Thursday, November 5, 2015


5 November 2015: "The net effect is a degradation of the Navy's ability to provide the balanced presence and surge capacity that Congress has mandated. We have more in depot maintenance today than we would normally have under a stable operational cycle, so we have a shortfall in our ability to generate the forces we need."

So reported US Navy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition Sean Stackley to Congress this week. What does it mean?

Simply, we have a huge gap in our carrier task force capability for the first time in modern history. Where we should have carriers deployed in operating theaters around the world, we don't. Why? Budget constraints! Right now, there is half of our fleet of carriers going through refits/overhauls/refueling. To put that in perspective, consider "that the fleet's carriers won't be able to get back to the prescribed readiness levels—two carrier strike groups deployed at all times, with three additional strike groups ready to deploy if there's a need for a "surge"—until 2018." Shocking, and in the opinion of your scribe, treasonous on the part of our administration. For the first time since 2007, the US will NOT have a carrier strike group in the Middle East right as the stakes get increasingly higher. Now there's a strategy for you!

And how about this: The USS Gerald Ford, the next US aircraft carrier, is being built to replace the now-retired USS Enterprise, which was deactivated in 2013 after more than 50 years of service.

USS Gerald Ford
But the Ford's completion has run into delays in part because of the budget sequestrations enacted by Congress. Stackley said the Ford is not expected to join the fleet at full readiness until 2021, which means the Navy will be operating with one less carrier than called for by Congress for the next six years.

USS Gerald Ford undergoes "blast testing" prior to commissioning
Now, Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has enacted a law that says we must have two strike groups deployed with three additional in a "ready" status, and then cuts off the funding to totally preclude that! Going forward, we will be able to put only one strike group at sea at a time, and next year, there will be periods when we have NO carrier coverage in the Pacific Ocean..... and China is flexing its own muscles with a new carrier itself!

The reduced fleet size means longer deployments for the ships we have operational and the resultant longer, often delayed maintenance yard periods for those same ships.  

You just can't fix stupid!

    Until next time,     
                                 Fair Winds,
                                    Old Salt

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