(FILES) This file photo taken on Septemb

The USS George Washington, which may be decommissioned to save money.

WASHINGTON: The Navy’s in a carrier crunch. US commanders around the world keep asking for carriers to cover trouble spots from SyriaIran, and Afghanistan to the Western Pacific and the South China Sea, but the Navy doesn’t have enough to go around. And they may well lose another.

In recent years, amazingly, the Navy has managed to increase the number of aircraft carriers deployed overseas at any given time even as the total number of carriers in service decreased. But the price was high: extra-long deployments, stressed-out crews, and overworked ships requiring extensive and expensive unplanned maintenance. Now the Navy has decided it just cannot get as much work out of the carriers it has — just as the budget cuts known as sequestration may leave it with fewer carriers.

“I don’t see any way you can cut a carrier and defend the country,” Rep. Randy Forbes, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower, told my colleague Colin Clark last night. “You would have to assume a great deal more risk than we have been willing to assume.”

“We currently are an 11-carrier navy in a 15-carrier world,” Forbes said, referring to repeated Navy studies that say only a fleet of 15 could meet global demand. But Forbes — a legislator — is citing the law, which requires an 11 carrier fleet: In fact, we’re down to 10.

To make certain the Pentagon knows how the HASC feels, Forbes, HASC Chairman Buck McKeon and nine other legislators sent an appeal today to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel not to shrink the carrier fleet.

The 10-Carrier Fleet and the $3 Billion Question

Congress was told the drop to 10 aircraft carriers would be temporary. It was supposed to just require a waiver of the statutory requirement between the retirement of the 50-year-old USS Enterprise last December and the 2016 commissioning of the high-tech and high-cost USS Ford. But if the president’s fiscal year 2015 request actually does cut a carrier, and if Congress actually approves that cut, then we would never get back to 11.

“Over the last two years, the idea of retiring a carrier [has] been in and out of the program several times,” said Bryan Clark,  until recently a senior advisor to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Johnathan Greenert. (Clark left government in October to join the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, CSBA). Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR) even laid out options for an eight- or nine-carrier fleet.

The savings are tempting. Just operating and maintaining a single carrier costs about $300 million a year, said Clark, not counting its aircraft and escort ships. But the big bucks — and the big temptation in a time of budget cuts — sit in the near-term. The USS George Washington is halfway through its planned 50-year service life, which means it’s due for a major multi-year overhaul (including refueling its reactor) that will cost roughly $4.7 billion. And decommissioning a ship isn’t free, Clark said, especially when you have to take out top-secret electronics, weapons systems, and a nuclear reactor. So taking the George Washington out of service would cost “a couple of billion,” he estimated — but that still nets you almost $3 billion in savings.

But instead of getting rid of the George Washington, why not decommission the oldest ship left in the fleet, the 38-year-old Nimitz? “You’re going to get 10 years more life out of the George Washington than you would with the Nimitz,” Clark said. “If you amortize that out [over the long term], that might be the better option.” Unfortunately, if you’re paying both to take the Nimitz out of service and to overhaul the George Washington at the same time, he said, “you’re going to be spending more money in the near term.”

So if a carrier is getting scrapped, odds are it will be the George Washington, even though the long-term view — that is, looking beyond the 10-year period of sequester cuts — would suggest you’d do better to retire Nimitz. Either way, the fleet would stay at 10 carriers for a long time to come.

No More “More With Less”

If you can’t get more carriers — let alone if you lose one you already have — then you could try to “do more with less” by keeping each carrier at sea more of the time. Here’s the problem: The Navy already tried that and it hurt like hell. Now, in fact, the service is implementing a new “Optimized Fleet Response Plan” (O-FRP) to reduce the burden on each ship and its crew, not to increase it.

From the 1980s to 2002, the Navy went down from 14 carriers in the fleet to 12, of which at least two and more often three were deployed around the world at any given time. (The average wavered between 2.5 and 2.75). Since 2003, however, the Navy has shrunk from 12 carriers to 10. Yet the number of carriers at sea increased, to either three or four deployed at any given time. (The 2013 average was 3.5).

That wasn’t a grand plan. As demand rose, the Navy just kept extending planned deployments from the official seven-month standard to eight months or more.

“We’re averaging eight to 10 months” now, Adm. Bill Gortney told the Surface Navy Association two weeks ago, “and that’s not sustainable over the long haul.”

“The intent was to have a seven-month deployment in a 32-month cycle,” said Clark, the ex-Navy official. “Pretty much every carrier deployment has been eight months plus [and] we were deploying a lot of carriers twice in their 32-month cycle.”

The most obvious problem is unhappy sailors and families. The most expensive problem, though, is maintenance. When you work ships harder than you planned, it turns out, more things break than you had planned for, which means you have to spend more money and time on maintenance. From 2010 through 2013, Clark said, “every carrier maintenance availability ran longer than expected.”

This has become a vicious circle. If Carrier A can’t finish maintenance and deploy on schedule, Carrier B can’t come home on schedule. That means Carrier B spends more time at sea, which means more wear and tear, which means Carrier B also needs more maintenance work when it finally gets home — which in turn makes things worse for Carrier C. “It cascades,” said Clark.

Last year, before he left the Navy Department, Clark was one of the people who worked on the new Optimized Fleet Response Plan. The O-FRP goes into effect when the USS Truman comes back from what is (supposed to be) an eight to nine-month deployment ending in March or April.

