Report to Congress on the History of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay

The following is the Aug. 1, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay: History and Legal Issues Regarding Its Lease Agreements. From the report This report briefly outlines the history of the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, its changing relationship to the surrounding community, and its heightened importance due to military operations […]

The following is the Aug. 1, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay: History and Legal Issues Regarding Its Lease Agreements.

From the report

This report briefly outlines the history of the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, its changing relationship to the surrounding community, and its heightened importance due to military operations in Afghanistan. The report also explains in detail the legal status of the lease of the land on which the naval station stands, the statutory and treaty authorities granted to the President with regard to any potential closure of the naval station, and the effects on such a closure that Cuba sanctions laws might have.

At the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Spanish colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines transitioned to administration by the United States. Of these four territories, only Cuba quickly became an independent republic. As a condition of relinquishing administration, though, the Cuban government agreed to lease three parcels of land to the United States for use as naval or coaling stations. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the sole installation established under that agreement. The two subsequent lease agreements signed in 1903 acknowledged Cuban sovereignty, but granted to the United States “complete jurisdiction and control over” the property so long as it remained occupied.

The prominence of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay rose briefly during the Haitian refugee and Cuban migrant crises of the early 1990s. At one point in late 1994, the migrant population of the naval station approached 45,000. However, by the end of January 1996, the last of these temporary residents had departed.

The naval station’s return to prominence arose due to the establishment of facilities to house a number of wartime detainees captured during military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This practice began in early 2002 with the refurbishment of some of the property formerly used to house refugees and was expanded to more substantial housing that is operated by Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, a tenant for which the naval station provides logistical support. Additional temporary facilities were eventually constructed on a disused naval station airfield for use by the military commissions created to try detainees.

The 1903 lease agreements between the governments of Cuba and the United States are controlled by the language of a 1934 treaty stipulating that the lease can only be modified or abrogated pursuant to an agreement between the United States and Cuba. The territorial limits of the naval station remain as they were in 1934, unless the United States abandons Guantanamo Bay or the two governments reach an agreement to modify its boundaries. While there appears to be no consensus on whether the President can modify the agreement alone, Congress is empowered to alter by statute the effect of the underlying 1934 treaty. There is no current law that would expressly prohibit the negotiation of lease modifications with the existing government of Cuba, but the House of Representatives passed a prohibition on carrying out such a modification without congressional approval as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2017 (P.L. 114-328). This prohibition has been extended in subsequent years through FY2022.

As for “abandoning” the naval station, there appears to be no statutory prohibitions against closing an overseas military installation. Nevertheless, Congress has imposed practical impediments to closing the naval station by, for example, restricting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to foreign countries and banning their transfer to the United States. The existence of various sanctions imposed upon Cuba may also impede closing Naval Station Guantanamo Bay by making it difficult to give or sell any property to the Cuban government.

Download the document here.

Government Accountability Office Study on Navy Multiyear Contracts

The following is ab Aug. 8, 2022, Government Accountability Office report, Navy Should Provide Congress More Complete Information on Budget Request Decisions. Why GAO Did This Study Congressional conferees expressed concern that recent budget requests underfunded critical Navy weapon system programs that were using multiyear procurement authority. They also questioned whether the Navy’s budget requests […]

The following is ab Aug. 8, 2022, Government Accountability Office report, Navy Should Provide Congress More Complete Information on Budget Request Decisions.

Why GAO Did This Study

Congressional conferees expressed concern that recent budget requests underfunded critical Navy weapon system programs that were using multiyear procurement authority. They also questioned whether the Navy’s budget requests in recent years for programs using multiyear procurement accurately reflected the service’s most important priorities.
The conferees included a provision for GAO to review certain activities related to Navy multiyear procurements in recent years. This report addresses (1) the extent to which Navy programs fulfilled their multiyear procurement plans in fiscal years 2021 and 2022; and (2) factors contributing to any budget requests for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 that did not include the multiyear procurement quantities stated in the contracts.

