The Navy and OMB are locked in discussions over the Navy’s goal of a 355-ship fleet. With the changing nature of warfare, the role of large surface ships is being challenged. Bryan Clark, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, says that both OMB and Congress want to see a roadmap for the future of the fleet.
“They are going to want an explanation from the Navy as to what the surface fleet architecture needs to look like to deliver on those operational concepts. The Navy has not done a great job explaining itself,” Clark said. Last year, there was a big disagreement between the Navy and Congress about large, unmanned surface vehicles. The Navy intended to use those to do the missile launches that would be needed to have the surface fleet replace the carrier strike group as the way we deliver strikes to overseas targets. Congress didn’t agree with that. They thought the large unmanned surface vehicle concept didn’t make sense. it was a big expensive ship without any people on it, it was vulnerable and didn’t have much use in peacetime as the congress was hoping they’d get out of a ship that cost a couple hundred million. The Navy is having to go back to the drawing board to come up with a better discussion about what that ship is supposed to do and how they will provide that capability.