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NAVSEA analysis: Ship service life extensions could cost Navy $203B through FY-47


A Navy analysis completed last year and sent to Congress in June states the total cost of extending nearly a dozen ship classes between five and 15 years could incur an estimated bill of $203 billion through fiscal year 2047, according to a Congressional Research Service report.


In June, multiple media outlets reported on an internal Navy memo signed by Naval Sea Systems Command chief Vice Adm. Thomas Moore and addressed to Vice Adm. William Merz, the service's top requirements officer. That memo outlined how many years the Navy believed it could extend nearly a dozen ship classes in pursuit of a 355-ship fleet.


Left out of Moore's memo, but recently transmitted to Congress, the Navy's analysis calculated rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimates for each of the potential life extensions based on a 2017 NAVSEA study. If the service pursued extending every ship outlined in its report, the Navy stands to foot a $203 billion bill (not adjusted for inflation) through FY-47, according to the July 6 CRS report originally obtained by Secrecy News.


The NAVSEA report was mandated by the FY-18 National Defense Authorization Act.


NAVSEA broke down estimates into two phases. Phase I is the maintenance and associated costs of extending the ships' expected service lives. Phase II is a "refined ROM estimate to extend these ship classes to their [maximum service life] including further assessments of the following cost areas: availability timeline and material readiness; combat system capability/C4I requirements; and manpower/infrastructure requirements," the document states.


MSL is the maximum life that could be achieved after a ship receives an additional docking near the end of its original expected service life, the document adds. The cost estimates the Navy provided to Congress are based on the service pursuing the "MSL" and are calculated in FY-17 constant dollars.


Most notably, the document includes the cost of extending the lives of Flights I/II and Flight IIA of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which the Navy has already publicly declared will now have 45-year service lives. All things considered, extending the life of Flight I/II destroyers is estimated to cost $32 billion. The more recent destroyers, Flight IIA, would cost roughly $10 billion, according to NAVSEA's analysis.


While the Navy's stated goal for destroyer extensions is 45 years, NAVSEA predicted the maximum service life for those ships is between 43 and 50 years.

The second most expensive ship class on the list is the Ticonderoga-class (CG-47) cruisers. The expected service life for those ships is 35 years, and NAVSEA determined the service life extension range is between 42-52 years. That extension would cost the service $22 billion.

The Navy's amphibious assault ships have an expected service life of 40 years, with maximum lives of up to 53 years and 49 years depending on the ship variant -- LHD and LHA, respectively. Collectively, those ships are expected to cost $14 billion if they were extended to MSL.


Meanwhile the Navy's small-deck amphibious ships -- dock landing ships (LSD) and amphibious transport dock (LPD) -- would cost $12 billion for LSDs and $800 million for LPDs, according to NAVSEA.


Littoral Combat Ships have an expected service life of 25 years, with a potential life of between 32-35 years. That extra time would run the Navy approximately $14 billion.


Lastly, the Navy's Combat Logistics Force ships -- oilers, supply ships and dry cargo ships -- would each cost under $10 billion per ship class for a maximum service life extension.


The chart also accounts for a "fleet cost" that is estimated to be $19 billion.

Further, the document provides several notes about the constraints of the cost estimates.


"This analysis assumes [service life extension program] maintenance is conducted during the final planned docking of the candidate ship, and then projects the service life to a new MSL based upon the SLEP improvements or next scheduled docking, whichever is more limiting," the document states.


Actually extending the service lives of any of these ships would have other costs not included in NAVSEA's figures. The Navy is currently analyzing the "total ownership costs across all accounts for all ships, including in-service, SLEs, and new construction," the document states.


"Extending the service life of ships previously slated for inactivation, and doing so near-term, even though seemingly the right warfighting decision, creates an immediate, unaccounted for resourcing burden on the sustainment accounts that may be crippling to other capability investments," the document states.

Those figures are expected in future shipbuilding plans.

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