To conduct this assessment, GAO reviewed seven programs with active multiyear procurement contracts in fiscal years 2021–2022. GAO also reviewed relevant legislation, policy, and guidance; reviewed budget and contract information; and interviewed Department of Defense officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making one recommendation to the Department of Defense, that it establish a requirement to ensure that the congressional defense committees receive notification of the rationale for any budget requests that do not fund the procurement quantities stated in multiyear contracts. The Department of the Navy concurred with the recommendation.What GAO Found

The Navy used multiyear procurement—a special method to contract for multiple years of requirements in a single contract—for seven critical weapon system programs in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. This contracting method can save the government money through procurement efficiencies but can include future financial commitments. GAO reviewed the seven programs and found that the budget requests for three programs included quantity reductions when compared to their multiyear contracts or previous Navy plans. This hampered their efforts to meet warfighting needs:

  • DDG 51 destroyers. The budget request for fiscal year 2022 included funds to procure one of the two ships in the program’s multiyear contracts. Instead of requesting funding for the second ship, the Navy requested $33 million to cover the government’s cancellation liability for reducing its procurement to one ship in fiscal year 2022.
  • V-22 aircraft. The budget request for fiscal year 2022 included funds to procure eight of the 11 aircraft in the program’s multiyear contract for the budget year. The Navy used additional aircraft funded but not procured in fiscal year 2021 to offset the reduced request and meet the stated contract quantity for fiscal year 2022.
  • Virginia class submarines. The budget request in fiscal year 2021 included funding for one submarine. This met the multiyear contract quantity but departed from previous multiyear procurement plans, the steady practice of procuring two of the submarines each year, and congressional direction.

Navy officials told GAO that affordability was the primary driver leading to the reduction in quantities requested for DDG 51 and V-22 in the fiscal year 2022 budget. However, GAO found that Department of Defense financial management regulation does not require the Navy to notify the congressional defense committees of its rationale for budget decisions that do not support the procurement quantities stated in multiyear contracts. The lack of such notification can hamper the ability of the committees to oversee programs and make decisions without having to request supplemental information and explanations from the Navy.

The Navy included additional quantities for the DDG 51, V-22, and Virginia class programs in unfunded priorities lists provided to the defense committees. Congress ultimately decided to fund the procurement of additional quantities.

Download the document here.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Aug. 8, 2022

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Aug. 8, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Ships Underway Total Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Aug. 8, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Ships Underway

Total Battle Force Deployed Underway
300
(USS 242, USNS 58)
114
(USS 77, USNS 37)
 81
(65 Deployed, 16 Local)

Ships Deployed by Fleet

2nd Fleet 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
2 8 3 11 28 59 111

In Sasebo, Japan

Seaman Zerquera Amaya, from Savannah, Ga., assigned to USS America (LHA-6), directs line handlers on the phone and distance line during a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) in the East China Sea, on Aug. 3, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) is in port in Sasebo, Japan. The ship was underway briefly in the East China Sea last week and returned to port on Aug. 5.

In the Philippine Sea

Capt. Fred Goldhammer, commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), escorts visitors on the bridge during a tour while underway in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 5, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is in the Philippine Sea.

Carrier Strike Group 5

Aircraft carrier

Cmdr. Nick Cunningham, commanding officer of the ‘Saberhawks’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 flies over USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in an MH-60R Sea Hawk during a change of command ceremony in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 1, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Carrier Air Wing 5

Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Colby Brown, from Rising Sun, Maryland, observes as an E-2D Hawkeye attached to the ‘Tigertails’ of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, prepares for launch on USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in the Philippine Sea, on Aug. 2, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, is embarked aboard Ronald Reagan and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Royal Maces” of VFA-27 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
  • The “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Eagles” of VFA-115 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Dambusters” of VFA-195 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Shadowhawks” of VAQ-141 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Tiger Tails” of VAW-125 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment 5 – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Golden Falcons” of HSC-12 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
  • The “Saberhawks” of HSM-77 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Cruisers

USS Antietam (CG-54) receives supplies from the Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199) while operating in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 2, 2022. US Navy Photo

  • USS Antietam (CG-54), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Destroyer Squadron 15

Destroyer Squadron 15 is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Benfold (DDG-65), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan

Sailors refuel an AH-1Z Viper helicopter assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced) aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on Aug. 7, 2022. US Navy Photo

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is underway in the Philippine Sea.

Tripoli departed Naval Station San Diego, Calif., on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on May 2. The 45,000-ton big-deck amphibious ship has 20 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters embarked to evaluate the Marines’ “lightning carrier” concept. The Navy and Marine Corps are testing Tripoli’s adjunct capability to a carrier strike group, USNI News has reported.

In the Middle Pacific

Sailors assigned to Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial, as seen from Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) on Aug. 5, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise has concluded and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is en route San Diego.

Carrier Strike Group 3

Sailors and embarked guests look out at USS Missouri (BB-63) museum ship from the hangar bay as USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Aug. 5, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has been on patrol since leaving San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 3.

