The Department of the Navy’s proposed budget for 2017 is smaller than the current spending plan, but reflects a shift in focus toward high-end warfare, in concert with concern about potential
threats in a multipolar world.
Adm. John M. Richardson, chief of naval operations,
has said in multiple forums this year that the Navy is
concerned about potential or actual threats to the sea
lanes posed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and
transnational terrorist groups such as the Islamic State
in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The 2017 budget request
reflects a shift for platforms and weapons designed to
counter modern naval and air threats.
“For the first time in 25 years there is a competition
for control of the seas,” Richardson said in March 1 tes-
timony before the House Appropriations defense sub-
committee. “The United States is facing return to great-
The department’s 2017 budget proposal totals $165
billion, about $4.5 billion — or 3. 9 percent — less than
the budget approved for 2016, making it the only one of
the three Defense Department (DoD) services to see a
decline. Shipbuilding funding remained level, but aircraft
procurement fell by about $3.6 billion, and personnel
reductions of 3,500 Sailors are planned.
The Navy’s portion of the 2017
base budget comes in at $132 billion,
compared with $136.9 billion in
2016, with the Marine Corps at
$23.4 billion and the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget
adding another $9.4 billion.
The department’s 2017 budget
covers $46.9 billion for operations
and maintenance; $44.1 billion for
procurement; $45.6 billion for personnel; $17.2 billion for research,
development, test and evaluation
(RDT&E); and $1.6 billion for
The Navy’s budget request provides $18.4 billion for
seven ships in 2017: two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDGs), the second of which is the first Flight III
variant with the Air and Missile Defense Radar; two
Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs); two littoral
combat ships (LCSs); and one America-class amphibious assault ship. Also funded are two Landing Craft
Air Cushion (LCAC) 100 ship-to-shore connectors
and one moored training ship (a retired Los Angeles-class submarine), and advanced procurement for the
Ohio Replacement ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN).
The next fiscal year will be the last in which two LCSs
will be procured. Robert O. Work, undersecretary of Defense, told reporters Feb. 9 at the Pentagon budget briefings that putting two in the 2017 budget will lay the groundwork for the down-select decision to a single variant of
LCS, as ordered by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter.
“We have a validated requirement for 52 littoral combat
ships,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, testifying March 1
before the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
He was supported by Richardson, who remarked
that the 52-ship requirement was for small surface
combatants, including the LCS and the new frigate
Capability Over Capacity
Navy’s budget focuses on high-end warfare
to counter competition for, threats to, sea lanes
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
The Navy’s 2017 budget request shifts priorities to address competition for control of the seas.
; The spending plan is smaller than the current year’s budget,
but rebalances toward high-end threats.
; Procurement of littoral combat ships would drop, but the Navy
will pursue its cruiser modernization plan.
; The service is looking for savings to sustain procurement of two
Virginia-class attack submarines per year beyond 2021.