Home » Aviation » Admirals: Fleet Readiness Plan Could Leave Carrier Gaps, Overwhelm Shipyards


Admirals: Fleet Readiness Plan Could Leave Carrier Gaps, Overwhelm Shipyards

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) leads a formation of ships from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 during a maneuvering exercise on Sept. 23, 2014. US Navy Photo

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) leads a formation of ships from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 during a maneuvering exercise on Sept. 23, 2014. US Navy Photo

SAN DIEGO – The Navy is nine months into its new deployment model – the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) – designed to keep carrier strike groups from unexpectedly long deployments and allow time for needed ship upkeep.

The plan promises to make life more predictable for sailors and maintainers, but service officials are already running into roadblocks that, if not addressed by Navy leadership and Congress, could exacerbate gaps in overseas carrier presence and further burden the maintenance community.

Under OFRP, an aircraft carrier is tied to the guide missile cruisers and destroyers it will deploy with, and the whole battle group goes through a 36-month cycle of maintenance, training, deployment and sustainment together.

Then- U.S. Fleet Forces commanding officer Adm. Bill Gortney rolled out the plan in January 2014 as a way of protecting sailors from the growing length of CSG deployments and ensuring the ships would have enough time for the maintenance the ships need.

But Fleet Forces discovered there may not be a surge force ready to cover those presence gaps in the event the U.S. needed to quickly deploy a carrier.

Navy leadership and the Joint Chiefs of Staff intend to stick to the schedule for the sake of sparing the ships and their crews from the stresses of long deployments, but strict adherence to the schedule would also result small gaps in overseas presence in 2016 due to the rigid nature of the OFRP template, said Rear Adm. Richard Berkey, director of fleet maintenance for U.S. Fleet Forces, during the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium.

In theory, the 14-month sustainment/surge phase would keep sailors at peak readiness by training at the ship’s homeport and deploying overseas only if an emergency dictated additional presence.

But Berkey, along with Commander of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, said the sustainment phase currently has no funding associated with it, and therefore the carrier strike group may lose its readiness and qualifications and be unable to respond quickly if called upon.

“I call it ‘sustainment opportunity’ because right now it’s not funded,” Berkey said during a panel presentation at the conference.
“In order to be able to keep those ships sustained after they come back from deployment — which is pretty much when they’re maximized on their readiness — we would have to invest a lot more dollars both in the training side of the house and in the people side of the house in order to keep those sailors onboard, keep the team together, keep them trained and proficient.”

Shoemaker agreed that additional resources would be needed to make use of the sustainment period but said that the Navy does not have a history of funding carrier strike groups to maintain high readiness while at their homeport.

“As I’ve looked back on the last few years – we’re not into the official OFRP yet – but I looked back on the sustainment periods for our most recent deployers, and the longest we’ve sustained any air wing and carrier, carrier air wing team, was [USS George H.W. Bush] and [Carrier Air Group] 8 from when they returned in December until April, so it was about five months of sustainment.”

Under OFRP, he said, that would leave nine more months without funding before the 36-month cycle started over and the ships went into their maintenance availabilities.

Overseas Presence

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Checkmates of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 launches from the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on Aug. 20, 2015. US Navy photo.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Checkmates of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 launches from the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on Aug. 20, 2015. US Navy photo.

The potential inability to surge quickly is important because OFRP will inherently leave gaps in overseas presence, the admirals said.

The Navy in recent years has tried to avoid gaps in the Middle East and Western Pacific, and has done so by extending deployments – sometimes to nine or ten months, versus the seven months that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert promised the fleet to avoid burning out sailors and hurting the ships’ material readiness. This demand-base model gave combatant commanders (COCOMs) the presence they wanted at the risk of stretching the fleet too thin.

“There’s a pretty significant debate going on right now – debate’s probably not the right word – a battle going on right now between the COCOMs on what they want and what the Navy says you’re going to get,” Berkey said during his presentation.
“I think we are planning for some gaps in coverage across the world starting in 2016, and the COCOMs don’t like that, so there’s a lot of friction going on right now. But this CNO, and we’re expecting Adm. [John] Richardson to do the same, is holding to the supply-based model.”

Berkey told USNI News after the panel that 2016 would definitely include overseas gaps in carrier presence. News broke earlier in June that after the Theodore Roosevelt CSG leaves the Middle East this winter, U.S. Central Command will have to wait one or two months before the next strike group arrives.