Carrier

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 9

An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Black Knights’ of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, flies over USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on July 30, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Abraham Lincoln and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Black Aces” of VFA-41 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Tophatters” of VFA-14 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Vigilantes” of VFA-151 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Black Knights” of VMFA 314 – Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) flying F-35Cs from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
  • The “Wizards” of VAQ-133 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Wallbangers” of VAW-117 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Chargers” of HSC-14 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Raptors” of HSM-71 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Miguel Aragon, from Buffalo, N.Y., mans a .50 caliber mount aboard USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) on July 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

  • USS Mobile Bay (CG-53), homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 21

Ens. Christiane Mccabe, from Knoxville, N.Y., stands watch on the bridge wing aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG-102) as the ship transits the Pacific Ocean on July 31, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 21 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), homeported at Naval Station San Diego.
  • USS Gridley (DDG-101), homeported at Naval Station Everett, Wash.
  • USS Sampson (DDG-102), homeported at Naval Station Everett.
  • USS Spruance (DDG-111), homeported at Naval Station San Diego.

Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) is underway off the coast of Hawaii after departing Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on July 10.

In the Ionian Sea

Sailors raise a jet blast deflector on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), Aug. 4, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is underway in the Ionian Sea.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has extended the deployment of the Harry S. Truman CSG, its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 1 as a hedge against Russian aggression in Europe.

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since Austin ordered the strike group to remain on station in December as Russia massed forces along the Ukrainian border.

The George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group is expected to relieve the Harry S. Truman CSG in the Mediterranean.

Carrier Strike Group 8

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Shawn Whitford, from San Diego, processes damage control petty officer designation letters aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Aug. 5, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 1

Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Francis Manaog, from Bicol, Philippines, safety checks an E-2D Hawkeye propeller on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Aug. 4, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Harry S. Truman and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Red Rippers” of VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sunliners” of VFA-81 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Rooks” of VAQ-137 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Seahawks” of VAW-126 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Dragon Slayers” of HSC-11 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Proud Warriors” of HSM-72 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Toby Greenie, left, from San Diego and Seaman Ulisses Cotamaldonado, from Tucson, Arizona, give signals to an MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter assigned to the ‘Proud Warriors’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72, on the flight deck of USS San Jacinto (CG-56), in the Mediterranean Sea on July 27, 2022. US Navy Photo

  • USS San Jacinto (CG-56), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 28

USS Cole (DDG-67) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Supply-class fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE-6) in the Mediterranean Sea on July 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 28 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Cole (DDG-67), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Gravely (DDG-107), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Gonzalez (DDG-66), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).

In the Baltic Sea

Pekka Haavisto, the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivers remarks to media during a key leader engagement event aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) in Helsinki, Finland on Aug. 7, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are underway in the Baltic Sea. The ARG includes USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), USS Arlington (LPD-24) and USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44).

According to U.S. 6th Fleet, the ARG “arrived in multiple Baltic Sea ports for scheduled port visits to allied and partner nations, August 5, 2022.”

Kearsarge arrived in Helsinki, Finland; Arlington arrived in Stockholm, Sweden and Gunston Hall pulled into Tallinn, Estonia.

“The ARG-MEU aggregated in the Baltic Sea for the first time on this deployment after passing through the Danish Strait on Aug. 3,” reads a statement from 6th Fleet.
“For Kearsarge and Gunston Hall, this marks a return to the Baltic Sea. Both ships participated in the Estonian-led exercise Siil 22 in May and the annual joint, multinational exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region, in June. The ships also conducted previous port visits in Helsinki, Stockholm, and Tallinn earlier this year.”

Capt. Eric Kellum, right, commanding officer of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD-24), discusses navigational reference points with a Swedish tugboat pilot during a sea and anchor transit to Stockholm, Sweden on Aug. 5, 2022. US Navy Photo

Arlington‘s port visit will be the ship’s first time in the Baltic Sea since deploying from the U.S. East Coast.

“Since arriving in theater, Arlington’s Sailors and Marines have participated in a wide array of bi-lateral and multinational exercises throughout Europe and Africa, including Northern Viking with Iceland, Greece’s exercise Alexander the Great, EFES in Turkey, and African Lion off the coast of Northern Africa,” reads the Navy statement.
“All three ships recently completed near-simultaneous mid-voyage deployment repair (MDVR) and maintenance periods in Brest, France; Rijeka, Croatia; and Copenhagen and Kalundborg, Denmark.”

The ships are back underway today.

USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) enters port in Tallinn, Estonia for a scheduled port visit on Aug. 5, 2022. Estonian Navy Photo

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is based in North Carolina and includes the command element; the aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron, 263 (Reinforced); the ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 2/6; and the logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 26.

