ulleungdo-surrenderNavalists from Norfolk to Yokosuka have spent the last few months since the election pondering the what, how, and when of the 355-ship navy that the incoming Trump Administration is using as a planning goal.

I’ve enjoyed the conversation and seeing the arguments about different constructs to get there, but as shiny and attractive the topic is, there is a background stage-whisper that keeps getting louder. We all know it is there, but like makeup on a growing skin lesion, you can only mask it and pretend to ignore it so long.

There is something that is even more important than strictly numbers; there is the training of your Sailors, proper manning levels of your ships, and correct maintenance and upkeep of your ships that you plan to bring to battle.

As Admiral Rozhestvenski’s tired, reeking, barely seaworthy fleet chugged in to view of Admiral Togo’s fleet, it wasn’t the numbers that sealed the Russians’ fate; it was training, maintenance, and training that sealed their fate.

This fact comes up throughout naval history, and it applies now as well.

At the Surface Navy Association meeting on 11JAN17, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran, USN played the Bishop of the Church of the Hard Truth to anyone who can only see new hulls;

Via John Grady from USNINews;

The message Navy leaders are sending to President-elect Donald Trump’s team is: We need money to keep the current 274 ships in the fleet maintained and modernized first and then give us the money to buy more ships.

Moran said the Navy is “lucky to get 90 percent” of what it needs in its readiness accounts.

In talking with the press and in his address, he said, “It is really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel” if maintenance is continuously deferred, causing ships to be in the yards far longer in the yards than expected with costs rising commensurately.

“Deferred maintenance is insidiously taking its toll.”

Not only does this add greater risk and a growing gap between the combatant commanders’ requirements and what the service can deliver, “you can’t buy back that experience” and proficiency sailors lose when they can’t use their skills at sea.

“At some point, we have to dig ourselves out of the hole,”…

What is that dollar figure? How many years and how much per year, have we been deferring? What is the aggregate total of deferred maintenance?

Deficit spending leads to bankruptcy. Unaddressed deferred maintenance of a fleet leads to death, defeat at sea, and strategic risk to the nation it serves.

We need more of this conversation.

Posted by CDRSalamander in Navy
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  • UltimaRatioRegis

    Yes, but how many of those Flag Officers acquiesced or even supported the deferred maintenance idea, optimal manning, and the rest of the suicidally-stupid maintenance management follies when they were proposed? How many reported honestly the deterioration of the material condition of their ships and systems? How many were willing to lay their collar insignia on the table to make the point to their seniors that such ridiculous ideas were destroying their Navy?

    Here, in these spaces, not so long ago, we were treated to the rather astounding notion that the retirement and disposal of a fully capitalized asset at half its planned service life doesn’t drive up lifecycle cost. Such a notion has no connection whatsoever with the realities of operation and maintenance of sophisticated equipment. None. Yet, we continue to hear it. Behold the results of such intellectual dishonesty.

    “Our ships in every harbor, be neither whole nor sound,
    And if we seek to mend a leak, no oakum can be found.
    And if there is, the caulkers, and carpenters also,
    Have gone away for lack of pay, and this the Dutchmen know!”

    • Lazarus

      Those flag officers “acquiesce” because they are constitutionally required to obey the civilian authorities who actually demanded and made the cuts in the navy maintenance budget.

      • UltimaRatioRegis

        Spare me. I know what their Constitutional obligations are. But they are not obligated to sell such crap as being tiffany cufflinks to Congress and the American people.

      • HMSLion

        You’re both right…which is why Congress needs an independent survey board NOT beholden to the President.

      • Lazarus

        I disagree that Navy flags sell “crap.” Would you expect a division officer ensign to tell the troops how much the CO’s liberty policy sucks and is unfair, or would you prefer that officer to keep working with the chain of command to affect a positive chain. We would all like to throw an almightly temper tantrum in response to bad concepts, but professionals don’t do that.

