Monday, October 17, 2011

ALT POM Early Decommission Plans

Here come the cuts. Details from AOL Defense reporter Carlo Munoz.

Washington: Just as the Navy is planning to take on a larger strategic role in regional hot spots around the world, the service is considering massive fleet reductions -- including a two-year delay on its new aircraft carrier -- as part of its upcoming budget plan.

The Navy may cut nine cruisers and three amphibious ships as part of its soon-to-be released budget blueprint covering the next five fiscal years, sources say.

The Navy plans to deactivate four cruisers from the fleet in fiscal year 2013, with another five cruisers coming out of the fleet the next year, according to a preliminary version of the spending plan. The three amphibious landing ships will be deactivated along with the five cruisers.
He goes on to note the potential early retirement of USS George Washington (CVN 73) and shifting of aircraft construction to 7 years instead of 5 years. Very smart folks I have spoken to have noted that a shift to 7 year construction cycles for big deck aircraft carriers will result in either paying up to 25% more for aircraft carriers than we would under 5 year cycles, or loss of that capacity in industry. When you extend the time out on any construction project, you raise costs. Clearly this an accountants idea spawned from an accountant, not one from an engineer.

Getting back to the cruisers and amphibious ships, I thought I'd offer some additional details.
The FY13 ships are:

USS Normandy (CG-60)
USS Anzio (CG-68)
USS Vicksburg (CG-69)
USS Cape St. George (CG-71)

The FY14 ships are:

USS Princeton (CG-59)
USS Cowpens (CG-63)
USS Gettysburg (CG-64)
USS Chosin (CG-65)
USS Hué City (CG-66)

USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41)
USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43)
USS Tortuga (LSD-46)
You might look at this news and think - well, these are just plans, so it's nothing to concern us right now. Wrong. These are part of alternative plans now, and that has maintenance ramifications.
Title 10: 2244a. Equipment scheduled for retirement or disposal: limitation on expenditures for modifications

(a) Prohibition.— Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Secretary of a military department may not carry out a modification of an aircraft, weapon, vessel, or other item of equipment that the Secretary plans to retire or otherwise dispose of within five years after the date on which the modification, if carried out, would be completed.

(b) Exceptions.—

(1) Exception for below-threshold modifications.— The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply to a modification for which the cost is less than $100,000.

(2) Exception for transfer of reusable items of value.— The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply to a modification in a case in which—

(A) the reusable items of value, as determined by the Secretary, installed on the item of equipment as part of such modification will, upon the retirement or disposal of the item to be modified, be removed from such item of equipment, refurbished, and installed on another item of equipment; and

(B) the cost of such modification (including the cost of the removal and refurbishment of reusable items of value under subparagraph (A)) is less than $1,000,000.

(3) Exception for safety modifications.— The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply to a safety modification.

(c) Waiver Authority.— The Secretary concerned may waive the prohibition in subsection (a) in the case of any modification otherwise subject to that subsection if the Secretary determines that carrying out the modification is in the national security interest of the United States. Whenever the Secretary issues such a waiver, the Secretary shall notify the congressional defense committees in writing.
USS George Washington (CVN 73) will likely get a waiver. Somehow I doubt these other ships will, which means several COs will not be getting that maintenance for a few months, or may be retiring their ships early. The Navy will retire oldest first to keep new construction, which is how the US Navy has handled every force reduction in their history.

One more thought. I look at this list and notice a few things. First, BMD capable and ships capable of BMD upgrades are on this cruiser list. The list basically cuts the one non-BMD cruiser at Pearl; cuts half the number of cruisers everywhere but San Diego; and only cuts two at San Diego. Randomly. The first cruisers to get modernization are not on the list, but they are also not BMD capable (the Block 2 Ticonderoga-class cruisers, CG-52 through CG-58).

Just think it is interesting that of the 22 Cruisers, the Navy will keep the eight that cannot get BMD upgrades and only 5 Cruisers that can or already are BMD compatible. I don't see how this approach squares with the BMD requirement that is currently driving surface vessel construction plans.

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