The MEU embarked commands with the Kearsarge ARG include Amphibious Squadron Six, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, Naval Beach Group 2 and Beach Master Unit 2.

In the Western Atlantic

Chief Hull Maintenance Technician Lovell Cooper, assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5), and midshipman Second Class Jessie Sedlock, assigned to the United States Naval Academy, test the portable exothermic as part of Readiness Evaluation 7 (READ-E 7), July 27, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are underway in the Western Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

Report to Congress on Columbia-class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program

The following is the July 25, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Navy’s Columbia (SSBN-826) class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program is a program to design and build a class of 12 new SSBNs to replace the Navy’s current […]

The following is the July 25, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy’s Columbia (SSBN-826) class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program is a program to design and build a class of 12 new SSBNs to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 aging Ohio-class SSBNs. Since 2013, the Navy has consistently identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy procured the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021 and wants to procure the second boat in the class in FY2024.

The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests $3,079.2 million (i.e., $3.1 billion) in continued procurement funding for the first Columbia-class boat and $2,778.6 million (i.e., about $2.8 billion) in advance procurement (AP) funding for subsequent boats in the class, for a combined FY2023 procurement and AP funding request of $5,857.8 million (i.e., about $5.9 billion).

The Navy’s FY2023 budget submission estimates the procurement cost of the first Columbia-class boat at $15,179.1 million (i.e., about $15.2 billion) in then-year dollars, including $6,557.6 million (i.e., about $6.6 billion) in costs for plans, meaning (essentially) the detail design/nonrecurring engineering (DD/NRE) costs for the Columbia class. (It is a long-standing Navy budgetary practice to incorporate the DD/NRE costs for a new class of ship into the total procurement cost of the first ship in the class.) Excluding costs for plans, the estimated hands-on construction cost of the first ship is $8,621.5 million (i.e., about $8.6 billion). The Navy’s FY2023 budget submission estimates the total procurement cost of a 12-ship class at $112.7 billion in then-year dollars.

Issues for Congress for the Columbia-class program include the following:

  • the risk—due to technical challenges and/or funding-related issues—of a delay in designing and building the lead Columbia-class boat, which could put at risk the Navy’s ability to have the boat ready for its first scheduled deterrent patrol in 2031, when it is to deploy in the place of the first retiring Ohio-class SSBN;
  • the risk of cost growth in the program;
  • the potential impact of the Columbia-class program on funding that will be available for other Navy programs, including other shipbuilding programs; and
  • potential industrial-base challenges of building both Columbia-class boats and Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs) at the same time.

Download the document here.

Report to Congress on Iran and Nuclear Weapons

The following is the July 25, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Iran and Nuclear Weapons Production. From the report Iran’s nuclear program has generated widespread concern that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons. According to U.S. intelligence assessments, Tehran has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but has halted its nuclear […]

The following is the July 25, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Iran and Nuclear Weapons Production.

From the report

Iran’s nuclear program has generated widespread concern that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons. According to U.S. intelligence assessments, Tehran has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but has halted its nuclear weapons program and has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building such weapons.

Since the early 2000s, Tehran’s construction of gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facilities has been the main source of proliferation concern. Gas centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas at high speeds to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 (u-235) isotope. Such centrifuges can produce both low-enriched uranium (LEU), which can be used in nuclear power reactors, and highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is one of the two types of fissile material used in nuclear weapons. Tehran asserts that its enrichment program is meant to produce fuel for peaceful nuclear reactors.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) requires Iran to implement various restrictions on its nuclear program, as well as to accept specific monitoring and reporting requirements.

Then-President Donald Trump announced in May 2018 that the United States was ending U.S. participation in the JCPOA. Following this decision, Iran stopped implementing much of this agreement, as well as JCPOA-required International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring. Beginning in July 2019, the IAEA verified that some of Iran’s nuclear activities were exceeding JCPOA-mandated limits. Tehran’s subsequent expansion of the country’s enrichment program has decreased the amount of time needed for Iran to produce enough weapons-grade HEU for a nuclear weapon—an action frequently termed “breakout.”

According to official U.S. assessments, Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in late 2003 and has not resumed it. For example, the CIA has no evidence that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i “has made a decision to move to weaponize,” CIA Director William Burns said stated during a December 2021 Wall Street Journal interview. This program’s goal, according to U.S. officials, was to develop an implosion-style nuclear weapon for Iran’s Shahab-3 ballistic missile.

The U.S. government assessed prior to the JCPOA that Tehran had not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon. Apparently confirming persisting gaps in Iran’s nuclear weapons knowledge, the 2022 U.S. Intelligence Community Annual Threat Assessment observes that “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities … necessary to produce a nuclear device.” An April 2022 State Department report contains a similar conclusion.