“We, Navy, have already submitted our plan and it’s being discussed, I think it’s already been blessed through the chain,” he said.
“Now we’ve presented leadership with, here’s your alternatives,” he said, referring to the potential to have a surge force in waiting – if the service can find funding to keep the ships, the crews and the air wings at a proper readiness level.

Despite pushback from the COCOMs, Berkey said the Joint Chiefs of Staff are supportive of OFRP and intend to stick to that model. In fact, the Navy is working on developing a similar model for the Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) that carry Marine Expeditionary Units around the globe.

“We’re currently working with [U.S. Pacific Fleet] right now on making that work to become a supply-based model as opposed to a demand-based model,” Berkey said.
“Again, a lot of friction with that. We’ve got the Marines onboard, though, with the model we want to produce in terms of the OFRP. They’re onboard with that as long as we keep to seven-month deployments.”

Aviation Readiness

150617-N-OW828-023 ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 17, 2015) Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class M. V. Volosko, assigned to the Pukin Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, places a canopy brace on an F/A-18E Super Hornet in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman is underway conducting tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) off the east coast of the United States. TSTA is the first combined training event of a ship's inter-deployment training cycle that tests and evaluates shipboard drills, including general quarters, damage control, medical and firefighting. Upon successful completion of TSTA, Harry S. Truman will be considered proficient in all mission areas. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman J. A. Mateo/Released)

Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class M. V. Volosko, assigned to the Pukin Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, places a canopy brace on an F/A-18E Super Hornet in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on June 17, 2015. US Navy photo.

If the sustainment/surge period for a carrier strike group were unfunded, the entire carrier air wing would risk losing their qualifications – bad for the pilots both in the short term and long term, Shoemaker said.

Using the Bush and CAG 8 example – in which the sustainment phase was funded for only five months – Shoemaker said that would leave another nine months of minimal activity before six months of maintenance when the OFRP cycle restarted, creating a 15-month gap for the air wing.

“That’s not good for our young aviators who are working up,” Shoemaker said.
“Maintenance phase funding is about 50 percent of what they need for their requirements – about 13 hours or so, maybe 14 hours a month. That’s not enough to keep their progression going, their training, their air combat training continuum, their qualifications and much more importantly gain the experience their peers in other commands are getting.”

After struggling with how to spare the pilots and air crews from long lulls in activity, Shoemaker said he decided that the air wing would not be permanently tied to the aircraft carrier, the way they have been in the past and the way the cruisers and destroyers will be going forward.

Instead, the carrier and its accompanying ships will go through the OFRP cycle together, and when they reach the beginning of the training phase the next ready air wing will join them only through the training and deployment phases.

Shoemaker said this has always been a problem to some extent – when a carrier goes into a four-year refueling and complex overhaul, for example, or when USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) unexpectedly spent 23 months in maintenance. However, he said OFRP has this problem built into every carrier’s deployment cycle for the foreseeable future.

“That solution, to marry up the next air wing with the next ship, I think will give us less white space for [the aviators],” he said.
“It doesn’t add a lot of risk into schedule, into the workup cycle, but it gives those air wings more availability.”

Shoemaker told USNI News after his keynote presentation that qualifications sometimes lapse during deployments, when operational needs may not allow pilots to go out and perform a certain kind of mission simply for the sake of staying qualified. So the months directly following a deployment are important for the air wing. The crews need about 10 to 14 days at sea when they come home and again every two to three months during a sustainment period, and Shoemaker said he’s not confident they’d be funded to have that at-sea time under OFRP as it stands today.

That funding “is going to come from somewhere, and Congress – if it’s something they’re asking us to do – either they’ll have it or we’ll find it inside the larger [Defense Department] or Navy budget if the requirement is there. But I think that was the point Adm. Gortney made: going forward this is what, for the finite amount of resources you’re giving us, I can deliver all the way through the deployment. Everything else, if you want us to do the other stuff, kind of be on call to do other things, it’s going to take resources.”

Maintenance Requirements

Tugboats guide the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) from her dry dock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to a nearby pier following a scheduled dock flooding earlier in the morning of Aug. 26, 2014. US Navy photo.

Tugboats guide the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) from her dry dock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to a nearby pier following a scheduled dock flooding earlier in the morning of Aug. 26, 2014. US Navy photo.

A key principle of OFRP is that the entire strike group stays together throughout the entire 36-month cycle. Inherent in that is that the ships would go into maintenance together and come out together. But simultaneously working on all of the ships in a CSG may be beyond the capacity of the yards.