      • UltimaRatioRegis

        Yes, well…. This isn’t liberty policy. These are issues that directly affect the warfighting capacity and capability of the US Navy. Many of these bright ideas were sold as cost-saving measures, when it was clear to anyone who was taking an honest look that the effect was precisely the opposite. I would have been much more understanding if there was commentary to the fact that the Navy was forced into a suboptimal course of action, and there would be significant consequences, so stand by for them. But that was not how any of this was presented. And if it were, some questions I would ask would center around the social engineering complex in Millington, and the associated costs in lost labor for all the nonsensical and politically motivated sensitivity training. Until such considerable costs are wrung out of the Navy, complaints about budget are disingenuous. And no, those costs do NOT come from “different pots of money”. They all come from the same place, the taxpayers’ wallets.

        The notion that we can do more with less may make us feel good, but it is also, after a tipping point, dishonest. You only do less with less. And those with eagles and stars on their collars damn sure know it. It isn’t about temper tantrums, but rather it is about not selling your soul for your next promotion or assignment. Because professionals speak unvarnished truth when asked by seniors and their civilian overseers. They don’t engage in linguistic and logical gymnastics to make 5 seem like it equals 8, or that the unacceptable should be accepted without question. THOSE kinds of “professionals” sat in the dock at Nuremberg.

      • grandpabluewater

        It is a two way street. If a decision is made and a LEGAL order is given, you obey. You keep meticulous records and reclama if and as the facts justify, and if and as the policy violates regulations. If ordered to do wrong get it in writing and inform the chain of command of the conflict in directives.

        By the same token, you don’t
        destroy the careers of juniors who are pita truth tellers, for the simple reason that the life and career they are saving by lying down on the rr crossing may be your own.

        Meanwhile, the old gray widowmaker doesn’t care. Neither does machinery. Make a slip (error in judgement, in this context) and you or one of your people are in mortal peril.

        QED. Ask NavSafeCen.

      • Lazarus

        I respect your sentiments to be sure, but as I told CAPT Mongo, I’m not sure what other course is available other than to stay on and try to mitigate poor civilian decisions. I would like to see the service chiefs address Congress and the Present with something like, “We have given you our best professional estimate of the situation and associated force requirements. You are free to disagree, but if disaster strikes, don’t blame us. We gave you the facts, but you instead made political choices that cost the nation.” In other words, service leaders should not take bullets that ought to hit those really responsible (Congress, the President and the President’s appointees.)

      • timactual

        There is a difference between going along with a policy you disagree with and cheerleading for that policy.

        And what makes you think “the troops” need someone to tell them when a policy is stupid?

      • CAPT Mongo

        I gotta go with URR on this one. It seems to me that push back (by resignation publically and noisily) is the duty of a Flag (or for that matter other) officer who receives direction which will harm the National Interest–and that includes the combat readiness of our Navy. Seems to me it started with Tailhook and has been going downhill ever since. The “Revolt of the Admirals” cost several of them (and their subordinates like Dan Gallery) their careers; but it saved the Navy. BZ to them, and Negat BZ to those currently and past who failed to follow their example.

      • Lazarus

        You know of course what the flag response is to suggestions of resignation for a cause. They always say, “I would just be replaced by a worse ‘yes man’ than myself, and I can do more in uniform than I can through a resignation.” As I remember, none of the “revolt of the admirals” actually resigned, and one of the most chastised field grade officers (John Crommlein) ended up getting a star upon retirement.

      • CAPT Mongo

        I know–and circumstances vary, but every once in a while the tree of the Navy requires the “Blood” of an Admiral or two to refresh its roots.Yeah, I stole that but it’s appropriate. I submit that the Tailhook disgrace was one of those times (Kelso–call your office). The decision to quietly acquiesce in what just about everyone knew was a horrible budget /operational decision was slower moving, but just as deadly in its own way. If CNO had stood up and said “No, we don’t have a carrier available” and resigned in protest when the political twits (or twats lately) said to do it anyway, heat and light may have gotten a reasonable reset.

        The revolting (heh, maybe some actually were) Admirals did mostly have their careers cut short, and the demands for punishment from above were way worse than actually happened. The rest of the Navy had balls then, too.

      • Perhaps another example is the testimony of VADM Tom Connolly before the SASC wrt the F-111. See Sal’s 20 May 2009 column for more background.
        At least they named the plane after him. We may never see his like again (I think that was Sal’s point).

      • CAPT Mongo

        He was called “Aardvark” :-)?