The JCPOA-mandated restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran-specific monitoring and reporting requirements both supplement Tehran’s obligations pursuant to the government’s comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreement. Such agreements empower the agency to detect the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful purposes, as well as to detect undeclared nuclear activities and material. These agreements also require governments to declare their entire inventory of certain nuclear materials, as well as related facilities. Safeguards include agency inspections and monitoring of declared nuclear facilities.

Prior and subsequent to the JCPOA’s January 2016 implementation, IAEA and U.S. officials expressed confidence in the ability of both the IAEA and the U.S. intelligence community to detect an Iranian breakout attempt using either Tehran’s IAEA-monitored facilities or clandestine facilities.

Download the report here.

Report to Congress on Current, Future Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The following is the July 28, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Current and Potential Programs. From the report Since the dawn of military aviation, the U.S. military has been interested in remotely piloted aircraft. Present-day unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) typically consist of an unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) paired with a ground control […]

The following is the July 28, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Current and Potential Programs.

From the report

Since the dawn of military aviation, the U.S. military has been interested in remotely piloted aircraft. Present-day unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) typically consist of an unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) paired with a ground control station. UAS have become ubiquitous in U.S. military operations since the 1990s with the introduction of the MQ-1 Predator.

The U.S. military currently employs several different large UAS, including

  • the Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle,
  • the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper,
  • the Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray,
  • the Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk,
  • the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton, and
  • the Air Force’s RQ-170 Sentinel.

In addition, several other reported programs are either in development or currently undergoing experimentation. These programs include the Air Force’s B-21 Raider and the Air Force’s RQ-180.

As Congress performs its oversight and authorization functions, it may consider several potential issues associated with UAS programs, including

  • the cost of manned versus unmanned aircraft,
  • a lack of acknowledged follow-on programs of record,
  • the management of UAS acquisitions across the Department of Defense,
  • the interoperation of UAS with existing force structure, and
  • export controls of UAS abroad.

Download the document here.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Aug. 1, 2022

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Aug. 1, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Ships Underway Total Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Aug. 1, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Ships Underway

Total Battle Force Deployed Underway
300
(USS 242, USNS 58)
111
(USS 73, USNS 38)
 88
(69 Deployed, 19 Local)

Ships Deployed by Fleet

2nd Fleet 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
0 9 3 13 29 57 111

In the Philippine Sea

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) conducts an archipelagic sea lane passage through the San Bernardino Strait, on July 30, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) got underway from Singapore on July 26, sailed through the South China Sea and is now in the Philippine Sea.

Carrier Strike Group 5

Quartermaster 2nd Class Kevin Fernandez, from Dover, New Jersey, stands watch aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) during an archipelagic sea lane passage through the San Bernardino Strait on July 30, 2022. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Carrier Air Wing 5

An F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the ‘Royal Maces’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27, and an E-2D Hawkeye attached to the ‘Tigertails’ of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, launch from the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, is embarked aboard Ronald Reagan and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Royal Maces” of VFA-27 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
  • The “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Eagles” of VFA-115 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Dambusters” of VFA-195 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Shadowhawks” of VAQ-141 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Tiger Tails” of VAW-125 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment 5 – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Golden Falcons” of HSC-12 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
  • The “Saberhawks” of HSM-77 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Cruisers

Sailors aboard USS Antietam (CG-54) prepare to moor at Sembawang Naval Base on July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

  • USS Antietam (CG-54), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Destroyer Squadron 15

Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class Benjamin Proyaseng, left, from St. Louis, simulates a class-B fire during a firefighting drill on the flight deck aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) July 15, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 15 is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and is embarked on the carrier. Destroyers from Destroyer Squadron 15 are also assigned to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group. USS Benfold (DDG-65) recently transited through the Taiwan Strait and performed a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea, USNI News reported.

  • USS Benfold (DDG-65), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft assigned to Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 121 launches from the flight deck aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on July 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is underway in the Philippine Sea as is USS America (LHA-6).

Tripoli departed Naval Station San Diego, Calif., on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on May 2. The 45,000-ton big-deck amphibious ship has 20 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters embarked to evaluate the Marines’ “lightning carrier” concept. The Navy and Marine Corps are testing Tripoli’s adjunct capability to a carrier strike group, USNI News has reported.

In the Middle Pacific

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is in Hawaii participating in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise. The participating ships took a group photo this past week.

“Twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 170 aircraft and approximately 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 29 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California,” according to the Navy.