“The challenge to me is, lets say you want four destroyers in a battle group, all to come out at the same time in one port? That’s a real challenge,” Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) commander Vice Adm. William Hilarides told USNI News after his keynote speech.

He referenced a Surface Ship Master Plan effort being overseen by Rear Adm. Bill Galinis, NAVSEA deputy commander of surface warfare and commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Center, to map out all the maintenance and modernization needs of the fleet at all the Navy’s regional maintenance centers to help balance out peaks and valleys in shipyard workload.

“This will let us then look to see, should we move one a little earlier? Is there a place we could take a little risk on the training side? But we’ll have to work with the fleet, because OFRP says we gotta deliver them all together,” he said.

Galinis told USNI News later during the conference that OFRP has created some friction between the maintenance and operations communities but has also led to a good dialogue about each group’s needs.

“Your big rub there is, the challenge of OFRP is … all those ships [in a carrier strike group], they go through maintenance together, they go through training together and they deploy together. So what our challenge is is to be able to take all that work from all those ships and try to schedule it for roughly about the same time, and to get all that work done on time. So that’s our challenge,” Galinis said.
“Now, in a port like Norfolk or San Diego, we have big shipyards, a lot of people, a lot of ships. You can kind of absorb that type of workload. When you go to Mayport, they’ve got like 10 ships down there,” and typically cannot work on more than one or two destroyers at a time.

Asked if the operational community was willing to budge at all on having the whole strike group come out of the yard at once, Galinis said, “they will, because they know if they give us all this work at one time, it’s going to go long anyway. So they’d rather be able to plan that and at least know when they’re getting the ship back, as opposed to, ‘nope, we’re not going to talk to you, you’ve got to go do it,’ and then the ships go long because we don’t have enough people to do the work.”

Better Baseline Control

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship's Aegis weapons system on June 19, 2014. US Navy Photo

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship’s Aegis weapons system on June 19, 2014. US Navy Photo

The plus side of sending the whole strike group through the yard at roughly the same time, however, is that all the ships end up with the same versions of weapons and computers and other systems, ensuring interoperability within the battle group.

Berkey said the Navy is creating a nine-year plan for the strike groups – three cycles of OFRP – which allows greater advanced planning for modernization work.

“For a strike group that’s going to deploy nine years from now … they can plan for the modernization that has to happen for those particular ships in order to get that right,” he said.
“That becomes more important for more integrated modernization like NIFC-CA (Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air), it becomes more important to be able to establish that, to
understand it and make sure we make it happen.”

Rear Adm. Christian Becker, Program Executive Officer for C4I and PEO Space Systems, agreed, saying that one of his biggest challenges is “the disconnect between the pace of technology and what’s available, and our ability to deliver that technology safely … with the right training and the right maintenance and the right sustainment behind it.” Baseline variance in the fleet complicates those efforts, but OFRP would all but eliminate variance within a single strike group.

For Rear Adm. John Neagley, Fleet Readiness Director at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) who oversees the installation of the systems Becker procures, upgrading the networks and computers on an entire strike group at once should help keep costs down.

“If you can buy more systems then the contractor should show you cost savings, economic order quantity, so you should get a discount on that price,” he told USNI News at the conference.
“For me, on the installation side, we are trying to bundle more installations together for one contractor so they can plan the work for us better, any of the materials they’ve got to procure to facilitate that installation they can buy in large material buys. That’s certainly a strategy and we’ve started to do that.”

Maintenance First

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) arrives pierside at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton in January 2015. US Navy photo.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) arrives pierside at Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton in January 2015. US Navy photo.

It’s not lost on those in the engineering community that the maintenance availability comes first in the OFRP cycle. Maintenance as the cornerstone of the cycle was designed to keep the availabilities stable and predictable.

“To me, the fundamental shift from what we’ve done before is, it puts maintenance first,” said Rear Adm. Mark Whitney, NAVSEA deputy commander for logistics, maintenance and industrial operations.
“The fleet is relying on availabilities finishing on time, and the stakes are pretty high because of the integrated nature of, now it’s the battle group that needs to be done at about the same time.”

Shoemaker also noted the pressure on the maintenance community, saying “bottom line, inside that whole OFRP process, the most critical phase, the most critical phase is that maintenance phase. That is the Achilles heel to making OFRP successful.”