      • Lazarus

        I admire the sentiment you voice, but I think a CNO’s resignation (or even that of a dozen flags) would be a mere blip in our harsh, angry news cycle. The media would condemn such flags as “unpatriotic” and a host of investigative types would dig up dirt on all of the resigning flags to discredit their actions. The leaders of the executive and legislative branch do not view themselves as mere citizen legislators but rather the superiors of their fellow citizens. Presidents make regulations independent of public input via Congress. Some senior members of the legislature view their seats as an entitlement, with many (Thurmond, Byrd, Ted Kennedy, Dan Inouye) being carried out of their seats dead rather than resign and let new blood serve.
        You and I would be concerned if a dozen admirals resigned, but sadly our fellow citizens would not care and govt elites would merely seek to discredit and condemn them.

      • jetcal1

        I don’t care about the news cycle. I care about the reaction by those both civilian and uniformed when confronted with a problem exacerbated by the publicity of a few willing to sacrifice.

      • CAPT Mongo

        That’s a really depressing post. Not sure I agree. The recent election has shown that enough of the people really do pay attention to something other than the MSM line to make a difference. I think that if a couple of senior Admirals resigned, and publicly said why, parts of the media (Fox e.g.) would pick it up and run with it.

      • Saripul

        Actually, it sounds as if you would be the one discrediting and condemning them.

      • Lazarus

        Why would I do that?

      • Arctic_Fox

        Indeed… Back “then,” senior officers had just fought and won a war at sea. They understood the needs of ready posture. They knew people who went out, and didn’t come home. Oh, and they were talking to politicians who had also lived through the war… Today? The question answers itself.

      • CBCalif

        One Admiral (lost to history) who had the guts to stand up to a President and paid the career price for it was Admiral James O. Richardson, CINCUS and Battle Fleet Commander in October 1940 — who objected to President Roosevelt ordering the Pacific Fleet to Pear Harbor. Admiral Richardson believed that would bring about a Japanese Attack and the Fleet was doomed by its location in Pearl Harbor. He had the courage to go to Roosevelt and to Congress to complain loudly. The belief at the time was that he was to be the next CNO, but that was the end of his career. Roosevelt relieved him of his command.
        Admiral Husband Kimmel and Stark quietly went along with Roosevelt in true Admiral tradition and Roosevelt of course rewarded them appropriately for their loyalty. There was a lesson.

        Another, Admiral Patrick N.L. Bellinger (sp?), of NC-4 Fame, sent a detailed report from Hawaii (Naval District) in 1941 detailing why his limited number of PBY’s could not properly cover the approaches to Hawaii, thus exposing the Fleet and other military installations to surprise attack. Admiral Bellinger wasn’t fired, but was later transferred to the Atlantic — commanded Patrol Aircraft Atlantic or something to that effect.

        The Admirals Revolt was long before I started my Navy Career (1100), but as a young kid I listened to conversations about it as it was going on — conversations between my then CPO (AMC) Father and other Chiefs and First Class. Men of a different generation, Flags included — their experiences seem to have made them tougher and fatalistic — more willing to take risks. One of the pre-WWII and forward Navy generation, my Father always said they (Officers, Chiefs, PO1’s …) who had served alongside each other for the years of WWII had a bond between them created by that experience.

      • CAPT Mongo

        Good call on Richardson–I do remember that (not personally, I wasn’t born yet). Curiously enough, my wife’s grandfather was commanding Saratoga at that time. He died of a heart attack at sea, but left some letters that reflect what you are talking about. All a good lesson–and cautionary tale–about using forces politically against the advice of the professionals.. Not that the practice will stop, of course.

      • Lazarus

        Admiral Richardson was also an early opponent of too much jointness. He dramatically vetoed his own commission’s report on unifying the services along the lines of Collins Plan, and helped to get SECNAV Forrestal mobilized to fight Marshall, Eisenhower and other senior Army leaders on this issue.

      • Aubrey

        That I did not know….there a good book on the infighting and politicking?

      • CBCalif

        The period between WWII and the Korean War was politically tough for the Navy and Marine Corps. Truman had no use for Marines and Marshall & Bradley didn’t understand the role of the Navy or comprehend the demands that would be placed on the military if a war broke out in the Asia- Pacific Area, as they discovered in 1950.

