Home » Budget Industry » McCain Taking ‘Hard Look’ at Forward Deploying Second U.S. Aircraft Carrier to Western Pacific


McCain Taking ‘Hard Look’ at Forward Deploying Second U.S. Aircraft Carrier to Western Pacific

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Pukin’ Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143 begins a supersonic flyby over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 3, 2015. US Navy Photo

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Pukin’ Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143 begins a supersonic flyby over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 3, 2015. US Navy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) said his committee is taking a “hard look” at the case to deploy a second U.S. aircraft carrier to the Western Pacific.

“We should reconsider if our naval forces are postured for success,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an address to an audience at the U.S. Naval Institute’s Defense Forum Washington.
“We should take a hard look at recent studies that suggest more forward basing or stationing of forces in the Western Pacific, such as a second aircraft carrier, Amphibious Ready Group, or additional large surface combatants, that would enable greater overseas presence to deter, assure, and respond.”

The examination of a second carrier forward deployed in the Western Pacific – though not a new idea – was a key recommendation included in a report issued last month outlining the strain of the Navy and Marine Corps in their global responsibilities over the last decade and a half.

The high operational tempo has had the Navy fall behind in the maintenance of carriers and has led to some high profile gaps in carrier coverage while it comes back from the backlog.

Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.)

Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.)

“The backlog culminated in late 2015 with a Persian Gulf ‘carrier gap’ between the departure of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the arrival of the USS Harry S. Truman. A second carrier gap will occur in the Pacific in 2016 and gaps will reoccur intermittently in both theaters until 2021, when the USS Gerald R. Ford becomes operationally available,” the November report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment said.

With a 12 carrier Navy, the deployment of a second carrier to the Western Pacific overlapping with the existing forces would allow for a 1.4 carrier presence in region with a four-month period in which two carriers could operate in the region.

The benefit would, in part, come from the carrier not having to make the months long transit from the West Coast.

The forward carriers would operate outside of U.S. Fleet Forces Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) and tack to the existing forward deployment scheme in use currently by forward deployed carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).
Report author, naval analyst Bryan Clark, said Reagan’s current berth in Yokosuka, Japan could accommodate a second carrier and the current air wing for the carrier could be augmented to accommodate both ships with a variety of aviation detachments.

“Japan would be the best option to add a second carrier, if you wanted to do it quickly,” Clark said.
While McCain and Clark are calling for an examination of adding a second carrier forward, the Navy isn’t considering the option.

“There has absolutely been no conversation related to forward-deploying an additional carrier in Japan,” a Navy official told Defense News last month.

In addition to examining moving a second carrier to the Western Pacific, McCain continued his refrain on long-held frustrations with the emerging Gerald R. Ford-class next generation aircraft carrier (CVN-78).

“This program continues to be plagued by technology immaturity, concurrent development and production, and a lack of reliability test data for critical systems,” he said.
“This is unacceptable, and I fully expect the study of alternative aircraft carrier designs, mandated by this year’s [defense bill], to provide real options.”

  • Curtis Lee

    Two possible solutions:
    1. Recommission the USS Kittyhawk( Very little chance)
    2. Deploy LHDs/LHAs with AV-8Bs and F-35Bs only( To act of Light CVs/Sea Control Ships?)

    • Secundius

      @ Curtis Lee.

      Maybe the US can “discreetly” burrow one of Australia’s New Canberra class Gator-Freighters. And Park it “somewhere”, where we (the USA) need it the MOST…

      • Curtis Lee

        Why not JMSDF’s Izumo DDH?

        • Secundius

          @ Curtis Lee.

          I have NO OBJECTIONS to that Either, or Anyone Else that’s USA “Friendly” and has a Moveable “Flattop” to spare…

  • Pingback: McCain Taking ‘Hard Look’ at Forward Deploying Second U.S. Aircraft Carrier to Western Pacific | CSBA()

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    Fortress Guam. There is a tender there already. Put a destroyer squadron there patriots, Marines already there. A 2nd carrier f-15’s F-16’s F-22′ B1B’s. B52 etc Air Refueling Tankers navy marine Airforce army all on fortress GUAM

    • NavySubNuke

      Guam is far to vulnerable to surface to surface missile strikes. It is highly unlikely that there will be a useable runway on Guam after 12 – 24 hours of the conflict beginning. Shifting additional navy assets there makes sense – but the limited shipyard infrastructure adds additional complications. Also, I’m not sure they even have the pier space for a carrier or that the basin is deep enough for a carrier to moor.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        You can dock a CVN in Apra Harbor, but the cost of building the facilities necessary to home port a CVN there is problematic. I’m more optimistic on the ability of the USAF/USN to provide air defenses & hardening to protect the airfield on Guam. It’s not THAT easy to hit Guam from the Chinese mainland, it is over 3,000km – so the number of assets avialable to the PLA/PLAN/PLAAF capable of reaching that far are fairly small (at least in comparison to what the have in stock capable of hitting Taiwan, Okinawa or Sasebo & Yokosuka.

