Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pentagon to Kill Navy Cargo Ship

Pentagon to Kill Navy Cargo Ship: "Pentagon to Kill Navy Cargo Ship NewsStand | Christopher J. Castelli | December 07, 2005
The Defense Department has blessed the Navy's plan to kill the T-AOE(X) cargo ship program in the fiscal year 2007 defense budget process.

This is one of several items listed in the first program decision memorandum, issued Dec. 1 in draft form by DOD's office of program analysis and evaluation, said a Pentagon source.

Eliminating the T-AOE(X) program allows DOD to save about $4.4 billion for other priorities, the source said. Though the program was still in the early stages, four ships had been programmed in the long-term budget, each valued at about $1 billion. Some research and development money associated with the program would still be spent on underway replenishment equipment for use on other ships, the source said.

The Navy's recommendation to kill the program was first reported by Inside the Navy Oct. 31. This recommendation was included in program change proposals, internal documents not intended for public release. The sea service decided that its existing fleet of fast combat support ships, coupled with plans to buy 11 Lewis and Clark-class T-AKE cargo ships, would satisfy Navy requirements.

Until recently, the Navy envisioned T-AOE(X) as a replacement for the retired Sacramento class that would act as a station ship for a carrier strike group. The new vessels were supposed to provide simultaneous delivery of ship petroleum products, ammunition, provisions and stores and redistribute these items.

The Navy had budgeted money to conduct feasibility studies aimed at determining the best designs, with the intention of holding a competition for shipbuilders who would vie to construct T-AOE(X) vessels. The president's FY-06 budget plan indicated the Navy would buy the first T-AOE(X) in FY-09, followed by one in FY-10 and two in FY-11. But it now appears those ships will never be built.

The FY-07 defense budget has not yet been finalized. It is subject to further revision as the Pentagon conducts its standard review. The Bush administration is scheduled to submit the budget to Congress in early February."

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