        Bradley and Eisenhower (to the dismay of the latter’s Army alumni) believed that Strategic Bombing or (maybe) large scale ground warfare was the future. SecDef Louis Johnson believed in reducing the Defense Budget. He canceled the Carrier America – triggering the 1947 Admirals Revolt and then in 1950 finally announced his / Truman’s plan to reduce the Marine Corps to 10 Battalions, days before the North Koreans rolled across the 38th parallel.

        Johnson was replaced by an aging Marshall who had no ability to control an overrated MacArthur. They sent the 8th Army to its doom at the hands of the Chinese, whom the four (MacArthur, Bradley, Marshall, and Truman) grossly underestimated. And, allowed that to occur despite “Dug Out Doug” MacArthur ­ (as the Navy and Marine veterans of WWII referred to him) having previously had his poorly trained forces beaten badly when he arrogantly sent them against the North Koreans. Driven back into the Pusan Perimeter they were saved there by the arrival of a Marine Regiment & the Army’s 27th (?) Infantry and by Carrier based Air Power. The same Marines whom Truman repeatedly disparaged and the Carriers he and Bradley wanted eliminated.


      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Flags are also required to give those civilian leaders honest, objective advice. And to tell them when they are wrong.

      • Lazarus

        I agree and I think they have, but civilian leaders have decided instead to go with a smaller fleet based on the belief that its technologies somehow offset sheer numbers of platforms.

      • grandpabluewater

        Which is kinda the point, Artiste.

      • Aurelian

        That advice would have alot more impact if it was backed up by a few resignations. The art of the resignation has been lost.

  • Lazarus

    VADM Rozhestvensky’s 2nd Pacific Squadron was largely composed on newer ships including the modern Suvorov class battleships. An 18000 mile voyage on a tight schedule and with uncertain logistics offered few opportunities for the Russian squadron to conduct battle practice. This voyage is still a record for a single squadron’s voyage. Few navies would have arrived in anything resembling fighting trim after such a journey. The U.S. Great White fleet that made a round the world voyage in peacetime would likely have met a similar fate.
    The Balisle report of 2010 has already highlighted the lack of maintenance in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Three successive President’s cut the fleet from 588 ships in 1988 to the present, much smaller number. Paying off the debt, Congressional pet projects and the post 2001 War on Terrorism have all claimed segments of the budget that might have gone to modernize the fleet. Senior officers have tried to secure more funding, but have faced continuing civilian opposition. If they are “guilty” of anything, it is in not telling members of Congress directly in testimony that those civilian lawmakers, not the uniformed leaders that usually get blamed are responsible for their budget choices. Military leaders are subordinate to civilian authority. For those seeking to “blame” someone, then point your finger at those members of Congress who say that everything is too expensive, yet squander billions on pet projects in their home states.

    • Shipmate … check yourself. Where in this post is there any attempt to “blame” anyone or assign “guilt,” much less to senior officers? I don’t know what post you are responding to – but it ain’t this one.

      • Lazarus

        Not criticizing you Sal. Sorry. Critical of those who blame flag officers for this rather than Congress and the 3 Presidents since 1989.

      • Who is doing that?

      • UltimaRatioRegis

        I am. I was unaware that the stewardship and vision for the United States Navy resided in Congress and the White House, and not in the senior leadership of the service.

        The fact that, four years running, the answer I got from the flag officers at the panel discussion on shipbuilding to the question of “how many ships and what is the high/low mix?” was “we have no idea”, was somehow GW Bush’s or Bill Clinton’s, or Barack Obama’s fault.

      • Lazarus

        It’s not vision that resides in the Congress and civilian DoD, but rather the budget authority. Read some of CNA analyst (and Maritime Strategy author) Peter Swartz’s material on the history of Navy strategy from the 1970’s to the present. The Navy has constantly asked for more ships and has generally desired 450 ships (or so) to meet its global peacetime presence requirements as well as engage in two major theater wars. Members of Congress and defense officials from 3 successive presidencies have instead demanded cuts, and sold the public the idea that 1 DDG 51 is worth 2 DDG 2 class ships in terms of fleet strength. That may be true in purely tactical situations, but as we know, quantity has a quality in its own right and 1 ship cannot be in 2 different places.