The new plan keeps deployments at eight months but gives ships more time between them. Instead of eight or more months deployed out of a 32-month cycle (25%) — the de facto norm right now — carriers will deploy eight months out of 36 (22.2%). The extra time will be available for maintenance, training, and, if necessary in a crisis, a second “surge” deployment. But setting surges aside, the newer, slower schedule means that of the eight carriers currently based in the United States, only 1.78 will be deployed at any given time instead of the current 2.0.

Today Japan, Tomorrow Australia?

When you calculate US carrier presence around the world, however, you always have to add in the carrier based in Japan, which is effectively available for duty in the Western Pacific 100 percent of the time. (That ship is currently the George Washington but the USS Ronald Reagan will take over later this year).

Officially, the Japan-based ship is operational eight months of the year and in maintenance the other four, but in an emergency it could cancel maintenance and get going in a hurry. The official standard is no more than 30 days, but, said Clark, “it’s only in the deepest part of the maintenance period that it would take more than four days.”

So why not base more carriers abroad? That would get a lot more days-in-theater per ship than sending them back and forth from the United States.

One problem is American politics. The Virginia and California delegations have blocked sending the carriers based in their states anywhere else in the US, let alone overseas. The second problem is the expense of building facilities capable of maintaining a 1,000-foot-long nuclear-powered warship. And the final problem is figuring out who would take us.

The US is already building up its presence on Guam, which has the huge advantage of being US territory, but to build a carrier facility there would cost an estimated $6.5 billion. As for other countries, while both the Philippines and Singapore are increasingly friendly, neither wants a permanent US presence.

But then there’s our long-time treaty ally Australia. The US is already building up its Marine Corps presence there, and a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies recommended permanently homeporting a US carrier at the Australian Navy base in Perth.

It would take years to convince the Australians and build nuclear carrier facilities, at a cost somewhere in the billions. In the long term, though, if the carrier fleet keeps shrinking and demand for ships in the Pacific keep growing, Down Under may be the one place we can square the circle.

The letter from HASC Chairman Buck McKeon and Forbes follows:

January 28, 2014

 

 

 

 

The Honorable Chuck Hagel

Secretary of Defense

Office of the Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

 

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We write to reiterate our strong support that the United States Navy should continue to require a naval fleet of no-less than 11 nuclear aircraft carriers.

The constant state of “surge” our Navy has operated at for the past decade is a testament to the growing demand signal from our Combatant Commanders and the shrinking size of our fleet. With the United States entering an era where our sea-services are likely to be called on to provide more presence, deterrence, and engagement throughout the Indo-Pacific littoral and across the globe, we believe now is the time to reinvest in our fleet, not look for ways to reduce its size and accept greater risk. Indeed, in a letter Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus sent to us in October 2013, he stated that a smaller nuclear aircraft carrier fleet would “deliver less forward presence, increased response time, and delayed arrivals to conflict. This force would be unable to execute the missions described in the Defense Strategic Guidance.”

Last year the House of Representatives expressed its strong support for the nuclear aircraft carrier fleet by voting overwhelmingly to maintain a statutory requirement to retain 11 operational aircraft carriers by a vote of 318 to 106. There is no doubt that there is enduring bipartisan support for a robust Navy supporting a capital fleet of 11 nuclear aircraft carriers. We strongly agree with Rear Admiral Thomas Moore who stated last year that “We’re an 11-carrier Navy in a 15-carrier world…The demand signal is not likely to go down any time soon.”

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  We look forward to working with you on this issue and to strengthen our sea services in the years ahead.

Sincerely,

 

 

HOWARD P. “BUCK” MCKEON                                       MIKE MCINTYRE

Chairman                                                                                 Member of Congress

House Armed Services Committee

 

 

J. RANDY FORBES                                                             SUSAN DAVIS

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

 

 

 

ROB WITTMAN                                                                   RICK LARSEN

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

 

 

SCOTT RIGELL                                                                    DEREK KILMER

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

 

 

 

DUNCAN HUNTER                                                             SCOTT PETERS

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

 

 

 

BOBBY SCOTT

Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

 

# # #

 

Comments

  • Don Bacon

    “I don’t see any way you can cut a carrier and defend the country”

    Ridiculous. Of course the US doesn’t require ten or eleven carriers to defend the country at a time when the US is not threatened in any ocean.

    The carrier fleet (sometimes two) that the US has maintained in the Persia Gulf area isn’t required, for starters. The US has 40,000 military personnel stationed in the Gulf situated on land bases, and this includes full rights in air bases in five Gulf countries. The Gulf-area stationed carrier was providing air support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, which is coming to a close this year. The US also has access to many airbases in the Europe and Pacific areas.

    Carrier home ports are being altered, it will now be 6/4 Pacific/Atlantic from 5/5. Why are four carriers required in the Atlantic? Any U-boats been sighted lately? No.

    Carriers are overly expensive, now in the $14B range, and eating up a lot of the Navy procurement and operations budgets. Carriers are also vulnerable, particularly to ballistic missiles. Carriers are now what battleships were, obsolete.

    • Declan Dillman

      Lol, I didn’t realize there was so much development going on with ballistic missile tech…. Last I’d heard no one is afraid of SCUD anymore

      • Gary Church

        It is not funny. When is the last time you listened to anything?

      • Curtis Conway

        Review this site: http://missilethreat.com/

        • Gary Church

          http://www.businessinsider.com/us-missile-defense-2014-1

          Wow, I thought I was all alone. Thanks Curtis. Me and this guy must be twins separated at birth.