Ships Participating in RIMPAC 2022:

Australia

  • Landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02)
  • Frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152)
  • Replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195)

Canada

  • Frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331)
  • Frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338)

Chile

  • Frigate CNS Almirante Lynch (FF07)

France

  • Frigate FS Prairial (F731)

India

  • Frigate INS Satpura (F48)

Indonesia

  • Frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332)

Japan

  • Helicopter Destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183)
  • Destroyer JS Takanami ((DD-110)

Malaysia

  • Corvette KD Lekir (FSG26)

Mexico

  • Frigate ARM Juárez (POLA-101)
  • Landing ship tank ARM Usumacinta (A412)

New Zealand

  • Replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoa (A11)

Peru

  • Corvette BAP Guise (CC-28)

The Philippines

  • Frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151)

Republic of Korea

  • Landing helicopter platform ROKS Marado (LPH-6112)
  • Destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991)
  • Destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976)
  • Attack submarine ROKS Shin Dol-seok (SS-082)

Singapore

  • Frigate RSS Intrepid (69)

U.S.

  • USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN‑72)
  • USS Essex (LHD‑2)
  • USS Fitzgerald (DDG‑62)
  • USS Mobile Bay (CG‑53)
  • USS Gridley (DDG‑101)
  • USS Michael Monsoor (DDG‑1001)
  • USS Sampson (DDG‑102)
  • USS Spruance (DDG‑111)
  • USS William P. Lawrence (DDG‑110)
  • USS Chafee (DDG‑90)
  • USS Tulsa (LCS-16)
  • USNS Grasp (T‑ARS‑51)
  • USS Charlotte (SSN‑766)
  • USS Topeka (SSN‑754)
  • USCGC Midgett (WMSL)
  • USNS Washington Chambers (T‑AKE‑11)
  • USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T‑AO‑187)
  • USNS Pecos (T‑AO‑197)
  • USV Nomad
  • USV Ranger
  • USV Sea Hawk
  • USV Sea Hunter
    Operating off California
  • USS Portland (LPD-27)

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH 183) and U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) sail in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28. US Navy Photo

Countries participating include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Countries not represented by ships at the exercise will be represented by ground elements, along with participation either in the various combined command and staff groups or as observers.

Four countries – Australia, India, Japan and South Korea – have confirmed that their fixed wing aircraft will join, with two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), an Indian Navy P-8I MPA, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) P-1 MPA and a Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) P-3 Orion MPA participating.

Large unmanned surface vessel Nomad arrives at Pearl Harbor to participate in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 on June 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

In addition to the manned ships, “four prototype unmanned surface vessels are participating in the Rim of the Pacific 2022. PMS 406, the office responsible for the participating RIMPAC prototypes, is a program office within the Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC). The PMS 406 assets participating in RIMPAC are the Overlord Unmanned Surface Vehicles called Nomad and Ranger and the Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicles called Sea Hunter and Seahawk. Though primarily operated and maintained under the control of PMS 406, personnel from Unmanned Surface Vessel Division One within Surface Development Squadron One control much of the practical execution,” according to the Navy.

Carrier Strike Group 3

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) sails in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, on patrol since leaving San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 3.

Carrier

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 9

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) sails in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Abraham Lincoln and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Black Aces” of VFA-41 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Tophatters” of VFA-14 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Vigilantes” of VFA-151 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Black Knights” of VMFA 314 – Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) flying F-35Cs from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
  • The “Wizards” of VAQ-133 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Wallbangers” of VAW-117 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Chargers” of HSC-14 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Raptors” of HSM-71 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) sails in formation during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

  • USS Mobile Bay (CG-53), homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 21

USS Spruance (DDG-111) sails in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 21 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), homeported at Naval Station San Diego.
  • USS Gridley (DDG-101), homeported at Naval Station Everett, Wash.
  • USS Sampson (DDG-102), homeported at Naval Station Everett.
  • USS Spruance (DDG-111), homeported at Naval Station San Diego.

Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) is underway off the coast of Hawaii after departing Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on July 10.

In the Ionian Sea

Landing signal officers signal an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the ‘Fighting Checkmates’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on July 30, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is underway in the Ionian Sea.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has extended the deployment of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 1 as a hedge against Russian aggression in Europe.

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since Austin ordered the strike group to remain on station in December as Russia massed forces along the Ukrainian border.

One defense official told USNI News the carrier could remain in the region until August before returning to its homeport in Norfolk, Va. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is expected to be relieved in the Mediterranean by the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group.

