Home » Aviation » Navy Cancelled New Destroyer Flight Due to Ohio Replacement Submarine Costs

Navy Cancelled New Destroyer Flight Due to Ohio Replacement Submarine Costs

USS Truxton (DDG-103) on July 9, 2014. US Navy Photo

USS Truxtun (DDG-103) on July 9, 2014. US Navy Photo

The looming hit to the shipbuilding budget from the Navy’s plan to build 12 new nuclear ballistic missile submarines resulted in the cancellation of a fourth flight of Arleigh Burke destroyers (DDG-51) as well as the controversial plan to layup 11 Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers (CG-47), the navy’s chief shipbuilder told a congressional panel in a recent hearing on cruiser and destroyer modification.

The shifts in the Navy’s large surface combatants come as the $100 billion bill for the 12 new boomers begin to take up more and more of the Navy’s shipbuilding budget — leaving less and less for other shipbuilding programs.

From 2021 to 2035, the service’s estimated shipbuilding budget will rise to about $24 billion a year at the peak of the Ohio replacement program, almost double the service’s traditional yearly outlays.

One of the largest future problems for the surface forces is how to coordinate the air defense of the carrier strike group — a role built into the aging Ticonderogas and not a native function of existing Arleigh Burkes.

“We need an air defense commander with deploying battle groups,” Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA), told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces in a Thursday hearing.
“11 carriers, 11 carrier battle groups, 11 air defense commanders.”

Now, the air defense commander is the skipper of accompanying cruiser. The ship’s combat information center (CIC) has room for consoles and a staff of three to four for the carrier protection role.

“Our cruisers are commanded by a captain with a more senior staff on the ship and more individuals dedicated to the planning and execution of the air defense mission for the carrier strike group,” Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, the outgoing director of surface warfare (N96) for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) told the panel.
“That’s really how we drive that requirement for the cruisers and the air defense commander on the ship.”

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) and USS George Washington (CVN-77) on July 2, 2014. US Navy Photo

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) and USS George Washington (CVN-77) on July 2, 2014. US Navy Photo

Until the current budget, the follow-on to the air defense commander role was to be filled with a new flight of Arleigh Burke that would be built to fill the air defense commander role, Stackley said.

“We need to recapitalize those [cruisers] with a future ship class, either an upgrade to a DDG-51 — a Flight IV type of ship — or a cruiser,” Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA), told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces in a Thursday hearing.
“We do not have the ability to do that during the period of construction of the Ohio replacement.”

Including an air defense commander capability on the upcoming Flight III version of the Arleigh Burke is unlikely given the limited margin remaining in the ship once the planned Air and Missile Defense Radar is installed, USNI News understands.

Absent a Flight IV and the next future surface combatant not due to start construction until 2028, the Navy wants to keep the cruisers that it has.

In February, the Navy proposed to layup half of its cruiser force in in a cost savings plan that would preserve the air defense component of the carrier strike group (CSG) and reduce manpower and operations and maintenance cost of the total 22 ship force to the tune of $4.7 billion.

The 11 ships would all go in layup by Fiscal Year 2016 and would come out of layup one at a time, receive a modernization upgrade to extend the cruisers into the 2040s and likewise the cruiser air defense commander role.

The plan has met resistance in Congress. Last month the House Appropriations Committee limited instructed the Navy to sideline no more than two Ticonderogas a year starting in Fiscal Year 2016 and have no more than six in lay up at any one given time.

  • 2IDSGT

    Still not getting why it’s so hard to do the job with Burkes. It really sounds like more of a cultural issue/difference between the two ships than anything else.

    • OwnDolphins

      There is no physical space for it. Burkes are smaller that Tico’s, and would require a new radar system and air defense control suite, along with space for additional air defense staff. Without a redesign (the Flight 4’s), they just don’t have the physical space for it.

      • 2IDSGT

        Frankly, I find the “space” argument to be pure bunk. We’re talking about ships almost the same size as the Ticos and technology that’s had three decades to modernize/miniaturize since the cruisers first entered service. To throw up one’s hands and say there’s simply no more room is just pure laziness. Make f*cking room then; that’s what everyone does all the time in the military, regardless of branch; and that’s what I expect the Navy will eventually do as the Ticos fall apart in their laps and they suddenly “develop a solution” that allows them to do the job with modified Burkes after all.

    • It’s primarily a space issue, GAO’s report on the Flight III DDG-51s basically said the Navy is nuts if they think they can fit everything they need into the existing hull, going farther to duplicate the command functions from the Ticos does seem a bridge too far, but it’s too late to go back to a DDG-1000 hull and a CG(X) rebirth as a replacement is going to be too expensive. They have painted themselves into a terrible corner…basically the opportunity loss on the DDG-1000/DDG-51 flip flop and then the LCS (to say nothing of the SSN shortfall resulting from the Seawolf to Virginia), the Navy sacrificed (IMO) about 30 ships from it’s existing battleforce.


