The Future of the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet

Policy Forum
May 21, 2012 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring Robert O. Work, Under Secretary of the Navy; Eric J. Labs, Senior Analyst for Naval Forces and Weapons, Congressional Budget Office; Ben Freeman, National Security Fellow, Project on Government Oversight; Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; moderated by Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies, Cato Institute.

Naval shipbuilding is under close scrutiny as military spending starts to decline. At the same time, the U.S. Navy is altering the composition of its surface combatant fleet — eliminating cruisers, building more complex destroyers, and introducing a new class of small surface combatants — the littoral combat ship. What effects will these changes have on the future of the surface fleet? Will the mix of cruisers, destroyers, and littoral combat ships planned by the Navy be adequate to fulfill its missions? A recent report on the first littoral combat ship (LCS-1) raised some serious questions about the ship’s range and durability. Others have noted the LCS’s high cost relative to acceptable alternative platforms. Given that the LCS is supposed to constitute a third of the surface combatant fleet by the late 2020s, is it time to consider other options? The role of the LCS may also need rethinking. What possible alternative mission sets and force structures might be appropriate, given the likely security environment? Please join us as our expert panel discusses the future of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet.