The U.S. Navy sent Congress an extremely ambitious 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.
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. It was said the optimum size of the fleet is 313 ships, the long-range plan shows a quick growth to 315 in fiscal 2012 and to 330 six years later. The fleet then would begin to shrink again, dropping below 300 by 2020.
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.