        The Navy’s flags have been beating their heads against this stone since 1991 without success as civilians always have claimed the naval threat was negligible. That is no longer the case, and now you see the civilian talking heads supporting a 350 ship navy (even though there is little strategic analysis to suggest that this is the right number.)

      • UltimaRatioRegis

        Your narrative of Navy Admirals fighting the good fight rings somewhat hollow. When senior officers in major commands tell me that the Navy’s job is “not to fight and win wars”, or that in a region with an unstable DPRK and aggressive China, the greatest security threat is “climate change”, and when the incessant and corrosive social experimentation push is being championed by the wide-stripes, when the warrior ethos is deliberately eroded, I am far less willing to accept that senior Navy officers have been banging their heads against the stone for 25 years in the interests of combat effectiveness. No, having been both involved with and a close observer of all this since the Reagan 600-ship Navy, I am not willing to absolve those senior leaders in uniform.

        A skeptical, budget-conscious Congress is the rule rather than the exception. And in many cases, they have been far better stewards of the taxpayers’ treasure than has the Navy. (See above, retirement of capitalized assets, deferred maintenance, Ford-class CVN, LCS, etc.) Other Admirals have succeeded in much more austere circumstances, where this crop and the one going back to the nineties has largely failed.

      • Lazarus

        If you have been watching since the days of the Maritime strategy, then you know that it is hard to have a hard-core naval warrior ethos in the absence of a real enemy. It is also hard to make the case to Congress for a decent fleet for even limited presence missions without an opponent. Those budget-minded skeptical members of Congress have gradually shorted the Navy budget for decades. In some cases it was in order to fund combat operations in SW Asia, but in others it was just so that their own pork projects could be completed.

        Deferred maintenance and early retirements of some ships were in vain hope that Congress would fund new ships. The DD 963’s were retired with the plan that they would be replaced by the SC 21 family (CGX, DDX, etc,) but Congress killed that . No senior flag officer has had much control over ultimate force structure since Burke. DoD civilians, Congress and successive non-Cold War Presidential admins have taken more $$$ out of all the service budgets. Hopefully now that tide is reversed and we will see a growing, rather than a shrinking fleet. The Navy also needs a definitive Maritime strategy, such as the 1980’s version, that explains why 350+ ships are needed and what they are intended to accomplish in war. Only then will the service gain the public’s trust and support for a larger fleet.

    • CAPT Mongo

      I believe it was the 2nd Pacific Squadron which opened fire on British trawlers in the North Sea because they thought they might be Japanese torpedo boats. That level of disconnection from reality /lack of training and discipline helps explain their subsequent defeat. Of course there was also the settling of the “All big gun” versus lots of different caliber of guns armament discussion.

      • Quartermaster

        Just a minor navigation mistake.

    • NavySubNuke

      Flag officers have both the right and the duty to speak out when things are wrong – even if those wrong things are ordered by the civilian officials over them or even congress itself.
      The July 2014 joint letter from the CNO and Director of NR is a great example of this.

  • Mitchell Fuller

    The Navy, ditto the rest of the DOD, has done a criminal job in managing their acquisition programs from the F-35 to the LCS, and don’t forget the Ford Class and Zumwalt Class, to the detriment of its budgets and its ability to project power.

    • tpharwell

      I hesitate to agree with this biting assessment, but I must confess that deep down inside, that is how I feel.

      • Saripul

        Yes, and they will tell themselves that they did what they had to do in oder to keep the money faucet flowing despite the administration in place over the past eight years. But I remember reading an apology from top brass to the fleet in the late nineties or year 2000 about how they had gone along to get along in the Clinton administration, and the leadership had let us down, and how we would never have to hear “do more with less” again.

  • Gman79

    NavSea 00 years ago bemoaned the discussed closure of public shipyards during budget meetings. During a shipyard tour of the LBNSY while the Mighty Mo was being reactivated I recall a statement he made to the effect of ‘a dollar saved today from sliding maintenance will cost you more than 10 times that a decade from now” due to scheduling with fewer yards, drydock availability, longer logistics tails, higher personnel support costs, not to mention lack of competition. A smart ED he was.

    • Tom Yardley

      Without public shipyards our Navy is crippled.

