The U.S. Navy's shipbuilding program is in shoal waters despite an increase in ship construction funds in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget recently sent to Congress. That budget plan-approved by Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter on 2 February-asks Congress for $12.5 billion for shipbuilding, a ten percent increase over the FY 2007 amount.
The FY 2008 budget request provides for seven new ships, the same number in the previous year.1 To reach the Navy's goal of 313 ships by about 2016 some 12 new ships must be constructed each year. The long-range shipbuilding plan does provide for 11 ships in FY 2009 and an average of 12 ships per year for the next few years (see Table 1).
Meanwhile, several of the ongoing ship construction programs are in trouble. The latest ship type to burst into the headlines is the littoral combat ship, the LCS. The ships of both designs-the Lockheed Martin Freedom (LCS-1) and the General Dynamics/Austal Independence (LCS-2)-are reported to be over their cost caps.2 Reportedly, the first Lockheed Martin ship was to cost $220 million but is now said to cost up to $411 million.