        • Declan Dillman

          Interesting link… So, what are you saying? That our Carriers are vulnerable to Nuclear ballistic missiles? Well, that’s been true since the end of WW2, and is true of every single element of our national defense. Which other ballistic missile threat did you have in mind? Or did you mean anti-ship missile technology, which is a horse of a very different color? That’s been mitigated for a long time, too. Please be specific, because I honestly don’t understand what you mean…

          • Gary Church

            google Sunburn missile and do your own homework.

          • Curtis Conway

            Declan, I’m a carrier fan, and they are necessary when that kind of response is required, but Proactive Preventative Presence is required in several hot spots around the globe, and can be accomplished at significant cost reductions. I think “hi-end” response is not always the answer. The MAGTF does not have enough tactical air to do the job over long periods, and some mission sets are not represented in the Marine Air Group. The time has come for the Light Carrier Battle Group built around a USS America (LHA-6) Class Light Carrier (CVLBG) and a new Aegis Guided Missile Frigate. It is time to develop a AEW&C V-22, and an Aegis FFG based upon the National Security Cutter.

          • Gary Church

            Curtis, do you have any idea what a disaster the deepwater aquisition program was? It really messed up the Coast Guard for years to come. You have gone from battleships to the NSC which can be sunk with a wad of flaming toilet launched from a slingshot.
            My tax dollars, your tax dollars, OUR tax dollars, should go to what will scare the bejesus out of our adversaries and only one thing is going to do that; missiles. Make our own energy, grow our own food, manufacture our own products- and if anyone has a problem with that we destroy them with mach 3 anti-ship cruise missiles and drones. A Light Carrier Battle Group will last about as long as it takes a swarm of a couple hundred of those things to reach your mighty armada.

            The time has come to put America back to work- and that means undoing all the off-shoring to cheap labor that has made so many billionaires and put so many millions on unemployment. The flat earth voodoo economics fantasy is wearing thin.

          • Gary Church

            Sorry, that would be a wad of flaming toilet paper to sink an NSC. A flaming toilet would take out a whole squadron of them.

          • Curtis Conway

            I grant you merit for much of what you write. However, the United States has treaty obligation of which we will not shrink from due to the fact the US forces around the planet have always been a force for good. You do not express an opinion as one of a Believer with any faith. I on the other hand have a great faith . . . but have a loaded .45 in the house.

            The NSC may have been a disaster in a lot of peoples books, but the hull is sound even in the Northern latitudes in which it was designed to operate. US Coat Guard vessels have design life of 50 years. Can the LCS make the same claim? Can an LCS equal an up-gunned NSC in the form of a Aegis Guided Missile Frigate? Can the LCS operate in the Northern latitudes? When the Chinese come, and they will, no formation save that of submarines will be safe, battleships not withstanding, but perhaps survive. A CVLBG will cost much less to operate that a full Carrier Strike Group, and the F-35 combat system brings a lot to the fight with technologies and systems that currently do not exist in the fleet all in one place. A CVLBG will be something with which to content and not merely ignored.

            US forces around the planet in their various patrol stations are a Proactive Preventative Presence given our TREATY OBLIGATIONS. That will not go away. Otherwise we end up investing much more expensive capital (treasure and blood) as we have done twice in history to save the planet.

            I’m with you on the economy, and the recovery of our economy depends upon a pro-growth agenda as was embarked upon by John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and William Jefferson Clinton. Every recession in US history was Grown out of with pro-growth policies . . . until now. The crash of the 1920s resulted in a 50% budget cut by the federal government that was followed by the Roaring 20s. We should follow that example . . . and keep out powder dry.

          • Gary Church

            You are right Curtis, I am not a Believer in the military. I do not have faith in their ability to separate themselves from politics and industry. I consider much, if not most, of what they are spending our tax dollars on to be associated with profit and not defense. There are a few people still in congress that for whatever reason are making the right decisions- such as keeping the M-1 tank chassis in production despite the military wanting to spend that money on useless toys. But for the most part I consider it all a big scam. Please take a look at my comments on the article detailing problem with army radios and you will find three examples of why I am convinced the system is rotten as rotten eggs.

            The problem is the thieves in this story are wrapping themselves in the flag and getting away with robbery on a scale that boggles the imagination.

            I doubt very strongly the Chinese will “come” if we do not give them any reason to. Unlike previous European and Asian adversaries they have a history of not caring about anything but China. But if they feel threatened (as they did when we reached the Yalu river near the end of 1950) they WILL commit their forces. We had dropped nuclear weapons on another Asian country just 5 years previous and they were terrified of us doing it to them. And in a self-fulfilling prophecy we finally had to come close to it to get them to back off.

            I know you are surface warfare guy and are invested in that arena emotionally. The cavalry was invested in their horses even into the first world war. You know by now what I am pushing here; we are in the age of robots and missiles right now and do not know it- and this ignoring of reality could be the ultimate disaster for our nation.

          • Curtis Conway

            Your understanding of the Chinese intentions is dated. The new ADIZ is a case in point. They are becoming more intrusive and having their people wrap themselves in the the flag (theirs), and have embarked upon a Blue Water Navy building program. If we do not meet that challenge as a balancing force, they will just eat up the Western Pacific and previous powers in that part of the planet over the last centuries.

          • Gary Church

            Maybe. And maybe they are just playing the game for national prestige. The “challenge” in my opinion are those coastal missile batteries that can reach out several hundred miles. Missiles they are working hard to improve while we have….ships that are basically targets for those missiles to sink.
            You know where I am coming from; the age of robots and missiles is here, and the age of surface combatants is over.

  • Gary Church

    2018 will mark 100 years since the first aircraft carrier. The Dreadnought Battleship lasted from 1906 to 2006. Actually the Battleship was worthless long before it’s century was up and the Carrier is IMO also now……irrelevant.

