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 FleetThe 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
Sequestration Would Cost Navy 55 More Ships
Budget Cutting Drill
On cutting the Virginia-class submarines in 2014: “That decision was a "bill payer." – Vice Admiral Burke.
Size of the Fleet
Combatant Commander Requests
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