      If you ever get the chance to look in the CIC of a cruiser and a DDG you would get idea of what the problem is but that is only half of it. The integrated electronics suite on a cruiser is better fitted for a role as ADC than it is on a DDG.

      • Curtis Conway


  • Chesapeakeguy

    I’ve seen mentions of a “Virginia” class sub being fitted with a ‘plug’ to hold sub-launched ICBMs (SLBMs). That was done with the first generation Polaris boats. Is that a ‘doable’, and affordable, option that is viable to retain that leg of the nuke triad, and keep it out of harm’s way as far as potential enemy attempts to neutralize them? In the interim is there any viability in a ‘SLEP’ program for the existing SLBM carrying Ohio boats? Perhaps one of those options, if successful, will allow for the surface fleet getting the assets they need. Can’t hurt to ask..

    • Problem there is that the size of the existing Trident D5 is far too large even for a humpback “plug” solution. I’m sure the SSBN community would tell you such a platform wouldn’t be stealthy enough to be survivable, but then again anyone with a calculator can tell you that a $100B addition to the baseline shipbuilding budget isn’t survivable either.
      I keep coming back tot his question; “Is the seaborne leg of the nuclear triad necessary?” at the cost estimates we have no I think the answer to that is a resounding NO. Bombers at least have use in non-nuclear campaigns and the cost of an equal number of silo based ICBMs to SLBMs makes a compelling argument for the Navy to get out of the Nuclear Deterrence business. (Not that the Navy brass will ever willingly let that happen.)

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Good points. So I’ll take my question further: is developing a new missile that will satisfy performance parameters and contribute to the launching platform’s survivability (perhaps longer range, etc.), be worth exploring, i.e., would THAT be less expensive when coupled with the aforementioned ‘plug’ for the “Virginia” class boats? To me, it doesn’t appear to be a matter of spending whatever money is needed. the question is WHEN. Does something really ‘have to go’? That’s why my mentioning of a SLEP program for the “Ohio” boats might be a reasonable, but TEMPORARY, solution. A SLEP will certainly be less expensive than what will be necessary to design an entirely new class of subs. If a SLEP will free up the money to purchase the new “Arleigh Burkes”, that seems like a good compromise.

        • I guess the answer to that question is two more questions, what WOULD a SSBN SLEP cost and how many additional years of service would that even give you? My guess is 1. A LOT and 2. Now many, but we’ve long since passed the point of choosing the best option and now are left with a small number of bad ones.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I guess this site does delete posts that have links to other sources! Oh well. What I TRIED to post here was a link to the ONGOING SLEP of the “Ohio” boats and the D5 Trident missiles. My post said that it appears to all be a moot discussion given how the Navy is ALREADY undergoing such a program. I did not know that the Navy had decided to do that. They started in 2002, and as of 2012 they were test firing some of the overhauled missiles from one of the overhauled boats.

      • Boomer Sailor

        Well considering the fact that the Air Force now has to be inspected by the Navy for Nuc Weapons compliance, Coupled with the FACT that the SSBN is the most likely to survive and the most stealthy of the legs of strategic deterrence my answer is to down size the air force leg to keep both the tridents ad the Cruisers active.

        • If we could rob from the USAF to fund the SSBNs then that would be great. The whole issue with trying to fund the SSBN(X)/ORP outside of the Shipbuilding and Conversion budget is because both defense appropriations subcommittees won’t support a major (or “Permanent”) rebalancing of the 1/3rd each budget tradition (even thought he Army has rightly gotten more than it’s share over the last 13 years).
          Ultimatly they’ll find a loophole to fund these outside the existing norms, but first they’ll make a terrible hash of it and waste billions of dollars planning and re-planning for contingencies that will never take place.

  • Ctrot

    USS George Washington was laid down as an SSN, converted as the first SSBN during construction and she was commissioned only14 months after being laid down. Why does it take us decades to do with CAD what we once did in months with a pencil and T-Square?

    • I think the answer to your question is the ridiculously large number of DoD agencies currently in the Pentagon versus the number back in that day. More hoops to jump through. Plus, everything now has to be eco-bio-diversely-sustainable and empowering.

    • James Bowen

      To be honest, I think a lot of the problem is that the defense contractors are totally dependent upon government contracts to stay in business. If they cannot be profitable without government contracts, something needs to be done. My proposal: they be given five years to diversify their customer base, or they will be nationalized. Even if they can’t be profitable in the private sector, they are too important and essential to just go out of business, but at the same time it is costing us too much to keep them stable.

    • Curtis Conway

      Don’t forget the slide rules and protractors.

