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Scrapping Ships: Is Our Navy Planning for the Future?
Posted by Randy | March 22, 2012
Here are some issues we are discussing in today’s House Armed Service Readiness subcommittee hearing with Navy leadership for fleet maintenance.

Obama Budget Cuts Force Early Retirement of Perfectly Good Ships
In addition to the expected retirement of 16 ships, the Navy has proposed the early retirement of seven more cruisers and two amphibious ships in the next two years.  The Navy has reported that six of the cruisers have 13-15 years of service life remaining and both amphibious ships have 13-18 years of service life.

Maintaining Ships We Have Already Bought
The committee has estimated that the approximate cost to upgrade the six cruisers with the necessary Ballistic Missile Defense Capability and to retain the two LSDs would be $592 million next year plus an additional $859 million in 2014. Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, said last year, “the cheapest way to afford our Navy with the force structure that we need to maintain the ships we already have…”

American Taxpayer Assets Being Scrapped
The USS Vicksburg (CG 69), which cost approximately $1 billion to build, is scheduled to be decommissioned and destroyed in 2013. Commissioned in November 1992, the guided missile cruiser was expected to be decommissioned in 2027, after 35 years of service. The Obama budget plans to eliminate seven cruisers in the next two years. (32% of the fleet worth approximately $7 billion.) Put simply, the administration is carelessly throwing away significant American taxpayer investments well before their useful life ends.

Sinking the Equivalent of the U.K. Royal Navy Fleet
The four cruisers scheduled to be retired in 2014 exceed the entire missile capacity of the entire United Kingdom Royal Navy fleet. (520 for four U.S. cruisers vs. 440 for U.K. battle force missiles)

Doing Less with Less
Last year, the Navy met 53% of Combatant Commander demands, down 6% from 2010.  Yet the Navy proposed a top line of 285 ships this year (down from 288 the year prior). Secretary of Defense Panetta said it is his “hope” to increase the fleet to 300 ships.

Current State of Aviation Maintenance
Naval aviation has remained relatively constant – with a level aircraft inventory and steady maintenance requirements. The administration’s budget only supports 94% of total aircraft depot maintenance requirements. The account is $36 million less than the 2012 budget, resulting in a backlog of 74 airframes and 170 engines.

Stress on Navy Sailors and Families
A total of 10 carrier strike group or amphibious group deployments have exceeded seven months over the past five years. Admiral Mark Ferguson, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations said, “50 percent of our ships under way are stretching out to about 7 months. Some ships are doing longer in order to do operational commitments overseas. And so, they’re under stress."

From My Statement Today
"Let me be very clear.  I will oppose any initiative that seeks to undermine the preeminence of our military, I will oppose any effort that breaks faith with our service members and veterans, and I will oppose any effort that seeks to diminish the capabilities of our naval forces.  Speaking for myself, and what I believe is the majority of Americans, our nation cannot afford additional reductions in our military. “

Sequestration Would Cost Navy 55 More Ships
“First, if sequestration occurs, it would have a significant and immediate impact. We’re talking about $600 billion roughly to DOD, about which $15 billion would come from the Navy (per year.)  $15 billion each year for ten years, on top of the current $480 billion we’re currently working under…Every account would be decremented by 25%...With sequestration, we’d be down to 230 ships.” —Vice Admiral William Burke, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Warfare Systems.

Budget Cutting Drill
On cutting the Cruisers: “Certainly we’d like to have as large a Navy as we possibly can, but the challenge we have is that we have to meet the budget…Given the situation we had, it was a choice we made to pay the bill...”— Vice Admiral Burke.

On cutting the Virginia-class submarines in 2014: “That decision was a "bill payer." – Vice Admiral Burke.

Size of the Fleet
"The challenge is capacity. A ship can only be in one place. An airplane can only be in one place... My biggest concern is capacity." – Vice Admiral Burke

Combatant Commander Requests
“It would take a Navy of over 500 ships (Current fleet is 285) to meet the combatant commander requests. Of course it would take a similar increase in aircraft.”—Vice Admiral Burke.

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  • Thomas G commented on 3/22/2012
    I don't think there's anything wrong with scrapping perfectly good ships as defense secretary Dick Cheney on countless occassions when it became necessary to return defense spending to more sensible levels. While I happen to believe that it was under Mr. Cheney where the Navy began to experience a great deal of stress, having been involved with the service during that tenure, in this case I feel that is warranted. I think congressman Forbes that it is necessary for you to begin facing some reality in this nation. The American public totally rejects the notion put forward by many in your party that we should not have left Iraq, and it is obvious that we need to wind down Afghanistan. The worst part of all this is that while you have consistently supported efforts to expand the military you have offered absolutely nothing to pay for any of it. We can afford these cuts, what we cannot afford is your continued resistence to adjustments in the taxes of millionaires and billionaires and you won't support an increase in the minimum wage, and you want the taxpayers to throw away money here. I hope the Israelis don't start a war with Iran that will be disasterous for our nation and the world. We need to move beyond the military solution to everything that you constantly trumpet. Money is better spent in the diplomatic arena and in cyber-security. I would much rather see funding diverted from a ship or two into the cyber threat than floating around waiting for something to happen. The current congress has been totally inept in dealing with the nations high priority concerns. To change that would require you sir to rescind your commitment to the Grover Norquist blackmail pledge so you are in position to act responsibly in the best interests of the nation. We are paying you to perform, and all I can see we're getting is obstructionism for political game, and the American people are on to you. Please sir, pressure your leadership to act on issues facing the nation and give us something other than gay marriage and contraception debates. Good heavens!
  • j m commented on 3/31/2012
    The spending of missile defense in europe, middle east, and asia needs to mostly made by the countries of that area. The use of taxpayer money causing us to decrease our capabalities is not the right action. We have to tighten our belt and do some tough things and maybe this is the better solutions when compared, however something has got to give.
  • Alvaro R commented on 5/3/2012
    but sometimes becomes very difficult to understand all applications would be better to give priority to those that meet the needs of most citizens and giving less priority to those which do not comply http://howtocurestress.blogspot.com/
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