In Congress, the Pentagon, various federal budget offices, and defense-study organizations, the question often being asked is: How do we pay for the future fleet being proposed by the Navy? As previously addressed in this column, the planned 12-submarine Ohio replacement program threatens to break the bank. The Government Accountability Office has estimated the cost to design and build the 12 submarines at $96 billion over the next decade and a half.1
Over the past decade total shipbuilding appropriations have averaged just under $16 billion per year. The Navy has proposed a shipbuilding budget for the next decade that averages about $19 billion per year (in constant 2015 dollars). The probability of this increase occurring in the near future is virtually nil because of the Budget Control Act (BCA, i.e., “sequestration”), the increasing non-Defense entitlements (Social Security, Affordable Care Act, etc.), the size of the federal debt, and—especially—other service requirements for modernization.