Navy Boosts Target Fleet Size to 355. What is the CG Target?

The Coast Guard might learn something from the way the Navy plows the ground ahead of their budget requests. The Navy creates a “Force Structure Assessment” and from this, they derive a 30 year ship building plan. the Coast Guard has neither.

The nearest thing the Coast Guard has had to a “Force Structure Assessment” (FSA) is the now seven year old, one time, Offshore and Aviation Fleet Mix Study.

Rather than a 30 year shipbuilding plan, the Coast Guard has only the now 10 year old, “program of record” that came out of the Deepwater program updated after 9/11 and a five year budget projection which is not statement of future requirements, rather it is a statement of what the administration thinks they will ask for. In short there is no comprehensive spending plan.

The Navy has announced their 2016 Force Structure Assessment only two year after the previous FSA. It adds 47 ships to the 308 that had been included in the 2014 FSA.

The new total adds 16 large surface combatants (cruisers or destroyers), 18 attack submarines and an additional carrier over the 2014 plan. There was no increase in the number of Small Surface Combattants (LCS and frigates), but they did maintain the previous requirement at 52 despite SecDef’s instruction to limit them to 40. Perhaps we will see some of them in the East Pacific transit zone.

Also of potential importance to the Coast Guard is that they want six Expeditionary Support Base (formerly called the Afloat Forward Staging Base).  Assuming they will put one in SOUTHCOM’s AOR, it might be used as a mothership. for forward deployed Webber class WPCs.

The 355 ship fleet is not an all inclusive wish list.

According to the summary, the service determined the 355 total was the “minimum force structure to comply with [Pentagon] strategic guidance” and was not “the “desired” force size the Navy would pursue if resources were not a constraint, read the summary.

“Rather, this is the level that balances an acceptable level of warfighting risk to our equipment and personnel against available resources and achieves a force size that can reasonably achieve success,” according to the summary, which notes it would take a 653-ship force to meet all global requirements with minimal risk.

This is has parallels to the results of the Fleet Mix study, in that the optimum Coast Guard fleet is about twice the size of the program of record.

The Coast Guard really needs to do something similar. We should revisit the Offshore and Aviation Fleet Mix Study at least every five years and we need a 30 year ship building plan. Additionally I believe we should parallel the Navy’s documents to the extent of using the same titles with only a “Coast Guard” modifier. Congress is familiar with the Navy’s products and it would ease acceptance and interpretation of the Coast Guard’s products.

Allow me to repeat the purported advantages of the Navy’s system from an earlier post.

  • “identifying and evaluating cost growth and schedule delays in the execution of shipbuilding programs;
  • “understanding the relationship between annual procurement rates and unit procurement cost;
  • “evaluating whether programs are achieving satisfactory production learning curves over time;
  • “evaluating whether proposed sequences of annual procurement quantities for programs would be efficient to execute from an industrial standpoint;
  • “evaluating stability in Navy shipbuilding planning by tracking year-to-year changes in the five-year shipbuilding plan;
  • “identifying potential financial and industrial-base linkages between shipbuilding programs that are being funded in overlapping years;
  • “identifying and evaluating Navy assumptions concerning service lives and retirement dates for existing ships;
  • “evaluating whether ship procurement needs are being pushed into the future, potentially creating an expensive ship procurement “bow wave” in coming years; and
  • “understanding when the Navy will achieve its ship force level goals, and whether the Navy will experience ship inventory shortfalls relative to those goals that could affect the Navy’s ability to perform its missions in coming years.”

We should also dovetail our plan with that of the Navy to remind the Congress we are part of the National Fleet. We need to show how we fit in the National Defense Organization because we are a military service at all times.


2 thoughts on “Navy Boosts Target Fleet Size to 355. What is the CG Target?

  1. The Coast Guard is it’s own worst enemy when it comes to equipment planning and speaking with a coherent unified voice. One needs to only look at the mixed messages sent on icebreakers, one day they need one – the next day (literally almost) – “we can meet current operational requirements” – – then the fine print “as long as nothing wears out or breaks – – I literally screamed at the screen when I was reading that while researching for a presentation on Icebreakers last year

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