The US Navy is now building towards a fleet goal of 308 ships, according to the latest 30-year shipbuilding plan — a small evolution from the previously-cited 306-ship target. The two ships added to the fleet total are a 12th LPD 17-class amphibious transport dock and a third Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB).
The addition of the LPD and AFSB to the fleet objectives mean the number of amphibious warfare ships has grown from 33 to 34 ships, along with the same growth in the number of support vessels — 33 to 34 ships.
The changes are detailed in the annual 30-year shipbuilding report — formally called the “annual long-range plan for construction of naval vessels” — that was sent to Congress April 2. Prepared by the Navy, the report was signed out to Congress by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.
In the report, the Navy continues to take issue with Congress’ prohibition in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of counting deployed patrol coastal (PC) ships as part of the battle force. “The Navy does not agree with the current NDAA language,” the report says, noting that the PCs fulfill specific Congressional requirements for what constitutes a combatant vessel. The prohibition to counting the PCs, the Navy said, is a contradiction to Congress’ own language.
Nevertheless, the Navy has returned to the same ship-counting methodology used in the FY 2014 report, removing 10 deployed PCs and the fleet’s two hospital ships from the battle force computations.