  • FractureLine

    A bit of background: While a program is involved in the acquisition process, OSD goes to great lengths to ensure the effort is “fully funded.” Theoretically this includes lifecycle management, sustainment, etc. – and costs are programmed all the way to disposal. However, once the program gets out from under the authorities of AT&L and into the hands of the service chiefs for execution, this budget wedge is no longer protected and becomes a target for other, “more pressing” priorities.

    OSD is just as guilty as the services in this regard, but despite what some folks seem to think, this process is generally not directed from on high. Navy makes deliberate choices that are arbitrated at the N-4/N-8/N-9 level and brought to CNO for decision with an explanation of the risk involved. Unfortunately, the risk discussion is nearly always focused on the near-term. There may be an intellectual understanding that every $1 of deferred maintenance costs $10 later, but this is a tough sell when the cascade of unanticipated challenges starts chipping away at today’s headline readiness. I would like to note that this arbitrage is not done arbitrarily. The service has to manage all kinds of unanticipated costs that aren’t budgeted. Things break. People make mistakes. Operational tasking changes programmed usage rates, etc. However, this does not mitigate the magnitude of the damage done through a sense of “we can’t say no.”

    In the end, the readiness death-spiral starts as soon as sustainment is underfunded. The process of crisis management is inevitable in this case, and the resulting cost to “repair” such gaps is many times more than what would have been expended if the Navy had just maintained the funding levels intended in the acquisition plan – easier to say than to do.

    • CAPT Mongo

      Excellent. Thank you. I would only add that marginal force levels is what drives the unpalatable choices being made. If there was a better force level to commitment ratio, we would have some slack to take up the deployment/commitment “musts” and still accomplish necessary maintenance.

  • Derrick Lau

    What is the exact purpose of increasing the number of ships? I ask because I thought I read somewhere that this number came about the desire to reduce the amount of time crew members had to stay away from their families, correct? This would imply that the increased number of ships would not necessarily equate to an increase in presence, correct? Sort of like even though there are 10 aircraft carriers owned by the US navy, for every one on tour there are two in standby at port…

    • Lazarus

      It’s just a nice number. There must be a strategic assessment of the nation’s maritime needs, as there was prior to the 1980’s Maritime Strategy, before an adequate ship number that is also affordable can be reached.

      • CAPT Mongo

        Funny how that number seems always to be around 600—with 12-15 “Capital Ships” whether those be CV or BB. The last forces to commitments analysis I saw–which provided for full maintenance/training was north of 550 with 12-14 CVs.

      • SCOTTtheBADGER

        There was a time you could have 12 Capital Ships in just one Task Group.

      • CAPT Mongo

        Yup. In my time we had at least 4-5: 2 CV, 3-4 CG.

      • …and 2 SSN.

      • CAPT Mongo


      • Lazarus

        The number of BB’s inn the 1920’s and 1930’s was dictated by the requirements of the Washington and London naval treaties and was never based on any strategic assessment. The number of carriers was based on the need to maintain 2 carrier strike groups in the Pacific, 2 in the Atlantic and 1 in the Mediterranean (with each group nominally 3 carriers each.) Surface combatant strength has historically been derived from carrier escort requirements, but in the 1990’s and 2000’s the force assessment folks cut those numbers; claiming that modern surface combatants were worth several of their predecessors.

        There has been a general belief that ADM Kelso’s original 450 ship post-Cold War force structure remains the correct number of ships to support global US naval efforts.

      • CAPT Mongo

        Yes. I would point out that the size of the Battle fleet was limited by those treaties, and that an actual analysis would have required more–certainly for a two ocean war. Who are these “Force assessment folks” you allude to? Surely not anyone with actual knowledge of naval warfare and its history? I smell starting with a budget and aligning the force assessment to fit.

      • Lazarus

        Mostly DoD analysts and sadly some in uniform who suggested that the Navy could do more with less overall ships. Sadly, the 30 year shipbuilding plan has in effect become the Navy’s defacto strategy, and do to joint (i.e. Army) influence, the navy now measures strategy through force structure management without regard for geography, or long term warfare goals.

      • CAPT Mongo

        I smell a house that badly need cleaning.

    • HMSLion

      The strategic environment is shifting. For 70 years, the #1 war scenario was ashore, either Europe or Iraq. Much the same thing except for the camouflage colors…a large land Army to fight, a large land-based tactical Air Force for the air battle, and a Navy designed to get reinforcements across the water and make strikes on the periphery.

