Navy Aims for 355-Ship Force with Construction of New Destroyers

    Kris Osborn

    Security, North America

    The budget proposal adds extra destroyers to production plans for 2018 and 2019, accelerating overall fleet growth.

    The Navy’s budget proposal accelerates construction of new Arleigh Burke class DDG 51 Destroyers in 2019 as the service prepares to start construction of its first new, next-generation Flight III destroyer this year.

    Budget data says the Navy proposes to increase production of DDG-51s to 3 in 2019, up from 2 in 2018, all while the prospect of a DoD budget amendment adding a 3rd DDG 51 in 2018 gains traction in Congress.

    The new destroyers under construction, along with the upcoming emergence of DDG-51 Flight III ships, make up a key component of the Navy’s plan to reach an overall fleet size goal of 355 ships in coming years. The newest destroyers represent technically advanced warships able to fire new weapons, better detect enemy attacks and prepare for a highly contested future maritime threat environment.

    Speaking at the Surface Naval Association symposium in January, Capt. Casey Moton, Major Program Manager, DDG 51 Program Office, PEO Ships, said fabrication of the first Flight III Destroyer will begin at Huntington Ingalls in May of this year. Flight III destroyer warships are slated to start entering service in the 2020s.

    Moton emphasized the new, super-sensitive AN/SPY-6 radar as a distinguishing characteristic of Flight III destroyers, as it is expected to vastly expand the protective envelope for ship-integrated defenses.

    “Fielding the AMDR will bring much improved ballistic missile defense by providing truly integrated simultaneous air and missile defense,” Moton said at SNA.

    The Navy is now finalizing the detailed designed phase and finishing the 3D modeling needed to prepare for construction.

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