Home » Budget Industry » Navy Has Started Two Cruiser Modernizations, Long Term Plan Still Pending


Navy Has Started Two Cruiser Modernizations, Long Term Plan Still Pending

Guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64), returns to Naval Station Mayport after a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet on April 18, 2014. US Navy Photo

Guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64), returns to Naval Station Mayport after a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet on April 18, 2014. US Navy Photo

While the Navy’s long range cruiser program is still in flux, the modernization effort for the Navy’s Ticonderoga-class (CG-47) guided missile cruisers has begun with USS Cowpens (CG-63) and USS Gettysburg (CG-64), the service told USNI News this week.

The $350 million-per-hull effort, paid for by a fund Congress established last year, will upgrade the ship’s hull, mechanical and engineering spaces, improve some aspects of the crew’s quarters, upgrade the cruisers to operate in the Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) concept and field Raytheon’s Standard Missile (SM) 6.

Work has already begun on Gettysburg and work on Cowpens is scheduled for next year.

The upgrades are the service’s first step in its controversial plan to modernize and preserve up to 11 cruisers and keep Ticonderogas well into the 2040s.
“The ships would be minimally manned while in that reduced status and, as the other 11 active cruisers reach the end of their service life, cruisers in lay-up would be modernized and returned to operational status,” read a recent description of the program from the Congressional Budget Office.
“Using that approach, the Navy would be able to maintain at least 11 operationally active cruisers (1 for each of the Navy’s planned 11 carrier strike groups) through 2034, with the last cruiser retiring in 2044.”

Absent a new large surface combatant capable of handling the air defense commander role for the carrier strike group, the service has reiterated over the course of the year.

“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 had planned to include a position for the air defense commander on a planned Flight IV version of its Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer (DDG-51) but shelved those plans due to the looming costs of the Ohio-replacement nuclear ballistic missile submarine program.

As part of the recently passed Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress decided to allow the service to move ahead with the plan and has adopted a wait-and-see attitude moving further deliberation into the debate over the FY 2016 Navy budget.

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

USNI News understands the Navy is still formulating how it wants to proceed with cruiser modernization after the respite from the 2015 NDAA.

  • Curtis Conway

    An alternate for the AAW Commander in many battle groups is to go to a DDG-51 in company. Performing the AAW commander job is not that difficult. A few additional consoles and some additional communications is all that is needed for the operational part of the equation. Berthing an Admiral and his staff does require a little more space. More than once a Captain has given up his in-port cabin to the embarked staff commander and Department heads double up to accommodate the rest of the staff. It’s not optimal, and it’s not fun, but it is very doable, and has been accomplished more than once.

    When we finally get to the point of replacing the CG-47 Ticonderoga Class Aegis Guided Missile Cruisers it should be on the very robust and Arctic capable DDG-51 hull, stretched and double ended with guns, or what ever heavy projectile fire power will be fielded in a couple of decades (Electro-Magnetic Rail Gun), and Directed Energy Weapons. It should also have a huge passive EO/IR capability which tracks right along with the presence of DEWs.

    Just a thought.

    • CWOOldSchool

      How many billions of dollars does “A few additional consoles and some additional communications” equal to enable one to accomplish this “not that difficult” job across the fleet?

      • Ctrot

        It would require zero “billions”. Don’t engage inn outrageous hyperbole if you want to be taken seriously.

        • Guest

          Thank you for your courteous and congenial response. It is an honor to be member of the same military community as an arrogant, pompous jerk such as you. You are my new hero.

          Now that, SIR, is hyperbole. I leave it to you to decide if it qualifies as outrageous.

          I call you sir as a form of respect that you obviously don’t reserve for others. We likely attended the same Mustang School but the one I attended taught me to respect and support my brethren. Even if one of them questioned remarks I made.

          Your grasp of technology is obvious and commendable. Your utter disrespect for people, even your peers, is equally apparent.

          Belay that remark about you being my peer. I doubt that there are many of us that you do not deem yourself superior to on every level.

          As to my original post, suggesting that a Navy shipalt may cost billions of dollars is far from an exaggeration. And billion dollar naval projects hardly qualify as outrageous in the 21st century.

          But if you are telling me that vendors are giving away the consoles and communication gear that you casually mention and that the logistics of installing, manning and supporting said equipment is not that difficult, or expensive, then who am I to argue.

          • Ctrot

            More hyperbole. Yes ship building programs cost billions, but building ships wasn’t what the original post suggested now was it? It was about installing consoles on exiting ships. And no vendors don’t give them away (that would be even more hyperbole by the way) but they don’t cost “billions”.

            Nor was I being a “arrogant, pompous jerk” in pointing out the erroneous accusations of your post above. That would however be a good description of your response.

        • CWOOldSchool

          Thank you for your courteous and congenial response. You are my new hero.

          That, SIR, is hyperbole.

          I ask a serious question and get utter disrespect in return.

          As to my original question, suggesting that a Navy shipalt may cost billions of dollars is far from an exaggeration. And billion dollar naval projects hardly qualify as outrageous in the 21st century.

          But if you believe that vendors are giving away the consoles and communication gear mentioned in the post I responded to and that the logistics of installing, manning and supporting said equipment is not that difficult, or expensive, then who am I to argue.

  • SouthernCross

    For the USN professionals here, what constitutes being the ” AAW/AD Commander”? And why can’t the AB DDG-51 do the role of the CG-47 Ticos?

    • Curtis Conway

      Answer to the first question is a Call Sign because ships company on any AAW platform know the job, and stand ready to perform the task at any time in a pinch. That specific task is usually manned by a multi-function joint battle staff working for a two star. I have served on two cruisers as that call sign more than once with the battle staff on board. Release of force weapons is the issue and that requires authority and ROE.

      A DDG-51 lacks the proper berthing space to bunk the staff so its usually truncated significantly. The balance of the staff will be on the carrier or command ship, whoever is present and most appropriate for that task. Any battle staff requires communications capability and most DDGs will be able to handle this with some augmentation.

      When CG-26 was modified for 6th Fleet Flag configurations additional modules were placed on the shoulders of CIC providing them some consoles and administration space. If the stretch DDG-51 is ever realized then the expanded wardroom and flag spaces is very possible, and additional flag consoles can be added with Large Screen Displays to CIC or additional flag spaces. Expanded communications should be a given. A cruiser should also be able to handle surface action gunnery, and coordinated illumination on an Naval Gunfire Support run on the beach. Expanded VLS magazines will be required hopefully containing some of those new surface-to-surface missiles as well as SM-2/3/6 and ESSM/VLA. This platform should be able to steam for extended periods of time as efficiently as possible. The current CG/DDG engineering spaces are superb, but could be made better with Hybrid Electric Drive enabling more efficient use of our fuel. This has been the dream of many an Aegis troop since the mid ’80s. The Whole Ship UPS Architecture should be embraced on this platform so we can run two GTGs with the third in stand-by mode ready to spin up as the UPS holds the load if one of the two running GTGs failed. The LM2500s can save their operational hours to save maintenance.

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