The US Navy has submitted its 30-year shipbuilding plan for 2013-2042 to Congress, projecting a drop in the number of ships as the Navy eyes a smaller fleet.

Chief of Naval Operations admiral Jonathan Greenert had earlier been quoted by Reuters as saying that the new review aimed to translate the Pentagon’s new military strategy into concrete requirements for the number of ships, planes and people the Navy needs to carry out its missions by 2020.

The 30-year plan is divided into three major parts, near term, mid-term and far-term with each term being provided with an annual shipbuilding budget.

The near term is defined by the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) of 2013-2017 and a second FYDP from 2018 to 2022 with a budget allocation of $15.1bn on annual shipbuilding.

The mid-term planning period ranges from 2023 to 2032, wherein the annual shipbuilding budget rises to $19.5bn due to the SSBN(X) Ohio replacement programme.

The far-term planning begins in 2033 and has a $15.9bn budget per year while the overall 30-year plan annual service projects to $16.8bn per year, including Navy and National Defense Sealift Fund ships.

The report assumed that shipbuilding funding will rise from fiscal 2018 and will continue through 2032, during which all major vessels will be retired leaving the Navy able to prevent cost overruns.

"If any of these assumptions prove to be faulty, future shipbuilding plans will include fewer ships and battle force inventory levels will change, inevitably falling below 300 ships," the report warned.

As per the plan, the future fleet may include 12-14 ballistic missile submarines, 11 nuclear-power aircraft carriers, 48 attack submarines and zero to four cruise missile submarines.

The fleet may also include about 90 large surface combatants, 55 small surface combatants, 32 amphibious landing ships, 29 logistics ships, and 33 support vessels.

The Navy’s current fleet of 282 ships is expected to be around 300 ships by 2019, and is also seeking 55 new lighter, more agile coastal warships to meet mission requirements in the coming years.