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Hope for US Shipbuilders

      11/15/2005

The future of US Navy shipbuilding will hinge on a series of high-level studies and budget negotiations taking place behind closed doors at the Pentagon, with decisions expected in the next several months about the future of the military's priciest sea platforms. The Navy's shipbuilding programs have been a perennial target of Pentagon-endorsed budget cuts in recent years, with the number of ships built annually on a rapid and steady decline since the 1980s. The fiscal 2007 budget is expected to be no different, with ships likely to be among those programs targeted for as much as $15 billion in Pentagon-wide budget cuts, part of an effort to control government spending and trim the deficit.

But the shipbuilding industry appears hopeful that the Navy's new top officer, Adm. Michael Mullen, will shield ships from the same drastic cuts proposed by the Pentagon in a December 2004 document that recommended cutting the aircraft carrier fleet and slashed purchases of the DD(X) destroyer, among other programs. Mullen's plans for the Navy are expected in a highly anticipated study detailing the precise mix and numbers of ships he wants in his fleet. The plan also is expected to inject stability into shipbuilding accounts, which have been erratic in recent years. The study is due out sometime in the next several months, in conjunction with the department-wide Quadrennial Defense Review, a sweeping look at military plans, capabilities and strategies. The Pentagon requested $8.7 billion for shipbuilding in fiscal 2006. House appropriators increased that to $9.6 billion, while the Senate set aside $8.7 billion.


Read the full article published in GovExec.com (by National Journal Group Inc.)  







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