        • NavySubNuke

          Ah – good to know on Apra Harbor – thanks!
          And you are right – there will always be a far larger inventory of missiles able to hit Japan/South Korea than Guam. Also Guam is US territory so you don’t have to worry about the Chinese intimidating the host government into not allowing US troops to be used from that country.
          That said, I am still bearish on the Navy and Air Force getting the funding they need to upgrade the facilities to stand up to attack. But who knows – every once in a while congress actually does do the right thing so there is still a chance.
          As long as Congress Johnson’s fears of Guam capsizing never come true that is 🙂

      • BSmitty

        Guam is less vulnerable than Japan.

        • NavySubNuke

          True but I’m not worried about vulnerability when it comes to shifting Navy units to Japan or to Guam. Its the Air Force assets that worry me from a vulnerability standpoint.
          My primary concern with shifting Navy assets to Guam is the last of facilities to support them.

          • BSmitty

            IMHO, having a CSG currently based in Japan provides less deterrence than we think, given its vulnerability to missile strikes while in port.

            Adding another there doubles down on this vulnerability.

            All the Chinese have to do is plan any opening moves in a conflict around the CSGs port cycle.

            Yokosuka (and/or Sasebo) could be the next Pearl.

            Who needs to hit a moving carrier with a ballistic missile when it sits in port for a significant percentage of its cycle.

          • NavySubNuke

            Forward deploying ships is all about balancing risk vs. presence. By having two there I think you decrease the vulnerability as long as you are able to minimize the amount of time they are both in port at the same time.

          • BSmitty

            How about begging/bribing the Aussies into FDNFing a CSG?

          • NavySubNuke

            Given the distances involved I don’t think that actually buys you much more presence than putting it in Hawaii. Especially with Australia allowing a state owned Chinese company to control port operations in Darwin. Port Douglas to SCS is not a short ride. (and that is assuming you could even put a CSG in Port Douglas —- I honestly know almost nothing about Australian ports so it may not even be possible)

      • muzzleloader

        Apra harbor is a very deep one, and carriers have moored there many times. It does lack the infrastructure to sustain one for a long term basis. As for bomber assets, what concerns me is the lack of hardened shelters to protect them.

        • NavySubNuke

          Yup – but those shelters aren’t cheap and the US has shown that they don’t provide all that much protection from precision strikes —- just ask the Iraqis and Libyans.
          That said – they might do ok against long range missile strikes.

    • Secundius

      @ Sailboater.

      Starting in 2009, at least (4) B-2’s are stationed in Guam, at any given time…

      • NavySubNuke

        While we do for the most part maintain a rotation of strategic bombers based on Guam we actually stopped regularly rotating B2s out there in 2010 or so — that’s why it was such a big deal when we sent three there on rotation in August 2015.

    • Steve Skubinna

      Guam does not have the infrastructure to support a CVN and her strike group. The shipyard was turned over to commercial operation in the ’90s and has been degrading ever since and the one deepwater pier in Apra Harbor that can moor a carrier is the ammo pier at Orote point, which means it would be unavailable for ammo operations. The cost to build the capability to support a carrier group would be prohibitive – no way we could afford it for the foreseeable future.

      • Rob C

        Seven years ago when I was working for a Navy contractor I worked on an Environmental Impact Statement for the dredging of Apra Harbor to accommodate a CVN. At the time they were looking at moving all of the Marines based in Japan there as well as the CVN that is forward deployed in Japan. Not sure if the dredging ever happened or not, all we did was the EIS, but I know the Navy was moving in the direction of possibly basing a CVN and her strike group there there at some point in the future. If I had to guess though they will put it at Subic, and re-open NAS Cubi Point. Closer to the disputed Spratley Islands and the Philippine Government wants the US back in a big way. A CVN in at Subic would also send a message loud and clear to China not to f— around. With what is happening in the Pacific the Navy doesn’t need to have all of those carrier groups sitting in Norfolk that’s for sure!

  • PolicyWonk

    The senator didn’t happen to mention where all the $$$ required to forward base another carrier (and its escorts) is going to come from. A nice, if totally unrealistic thought. The HoR can’t get itself to pay for the military we currently have, let alone permanently deploying an entire CSG.

    If McCain really wanted to scare the daylights out of the ChiComs, then having the navy purchase a large fleet of AIP boats and forward basing them all around the S. China sea would definitely get their attention – as would announced sales of said AIP boats to Taiwan.

    And that can come for a far smaller price: we could easily purchase a fleet of well over 30 AIP boats for the cost of one USS Ford. And those could make the entire S. China Sea a very dangerous place.

    • NavySubNuke

      Australia is attempting to buy 12 new SSKs with a projected cost of at least $20B(Australian). This translates to a cost of about $14B USD or about the cost of the FORD – which was the lead and therefore most expensive (we hope) of the class. If the US chose to buy AIP boats we would probably go with ones similar to what Australia is looking for since the added range capability is necessary to full threaten the entire SCS from where we were able to forward deploy the boats.

