Report to Congress on Amphibious Warship Programs

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The following is the June 10, 2021, Congressional Research Service report, Navy LPD-17 Flight II and LHA Amphibious Ship Programs: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

This report discusses two types of amphibious ships being procured for the Navy: LPD-17 Flight II class amphibious ships and LHA-type amphibious assault ships. Both types are built by Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS. Section 124 of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283 of January 1, 2021) provides authority for the Navy to use a block buy contract for the procurement of three LPD-17 class ships and one LHA-type amphibious assault ship.

One issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2022 procurement funding requests for the LPD-17 Flight II and LHA programs. The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $60.6 million in procurement funding to complete the procurement cost of the second LPD-17 Flight II class ship, LPD-31, and $68.6 million in procurement funding to help fund the procurement cost of the amphibious assault ship LHA-9.

Another issue for Congress is whether the Navy intends to use the block buy contracting authority provided by Section 124 of the FY2021 NDAA, and if not, then what, if anything, Congress should do in response.

Another issue for Congress concerns the treatment of LHA-9’s procurement date in the Navy’s FY2022 budget submission. The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission presented the second LPD-17 Flight II class amphibious ship, LPD-31, as a ship requested for procurement in FY2021, and the next amphibious assault ship, LHA-9, as a ship projected for procurement in FY2023. Consistent with congressional action on the Navy’s FY2020 and FY2021 budgets, this CRS report treats LPD-31 and LHA-9 as ships that Congress procured (i.e., authorized and provided procurement—not advance procurement—funding for) in FY2020 and FY2021, respectively. The Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) decision to present LPD-31 and LHA-9 in its FY2021 budget submission as ships requested for procurement in FY2021 and FY2023, respectively, even though Congress procured the ships in FY2020 and FY2021, respectively, posed an institutional issue for Congress regarding the preservation and use of Congress’s power of the purse under Article 1 of the Constitution, and for maintaining Congress as a coequal branch of government relative to the executive branch. Section 126 of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283 of January 1, 2021) states:

SEC. 126. TREATMENT IN FUTURE BUDGETS OF THE PRESIDENT OF SYSTEMS ADDED BY CONGRESS.

In the event the procurement quantity for a system authorized by Congress in a National Defense Authorization Act for a fiscal year, and for which funds for such procurement quantity are appropriated by Congress in the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy account for such fiscal year, exceeds the procurement quantity specified in the budget of the President, as submitted to Congress under section 1105 of title 31, United States Code, for such fiscal year, such excess procurement quantity shall not be specified as a new procurement quantity in any budget of the President, as so submitted, for any fiscal year after such fiscal year.

The Navy’s FY2022 budget submission, like its FY2021 budget submission, treats LHA-9 as a ship to be procured in FY2023. A question for Congress is whether this is consistent with Section 126 of the FY2021 NDAA, and if not, what, if anything, Congress should do in response.

Another issue for Congress concerns the Navy’s force-level goals for amphibious ships and the effect these goals could have on future procurement of LPD-17 Flight II and LHA-type ships.

Download the document here.



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