Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate Requesting Fiscal Year 1984 and 1985 Authorization for Ship Procurement

June 1, 1983

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

This letter is submitted in compliance with Section 810 of the Department of Defense Appropriation Authorization Act, 1979. That section requires me to provide the Congress with my conclusions with respect to the survivability, cost effectiveness, and combat effectiveness of any new ship requested for the combatant forces; a recommendation whether the ship should be nuclear or conventionally powered; and the reasons for my conclusions and recommendations. Authorization is being requested for fiscal years 1984 and 1985 for the ships listed in the attachment to this letter. With the exception of a new class of destroyer, the DDG - 51 Class, ships of these combatant classes have been authorized in the past. All of these ships are considered to be combat effective. Because ships last 25 to 30 years or more, their effectiveness will be enhanced in the future as new equipments are added. Combat effectiveness is judged in terms of the ability of each ship to accomplish the mission for which it was designed. In all cases, these ships provide more capability than the ships of comparable type or class that are scheduled to be retired as the new ones are delivered.

The ships are considered to be cost effective in relation to the various missions they are to perform. In determining cost effectiveness, consideration is given to several factors including alternative power systems and alternative weapons systems that may be used to accomplish the missions of the ship and the fact that it is difficult to prorate the total cost of a ship among all of the missions it is designed to perform. Cost effectiveness is considered acceptable for the continuing programs requested for fiscal years 1984 and 1985 because the ships can accomplish their primary missions and because nonrecurring costs have been incurred and production is underway. The DDG - 51 Destroyer will replace guided missile destroyers scheduled to begin retirement in the early 1990's. These new class ships will be armed with a light weight version of the AEGIS Weapon System which is now entering the Fleet. The Amphibious Assault (LHD - 1) Class ship will be based on the LHA - 1 Class hull design, of which five are in the Fleet. Conventionally powered propulsion systems are planned for the AEGIS Cruiser (CG - 47), the DDG - 51 Destroyer, the LSD - 41, and the LHD - 1 Class ships since these systems are adequate for these ships to accomplish their missions and have lower procurement costs.

Compared to the ships now in the Fleet, class for class, the ships in this authorization request are more survivable. Survivability in this sense is measured by the ability of each ship to defend itself as well as the ability to withstand hits when confronted with existing and projected threats.

Nuclear power is proposed for two of the ship types for which authorization is requested. They are submarines. In view of higher investment cost of nuclear powered ships, I believe that nuclear power should be limited to those ships for which clear benefits are derived. Compared to the missions of surface ships, submarine missions provide a much greater opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of nuclear power. In addition, it would not be cost effective to alter either the TRIDENT or attack submarine designs for conventional power at this time. Hence, I recommend that these ships be nuclear powered and that the others be conventionally powered.

The Navy will address each of these conclusions and recommendations in greater detail.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

(TABLE START)

Authorization Requested for Combatant Ships

TRIDENT Class Nuclear Submarine .... 1 .... 1

SSN - 688 Class Nuclear Attack Submarine .... 3 .... 4

CG - 47 Class AEGIS Cruiser .... 3 .... 3

DDG - 51 Class Destroyer .... .... 1

LSD - 41 Class Landing Ship Dock .... 1 .... 2

LHD - 1 Class Amphibious Assault Ship .... 1 ....

(TABLE END)

Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, and George Bush, President of the Senate.

The text of the letters was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 2.