      That world is ending. The new strategic environment is multipolar and maritime. Russia remains a potential headache…and Iran…and China…and North Korea…and wherever ISIS pops up. Many of these potential opponents are vulnerable to seapower, and the strategic mobility of maritime forces increases their value.

      Exact numbers should be determined from a detailed strategic analysis, but it’s clear that 275-ish is well short of requirements.

    • jetcal1

      Increased hulls equate to more time for routine maintenance during periods of “limited” or restricted availability. And yes the ratio I deployed with was 2:1.

    • Aubrey

      Presuming that was an honest question, Derrick, and not trolling…

      The vast, vast majority of the US economy is dependent on the sea. If an enemy/rival wanted to destroy us, all he (or she….see, I AM transformed!!) has to do is start sinking container ships. Our economy will fall apart faster than a pilot handed a wrench…

      If you want to secure the SLOCs, you need ships…and lots of ’em. Five CSGs at sea? You need 15 CVNs and more escort ships than I have exes… Add in amphib capability, legitimate forward sea-basing, rear echelon logistics, convoy escort, harbor and coastal patrol…you get the idea.

      A separate silo (sorta) is subs. I would argue that SSBNs are by far the most viable and effective part of the nuclear triad, and we need to have enough to keep 10-12 at sea at all times. We also need enough SSNs to ruin anyone and everyone’s day when the balloon goes up (I would not say no to a decent force of SSKs, either).

      • The number of SSBN launch tubes is limited by treaty and the limit would not allow for 10-12 Ohio class SSBNs to be at sea at all times. I would however built right up to the limit and perhaps test launch a little more often.

      • Derrick Lau

        I think you are explaining the general strategic mission of the US navy, which I sort of understand. I was inquiring as to what the specific reason was for this specific proposed increase in the number of ships, because as stated, even if any navy had 15 aircraft carriers, only 5 will be able to be actively patrolling the oceans at any given time.

        The other way of asking my question is: if the number of ships is increased to 350, will there be an opportunity to reduce the time a typical crew spends at sea (and away from their families)? And will there be enough room in it to allow for increased patrols at sea too?

  • Under Admiral Arleigh Burke, the US Navy embarked on the FRAM
    program, wherein straight deck carriers were overhauled to put an angle
    deck on them. The program also included other surface combatants.
    Here are his recommendations, in order of preference:

    1) Build new ships,
    2) Give more time to maintenance,
    3) Accomplish more extensive overhauls,
    4) Provide more money for maintenance,
    5) Institute better training for maintenance personnel, or
    6) Create a large-scale modernization and rehabilitation program to fill the gap until new ships can be built.

    Sounds like we’ve been here before. Still, you have to watch out for
    requirements creep. When they FRAMed Midway, they blew the entire
    budget for that year.

    BTW William F. “Red” Raborn was busy building Polaris while all of this was going on… so: “Yes we can!”

    • The Navy might want to pull a Burke-like promotion.

      • Aubrey

        Phib’s available…

    • Lazarus

      Burke faced a much less centralized DoD than his successors. No PPBS, a weak Joint Staff and Chairman, ad no DOT&E to slow his progress, I doubt VADM Raborn would have been able to push Polaris through to completion if the current DoD bureaucracy was in place in the late 1950’s.

      • Raborn had the advantage of the “Missile Gap” panic. He also used the boys from the Rand Corp to paper the wall of the SASC hearing room with PERT charts made from 132 column line printer sheets.
        The Senators never quite understood what the PERT charts meant, but the computer’s bottom line said that the money was being well spent and no politician would argue against the computer that predicted the Kennedy / Nixon outcome.
        Smoke and mirrors notwithstanding, you have to admit that getting Polaris to sea in something like 2 and a half years was a remarkable achievement.
        We still have the capability – if we can remove the road blocks.

  • b2

    Don’t forget the D-level pipeline for Hornet TMS!

  • HMSLion

    If nothing else, attending to maintenance, buying ammo and spares, and providing increased training will all generate a quick increase in fighting power. More ships and aircraft are needed, but that pipeline is years long.