    Goodbye and good riddance. Above the chorus of wailing pundits and the gnashing teeth of politicians, a single clear note of thankful joyous celebration will be heard- sung by the U.S. taxpayer praising God above for getting rid of these bottomless money holes devouring countless billions. Our enemies will no longer be able to rejoice at every dollar we throw away on these dinosaurs knowing they can destroy them at will.

    Spend that vast fortune on offensive missiles and energy production.

    • Curtis Conway

      To make such a comment as “Battleship was worthless long before it’s century was up”, is a comment made by someone who obviously has never been there and understands the environment. To this day we have not replaced the Battleship with anything close to something that can accomplish its mission (gunfire support). The only way to sink one is to hit it with a nuclear weapon. Sufficient displacement provides any capability on the hull one wishes to install from Aegis anti-air to land attack cruise missiles, of which some were modified. The problem with the Battleship is its crew size and the maintenance budget to keep it going. Improvements could be made, but they are expensive and no one has the heart to make the argument and see it through. The 16″ gun provides a tube through which many things can be launched. If they were still in operation today we would be sending those rounds 100 miles or more with considerable guidance on the end of the projectile. Thought has been given to a gas turbine backfit with a considerable amount of engineering to support that effort. Its a shame the USS Iowa (BB-61) will not see service again.

      • Gary Church

        Plenty of battleships have been sunk without nuclear weapons Curtis. As far as surface combatants go you are right; they are the only things that would stand any chance of surviving the first battle. But……not much of a chance. Those factory sites that produced the foot thick homogenous rolled face hardened steel to make those ships are parking lots and Walmarts selling Chinese goods now.

        The age of surface combatants is over. That is the environment; total threat, no place to hide, and missiles that don’t miss. Can’t stop them from getting through and there will be not hundreds, but thousands of them.

        • Curtis Conway

          Not many Iowa class battleships were ever sunk! We are not building new, we are modifying old. As for the massive missile attack . . . I’m an Aegis troop. If we have the weapons, we can do it. Directed Energy will make it even easier IF we have the power distribution and storage capability. I will not go to the “woe is me” corner!

          • Gary Church

            Oh, I am not in any woe is me corner- I am in the Sunburn fan club. The Sunburn, as deadly as it is, is getting dated considering the acceleration of processing power and new sensors. The new missiles are unstoppable. The idea that you can shoot down missiles with missiles is good for defense business but I am not buying it. No way. Like the stellar success reported for the Patriot missile in the 1st gulf war, I think it is all a con job. As for directed energy- very simple tricks like putting different reflective and refractive coatings on the missile and spinning it up the energy requirements an order of magnitude. A violently maneuvering mach 3 missile would require a bolt of energy from the death star to do it in. I understand people are invested in Carriers and Aegis and all the other legacy systems; invested in every way. But it is the job of those of us who see a disaster looming to try and avert it. The 21st century is about missiles and robots and our military can either evolve or be totally defeated by an enemy that is a step ahead of us and realizes the advantage has overwhelmingly shifted to offensive missiles.

          • ycplum

            You are assuming that missiles are unstoppable. The problem with using a missile is you have to detect your target first, Any active sensor is vulnerable to attack themselves.
            Look up Operation Mole Cricket 19 as well as the opening moves of the Persian Gulf War.

          • Gary Church

            And you are assuming they can be stopped. You go ahead and knock out all those sensors (that will be sooooo easy) and bravely advance while they wait to turn them back on. That stupidity will get alot of sailors killed. If you think Iraq was representative of what our forces are facing in the future- you are not too bright.

          • ycplum

            You do not need to knock out all the sensors. You just need to knock out (or jam) enough for a corridor for follow on forces. Things are not so descrete (on/off, working/not working, win/lose). In both example given, one side was able to get around the sensors.

            In the Korean peninsula, one of the biggest threats the South faces are NK special forces that are tasked with infiltrating and sabotaging critical infrastructure, to include radar facilities.
            I will definately agree that the pendulum has swing more to the defense, but it is far from being the end of war. The same was said of teh machine gun, submarine (I did a paper on how some said in the late 1800’s that future naval invasions and battles would become futile in college) and bombers, but countermeasures always get developed.

          • Gary Church

            Good luck with that corridor.

            There were very few soldiers killed by bayonet wounds in the U.S. civil war. A different shaped piece of lead (the minie ball) put an end to that nonsense. But the cult of the bayonet persisted into world war one until mountains of dead bodies finally convinced someone the world had changed. You better wake up Y. Submarines have made every other weapon pretty much obsolete (as long as they can hide and that might not be for much longer). One boomer can end civilization; that is a fact. IMO naval invasions became futile with the fielding of the Sunburn missile (and other missiles but that one is the best example). But like the minie ball, no one has noticed yet.

            We have corresponded enough now to know that we are probably not going to change each others world view. Can we try and meet eat other in the middle and agree on some more specific points?

          • ycplum

            The machine gun ended the bayonet charge, but not all infantry attacks as claimed during its introduction. The infantry adapted by dispersing, finding cover, using more artillery and introducing the tank.
            The boomer did not end all wars as claimed in the Pre-WW I years. In fact, the submarrine was countered effectively in WW i and WW II.
            Boomers did not enda ll wars. It only shifted conflict to conventional warfare. Today, submarine does not dominate warfare since anti-sub measures are still effective.
            The Sunburn missile is only effective if it can target a ship. However, any mobile radar station that turns on its radar is subject to attack.
            We have not gotten to the stage that Defense dominates Offense. To some degree, it may have swing toward defense, but I suspect it will swing back the other way soon. This has always been the nature of warfare.

