US Navy and Marine Corps leaders faced tough questioning from the US government over their shipbuilding fiscal 2010 budget, which had earlier been termed inefficient by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

US Navy chiefs met the House Armed Services Committee which criticised the navy for not developing a practical plan on the number of ships to be constructed, Aviation Week reported.

The navy has requested money in the fiscal 2010 budget to build eight ships with advanced procurement money for seven more, far off the 313 target.

The committee said that congress will not be able to increase the size of the fleet until navy leaders and the contractors agreed on the capital investments necessary to modernise the construction process.

The House also questioned the plan to relocate 8,000 marines from bases in Japan. It also expressed skepticism over supposed analysis into the series of programme cuts and delays.