“To put more money in sub-
marines, Navy fighter jets and a lot
of other important areas, one
trade-off we made was to buy only
as many littoral combat ships as we
really need,” Carter said during a
fiscal 2017 budget preview at the
Economic Club of Washington on
Feb. 2. “This is part of a broader
effort in our budget to focus the
Navy on having greater lethality
and capability that can turn, deter
and defeat even the most high-end
The budget request was deliv-
ered to Congress on Feb. 9. The
Pentagon’s base budget for fiscal
2017 is $523.9 billion, with Over-
seas Contingencies Operations
(OCO) funded at $58.8 billion. Of
that budget, the Department of the
Navy’s piece totals $165 billion,
about $4.5 billion less than the
budget approved for 2016. 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 OCO budget
adding another $9.4 billion.
The defense secretary was
expected to request just one LCS
next year. But he ultimately opted
to put two in the budget, ostensibly to keep the two shipyards that
build the LCS humming next year,
the last of the current administration.
That could mean the Navy’s
plans for the LCS, which have been
tweaked repeatedly in recent years,
could change once the next defense
secretary is confirmed. And with
two ships under construction next
year in Wisconsin and Alabama, the
next administration easily could
ramp the buys up again in 2018.
But in the absence of a broader
agreement that dramatically increases the Defense Department’s top line,
the next administration would have
to raid other priorities — likely those
Carter decided to focus on in his fiscal 2017 budget request — to make
room for more LCSs.
The programs that did see a
boost in the Pentagon proposal in-
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 6 SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016
Navy Takes Hit in Fiscal 2017 Budget
The Navy came out the loser in a fiscal 2017 Defense Department budget request that revealed it was the
only service to see a cut from 2016 funding levels, most
of which came from the shipbuilding account.
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter threw Navy officials a bone when he decided to buy two littoral combat ships (LCSs) next year despite much-publicized
plans to sharply cut the size of the planned fleet.
Carter has made it clear that the shore-hugging vessels, which have suffered through cost overruns,
schedule delays and lingering questions about their
missions, simply are not core to meeting the military’s
needs now and in the future. In a constrained budget,
they rank low on his priority list and, as such, he wants
to field a modest fleet of 40 of the ships, 12 fewer than
the Navy wanted to buy.
Carter has said he wants to invest in the Navy —
just in other assets, mostly targeted at longer-range
weaponry better suited for any conflict against any
potential future threats, like Russia and China.
Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter speaks to Sailors
in San Diego Feb. 3. Carter visited the area to tour facilities and discuss the impact of the fiscal 2017 defense
budget proposal on the defense community.