WASHINGTON — The Navy plans to fund a total of 48 ships through fiscal 2020, according to the 2016 budget sent today to Congress, including ten 10 new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and ten 10 Virginia-class submarines from 2016 through 2020.

Advanced procurement for the SSBN(X) strategic missile submarine begins in 2017, with the first ship to be ordered in 2021. The cost to build a class of 12 submarines is expected to dominate service shipbuilding budgets through the 2020s.

Last summer, the Navy estimated the procurement cost for the first of 12 planned SSBN(X) subs to cost about $12.4 billion, but is working to get the average cost of each submarine down to about $5 billion.

Complete coverage of the fiscal 2016 budget request

Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Navy budget director Rear Adm. William Lescher, speaking to reporters Monday afternoon,noted said that about $10 billion is programmed throughout the five-year future years defense plan (FYDP) of 2016 to 2020, split about evenly between research and development and advanced procurement.

Responding to questions, Lescher said no money is being set aside for SSBN(X) construction. Some in Congress have proposed funding the ships outside the regular shipbuilding budget, and a special National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund account was established last year for that purpose. But no money as yet is in the account.

"The departments plan is that additional topline relief is required," Lescher acknowledged.

"The deterrence fund is a great first step, the start of a conversation," he said noted. But funding the submarines "is a work in progress and a topic for the [Congressional] committees."

Elsewhere in the shipbuilding budget, fourteen 14 Llittoral Ccombat Sships (LCS) are planned, with the first two modified littoral frigates scheduled for 2019. The newly updated ship construction program includes a new carrier in 2018, the LHA 8 assault ship in 2017, a new LXR) amphibious transport dock replacement ship in 2020, an afloat forward staging base ship in 2017, and a new class of fleet tugs, with the first of five coming in 2017.

The first T-AO(X) oiler is requested in 2016, with one per year starting in 2018. Lescher said in a Monday press briefing the Navy plans for a total of 17 new oilers, which will be built by either National Steel and Shipbuilding (NASSCO) in San Diego or Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Navy is limiting competition for the oiler to only those shipyards, and is tying the award to concurrent proposals for LHA 8.

The 2016 shipbuilding request also includes 5 new landing craft air cushion ship-to-shore connector craft, with a total of 38 to be funded through 2020.

Email ccavas@defensenews.com

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