          • Gary Church

            Have to disagree Y. The missiles of just ten years ago are an order of magnitude less capable than what is being tested now. And if the machine gun did not end infantry attacks it did end cavalry charges. It is Moore’s law at work and sensors using refined technology that make them so discerning and sensitive they cannot be spoofed. While this should also benefit the defense the laws of physics make this the opposite case. You cannot hit a bullet with a bullet.

            By “Boomer” I mean the Ballistic Missile Submarine, one of which can incinerate the 200 largest cities on Earth thus ending civilization as we know it (or at least radically changing it- but there are more than a few Boomers out there). I would say that “dominates” warfare. You mention the Sunburn but I was using that older model as an example- missiles now have multiple sensors- some of them passive- as well as inertial guidance. And quite fiendish evasion and attack programs. They are not single drones flying straight and level in rigged tests to sell missiles.
            We have differing opinions again and should move on I think.

          • ycplum

            The machine gun ended the horse cavalry charge, but not the armoured cavalry charge. Also, we had machine guns in the Korean War and Vietnam War, but the human wave tactics still worked. The Iranians used it during the Iran-Iraq War. Granted, it was at a high price, but it worked. This illustrates my point of the pendulum swing between defense and offense.
            You are correct about Moore’s law, but that can be applied to both defense and offense.
            Boomer have been around since the the 60’s, but we still have war. Nuclear weapons have muted warfare (no direct confrontation between nuclear powers and/or it is kept at a conventional level), but it has not eliminated it.
            Yes, the missiles have multiple sensors, but most are limited to the terminal phase. Radar is still the primary targeting sensor due to its range. And couner measures do exist, to include destroying the incoming missile.
            The old tactic was that you had to saturate a carrier groups missile defenses long range missiles. The biggest change in this tactic is you probably need fewer missiles for saturation. With teh advent of stealth, you can theoretically use a stealth aircraft to slip in close and launch a large supersonic missile. Stealth does not mean total invisibility. It does mean you can sneak closer in before being seen. I suspect the likely response will be to have the carrier group further off shore and to put pickets further out. Has the usefulness of the carrier group been degraded? Yes. But it has not been eliminated.
            I think that is the fundamental problem with your perspective. A weapon system is either fully countered or not. Very often, a weapons system is degraded to some degree for some situatuation. A some point, a weapon system may be degraded where it would not be cost effective. Don’t be so “Black and White” in your perspecive.

          • Gary Church

            I accept the criticism.

          • ycplum

            What!?!? Accepting views that are different than your own?!?!
            That is so unAmerican! lol

          • Gary Church

            I accept the criticism, not your fairly fantastical view of reality Y. It may not be black and white but it is not subject to change at your whim. Missiles are now unstoppable. All of your pentagonese is not going to stop them. Your pickets and corridors are just words. We no longer have global war and your definition of war is whatever you want it to be. War is not insurgencies and border clashes. You pick and choose making any argument that uses interesting words while I stay on task. So stop laughing- you might think this is all funny but it really is not.

          • ycplum

            lol
            I think it is your belief that missiles are unstoppable that is unrealistic. Name one system that has a 100% effectiveness. And bear in mind that that the effective is based on the assumption that you already have a lock on the target. Detecting and and getting is not a sure thing either. In fact, is is usually the reaction time from detection to launching that is the most critical factor.

          • Gary Church

            Ridiculous argument. Completely ridiculous. If you are going to react this way to my comments then I am going to stop being nice to you- even though I like you Y.
            Bear in mind that a missile does not have to be 100% effective- you have it ass backwards yet again; it is the defense that has to be 100% effective.

    • ycplum

      A battleship is simply a class of surface combattant. It is not “worthless” so much as not cost effective. Teh need is smaller, cheaper vessels to cover larger sea areas.
      As for the aircraft carrier, you really need to look past the set piece, two top-dog slugfests. A single US carrier has more airpower than the total airpower of most nations. It poses a threat and that alone is a political tool (when properly wielded). The aircraft carrier hasnot been used directly against another first rate power since WW II, but it has been used extensively in hotspots around the world since. I see this continuing for a while.

      • Gary Church

        “-you really need to look past the- slugfest.”

        Uh…..that is not what you want to look past because if you do you are going to get your ass kicked eventually, guaranteed. That “political tool” B.S. is for people who think this is some kind of game. Got news for you- the last global conflict ended with nuclear weapons being dropped on defenseless cities and incinerating a couple hundred thousand women and children. The next major conflict we were involved in (with China in Korea) only ended when Ike threatened to do the same thing to Bejing. They believed him. We have not done too well since then IMO. The middle east adventures will end like Vietnam; nothing to show for it but lives gone to waste. Haliburton made some money though.

        Go ahead and play your game. I am not even going to address your “smaller, cheaper vessels to cover larger sea areas.” Right.

        • ycplum

          The threat to use nukes only worked because China did not have the bomb. They soon got the bomb and means to use it.
          And it shows your ignorance to think that my belief (and pretty much all world leaders) that thinking the military is a tool of
          politics is “a game”.
          The problems we created has nothing to do with geography, but rather our ignorance on the use of the military.
          Beside genocide and possibly a few other examples, there is no “military solution”. Almost all “solutios” are political or diplomatic in nature. A Peace Treaty is a political act. A redrawing of borders is a political act. A regime change is a political act. The puprose of a military is to create a favorable environment for a political/diplomatic conclusion.
          My football analogy: Some say that our military is analogous to the quaterback or reciever or the halfback. It isn’t. Our military is tanalogous to the offensive linebackers. They buy the time for the politicians to pass the ball or make a hole for a politician to run the ball. The politicians scores. Teh military makes that possible. During the Persian Gulf War, our politicians scored based on the excellent plays of our military. During the Afghan and Iraqi Wars, our military did their jobs and did it well, yet we have no success. Why? No matter how much time you give the quaterback or how big a hole you make for the halfback, you can’t score if teh quarter back does throw (or passes poorly) or ifteh halfback fumbles the ball. And that is what fundamentally happened.
          And just because this area of mathematics/politics/sociology is call Game Theory, it doesn’t mean lives are not on the line or that I don’t realize it.