Carrier Strike Group 8

Carrier

Sailors pull in a phone-and-distance line on the flight deck the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) during a replenishment-at-sea with the Fast Combat Support Ship USNS Supply (T-AOE-6) on July 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 1

Sailors prepare to connect stores to an MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter, assigned to the ‘Dragonslayers’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11, on the flight deck the of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on July 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Harry S. Truman and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Red Rippers” of VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sunliners” of VFA-81 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Rooks” of VAQ-137 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Seahawks” of VAW-126 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Dragon Slayers” of HSC-11 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Proud Warriors” of HSM-72 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

USS San Jacinto (CG-56) transits alongside the fleet combat supply ship USNS Supply (T-AOE-6) in the Mediterranean Sea on July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

  • USS San Jacinto (CG-56), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 28

Italian Navy Bergamini-class guided-missile FREMM frigate ITS Alpino (F 594), left, and Hellenic Navy Elli-class frigate HS Kountouriotis (F 462) sail in formation with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG-67) in the Mediterranean Sea on July 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 28 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Cole (DDG-67), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Gravely (DDG-107), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Gonzalez (DDG-66), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).

In the North Sea

Marine Corps Sgt. Andrew Schumann, left, and Lance Cpl. Ryan Helm, right, attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD-24), stand watch on the bridgewing during a Strait of Gibraltar transit, July 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are underway in the North Sea.

The ARG includes USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), USS Arlington (LPD-24) and USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44). Arlington transited the Strait of Gibraltar on July 26, 2022.

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is based in North Carolina and includes the command element; the aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron, 263 (Reinforced); the ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 2/6; and the logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 26.

The MEU embarked commands with the Kearsarge ARG include Amphibious Squadron Six, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, Naval Beach Group 2 and Beach Master Unit 2.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

Report to Congress on Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense

The following is the July 26, 2022, Congressional Research Service report Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for […]

The following is the July 26, 2022, Congressional Research Service report Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. BMD-capable Aegis ships operate in European waters to defend Europe from potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as Iran, and in in the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf to provide regional defense against potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as North Korea and Iran. The number of BMD-capable Aegis ships has been growing over time. MDA’s FY2023 budget submission states that “by the end of FY 2023 there will be 50 total BMDS [BMD Systems] capable [Aegis] ships requiring maintenance support.”

The Aegis BMD program is funded mostly through MDA’s budget. The Navy’s budget provides additional funding for BMD-related efforts. MDA’s proposed FY2023 budget requests a total of $1,659.1 million (i.e., about $1.7 billion) in procurement and research and development funding for Aegis BMD efforts, including funding for two Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania. MDA’s budget also includes operations and maintenance (O&M) and military construction (MilCon) funding for the Aegis BMD program.

Issues for Congress regarding the Aegis BMD program include the following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify MDA’s annual procurement and research and development funding requests for the program;
  • the adequacy of MDA’s cost estimating and its reporting of costs;
  • what role the Aegis BMD program should play in defending the U.S. homeland against attack from ICBMs;
  • required versus available numbers of BMD-capable Aegis ships;
  • the burden that BMD operations may be placing on the Navy’s fleet of Aegis ships, and whether there are alternative ways to perform BMD missions now performed by U.S. Navy Aegis ships, such as establishing additional Aegis Ashore sites;
  • allied burden sharing—how allied contributions to regional BMD capabilities and operations compare to U.S. naval contributions to overseas regional BMD capabilities and operations;
  • the role of the Aegis BMD program in a new missile defense system architecture for Guam;
  • whether to convert the Aegis test facility in Hawaii into an operational land-based Aegis BMD site;
  • the potential for ship-based lasers to contribute in coming years to Navy terminal-phase BMD operations and the impact this might eventually have on required numbers of ship-based BMD interceptor missiles; and
  • technical risk and test and evaluation issues in the Aegis BMD program.

Download the document here.

Report on Virginia-class Attack Submarine Program

The following is the July 27, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998, and a total of 36 have been procured through FY2022. Since FY2011, Virginia-class boats have […]

The following is the July 27, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998, and a total of 36 have been procured through FY2022. Since FY2011, Virginia-class boats have been procured at a rate of two per year. Virginia-class boats scheduled for procurement in FY2019-FY2023 are being procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract.

The Virginia-class design has been updated multiple times since FY1998. Most Virginia-class boats procured in FY2019 and subsequent years are to be built with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), an additional, 84-foot-long, mid-body section equipped with four large-diameter, vertical launch tubes for storing and launching additional Tomahawk missiles or other payloads. When procured at a rate of two boats per year, VPM-equipped Virginia-class SSNs have an estimated procurement cost of about $3.6 billion per boat.