But Neagley argued that pressure could be a good thing.

“It’s something we absolutely have to do, we have to have a way to predictably generate a ready force so that the [type commanders] can know what’s available to do those missions. So you have to put discipline in that process. And that pressurizes certain areas of that process, and certainly the maintenance and modernization is an area that’s pressurized,” he said.

Neagley said the Navy could overcome this challenge with good prior planning – defining work packages early, allowing realistic amounts of time to accomplish that work, building in time for unknowns and other basic tenets of ship maintenance and modernization.

“That’s the starting point; if you don’t finish on time, it has a cascading effect for the rest of the process, so you’re impacting the crew’s ability to train, the strike group’s ability to train together,” he said.
“And it just gets messy from there, so you’ve got to get the front part right.”

  • PRONESE

    One Good Deal After Another. SMH…

    • johnbull

      A few years ago we all thought the world was getting safer and safer. The bad old commies were gone in the USSR and China was at most a regional power. Now China is very much the world power, Putin is acting like Russian autocrats of old, and ISIS is taking over the Middle East. We need competent people, competent ships, and more of them. We’re stretched too thin as it is and the world is getting more dangerous rather than less so.

  • Secundius

    Maybe it’s time to consider if the British really do want to sell that extra Medium Aircraft Carrier. Thou not as “Formidible” as a Large Aircraft Carrier, like either the Nimitz or the Gerald Ford classes. At least it “Plugs” a hole, in a ever growing List of Holes that keep on Popping Up…

    • muzzleloader

      What carrier is that that the Brits have?

      • Secundius

        @ muzzleloader.

        Their thinking of Selling the Prince of Wales, because of Budget Costs…

  • John B. Morgen

    With the advent of the F-35B aircraft, we should be building smaller aircraft carriers; so we could have more funding for refits and repairs. The “Age of Super Carriers” must come to an end, or it will bankrupt the Navy budget.

    • Ctrot

      The F-35B is a fine aircraft for what it is intended for, giving 5th generation strike fighter capability to small deck carriers. But it is not the aircraft we want to depend on across the board for naval aviation strike fighter; it doesn’t have the range nor the payload. There is still a place for large deck carriers in the US Navy and we have the means to pay for them if only we put our financial priorities in the correct order.

      • John B. Morgen

        The F-35C will only costs the Navy to have fewer aircraft carriers available, which means fewer military options on the table. Having many but smaller aircraft carriers will increase the number of military options than just, and almost having next to none.

        • Ctrot

          “having next to none”

          Pure hyperbole.

          • John B. Morgen

            I have history on my side. During the 20 th century, the Navy went through some tight naval budgets which many programs were cancelled, with some exceptions like World War II, during the mid-Korean War, Vietnam which the latter part of that war started a draw-down of naval budgets. Then during the Reagan years we had an increase in the naval budgets, then down again during the Post-Reagan years. Now, we are heading another draw-down, and already the G. R. Ford carrier program is drawing fire for costing $12 billion, or two times more than what one Nimitz class aircraft carrier costs.

            No, Ctot, you can expect less warships being built, and less aircraft being produce. My statement is not being hyperbole as you called it, but it is the reality for the future. Again, I have history on my side….

          • Ctrot

            So you’re changing your claim from “next to none” to “less”, is that right?

          • John B. Morgen

            I meant less….

      • Secundius

        @ Ctrot.

        You might believe that NOW, but just read the 13 September 2015 “War Is Boring” article on how the Air Force has playing with the figures on the F-35 program. Of the ~150 JSF delivered to the US Armed Services, only 10 are considered OPERATIONAL…

    • Curtis Conway

      John, the Ford Class CVN was designed to address some of those cost items you mentioned, and I am confident once the Ford has matured it will provide some of those savings.
      * It will be manned with a smaller crew which is one of the greatest costs associated with forces afloat.
      * The new technologies (EAMLS & AAG/ARC) is designed to provide greater capability, versatility, with less required maintenance over time. It just hasn’t matured yet in its ability to get aircraft thrown off of, and arrested on deck.
      * The platform itself has a smaller superstructure and more deck space. Some of that added deck space is in refueling and ordnance loading areas providing faster turn around of strike aircraft.
      * The two nuc plants are of an improved design requiring less manning and maintenance.
      * Systems and spaces on board are designed to provide greater and more efficient service with a smaller crew operating those systems.

