Defense Budget 2007: Navy again seeks to eliminate carrier
WASHINGTON — The Navy budget request for fiscal 2007 asks for fewer sailors, fewer reservists, less funding for ammunition and, for the second year in a row, one fewer aircraft carrier.
The Navy wants to eliminate one carrier from the current fleet of 12. Officials estimated the cost of keeping the USS John F. Kennedy, one of two non-nuclear carriers still in service, in operational status at more than $1 billion in personnel and maintenance alone.
Last year, members of Congress balked at plans to mothball the carrier, and included language in the fiscal 2006 budget mandating the Navy maintain 12. But Bozin said that decision came before the recent defense review, which also supported reducing the fleet size to 11.
Navy officials will be seeking an overall 3.8 percent increase in spending next fiscal year, up to $110.6 billion. That will pay for more depot operations support, the construction of seven new ships, and the production of 41 new training and combat aircraft.
The Navy has been working to reduce the number of sailors for several years, and actually dropped its previous target goal for fiscal 2007 from 345,300 to 340,700 in the latest proposal. Currently, the service has about 360,000 sailors.
Rear Adm. Stan Bozin, director of the Navy’s office of budget, said the personnel number reduction is not designed to save the force money, but to get the Navy more in line with needs projections based on the recent Quadrennial Defense Review. Still, the move is expected to save the service nearly $1 billion.
Most of the reduction will come from the enlisted ranks. In addition, plans call for a 1,800-person drop in the Naval Reserve ranks.
Funding for ammunition procurement will drop by $57 million, about 10 percent of last year’s total. Overall procurement reductions for equipment and parts will total more than $500 million.
Ship additions under the fiscal 2007 budget plan call for a new Virginia-class submarine and two DD(X) destroyers, and the activation of four existing LPD-17s. The budget also includes money for new riverine capability, to develop and improve existing defense of inland waterways both domestically and in foreign nations.