          • Gary Church

            I do not like football. I am a boxer. All game theory boils down to the prisoners dilemma if you are familiar with that. And the solution to the prisoners dilemma is tit for tat. And that means violence, not negotiation. Politicians play their games and people die in the millions. Nukes kept them from playing the world war game and we have had no 3rd world war. Get it?

            Let’s stop arguing about this Y. We are not going to change each other’s minds.

          • ycplum

            Actually, you have the prisoners dilema wrong. It is not “tit for tat”, but rather “do onto others before they do onto you”. It is one of teh most talked about, but is not represenative of Game Theory.
            You really should not be mocking what you do not understand.
            Politcians play their games without understanding Game Theory. They often find that their poliical infighting experience does not transfer to global politics. It is there ignorance that gets us in trouble, not their knowledge.

            FYI, I practically minored in weapons proliferation and disarmament in college. And since I was an engineering major, I leaned toward quantitative perspective, rather than the social. ; )
            And with regard to a boxing analogy (as best I can since I was never really into boxing), the military is more akin to footwork, maneuvering opponent into a corner, and possibly the jabs . The diplomatic side is more akin to the knockout punch.

          • Gary Church

            Nothing you have stated above makes sense to me. Sorry. We come from different planets I guess. Diplomacy never knocked anybody out and I think you are the one mocking me here. The prisoners dilemma solution is tit for tat. If you read a different book than I did then…we have not been reading the same books.
            Your “quantitative perspective, rather the social”, sounds like B.S. to me. I refuse to be baffled- you might call that ignorance but that’s the way it is. We need to figure out a way of responding to each other here without going round and round like this Y.

          • ycplum

            LOL.
            Look at every conflict in the last 100 years. How many of those eventually ended with a peace treaty or at least an agreement of some sorts verse a complete annihilation/subjegation of one side? Even the Korean War “ended” (at least the fighting) with a ceasefire agreement. That is diplomacy.

          • Gary Church

            Wars end- you are stating the obvious. That is not diplomacy- that is the end.

          • ycplum

            But how did the war end and what concluded the the war? Diplomacy and politicians concluded the war. People didn’t simply stop shooting.

          • Gary Church

            Yes they did Y. The enemy stops shooting when they are beaten and have no more bullets, are surrounded, and have no place left to go. It is called winning the war. I am really tired of arguing the obvious with you endlessly.

          • ycplum

            Name that war/conflict where the enemy ran out of bullets and stopped fighting.

          • Gary Church

            All of them; are you…..really that dense? Do you understand that an enemy fights until they are defeated? That a battle ends when one side kicks the other sides ass? The diplomats do not walk out into a battle and throw their hands up telling everyone to stop killing each other. Battles are fought to a conclusion. Wars end because one side cannot fight any more- that is called losing; do you get it? What is wrong with you Y? Why do you keep arguing every single detail of everything I say?

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    Imagine in a age of Stealth a fully loaded carrier taken out?

    • jgelt

      Varus, give me back my legions!

      • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

        I don’t remember that saying? I guess you are referring to the Roman Legions. Most would surely put them at the top of the line for their time and day as America would be above the Russians or Chinese in this day but not at the level the Legions were above those in their day.

        • jgelt

          Rome at the height of her power sent 3 full legions into Germania. They were essentially wiped out. Varus was the commander. Augustus reportedly repeated the phrase over and over as he banged his head against the wall. I imagine American reaction to a sunk carrier would be par.

          • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

            I’d say your right there. If we needed to built a 100 for the other 99 were taken out we would surely do it. That thing of the Japs building 13 through the war and us 128. You can’t win against those numbers. I got a book on the Roman Legions I’ll have to read up on them against Varus or look up something on the net here. I really love WW2 though and enjoy making alternate campaigns for the Panzer General 2 ( morphed version) game. Got 10 made. Most German or SS but a few SS Amerika ( civil war here, then off to fight WW2 ) and a couple with women in the uniforms SS/BdM and SS Amerikan. About the Legions I like that rule where you were as in a squad of 10 and if someone in that squad stole they would put him to death plus a couple of more. I think that would make some good comroderey among a squad. But Once Rome started to bring others in and slowly let the others have diversity the end of Rome.

          • Gary Church

            You make so little sense if we were Roman soldiers I would make sure you were the one they put to death.

          • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

            I don’t think you get the choice, I believe it would be the commander of the squad. If that had been you the first battle I doubt you would come back, your own side fed up with your views would be looking for a new commander.

  • Curtis Conway

    “Cut a carrier and defend the country” . . . ? Our defense is a Proactive activity with preventative presence of overwhelming “Forces of Good”, not responding to a problem and solving that problem with more expensive capital (the blood of our young people). Innovation is required with the funds available.

