The U.S. Navy would have to spend $102 billion per year to build and operate a 355 ship navy, an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has concluded.
The assessment was carried out by the agency after the navy released a new force structure assessment in December 2016 which called for a 355 ship fleet.
CBO estimates that the earliest the navy could achieve its fleet goal would be in 2035, or in about 18 years, provided that it received sufficient funding.
When it comes to shipbuilding costs, the navy would have to spend $26.6 billion (in 2017 dollars) annually over the next 30 years to meet the 355-ship objective. This is more than 60 percent above the average amount the Congress has appropriated for that purpose over the past 30 years and 40 percent more than the amount appropriated for 2016.
The office further said the navy would need to purchase around 329 new ships over 30 years, compared with the 254 ships that would be purchased under the Navy’s 2017 shipbuilding plan. In particular, over the next five years, the Navy would purchase about 12 ships per year under CBO’s alternatives compared with about 8 per year under the Navy’s 2017 plan.
In addition to the costs of building 329 new ships, a larger fleet would cost more to operate: More ships would require more sailors; recruiting and training those sailors would require more civilian and military positions onshore; additional ships would lead to larger maintenance budgets; and those extra ships and crews would consume more fuel and supplies, during both training exercises and deployments, CBO noted.
The $102 billion per year cost to build, crew, and operate a 355-ship fleet would present spending of 13 percent more than the $90 billion needed to build and operate the fleet envisioned in the navy’s 2017 shipbuilding plan.