An Analysis of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2022 Shipbuilding Plan
CBO estimates that the Navy’s total shipbuilding budget would average between $25 billion and $33 billion (in 2021 dollars) per year through 2052 to build a force of between 398 and 512 manned ships and unmanned vessels.
In June 2021, the Department of Defense submitted to the Congress the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan for fiscal year 2022. The Congressional Budget Office is required by law to analyze that plan and assess its costs. The agency’s assessment is the subject of this report. In its 2022 plan, the Navy provided less information than it has in most previous plans; CBO’s analysis was limited to the information that the Navy provided.
Fleet Size. Under the 2022 plan, the Navy’s fleet would grow from 296 manned ships today to between 398 and 512 manned ships and unmanned vessels at some unspecified date in the future. The number of manned ships would increase to between 321 and 372, and the inventory of unmanned surface and undersea vessels would rise from just a few prototypes today to between 77 and 140.
Cost. CBO estimates that the cost of shipbuilding for a fleet of 398 to 512 manned ships and unmanned vessels as envisioned in the 2022 plan would be about $25 billion to $33 billion (in 2021 dollars) per year, over 30 years, compared with an average of about $23 billion per year over the past five years.
Missile Capacity. A key implication of the Navy’s plan is that it would reduce the number of vertical launch system (VLS) cells, which provide the main missile capability on surface ships, but increase the number of manned ships and unmanned vessels capable of carrying them. The size of the reduction could be as little as a few hundred missiles or as many as a few thousand depending on the number of ships and unmanned systems in the future fleet and their capacity for carrying missiles. The number of ships and vessels capable of carrying missiles, however, could increase by nearly 70 percent, posing a much harder targeting problem for an opposing fleet.