      Its a great platform, its just taking SOOO LONG to get her out, and the costs are still adding up. For the cost of one CVN 79 one can buy 4-6 LHA-6. As have been screaming for four years, and Secundius reiterated above, There are some key CVW (CAG in my day) capabilities that do not exist in VSTOL/STOVL format or platform in US Naval Aviation, and those are AEW&C and Electronic Attack. The AEW&C requires a radar antenna that is larger than will fit in the nose of a fighter. We have the sensitivity to Receive the energy back, but we must be able to put out sufficient Power Out from that antenna for the receiver, requiring a larger transmit surface (or emitters) size so we can detect targets at the ranges required. We discuss this in detail on the EV-22 Osprey AEW&C Aircraft facebook page. Electronic Attack will eventually be introduced to the F-35 at some level, and that capability will most likely be much more automated in the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) and may not require the second crewman in the airframe, it just won’t be next year. So, if you were to increase presence and provide capable aviation assets at sea in a Battle Group setting you simply must have these capabilities on board to assume the mission. This AEW&C capability requires an investment that is a fraction of the cost of even the LHA-6. So, you see, over time (about a decade) we can sit pretty if we got started today.

      The MIC is in business to make money, and they do defend the nation. It’s just the MIC wants big contracts that last a long time, and are of technologies they have developed, sold, and maintain (read perpetuate) instead of providing what is needed in an efficient and cost effective way. That’s just my two cents.

      • John B. Morgen

        Curtis Conway:
        I just hope the Ford class didn’t sacrifice damage control personnel for the sake of saving costs, since the Ford is a high value asset and target. A $12 billion USD asset too expensive to loose at sea by the enemy.
        As the EV-22 Osprey AEW&C aircraft, I agree that advance technically does take time, and I do know what MIC is all about because I used to audit them.
        In sum, smaller aircraft carriers should be built, and then integrate these CVs within the Fleet as much as possible. As we did during World War II, Korea and Vietnam, wars. Such carriers can fill in the gaps when the larger CVs are not available.
        A footnote: I’m surprised that the USS America was not built with a ski jump; especially, when she will be operating F-35Bs, maybe with some old AV-8Bs. The Navy is somewhat behind the times; especially, when Britain, Russia, China (PLAN), Spain. Italy, India and Thailand, have adopted this design feature

        • Curtis Conway

          The US attitude about Ski Jump is that the parking space for more aircraft is more valuable than taking off with a larger load, and bag of fuel. With the advent of the V-22 Osprey tanking capability this argument is even more relevant. The aircraft will can take off with his full load and hit the taker after takeoff, then you have the same mission capability as coming off the long runway. Easier on the airframe too. the US Marine Corps has demonstrated it is really not an issue, but then we view and deal with the world thru different lenses than the rest of the planet. One has too when you have our responsibilities.

          • John B. Morgen

            We will see how long does it takes for the Navy to adopt the ski jump design concept, or builds a second carrier of the USS America class; and with design modifications.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            You might want to look a the “War is Boring” website dated 13 September 2015. It appears the US Air Force has been “Cooking the Book’s” on the F/A-35 Program. Of the ~150 JSF delivered so far, ONLY 10 a deemed “Operational”…

          • Curtis Conway

            For a software driven beast I’m not surprised. I wonder if the combat ready birds are USMC “B”s with the oldest software delivery in them.

      • Mark Sheehan

        I was on the Saratoga cv60 78/81 we had a6 intruders and s3s for Electronic Attack e2s for air space control and awareness they did real well upgrade them

        • Curtis Conway

          I remember those battle groups. Do you remember when Adm Tuttle had us flying 1,000 mile strike missions? Time for that mindset to come back. No longer have the A-6 Intruder, F-14 Tomcat, ES-3s, and KA6D/S-3B tankers. Shame.

          • Mark Sheehan

            I discharged during slep in dry dock only had f4s ,a7s,a6s

  • projob66

    The way it used to be when we had nukey cruisers. They went everywhere with their nukey carriers… welded at the beam so to speak.

  • Curtis Conway

    We should utilize the Light Carrier Battle Group (CVLBG) model using the USS America (LHA-6) platform.

    • sferrin

      No, no we shouldn’t.

    • Michael Rich

      If anything we should have an aircraft carrier similar to the French Charles de Gaulle (R91), not the USS America. At least with something similar to that we could have CATOBAR launched aircraft such as Super Hornets, F-35C and E-2D Hawkeye rather than pure VTOL setup limited to helicopters and F-35B’s.

