Home » Aviation » Defense Bill Punts on Navy Plan to Mothball Cruisers, Adds Money for 12th LPD, Growlers

Defense Bill Punts on Navy Plan to Mothball Cruisers, Adds Money for 12th LPD, Growlers

USS Antietam (CG-54) is underway off the coast of Japan near Mt. Fuji. US Navy Photo

USS Antietam (CG-54) is underway off the coast of Japan near Mt. Fuji. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated to amend the amount the compromise 2015 NDAA included for EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. House and Senate staffers yesterday said the amount was $350 million. The final number for the aircraft in the bill reported out Wednesday morning was $450 million.

The compromise 2015 defense bill between the House and the Senate will allow the Navy to move ahead with putting two Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers in mothballs but stops short of endorsing the service’s plan to layup half of the cruiser force, according to a Tuesday background briefing to reporters from House and Senate staffers.

Language in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will allow the Navy to start the preservation and modernization process for two of the ships next year — in line with the early part of the Navy’s plan — but gives Congress flexibility to alter the deal.

“They can stand down two this year but [the bill] doesn’t address what they do in future years,” a legislative staffer told reporters.

The Navy included the so-called phased cruiser modernization plan in its FY 2015 budget proposal that would mothball 11 cruisers to reduce the crew sizes and cut maintenance costs. The service estimated the plan would result in a cost savings of $4.7 billion.

The Navy has argued that it needed the air defense commander capability inherent in the cruisers and that’s not native to the service’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers.

“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 July hearing.

“11 carriers, 11 carrier battle groups, 11 air defense commanders.”

The Navy landed on the phased modernization plan after the looming costs of the Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program made a Flight IV Arleigh Burke destroyer — that would have included space for an air defense commander — fiscally impossible.

An EA-18G Growler from the Shadowhawks of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 on Oct. 10, 2013 US Navy Photo

An EA-18G Growler from the Shadowhawks of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 on Oct. 10, 2013 US Navy Photo

The bill also sets aside about $450 million for additional EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft — enough money for about 4 or so aircraft. The Navy gave Congress an unfunded request for $2.14 billion to buy 22 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.

With the additional Growlers, the Navy would be able to expand the total numbers of aircraft in the service’s electronic attack squadrons from five to seven.

USS New York (LPD-21) in 2012. US Navy Photo

USS New York (LPD-21) in 2012. US Navy Photo

The compromise also included $800 million to start acquisition of a 12th San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious warship — adding an additional hull to the 11-ship class. Marine Corps leadership has longed stumped for the additional $1.7 billion ship and the Navy recently made a decision to use the LPD-17 hull form as the basis of its LX(R) next generation amphibious warship.
Funding for three additional Littoral Combat Ships were also included in the compromise bill.

The legislation is slated to reach the House floor as early as this week and the Senate next week.

The staffers indicated that the bill should easily pass the House and likely pass the Senate.

  • Curtis Lee

    Stop building those useless LCSs and put the findings on the large surface combatant, such as the Arleigh Burke class DDGs.

    • Keeper2

      That just makes way too much sense to have any traction on the Hill or amongst our Navy’s senior leadership… Very unfortunate..

      • Curtis Lee

        The LCSs only got a few guns and missiles and made them the survivable level as level 1+….

  • Andy Thompson

    Absolutely ! The LCS ships are the MOST USELESS ships the Navy ever built! STOP WASTING MONEY ! I know they want to appease the shipbuilders and contractors but that has to stop ! Do what it right !

  • Andy Thompson

    We need to build real “COMBAT” ships such as carriers, destroyers, submarines and amphibious ships, NOT Useless LCS ships !

  • Quackers

    OK. No more useless LCS’s
    Also save more money by not refueling the G.W. as a new carrier would be ready at
    approx. time that the G.W. refueling is done.

  • James Bowen

    None of the Ticos should be retired. We have too few of them already.

  • CaptainParker

    Quit building LCS’s which can’t survive in a combat environment and instead build a ship that can do the LCS’s role AND have the ability to fight back. Case in point: the Gowind corvette designed by the French. Or are our service Brahmins too proud to admit the French might have designed something that makes sense, both militarily and cost-wise?

  • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

    “Needs of the service” takes a backseat to “Need to get votes” yet again.

    Don’t be surprised to see the Senators and Representatives blaming the USN for failing to meet its spending cut targets.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    The first and foremost duty of the earliest forms of ORGANISED SOCIETY was the protection of its members not the entitlements. Sequestration would put the Toyo, Yamamoto to shame no one in the right mid would ever contemplate to inflict such a impact on US Defense than the “coolaid” zombies a radicals that can see defense of America only barrier to the collapse of the Capitalism and ensuing “revolution” and defense of America is a bastion of US security and prevalence of common sense. I do not know a precedent in history that country was ready to inflict such a self inflicted wound to the national security as this sequester is doing right now. Throughout the history it took the GENIOUS of war to CONTEMPLATE perhaps maybe theoretical possibility to inflict such a colossal damage on the US Defense, but actually it takes only an IDIOT to do the same. Ticonderoga Class Cruiser is the best and the most INTELLIGENT platform ever designed it was a true maritime and ULTIMATE strategic defense initiative paradigm changer. Electronics gear should be upgraded but it is the ultimate platform to test – implement next generation surveillance, detection, tracking and electronic warfare as well the strategic air defense that could be moved where needed.

  • Secundius

    Why don’t they take a SAN ANTONIO class Gator-Freighter, hull design and convert in into a Aegis Cruiser/Arsenal Ship layout. Remove the “well-deck”, retain the “flight-deck” swap-out the Diesel Propulsion System and replace it with a Gas Turbine Propulsion System and mount a couple of 6.1-inch guns mounts on it instead. It would be far cheaper than building a Cruiser on the ZUMWALT class design lines.

  • old guy

    We need more shipyard welfare programs, like LPD and LCS, like this country needs more lawyers.

  • old guy

    We should change the name from DD to CC (Capsizing Cruiser). Have they fired the “tumblehome” designers yet?

  • Rob C.

    Sounds like a compromised budget to me. Frankly, I wish the Navy actually had money to actually get new designs made. Too much funding being pulled into one or two things. Sadly I will be old man when they finally make a new combatant isn’t made from reused stuff. I’m sad to see the CG-47s to go, but sentimentalism doesn’t substitute for hull’s of ships that are beyond their time. I’m mad Congress keeps playing games at expensive our defense, we need new ships. We need new cruisers designs and not crappy compromises that end up costing lives and money.

    I honestly wish there was effective way to communicate to congress other than sending bad vote for elected official who going cause nothing but trouble for all of us.