The Navy’s proposed budget requests the procurement of the 37th and 38th Virginia-class boats. The two boats have an estimated combined procurement cost of $7,250.6 million (i.e., about $7.3 billion). The two boats have received $1,938.3 million in prior-year “regular” advance procurement (AP) funding, and $778.1 million in Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding, which is an additional kind of AP funding that can occur under an MYP contract. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests the remaining $4,534.2 million needed to complete the two boats’ estimated combined procurement cost of $7,250.6 million. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget also requests $2,025.7 million in AP funding for Virginia-class boats to be procured in one or more future years, bringing the total amount of FY023 procurement and AP funding requested for the procurement of Virginia-class boats in FY2023 and subsequent years to $6,559.8 million (i.e., about $6.6 billion). The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget additionally requests $304.5 million in cost-to-complete funding to cover cost growth on Virginia-class boats procured in prior years.

The Navy’s current force-level goal, which was released in December 2016, calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 manned ships, including 66 SSNs. The Navy and the Office of the Secretary Defense have been working since 2019 to develop a successor Navy force-level goal to replace the 355-goal of 2016. Studies of this emerging force-level goal that have been released by the Navy in summary form suggest that the new force-level goal could call for achieving and maintaining a force of 66 to 72 SSNs.

The Navy’s FY2023 five-year (FY2023-FY2027) shipbuilding plan includes a total of 10 Virginia-class boats, to be procured at a rate of two per year. The Navy’s FY2023

Download the document here.

Report to Congress on Navy Force Structure

The following is the July 26, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the […]

The following is the July 26, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the U.S. shipbuilding industry to execute the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years.

In December 2016, the Navy released a force-structure goal that calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. The 355-ship goal was made U.S. policy by Section 1025 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017). The 355-ship goal predates the Trump and Biden Administrations’ national defense strategies and does not reflect the new fleet architecture (i.e., new mix of ships) that the Navy wants to shift toward in coming years. This new fleet architecture is to feature a smaller proportion of larger ships, a larger proportion of smaller ships, and a new third element of large unmanned vehicles (UVs). The Navy and the Department of Defense (DOD) have been working since 2019 to develop a successor for the 355-ship force-level goal that would reflect current national defense strategy and the new fleet architecture.

The Navy’s FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan, released on April 20, 2022, presents the results of three studies on possibilities for the Navy’s successor force-level goal. These studies call for a future Navy with 321 to 404 manned ships and 45 to 204 large UVs. A long-range Navy shipbuilding document that the Navy released on June 17, 2021, and which reflects some of these studies, outlined a future Navy that would include 321 to 372 manned ships and 77 to 140 large UVs. A congressionally mandated Battle Force Ship Assessment and Requirement (BFSAR) report that reportedly was provided to Congress in July 2022 reportedly calls for a Navy with 373 battle force ships.

The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests $27.9 billion in shipbuilding funding for, among other things, the procurement of eight new ships, including two Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines, two Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers, one Constellation (FFG-62) class frigate, one LPD-17 Flight II class amphibious ship, one John Lewis (TAO-205) class oiler, and one Navajo (TATS-6) class towing, salvage, and rescue ship. The Navy’s FY2023 budget submission shows a ninth ship—the amphibious assault ship LHA-9—as also being requested for procurement in FY2023. Consistent with both prior-year congressional authorization and appropriation action and Section 126 of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283 of January 1, 2021), CRS reports on Navy shipbuilding programs, including this report, treat LHA-9 as a ship that Congress procured (i.e., authorized and provided procurement—not advance procurement [AP]—funding for) in FY2021. Navy officials have described the listing of LHA-9 in the Navy’s FY2023 budget submission as a ship being requested for procurement in FY2023 as an oversight. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget also proposes retiring 24 ships, including 9 relatively young Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs).

The FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan released on April 20, 2022, includes three potential 30-year shipbuilding profiles and resulting 30-year force-level projections, referred to as Alternatives 1, 2, and 3. Alternatives 1 and 2 assume no real (i.e., above-inflation) growth in shipbuilding funding beyond the level to be attained over the five-year period FY2023-FY2027, while Alternative 3 assumes some amount of real growth in shipbuilding funds after FY2027. Under Alternative 1, the Navy would reach 300 manned ships in FY2035 and grow to 316 manned ships by FY2052. Under Alternative 2, the Navy would reach 300 manned ships in FY2035 and grow to 327 manned ships by FY2052. Under Alternative 3, the Navy would reach 300 manned ships in FY2033 and grow to 367 manned ships by FY2052.

Download the document here.