Home » Budget Industry » Hagel: Navy to Lay Up 11 Cruisers, Carrier Cut Decision Delayed until 2016 Budget

Hagel: Navy to Lay Up 11 Cruisers, Carrier Cut Decision Delayed until 2016 Budget


USS Lake Erie (CG-70) operates with other cruisers off the coast of Hawaii on Jan. 27, 2014. US Navy Photo

USS Lake Erie (CG-70) operates with other cruisers off the coast of Hawaii on Jan. 27, 2014. US Navy Photo

The U.S. Navy will “lay up” half of the service’s fleet of Ticonderoga-class missile cruisers under the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.

“Half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet— or 11 ships —will be ‘laid up’ and placed in reduced operating status while they are modernized, and eventually returned to service with greater capability and a longer lifespan,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon on Monday.
“This approach enables us over the long-term to sustain and modernize our fleet of cruisers.”

According to a senior defense official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, the cruisers are among a group of several older ships which the service had originally wanted to retire.

However, because Congress denied the Navy permission to retire the vessels, the Pentagon is pursuing laying up and modernizing the Aegis cruisers as an alternative.

Under the proposal, the cruisers would be modernized, but they would not be manned, which should result in cost savings, the senior defense official said.

Later, Aegis cruisers that remain operating would periodically be switched out with the inactive vessels as needed as those operational ships age or require further modernization.

Meanwhile, the fate of the carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) remains in limbo until fiscal year 2016.

“We will have to make a final decision on the future of the George Washington aircraft carrier in the 2016 budget submission,” Hagel said.
“If sequestration spending levels remain in place in Fiscal Year 2016, she would need to be retired before her scheduled nuclear refueling and overhaul.”

Hagel said that the Navy would have “no choice” but to retire the multi-billion dollar ship less than halfway through her lifespan under those circumstances.

Keeping George Washington in the fleet would cost $6 billion, he said.

But, even if George Washington were to be retired, it would leave the Navy with 10 carrier strike groups, Hagel said.

“At the President’s budget level, we would pay for the overhaul and maintain 11 carriers.”

Reaction from Capitol Hill to the budget preview was swift.

“Cancelling funding for the USS George Washington‘s required overhaul will be equivalent to abandoning a ship for which the taxpayers have already paid, when it still has decades of service life left, placing a further burden on our servicemembers who will have to deploy for up to 10 month in the future,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, in an statement provided to USNI News.

“While Secretary Hagel claimed today that a decision has not been made to reduce the fleet to 10 carriers, all the decisions now being made at the Pentagon appear to lay the groundwork to do just that.”

Meanwhile, the Navy will not buy 52 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) as previously planned. The LCS program will be truncated to a total of 32 ships.

“No new contract negotiations beyond 32 ships will go forward,” Hagel said. “I am concerned that the Navy is relying too heavily on the LCS to achieve its long-term goals for ship numbers.”

While the Navy needs the LCS for anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures, the senior defense official said that the

LCS may not be able to handle the threat from advanced threats in the Western Pacific theatre.

Thus the Pentagon needs to look at a new frigate-sized warship. “I’ve directed the Navy to consider a completely new design, existing ship designs and a modified LCS,” Hagel said. “These proposals are due to me later this year in time to inform next year’s budget.”

The news is not all bad for the Navy. The Navy will continue to procure two new guided missile destroyers and two attack submarines per year as well as an additional Afloat Forward Staging Base, Hagel said.

However, if the Defense Department returns to sequestration level funding after the two-year Bipartisan Budget Act expires in 2016, there will be consequences for the Navy.

Six additional warships would be laid up, Hagel said, and the Navy would have to slow the purchase of new destroyers. The service would lose a total of 10 large surface warships, and purchases of the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter would be suspended for two years.

The complete budget submission is due early in March.

  • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

    What the US Navy needs to do is keep the cruisers and cut the SSGN’s

    • Scott

      No, you have it reversed as we have a huge fleet of Aegis Destroyers. So, the loss of the Cruisers is hardly critical. Yet, the SSGN’s provide us with the ability to get close an opponent and fire 250 Cruise Missiles with little or no warning! This would be a huge advantage in a case of a Conflict in Korea or Taiwan. (for example)

    • NavySubNuke

      Why? Have you seen what 1 SSGN did during the bombing of Libya? Never mind the spec ops capabilities they provide.

  • JDW

    What the Navy, and the rest of the United States, needs is an American president.

    • Scott

      You mean an American President that can lead!

  • Marcd30319

    What the Navy is being the Royal Navy which laid up half its ships and constantly move personnel to fill in the gaps.

  • Bananaville

    This is what happens when you max out your credit cards, and continue spending and borrowing. Just on a larger scale. The United States of Screwed.

    • Scott

      We could do far better in Defense Spending. Yet, that budget is far smaller than Entitlements! The problem as always is the Democrats are happy to cut the former but don’t want to cut even a little from the latter!
      I would also add much of the problem in Defense Spending isn’t the fault of the Military but both Political Parties. (i.e. Democrats & Republicans)

  • NavySubNuke

    I’m just sorry to see we are wasting money building out the last of the 32 LCS’s on contract – surely the penalties for cutting the contract short are less costly than the O&S costs the Navy will pay to man and maintain ships that can’t actually accomplish anything except clearing a mine (probably once with their own hull) and showing the flag (usually from in port while being repaired)

  • Pat Patterson

    This is just a prelude to scrapping the Ticos. I’ll bet the money will miraculously dry up.

  • bubbasayswhat

    Ole Buck Sergeant Hagel, a big military leader now. Laughable!

  • P3CPilot

    President Reagan had it right when he described the three legged defense: Land, Air and Sea. Today, with the political demagogue in charge who is leading this country into the tank, there will no longer be a valid three legged defense posture, but a lame, sick, bent and tiny defense force with no clout. Putin is laughing; Europe is dithering [they should be the ones on the line for the Ukraine, not the U.S.] and the U.S. muscle is getting weak. Pivot, indeed! God help us!

  • Joseph Hoffman

    The Navy decided to get rid of the Ticonderoga class when its CGX cruiser replacement was cancelled in 2010. Their will be no cruisers in the future USN. most likely by March 2015 eleven Ticonderoga class cruisers along with five Arleigh Burke Flight I DDGs will be stricken and sold to scrapyards or sunk as targets, and the USS George Washington and USS Abraham Lincoln will both be decommissioned, with the USS Dwight D Eisenhower to follow in 2016.
    Elimination of the most of the US nuclear arsenal will be Hagel’s next
    task. I expect by 2017 he will retire all 450 Minuteman ICBMS and reduce the
    Ohio Class SSBN fleet from 14 SSBNs to 7 SSBNs and reduce the overall
    deployed nuclear warheads from 1550 to about 400 mostly deployed
    on-board 7 Ohio class SSBNs and B-2 Bombers. This is the so called
    ‘nuclear dyad’ that the Anti-American, appeasement minded liberals love
    so much as apposed to ‘nuclear triad’ that the ensures survivability a
    portion of the US nuclear arsenal thereby ensuring a second strike
    capability. This will greatly simplify the nuclear targeting requirements for the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and Russia which falls in-line with President Obama’s overall appeasement policy.

    Obama does not need a navy or a strong expeditionary capable military because the future role for Obama’s military is the repression of internal threats within the USA, primarily Christians, militia groups and anyone who owns a gun. I expect if President Obama was confronted with war in the Pacific with the PRC He would trade Taiwain and the Philippines for peace. Large portions of Idaho and upstate New York have already been set aside as a special economic zones for the PRC. This is the future of Obama’s America. use the national debt and deficit to collapse the dollar and supply American workers to the PRC controlled ‘special economic zones’ within the USA and suppress any internal opposition. Obama’s views the collapse of America as just punishment for America’s sins as a colonial power.