    With the defense budget shrinking and operational cost rising, we should see innovation and efficiency as the ‘order of the day’ and developmental and operational constant, in all force improvement initiatives. Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) propulsion systems provide operational costs savings as demonstrated with the USS Makin Island (LHD-8) deployment. The efficiency of HED and versatility of the engineering and propulsion spaces provide multiple propulsion methods at a cost which aligns itself with the operational tempo, provides electrical power more reliably at lower cost in the long term, and provides additional power if required while still moving the ship forward at a considerable clip. These improvements should be multiplied through expansion of such modifications. That costs savings should be multiplied with new surface combatants propulsion systems engineered accordingly, and back-fit on DDG-51 Destroyers and CG-47 Cruisers. This single upgrade, though expensive, provides operational cost savings and gives more operational options with respect to power generation and the consumption of fuel, as commanders meet their mission requirements. If engineered with future upgrades in mind (Directed Energy & Rail Gun) not only will diversity
    and flexibility be provided but a defense in depth, and an increase in ship’s
    survivability will result, providing a robust capability at a significant cost savings in the long term.

    With respect to aircraft carriers, the effect aviation can bring to any combat zone is not likely to go away anytime soon. More of those aircraft may be without a living pilot, but the vast majority of rapid decision making, in a dynamically changing environment, at present technological levels, will not likely permit pilots to be replaced in combat aircraft in the near future. This reality alone will keep the Supercarrier alive for the foreseeable future. How many we can deploy at any one time is the issue. To mothball a Supercarrier is something few have contemplated, but may be required. Perhaps a Lend-Lease with Great Britain (don’t think their budget can handle it), or a mutual concurrent manning concept can be devised. A NATO Supercarrier?

    What are the operational alternatives that can provide aviation assets to a Unified Commander, and provide lower operational costs for the short to medium term? I suggest that the new capabilities of the F-35B provide an avenue that will give alternatives that previously were not available. The USS America (LHA-6) platform configured as a light carrier will provide 5th Generation aviation assets, in meaningful numbers that can handle regional problems, or at least hold the line, until the Supercarrier can respond. The time for a Light Carrier Battle Group
    (CVLBG) has arrived. This reality will require two additional factors; 1) an VSTOL AEW&C aircraft, 2) a smaller lighter fast Aegis Guided Missile Frigate.

    The CVLBG must have an Over The Horizon (OTH) active and passive aviation surveillance platform. The V-22 Osprey is the obvious choice for this mission. Not only will this platform support a CVLBG, but be indispensable to a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) playing catch-up ball in a rapidly changing theater to which they have just responded. Many allies need this capability today, and several may require it in the near to medium term, as a force planning option they cannot afford to pass up. No other VSTOL platform has the interior capacity, speed, range (e.g., on-station persistence which can be extended with refueling capability) to perform this mission for the MAGTF or CVLBG in independent operations.

    The Aegis Guided Missile Frigate is a natural progression of the Aegis Cruiser-Destroyer development line that should already exist. An Aegis FFG would cost less to deploy and provide robust short to medium range defense, short to medium range surface to surface offense, and aviation and small boat support, as well as Plane Guard for the CVLBG during flight operations. If so configured, it can fill the DDG-51 Destroyers mission in a pinch (except for BMD). However, it will never
    replace the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Destroyer. It will consume less fuel and be manned by half the crew of a DDG-51 Class vessel. The Aegis Cruisers and
    Destroyers will increasingly be called upon to provide Ballistic Missile Defense operations around the globe. Supercarrier escort and “Show the flag” missions, in obscure and out of the way places, will need a capable and robust combat capability embodied in our new Aegis FFG. Handling a mass cruise missile attack, with a large magazine of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) guided by a 3D non-rotating detect/track/engagement capable radar, should be a primary design criteria. We can build two-to-three Aegis FFGs for the cost of one DDG-51 Flt III. The Aegis FFG can be constructed more rapidly than a DDG-51, and perhaps in the same shipyards.

    The CVLBG would necessitate a new class of vessel embodied in the LHA-6 platform (perhaps four to six). This will not be an amphibious vessel, although it could support amphibious operations. The CVLBG can provide presence and support at a significantly lower cost. Force structure will require adjustment above
    and below the surface to support this concept. Basing in foreign ports of a CVLBG is not the footprint represented by a full Supercarrier Battle Group. More basing options may very well be made available to the CVLBG as a more palpable
    answer to a requirement/desire for more American force presence in the Pacific Region.

    If this option were to be entertained, the US Marine Corps will need a full force of F-35Bs, and perhaps the US Navy acquire some as well. For this reason the US Marine Corps should be relieved of its requirement to purchase 80 F-35Cs and restore the full complement of F-35Bs. I can think of few things more impactful than a CVLBG equipped with Marine Air Support on board.

    • Gary Church

      “This
      reality alone will keep the Supercarrier alive for the foreseeable future.”
      At least until they are sunk in the first battle.

      “-the US Marine Corps will need a full force of F-35Bs-”
      Missile fodder.

      But though I disagree, Curtis is probably right- but not for any good reason IMO; it is about the money. There is such a fantastic amount of money invested in these worthless floating targets and so much money to be made that only the end of the world (or the complete collapse of the U.S. economy) would see the end of them.

      What a waste.

      • Curtis Conway

        The logic and success of persistent preventative presence has escaped most observers. When the ‘cop is on the beat’ most folks make nice. The Carrier Strike Force departed the 6th Fleet some years ago. Now what do we have? As soon as he’s gone the rats come out of hiding as they did in North Africa and the Middle East. We have Unified Commanders and persistence presence around the planet for a reason. The ‘wait until the shots are fired and REACT to the situation’ (reactive mode) is this administration’s Foreign Policy. How’s that working out for you.

