gives the Navy $673 million to repair and restore the damaged USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62). It also provides $23 million to begin implementing the recommendations in the Navy’s Comprehensive Review of this year’s surface force mishaps (Defense Daily, Nov. 2).

The committee report said this funding is “in order to begin addressing weaknesses identified” in the review, which they were briefed on.

SAC also appropriates $21.8 billion for Navy shipbuilding, $1.4 billion over the administration’s request. This covers 10 new ships: one aircraft carrier, two Virginia-class submarines, two Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyers, two Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), one LX(R)/LPD amphibious transport dock, one Expeditionary Fast Transport (EFT) ship, and one T-AGS oceanographic survey ship.

This is less than amounts allowed in the recently passed FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of $26.2 billion for 14 ships. It notably does not include a third Virginia-class submarine, as the NDAA had, but still increases the submarine program by $175 million over the original budget request.

The appropriations report also does not include a third LCS authorized in the NDAA.

This submarine funding is “for submarine industrial base expansion in support of Navy efforts to implement action plans to improve readiness assessments of critical suppliers for the ORP (Ohio-class replacement program) and [Virginia-class] shipbuilding enterprise.”

Overall, the chairman’s mark fully funds advance procurement activities for both the Ohio-replacement and Virginia-class submarines.

A Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet.  Photo: Boeing.

A Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. Photo: Boeing.

On naval aircraft, the bill provides for billions more than the administration requested. This includes $1 billion for four more F-35Cs, $739 million for 10 F-18 E/F Super Hornets, $400 million for eight MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, and $459 million six Navy and Marine Corps V-22 Ospreys.

This maintains the NDAA’s 10 additional Super Hornets but moderates its additions of six F-35Cs.

The report also provides $129 million over the budget request to help the Navy’s investigation of physiological episodes (PEs) among T-45, F/A-18s, F-22, and F-35 aircraft.

The SAC commended the Navy for conducting a comprehensive review on the PEs, but was concerned it has not yet been able to “pinpoint a specific root cause of the physiological episodes.”





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