  • Diogenes

    Are we seeing the beginning of the end for the US Navy carrier task force as it is currently defined? Even the Navy brass concedes it is very worried about defending carriers from aerial threats… and there are plenty enough to make them shudder. Perhaps the big dogs in the Pentagon already know the aircraft carrier has reached its zenith. While the carrier remains unsurpassed at waving the Big Stick and battering about Third World rowdies, it is questionable whether one could survive a sustained attack by a determined, modern enemy. Recently the Navy invited aboard a test vessel several San Diego TV reporters to witness two versions of the Navy’s new rail gun. A BAE talking head and some Naval officers presented its capabilities – complete with video of disintegrating targets and comparisons to the kinetic energy of flying freight trains… which if sustainable has already marginalized the carrier concept because of the ranges from which it can strike. Barrages from kinetic energy weapons shredding ships like paper… without explosives. The Navy spokesman said it will be operational in 2016. A cheap alternative and deadly adversary to floating airports with 5,000 endangered souls aboard. If the US has it soon so will our enemies. History can’t be ignored.

    • The EMRG, if the can ovecome the remaining engineering issues, will be a great asset to the fleet, but a weapon system with a max range of about 200nm is never going to replace the CSG with strike platforms with unrefueled combat radius 3 times that far. It will allow the surface fleet to carry fewer Tomahawk (or it’s replacement) in favor of more SM-2/3/6 to greatly expand the air defense basket.

      • Diogenes

        Hi notrizzo, I can’t help but feel some folks would rather keep their heads in sand – perhaps undersea is a better metaphor – than see the future staring bleakly at all they admire. Six or seven generations of reputations and naval expertise has produced the greatest warships ever built, real monuments to man’s ingenuity. A group of Chiefs my wife was feeding in Galveston years ago told me a story about an incident in the Indian ocean while aboard the USS Texas guarding a CVN. After days of playing tag with Soviet subs an Akula Class surfaced in the middle of the battle group, fired a flared and escaped further detection. The Chief Sonarman said, “You know how we’ll know when we are getting attacked. When we blow up.” That was almost 40 years ago. Things are much worse now. A recent boss of mine is a great naval authority and admirable seaman with an enviable record steering fleets of huge naval ships around the world. He is aghast at the notion carriers have run their course. I’m more a Billie Mitchell man because visionaries usually carry the day. It is well known Pearl Harbor was a twisted, macabre blessing is disguise. The day of the battleship was over. The Japanese used surprise and technology to do a number on us. It is inevitable some day there will be another terrible assault on our nation. Do we pander to vanity and sentimentality or move ahead? With the advent of supersonic, sea skimming anti-ship missiles, almost soundless subs, 100 knot torpedoes, smart mines, unblinking electronic eyeballs in space, and a sky filled with a multitude of very capable attack aircraft from many nations assure the carrier is doomed… its end in America only hastened by cuts in supporting arms, realists and advancing technology. We put away the Tics, store the Burkes and put the CVNs in port until they can either be protected or replaced by something more mission capable. Could probably build a hundred small, capable attack vessels with the steel.Then the Navy will have plenty of money. Let the rest of the world build status symbols while we build the future of naval warfare – advanced subs, mini-carriers with tiny crews and stealthy UAVs, “stealth ships” with hypersonic weapons… the real future of all warfare. Captain Parker is my man.

      • Curtis Conway


    • CaptainParker

      Perhaps we now have another valid argument to quit building these 100,000 ton vessels if the Brass is going to commit them to any hot fire zone for fear of some form of missile attack that will seriously damage or even sink one of the fat fellows. Looking at the information on the recently commissioned U.S.S. America, we might have a solution. A considerably smaller ship, she can also function as a so-called “light” carrier with an air component in the 30-plus aircraft category. Hmmm. Post WWII up to the early 60’s, Britain’s Royal Navy had several classes of “light” carriers that allowed the Royal Navy to project power cheaply and without worrying that losing one would bankrupt the nation. How about our naval brass considering this alternative?

      • Secundius

        We need to start build Medium-size and Small-size Carriers instead.
        You can build 2 1/2-times as many Medium Carriers, for the price of just 1 Large Carrier and 6 or 7-times as many Small Carrier, as 1 Large one. And having a Medium/Small Carrier mix, you can deploy them in far more trouble spots then you can with Large Carriers.

        And when you consider that only 30% of the Fleet is deploy at anyone time. A smaller SIZED Carrier makes more sense for ever smaller shrinking Fleet. A Carrier-mix Fleet worked well-enough during WW2, the same logic should hold true even by today’s standard’s.

        • CaptainParker

          Good point – especially with drone technology improving and becoming cheaper. A carrier the size of a WWII “Chenango” class could carry a mixed drone/airplane group and you wouldn’t have to be afraid of financial insolvency if one got sunk. Those British “light” carriers were 13,400 tons and could carry up to 48 aircraft. Built to merchant ship standards they were cheap, reliable and carried a respectable air group.

          • Secundius

            @ CaptainParker.

            The R 11, SPS. PRINCIPE DE ASTURIAS class Spanish Light Aircraft Carrier. Is actually an American design (i.e. SCS-75). It can carry ~30-aircrafts and displaces 17,188-tons, full-load.

    • Curtis Conway


  • James Bowen

    A little good news here. I don’t think it is a good idea to decommission half the cruiser fleet.

  • Jiesheng Li

    That what you get when you want nuclear weapons for eternity.

    • Rexford L

      do you remember the term MAD “Mutually Assured Destruction” basically, yes you have nuclear weapons and can destroy the United States, we have enough nukes to destroy you as well, before were destroyed.. it kept WW3 from happening for over 70 years, and seems to be working fine now.

      • Jiesheng Li

        Sorry MAD does not work. Look how WMDs have been used since the US bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And if MAD works, why did the US fear the so-called Iraqi WMDs so much as to invade the country? It could have used the idea of MAD to threaten Iraq.

        MAD does stop countries from building nukes.

        • Chesapeakeguy

          MAD appears to be effective if the countries involved, or at least their leaders, are NOT suicidal. Obviously, when there are cultures that place a VALUE on things like “death for the cause” then the usual, ‘rational’ thought processes are not going to apply.

          And a case can be made that MAD DID work when it came to Iraq. Their allies and benefactors (the Russians) chose not to go to war on their behalf when we fought them both times. And ‘MAD’ is about any and all belligerents being wiped out, why allow another one to possibly achieve that position of being able to threaten you if you can prevent it in the first place?

      • Jiesheng Li

        Please walk in Fukushima and Chernobyl since you love nuclear weapons. That what you get.

        • Curtis Conway

          What a naive opinion. One cannot compare a nuclear accident to a nuclear attack. You will not be cleaning up the nuclear attack for some xxx-hundred years.

        • James W McCarthy

          Nuclear weapons hit Fukushima and Chernobyl ?? When was that ?

  • Secundius

    @ OHIO class SSBN’s.

    The story is that a least (3), possibly (4) OHIO class boats are to be converted into SSGN (Cruise-Missile) submarines. And the scuttlebutt is, that at least (1) OHIO class boat. Is too converted into a SEAL boat. No proof on that one, but there never is!

  • cjakobsson

    The destroyers and cruisers are the backbone of the fleet. It is good to have the added offensive punch of the submarines – although it is questionable whether or not the nukes are very important in the post Cold War era – but if you have to make a choice between the added offensive punch of more subs and the addition of more destroyers, the choice for more destroyers seems more logical. It seems like an unwise decision to sacrifice a new flight of a fine class of ship like the DDG-51 destroyers to make room in the budget for 12 new subs meant to launch nuclear missiles. The destroyers do not have the punch of the missile launching subs, but they have the versatility needed to deal with the actual situations faced by the Navy in the world as it is today.

    • Curtis Conway

      Doing without the Water Space Management insurance policy is not an option. Doing otherwise is riskier than you know.

  • Curtis Conway

    The stretch DDG-51 hull turned into a Double Ender (two guns, two missile fields), and the expanded CIC and Flag spaces will do the trick. Been “AW” more than once. This will do the deal. However, the full Integrated Air & Missile Defense capability slated for the CGs should happen. It’s more cost effective in the short term (next two decades). Need to perform some additional upgrades to the CGs: 1) Hybrid Electric Drive; 2) EO/IR upgrades (passive Detection & Tracking capability); 3) Communication upgrades.

    • Secundius

      @ Curtis Conway.

      Great, outfit her with (2) Rheinmetall 6.1-inch (155mm/52-caliber) MONAC, MOdular Naval ARtillery Concept, Gun Mounts. And with the LRLAP projectile she’ll have a gunnery range of 73.86nm.

      • Curtis Conway

        I’m hoping for a guided projectile working Railgun.

        • Secundius

          @ Curtis Conway.

          I agree, I would thing that “Copperhead”, “Excalibur” and LRLAP get a far “Swifter-Kick-Pants” launch. Than any Rail Gun, system could produce.

      • FactChecker90803

        Why do most of the comments in this site, forget that a lot of the “FOREIGN”, systems that are commented on are mere concepts. Why not just say, fit them with a Naval version of the Crusader artillery gun, or more realisticly AGS light.

  • Sailboater

    The navy would have the money if it wasn’t for all those bleeding heart social programs that should be run by the states. The cruiser and destroyer program was killed because the submariners think everything can be done without surface ships