      • Secundius

        @ Michael Rich.

        For God’s Sake’s, The LHA-6. USS America as a Light Aircraft Carrier. Would have a Complement of (20) F/A-35B’s and (2) MH-60S’s, AND NO AEW&C Helicopter’s. She can’t even Function as a Proper Light Aircraft Carrier. At best She’s an Adequate “Jeep” Carrier. Dust Off the Blueprints of the SCS-75 Design (aka Principe de Asturias) Light Aircraft Carriers, and Put them into Production. With a Cost Saving’s of 7 to 1 Gerald Ford class Large Aircraft Carrier. Twenty-Nine Aircraft’s per Ship may not be A Lot, but In This Case It’s Quantity of Ship’s Over “What the Navy Want’s Pride) That Counts…

        • sferrin

          Bad idea. It was a bad idea in the 70s and it still is.

      • Curtis Conway

        I like that idea, then look at the time line. I think we are out of time.

        • sferrin

          Not to mention it’s a terrible idea. It’s funny how often people come up with these hair-brained schemes not realizing the very idea has been studied dozens, if not hundreds, of times over the last 60+ years and always found lacking.

          • redgriffin

            Like how they planned for shock tests on the Ford Class Aircraft Carriers?

          • sferrin

            That doesn’t even make sense. (Even considering I know what you’re referring to.)

          • redgriffin

            Sorry I guess I though you would read the blog post. My mistake.

      • John B. Morgen

        The Charles de Gaulle (R91) is a truer aircraft carrier than the USS America in many ways, which the latter is just another LHA. The Navy should have modified the USS America design by adding an angled flight deck, with sponsons with additional armament, and small boat arrangements. .In other words, the USS America should have been designed and built as an aircraft carrier.

    • John B. Morgen

      We need to redesign the USS America as a medium class aircraft carrier, before the Navy starts building more of them; or copy the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers—instead.

      • Secundius

        @ John B. Morgan.

        It would take Longer to Rebuild “America” into a Proper Medium Aircraft Carrier, then Just to Build One From “Scratch”…

        • John B. Morgen

          Perhaps so, yet we should be building medium class aircraft carriers (CV), in order, to maximize our military options than being bankrupt by building $12 billion USD, USS G. R. Ford class aircraft carriers.

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgan.

            It’s a “Pipe Dream”, because Congress will NEVER FUND THEM. No Personal Profit or Fortunes to be made in Non-Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier’s…

          • John B. Morgen

            I disagree because technically the USS America (LHA) is an aircraft carrier, and she was funded by Congress, just like her half sisters of the Wasp class were funded. Someone is making profits from building LHDs of the Wasp class, and also the LHAs of the Tarawa class, warships that were all funded by Congress. I think you (Secundius) should rethink again.

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgan.

            No She’s NOT, America is built on the same Lines as the Tarawa and Wasp classes. The only difference between the Essex class and the Midway class was the Angled Fight Deck. You remove the Flight Deck, and their the same ship…

          • John B. Morgen

            No! The USS America does not have a dock well, while the both the Tarawa and Wasp classes do have dock wells. There is difference between these aircraft carriers; furthermore, carriers don’t have to have angled flight decks in order to be classify as aircraft carriers. Angled flight decks are design options…..

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgan

            That’s because the Well Deck was replaced with a Extra Fuel Bunker. To give the ship extra range and the aircrafts additional fuel storage system as well. Adding a Angeled Flight Deck would throw-off the Center-Of-Gravity of the Ship, and cause her to “Hog” in Maneuvers. That’s the rest of Essex classes were never converted to Midway classes…

          • Curtis Conway

            The well deck was truncated PRIMARYLY to provide expanded hangar deck, and greater (F-35 specific) Aviation Maintenance spaces. It is true that another design criteria was to provide more aviation fuel storage . . . making it a great little carrier. Angle decks were developed for increased safety for arrested landings. A VSTOL/STOVL carrier does not have that problem. The problems we do have is the mission sets that do not exist in a VSTOL/STOVL platform like AEW&C and Electronic Attack, both of which have solutions should we actually decide to invest the money and develop the technology. Where does that money come from? Costs savings alone from acquiring 4-6 CVLs, and our little technology projects, could easily be paid for by truncating the acquisition of 4-6 Ford CVNs. I would skip every other Ford and build two CVLs and augment the Expeditionary Strike Groups. Now we would have a force more able to respond to GWOT tasking world wide, and the Humanitarian Support Mission (which will increase) would be better equipped.

