New Navy Long Range Shipbuilding Plan Calls for Decommissioning More Cruisers, Littoral Combat Ships

This post will be updated with additional information. The Department of the Navy’s first long-range shipbuilding plan in three years proposes multiple fleet procurement schemes for the Navy and forecasts the service decommissioning two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships in the coming years, according to the document. The Fiscal Year 2023 30-year shipbuilding plan, obtained by […]

Littoral Combat Ship USS Jackson (LCS-6). Austal USA Photo

This post will be updated with additional information.

The Department of the Navy’s first long-range shipbuilding plan in three years proposes multiple fleet procurement schemes for the Navy and forecasts the service decommissioning two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships in the coming years, according to the document.

The Fiscal Year 2023 30-year shipbuilding plan, obtained by USNI News, shows the Navy decommissioning two Independence-class LCS – USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8) – in FY 2024. Jackson entered the fleet in 2015, while Montgomery was commissioned in 2016. Both ships were built by Austal USA.

The Navy also wants to continue decommissioning its aging Ticonderoga-class cruiser fleet, starting with USS Antietam (CG-54), USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and USS Shiloh (CG-67) in FY 2024. Under the proposal, the Navy would decommission the entire cruiser fleet by the end of FY 2027, including the ones that are currently in the cruiser modernization program.

In a departure from recent years, the 30-year blueprint includes three alternatives for ship procurement. The first option would yield an inventory of 316 ships by FY 2052, the second would yield 327 ships by FY 2052 and the third would yield 367 ships by FY 2052. But the document notes that “the ability of the industrial base to support” the third option with the largest fleet size “has not been independently assessed.”

While the proposal forecasts the Navy’s thinking for the next 30 years, the ultimate decision on which ships to purchase and which ships to retire rests with Congress, which has repeatedly criticized the service for decommissioning ships at a faster rate than it can build new ones.

The three procurement scheme options show what ships the Navy could purchase between FY 2028 and FY 2032, a timeframe the service is calling a “transition” period after the FY 2023 five-year spending plan, and between FY 2033 and FY 2052, which the Navy is calling the “future force design” timeframe.

While the first two alternatives only show the Navy buying one Ford-class aircraft carrier between FY 2028 and FY 2032, the third option shows the service purchasing one in FY 2028 and another in FY 2032.

“A decision on CVN 82/83 two-ship buy is required no later than FY25 and will be evaluated during upcoming force structure and industrial base studies,” the document reads. “The Department is reviewing Large and Small Surface Combatant and Attack Submarine procurement quantities in FY2028-2032.”

 

LCS USS Montgomery CO, XO Relieved from Command

The commander and executive officer of the Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery (LCS-8) were relieved on Thursday “due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command,” the Navy announced. Montgomery commander Cmdr. Richard Zamberlan and executive officer Cmdr. Phillip Lundberg were removed from their commands by Capt. Marc Crawford, the commander of Surface […]

Cmdr. Richard Zamberlan, Lt. Cmdr Phillip Lundberg were relieved of their leadership roles aboard USS Montgomery (LCS-12). US Navy Photos

The commander and executive officer of the Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery (LCS-8) were relieved on Thursday “due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command,” the Navy announced.

Montgomery commander Cmdr. Richard Zamberlan and executive officer Cmdr. Phillip Lundberg were removed from their commands by Capt. Marc Crawford, the commander of Surface Division 11.

“Cmdr. Dustin Lonero, from USS Coronado (LCS-4), is assigned as commanding officer until a permanent relief is identified. Zamberlan and Lundberg will be reassigned to commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet,” Naval Surface Force said in a statement.

The service did not detail specifics on the circumstances into the relief, but a Navy official told USNI News on Thursday the removal of Zamberlan and Lundberg stemmed from the handling of a sexual harassment investigation.

Zamberlan had previously commanded LCS USS Omaha (LCS-12) and USS Kansas City (LCS-22). He then transferred to USS Tulsa (LCS-16) Gold Crew on the ship’s first deployment. He was the executive officer of the command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19).

Lundberg had previously served at Task Force 56 in U.S. 5th Fleet, as a department head aboard USS Shoup (DDG-86), Assistant Office-in-Charge of Costal Riverine Squadron 3 detachment Yorktown.

Destroyer USS John S. McCain Performs South China Sea FONOP

A U.S. guided-missile destroyer performed a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea on Tuesday, the Navy announced. USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) operated near the Spratly Islands, which Taiwan, China and Vietnam have all staked a claim to, U.S. 7th Fleet said in a news release. “Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in […]

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) transits through Peter the Great Bay while conducting routine underway operations on Nov. 24, 2020. U.S. Navy Photo

A U.S. guided-missile destroyer performed a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea on Tuesday, the Navy announced.

USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) operated near the Spratly Islands, which Taiwan, China and Vietnam have all staked a claim to, U.S. 7th Fleet said in a news release.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” the Navy said.

Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery (LCS-8) in January of this year performed the first FONOP of 2020 when it sailed through waters near the Spratly Islands, USNI News previously reported.

The Navy has conducted multiple FONOPS in the South China Sea this year, as the U.S. maintains a steady presence in the waters as a hedge against China.

“China, Vietnam, and Taiwan require either permission or advance notification before a foreign military vessel engages in ‘innocent passage’ through the territorial sea. Under international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, the ships of all States –including their warships –enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea,” reads the 7th Fleet statement.
“The unilateral imposition of any authorization or advance-notification requirement for innocent passage is not permitted by international law, so the United States challenged these requirements. By engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notification to or asking permission from any of the claimants, the United States challenged the unlawful restrictions imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.”

Last month, McCain performed a FONOP in the waters near Peter the Great Bay, a gulf off of Russia’s Pacific coast in the Sea of Japan. The Navy at the time refuted a Russian claim that one of its destroyers drove McCain out of the waters.

McCain’s FONOP comes several days after destroyer USS Mustin (DDG-89) moved through the Taiwan Strait. Following Mustin’s transit, China’s new carrier on Sunday performed a transit through the strait while heading to training in the South China Sea, according to a Reuters report.