Spencer: Navy can't afford $600 million sealift ships

By Justin Katz  
May 16, 2019 at 4:21 PM

The Navy's top civilian says $600 million ships to revitalize its surge sealift fleet is something he can't afford, a reality that is in stark contrast with the service's projections in a recent business case analysis.

"We're looking at different acquisition paths across the board. . . . We're looking at new vessels, we're looking at the [Common Hull Auxiliary Multimission Platform]," Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said today at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments while discussing the think tank's new report on maritime logistics.

"Putting my business hat on from a business case, I can't afford a lot of $600 million ships. I can't really afford a lot of $400 million ships. I can go out and buy used [roll-on/roll-off ships] for $35 [million] to $40 million," he continued.

Although Navy officials often speak about the increasing demands put on the shipbuilding budget, Spencer's comments are significant because they come as lawmakers are reviewing a business case analysis that projects the service buying at least 18 new vessels potentially costing up to $1.14 billion each.

That report outlines four options to recapitalize the surge sealift fleet, and the price tags range from $22 billion to $38 billion through 2048. Potential used vessels the service could procure range in price from $70 million to $245 million per ship.