            The USMC F-35B Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter and the V-22 Ospreys are the compelling technologies in the argument, and we should leverage that in the future. This concept actually saves money over time with more assets at less cost than just building four to six Ford Class CVNs, provides more platforms that can be more places for the cost, and provides greater force versatility for tasking.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            Don’t Hold Your Breath…

          • Curtis Conway

            OH . . . I’m not. The MIC will never let it happen, and the Carrier Admirals have too much invested in their current program. However, it is an alternative to ‘nothing but’ costly Fords.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            Is this the same “IMC” funded by Congress, as I said Don’t Hold Your Breath…

          • Curtis Conway

            The ‘funded by’ question really gets convoluted when money goes from one pocket to someone else’s pocket (to get reelected) then everyone claims there are ‘no strings attached’.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            “STILL, Don’t Hold Your Breath.”

          • Curtis Conway

            Oh . . . I’m not. We may wake up one day.

          • Al Machiaverna

            There’s money for illegals and this new entitlement class, but US defensive capabilities take a back seat .

          • sferrin

            That’s because members of the military generally don’t vote Democrat. It’s about the votes.

          • John B. Morgen

            Widen the beam by adding hull bulges which will increase the beam, and take care of the center of gravity issue. This was done with battleships, just after the Washington Naval Treaty signed in 1922.

          • Secundius

            @ Jogn B. Morgan.

            The Ship is ONLY capable of 22-knots…

          • John B. Morgen

            Twenty-two knots is the fastest speed for most of the amphibious warships in the Fleet; excluding two LCC, and landing craft. though surprising the Navy did not mandated faster speed of 25 knots for the newer amphibious warships. Although, during World War II the Navy accepted the slower speeds of their escort aircraft carriers—between 15 to 19 knots. Furthermore, those escort aircraft carriers made up the majority of the “Carrier Fleet,” and performed outstanding against Japan and Germany.Twenty-two knots is not going to matter that much in today’s modern world of naval warfare.

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgen.

            As I recall, the WW2 “Counterpart’s only weighed about 35% of today’s Aircraft’s, Fully-Loaded too

          • John B. Morgen

            I agree. The Sky Raider AD-1 came too late to see action during World War II, but was capable of carrying a 6,000+ ib payload.

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgen.

            There not going to do it , because it’s not in the Naval Budget for that class of Ship’s. The only Modification’s the Class is going to get is Regular Equipment Upgrades. Maybe a 12(deg) Ski-Jump, But I Very Much Doubt It…

          • John B. Morgen

            Surprisingly the building contracts that were signed for building the USS America didn’t include a sky-jump as part of the ship design. Someone must have been asleep when the drawing plans were being drawn up. The funding is there, it’s just what is more important, to build three over priced CVNs, or build nine smaller CVs. I prefer to have a much larger carrier force than a small one; numbers do matter for sea operations…

          • sferrin

            No ski jump because it’s a stupid idea for an Amphibious Assault Ship. (Which is what the Americas are despite your persistent fantasies.) A ski jump takes up valuable deck space ALL THE TIME. And those three CVNs would barely even notice a fight with 9 gators. It wouldn’t even be close.

          • John B. Morgen

            The USS America is NOT an amphibious assault ship because it does not have a dock well for gators. Wake up sferrin! Ski jumps worked very well for launching Harrier aircraft, and will work well once F-35Bs are deployed on America. One more thing, ski jumps have been accepted by three major naval powers for their aircraft carriers; Great Britain, Russia and China. Valuable deck space—really!

          • Mark Sheehan

            forestall, saratoga,ranger,indepenence, was the proto types for the Nimitz/super carriers ranger cva61 was the first to be designed and laid down as a angle carrier

          • Curtis Conway

            “Congress will NEVER FUND THEM…”. Congress will fund a $12+ Billion Ford Class CVN, but it will not fund a $2.5 Billion Light Carrier . . . interesting! the problem is the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) and the 495 Beltway. THAT’s why we are going broke!