        • Gary Church

          Curtis……we are not the world’s police force. I do not like my taxes going into buildings that become piles of rubble and get rebuilt to become piles of rubble in some corner of the planet where most of the money is going into the pockets of boy rapers and drug merchants to start with. Vietnam, Desert one, blackhawk down, lone survivor; how’s that working out for you?

          We started fracking all of our natural gas and now the middle east is suddenly not so important. That is what is working for me.

          • ycplum

            The US economy is a global economy. Severe economic disruptions in other parts of the world, often caused by pollitics or piracy, will have a very real ripple effect on the US economy. For better or worse, we are stuck being a global policeman (or at least the heavy hitter) since we have both the largest share of the global economy and, probably just as important, the capability of doing so. Now, are other not pulling their fair share, probably. But we can’t simply withdraw either.
            Also, I think you are missing Curtis’s point that often, our military acts as a deterent and can effect change without firing a shot. It is often unseen and unreported. That was what he meant about a policeman simply walking a beat.
            Our military is intended to support the political/diplomatic mission. Sadly, the political/diplomatic ends has been dropping the ball.

          • Gary Church

            I think you have it backwards Y. Completely ass backwards. Our economy is OUR economy. You want to give it away that is fine but do not assume everyone will go along with that. I sure won’t. If there are “disruptions” in other parts of the world then the millionaires amongst us may put guns to their heads but the rest of us will learn that we can actually survive without driving 30 miles to work and back every day in our personal panzer and having the latest version of video game or smart phone is not a life and death matter. Really.

            Our military is intended to defend this nation. Period. Sadly, you are buying into the same infomercial hype gullible minds are prey to.

          • ycplum

            LOL You have got a lot to learn about economics. Crack open any economics book. Go look up the Arab Embargo of 1970’s and early 80’s. That is just a very obvious example.
            We are the world second larget trading nation. while our domestic economy is large enough to survive on its own, our standard of living will not approach what it is now. And i do not mean in terms of video games. I am talking about healthcare and housing. Exports acount for just under 20% of jobs in the US. Just as important, these exports helps balance off our imports, such as energy.

          • Gary Church

            Go ahead and laugh. You have your opinion of what is important and I have mine. Economists are the voodoo practitioners of academia. They have never been able to predict anything accurately. I remember the Embargo- I stood in a line of cars with my dad waiting to get gasoline. If you think that really mattered in the grand scheme then you ARE gullible.

            I am harsh on those that are not seeing the practical side of things and I would rather not get on a fellow cavalryman’s bad side. How about we find things to discuss and agree on instead of just arguing and disagreeing?

          • ycplum

            If you are referring to the economists on TV or the government economists, I agree with you. I don’t pay any attention to them. They tend to be bias or are in severely influenced by ratings or special interests, often cherry picking certain stats with little concept of their origin, accuracy or limitations.
            However, there are a lot of good economists out there doing good job. The big difference is that their predictions/estimates are not as absolute, have conditions attached or they flat out tell you that that that they don’t know.
            The point of a global economy is not a “prediction”, it is a long establish fundamental principle that has proven itself. Teh principle is sound although there are various models that try to refine the principle.

          • ycplum

            LOL
            Antibiotics, x-ray treatment of cancer, blood transfusions, etal all sound like voodoo, witchcraft, or magic at one time. Just because you do not understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t science.
            You want to talk about voodoo, try taking a 4th semester class, Physics IV – Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. My mind partially blocked out that semester to save my sanity.
            However, I have a theory that voodoo dolls involves manipulation of matter using quantum entanglement. LOL
            Trust me, it is funny. Just ask a physics guy or at least a science nerd. Or wiki it.

          • Gary Church

            Don’t condescend.

          • ycplum

            Not intended to be condescending. But you have to admit my point is valid.

            Imagine some time in the future where we have a virtual computer screen projected onto the lenses (either our own or contacts) in our eye. We wear gloves or rings on our fingers to manipulate the screen in a similar manner that we use our fingers on iPads. Then imagine some fire mission officer saying:

            Computer, Borken District, 10 Km resolution.
            Computer, Display known friendly and enemy forces.
            Computer, Display likely enemy positions with confidence rating.
            [uses hands to zome in to a particular enemy position]
            Computer, Display CAS and artillery assets available.
            [uses hands to select weapons and ammo for fire imission]
            Computer, Time on target at 0535 hrs zulu.
            [uses hands to select a friendly drone unit]
            Computer, Task for recon at 0545 hr zulu.
            [uses hands to select CAS assest]
            Computer, Place on standby for follow up fire mission.
            It would not be hard to imagine this scenario several decades in the future. So how would this be different from a guy in pointy hat and a robe waving his arms, saying some incantations and calling for fireballs from the sky to smote the armies of his enemy? lol

          • Gary Church

            You laugh alot. How would it be different? One is real and the other is fantasy. You are just arguing to argue now. You are not making any real points. What is your game here Y? You just want the word? You got it; go ahead.

          • ycplum

            “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

            “Magic is just science that we do not understand yet.”

            –Arthur C. Clarke.
            My point — just because you do not understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t work or doesn’t exist.

  • Don Bacon

    Speaking of maintenance time for carriers, don’t forget RCOH — Refueling and Complex Overhaul.

    The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln entered a Virginia shipyard last March for a midlife overhaul that will last until November 2016. That’s three and a half years at Drydock 11, Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding. Cost? Contract cost only is $2.595 billion, not including all the sailors putting in their time.

  • tachyonzero

    Its an impression that you drop something out, why not stop there and keep doing it until it reach the bottom.