  • VelocityVector

    We need a leap ahead. We’ve attempted this with breakthroughs such as networking, lasers, rail guns and electric drives. None of these technologies will prove decisive except possible exception of networking. I think with UCAV/UUVs we can buy a generational leap provided we launch and recover them from sound ships. No other nation is close.

    The PRC made faux islands a thousand miles from its shoreline. It dares us to challenge. So far, we just fly by and wave at them. Which emboldens them further.

    Let’s make the national commitment. One with technical and financial accountability for a material change. And a commitment to rebuilding WARRIORS as an ethos instead of just about everything else.

  • W2

    Structural preservation doesn’t go bang and isn’t a sexy, new twidget component bolted onto a combat system. I am not talking about picking rust off the foc’sle preservation, but the preservation that requires a docking or emptying banks of tanks to accomplish, the preservation that keeps hulls watertight and tanks structurally sound, that type of preservation that ensures the mast doesn’t crumble in on itself. The preservation in the bilges, around crumbling equipment foundations and corroded stringers. That’s what needs to be done because that’s what hasn’t been getting done. This type of preservation is time consuming, expensive and almost always experiences “growth”. And you can’t sprinkle PPT pixie dust on it and make it go away either, it only gets worse over time. FLT I DDG’s are at, or reaching mid-life, so it’s time to fish or cut bait.

    • Byron Audler

      Thank you Jesus for someone who gets it. Everyone walks around the ship and sees pretty paint and shiny brass. Shipfitters and welders will tell you about the stupidity of replacing 3ft of shell stringer when the stringer you are trying to tie to is barely thick enough to accept a weld and the “Ship Building Specialists” of the local Regional Maintenance Centers tell you, “no, your request for additional funding to replace damaged/deteriorated stringers is rejected”…And FYI, “Ship Building Specialists” is an oxymoron. Most of these guys wouldn’t know a buttock from a beam. THAT’S a huge part of your problem.

      • VelocityVector

        Top men used to occupy the defense industry trades. Today, the trades in the defense industry are plagued with misfits that cannot be weeded out due to socio-political concerns and demand/supply and nepotism. The most skilled tradesmen head to science and energy projects where the compensation and living conditions are superior and the underperformers can be out-selected quickly. After years spent learning bleeding edge skills, top tradesmen nowadays “consult” in the Emirates etc. with free plush apartments, car with driver, and 400k/year – I know a number of these folks and they would never consider going back to a US shipyard for less, particularly while the CEO flies his young wifey around on shopping trips aboard the company helicopter. It’s an interesting pickle we’re in.

      • Byron Audler

        You are wrong, sir. We have no upcoming tradesmen because we don’t want to take the time to train new ones, something they did when I started my path to become a shipfitter in 1971. I am still work in the yards (though not on my tools, I have a middling office job…but still spend time on the ships doing inspections and writing reports)

      • VelocityVector

        I’ve been in a foul mood lately and I overgeneralized. Still, there is a ring of truth to what I stated without grace. I happen to know skilled tradesmen who have risen through the ranks and it’s what they tell me. From rather lucrative perches in several instances. All credit to you for remaining in the industry. Although you do occupy an office position, at some point in time proper consideration must be given to the spine, joints etc. We have the infrastructure in place to train journeymen through expert artisan, perhaps with your guidance we can convince the industry to invest in training, otherwise applied know-how may be lost. However, my clients are currently investing in virtual reality technologies so they can train fewer people faster and also in automation to replace all levels. One thing is for certain, we’re going to need good ships.

      • W2

        It is sad to see the FLT i DDG’s in worse shape than the SPRUANCES at mid-life. When you build something that is made of steel, and you put it in saltwater, you have to preserve it. When you send it to sea, to be twisted this way and that, you have to preserve it. Pretty simple, really.

  • vtbikerider

    So, in a perfect world– how much would it cost to make up the deferred maintenance and increase training to an acceptable level?

    What is the Navy training for now? ASW? ASuW? Convoy escort across the Atlantic? Littoral warfare in island chains?

    I look at the potential threats and feel a sense of deja vu– it’s 1942 all over again only with longer ranged weapons and sensors.

    • Aubrey

      “What is the Navy training for now?”

      White male privilege and global warming. Did you really have to ask?