Navy Carrier Battle Groups:

The Structure and Affordability of the Future Force

NSIAD-93-74: Published: Feb 25, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1993.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Richard Davis
(202) 512-3504
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO provided information on policy considerations, future requirements, and force structure of carrier battle groups, focusing on: (1) the size and makeup of future naval carrier forces in response to reduced defense spending; and (2) alternatives for meeting national security requirements with fewer carriers.

GAO found that: (1) changes in the international security environment shifted the U.S. strategy from containment of the former Soviet Union to ensuring regional stability by strategic deterrence, maintaining an overseas presence, crisis response, and maintaining a rebuilding capability; (2) the Navy plans to downsize its battle carrier force to 12 ships even though carrier battle groups are still needed because of their superior sustainability and flexibility capabilities; (3) the costs of procuring new carrier-based aircraft could exceed $120 billion and reduce the affordability of future carrier procurements and the number of aircraft deployed; (4) the Navy plans to extend the life of existing tactical and support aircraft; (5) carrier battle group alternatives, which are intended to fill gaps resulting from downsizing, include utilizing amphibious assault ships and surface combatants equipped with advanced missiles and weapons systems; (6) existing surface combatants could sufficiently fulfill regional contingencies and have strike, antiair, antisurface, and antisubmarine warfare capabilities; (7) advanced assault ships include flight decks, a variety of munitions, and landing craft launch capabilities, but lack multimission capabilities; (8) decreasing the frequency and duration of carrier operations and training will not significantly reduce operation and support costs, since up to 80 percent of the costs are fixed, including maintenance and personnel; and (9) cost savings can be realized by reducing the size of the carrier force and the complement of aircraft.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress provided full funding for construction of the CVN-76 nuclear aircraft carrier in the Fiscal Year 1995 National Defense Appropriations Act.

    Matter: In the context of the agreement on the size and affordability of the carrier force, Congress should consider the extent the other, less costly force options could satisfy many national security needs and reduce the requirements for carrier battle groups before approving full funding for the new nuclear carrier in the planned FY 1995 request.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress delayed several force level decisions until the fiscal year 1995 budget to permit DOD to issue its Bottom Up Review. It appears that Congress will appropriate funding in the fiscal year 1995 budget to build the CVN-76 nuclear carrier and maintain DOD's planned force level of 12 carriers.

    Matter: Congress and the Department of Defense should reach early agreement on the size and affordability of the carrier force needed to meet future national defense requirements. Reaching such an agreement during deliberations on the fiscal year (FY) 1994 budget submission is important because the number of carriers and their role in the new security environment directly affect: (1) the Navy's plans to acquire carriers, surface combatants, attack submarines, and combat logistics ships; and (2) the affordability of developing and procuring a full complement of costly new tactical aircraft.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress delayed several force level decisions until the fiscal year 1995 budget to permit DOD to issue its Bottom Up Review. It appears that Congress will appropriate funds in the fiscal year 1995 budget to build the CVN-76 nuclear carrier and maintain DOD's planned force level of 12 carriers (11 active and 1 reserve).

    Recommendation: Congress and the Department of Defense (DOD) should reach early agreement on the size and affordability of the carrier force needed to meet future national defense requirements. Reaching such an agreement during deliberations on the fiscal year (FY) 1994 budget submission is important because the number of carriers and their role in the new security environment directly affect: (1) the Navy's plans to acquire carriers, surface combatants, attack submarines, and combat logistics ships; and (2) the affordability of developing and procuring a full complement of costly new tactical aircraft.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 10, 2014

Sep 9, 2014

Sep 8, 2014

Jul 31, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here