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By: Thomas Pippen
The Navy can get to President Donald Trump’s promise of 350 ships within “10 to 15 years with a relatively small investment” by maintaining ships better, according to the head of Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy assumes most ships have a 30 to 35-year lifespan, and new ships generally replace the old retiring hulls. By extending each ship’s service for five years, the Navy could reach 350 ships by 2030, not 2045.
“I’ve told the [Chief of Naval Operations] you could easily get five years out of everything that’s got a steel hull, and that you can probably get more,” Naval Sea Systems Commander Vice Adm. Thomas Moore said after a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Thursday, Breaking Defense reports. “If it’s a ship and it’s floating today, we’re taking a look at what it would take to extend the service life.”
Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 cut shipbuilding funds from 2016 levels, and added $9.7 billion for operations and maintenance — far from the massive Navy buildup Trump promised during his campaign. Many decried the budget as barely better than former President Barack Obama’s budgets. (RELATED: Why Trump’s Budget Only Called For One New Ship, Despite Campaign Promises)
The budget calls for building one new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) next year, as the service starts finalizing designs for a new frigate program. The White House later said it would support ordering a second LCS hull in order to sustain both shipyards that build the ship.
Increasing the service-life of each Navy ship to about 40 years would be the equivalent of buying seven or eight new ships, Breaking Defense reported. The Navy is working on a report which breaks down the return on investment in maintenance versus in new ships, Moore said.