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            How Many Medium-Size Aircraft Carrier’s are there Scheduled to be Built in the next TEN-Years. If you can think of ANY, Let Me Know…

          • Curtis Conway

            There is one more, the USS Tripoli (LHA-7), then there will (sadly) be no more . . . for their well decks will be restored. That eventuality happened AFTER the other platforms in the ARG were, or are being, upgraded to take up the slack with larger well deck capacity in the future plans . . . then the plan was changed. HHUMMMM.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            The LHA-7, Tripoli. IS NOT a Medium Aircraft Carrier by Anyone’s Standard’s of the Defined Parameters of an Aircraft Carrier. IN YOUR HEAD, Maybe, But not too the Rest of the World…

          • Curtis Conway

            The USS America & USS Tripoli could be Light Aircraft Carriers practically overnight, just like was demonstrated for real in the Persian Gulf in 2004.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            46,000-tons, is a “Little Heavy” to be calling a Ship a Light Aircraft Carrier…

  • sferrin

    Gee, we cut the number of carriers in the fleet and now we have coverage shortages. Who could have seen that coming?

    • Secundius

      @ sferrin.

      It’s not that Nobody Saw It Coming, it’s a Matter of Nobody Wanted to Believe It Was Coming…

      • sferrin

        That’s actually worse.

        • Secundius

          @ sferrin.

          I suspect they thought that the US Congress, would “Come To Their Senses”. Stop there “In-Fighting and Bickering” and “Run the Country the Way the People Voted For Them Too Do”. Boy Where They Ever Wrong On That One…

          • sferrin

            I hear ya. I thought they couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to go through with Sequestration. The toilet bowl known as “Washington” could really use a good flushing.

  • muzzleloader

    As long in the tooth as Enterprise ( CVN 65) was, it seems it would have been prudent to keep her online until the Ford arrives in the fleet.

    • John B. Morgen

      The administration and the Navy made a mistake of decommissioning her….

      • Secundius

        @ John B. Morgan.

        The President didn’t have a Say In the Matter, Enterprise’s Nuclear Reactor Core’s reached their Mandatory Retirement Age, that why she was Decommissioned. If Enterprise, WASN’T Nuclear-Powered decommissioning wouldn’t be a problem…

        • John B. Morgen

          Safety comes first……

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgan.

            If your referring to the Safety of Nation, I Agree. But consider the 50-plus years worth of Residual Radiation Impregnated in the Reactor Rooms. You can’t Just Seal Off the Compartments and Work Around the Radiation…

          • John B. Morgen

            I do know that nuclear powered submarines’ SSN/SSBN reactors are physically removed from the subs’ hulls, as if the reactors were Lego block units. In other words, the subs’ hulls are reduce down in length, then those cut sections are then place inside special containers for long term storage. I assume that reactors from the surface nuclear powered fleet are treated very much in the same way, or almost the same way. It will take a long time for the eight nuclear reactors from the Enterprise are finally removed….

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgan.

            Enterprise had NOT One but Eight Reactor Rooms, They had Plasma or Arc Cut a Large Portion of the Hull Away, just to get too them. It wouldn’t be any Different on a Submarine. Once the Reactor is exposed to Radiation. That’s It. There Special Procedures that have to be Followed in Removing and Replacing a Reactor. Unlike the Russian’s, We Don’t Wait Until the Reactor’s Crack and then Sink the Ship’s to Contain the Radiation…

          • Curtis Conway

            No diving in the Bearing Sea!

  • Jim Valle

    I suspect that the ideal number of big deck carrier battle groups would be fifteen. Five deployed, five training and five in overhaul at any given time. With eleven in commission if a crisis occurs the only way to make the stretch is to drastically compress overhaul and training times and lengthen deployments ( ouch! ). Is it possible that some of the newest oil fired big decks, now in mothballs, could be refurbished and held as a ready reserve? Just asking…….

    • Curtis Conway

      That was the old model and it was cooked up during peace time.

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  • Secundius

    FYI: “War is Boring”, 13 September 2015.

    Of the 150 F/A-35’s, delivered to the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. Only 10 are deemed “Operational”…

    • sferrin

      Consider the source.

  • Secundius

    FYI: DDG-1002, USS. LBJ is to be CANCELLED. It is unclear as to where the Funds from the LBJ are to be used. Most likely either the Submarines or the Gerald Ford class Large Aircraft Carrier program

  • sferrin

    Hey at least the Cold War is over, Putin is introducing democracy to Russia, and China’s moto is “Peaceful Rise”. Nothin’ to worry about. Those slashing the carrier fleet are visionaries.

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  • hateyousandcrabedolosers

    Do you have to be a know nothing, pompous dullard to post here, or can anyone play?

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