      • PolicyWonk

        Good point. The pacific is a mighty big ocean, and Australia is a big place that requires a lot of transit time for their SSK/AIP boats.

        I was thinking more modestly (w/r/t to the size of AIP boats we’d purchase), and going with very forward based SSK/AIP boats.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      I wonder how much it would cost to bring Subic back up to snuff for a CVN homeporting? I suspect that Japan remains the cheaper (in the short term anyway) option given the large & moder facilities already in place.

      • Secundius

        @ NotRizzo.

        About $11.6-Billion USD. “JUST” to Modernize Subic Bay Naval Base, the Philippines…

        • Steve Skubinna

          Then there are the political and diplomatic issues. I doubt there’s the political support in the PI (or rather, there would be “underground” support but most Filipino politicians would consider the issue too hot to back openly), and as for our perspective, they already threw us out once, why would we take the risk again?

          • Secundius

            @ Steve Skubinna.

            Approximately $27-Billion/Year is being spent to Utilize FIVE Bases for the US Military in the Philippines. Subic Bay is just One of them…

          • Steve Skubinna

            But they remain PI property. We will never see another US “base” in the sense of it being sovereign soil, which means we will never have full disposition of the forces operating from there.

    • sferrin

      God, here we go again with the asinine idea of AIPs. They’re a dumb idea for the USN and will never happen. Get over it. Same with the mini-me carriers that you, by some miracle, seem to have left out. Maybe something has begun to sink in after all.

  • 2IDSGT

    Japan and Australia between them have four ships capable of operating F-35Bs and functioning as light carriers (and Korea may be adding another in 2018). How abouts we NOT send another CVN and tell these countries to start contributing more to their own security.

    • Michael Rich

      They have been actually. Japan and South Korea are the only US Allies that have actually increased spending.

    • NavySubNuke

      I’m all for that on the European front but as Michael already noted Japan, South Korea, and Australia are spending some bucks to defend themselves.
      Unlike the fat and lazy over at NATO they actually are earning our continued help and support.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      Forward deploying a LHA based ARG to Darwin would go a long way toward closing some of 7th fleet’s “gap” since that group would be available and better placed to deal with potential threats in the South China Sea. It’s about the same distance from Darwin to the Straits of Malacca as from Guam to the Taiwan Straits.

      • 2IDSGT

        Or…. we could NOT do that. How abouts the Australians buy some F-35Bs to put on the brand-new amphibs they just bought? You know, the ones with ramps on the front? Almost as though they were meant for it.

        • Secundius

          @ 2IDSGT.

          The Australian’s DON’T WANT the F/AV-35B’s. The Want the “A” Model ONLY. Besides that the USMC are being “Garrisoned” in Australia with there Equipment too. Which I assume includes the F/AV-35B’s…

          • 2IDSGT

            Irrelevant… Nothing for trolls who can’t speak the queen’s. Shoo… giyet… amscray.

  • Jay

    What an arrogant SOB. Must think he’s President. Congress is now trying to move ships around the world. It’s like Stratego for couch warriors. What happened to Congress addressing issues that it should? AUMF for the ISIS fight? Oh no — then the Rethugs could not criticise and second guess everything that the Magic Negro does or fails to do.

    • NavySubNuke

      Hate to break the news to you sweetie but if you forward deploy a second carrier to the pacific that actually helps free up time for carriers to be hitting ISIS. Improving carrier presence in one theatre by reducing transit times means there are additional days of carrier availability that can be applied to other theatres.
      Nice try though but you should realize not everything is some grand Republican vs. Democrat conspiracy —- it makes you sound a little crazy.

      • Jay

        Of course not! Insane is doing a great job! Been doing it for 3 decades now and look where the country is. Really chopped down that waste in the DoD budget too. ISIS is just scared shitless of carriers. Thanks for the gratuitous lecture on strategy. And “sweetie” — I knew you sailors have to make due on those long deployments but I’m not your type and don’t hit that way.

        • NavySubNuke

          Oh don’t be too honored – I call all children or those with the intelligence of children sweetie.
          Also who cares what ISIS is scared of – all that matters is killing them. Although I can see why someone with a simple mind like yours thinks the entire world revolves around them. You do realize there are other threats and challenges to US National Security beyond ISIS don’t you sweetie?
          (Note: let me know if any of the words are too big and I can help you sound them out and explain what they mean).

          • Jay

            Such an angry boy! Lots of children reading Proceedings. I’m sure. You act and talk like one. Petulant, small brained, smelling your own pee. You need to seriously up your insult game. Work on the low self esteem thing too, using words like “sweetie” to try to belittle people and advertising your occupation in a lame attempt to impress anonymous folk on the internet. Yeah, all those extra carrier sorties will make a HUGE difference because, as every self certified “strategist” knows it’s just a matter of killing enough of them right? Worked in Vietnam like a charm. National Security! Capitalize that like religion! And all those carriers and nukes are certainly doing a scary number on the Chinese! They’re positively shitting their pants in the SCS! No need to explain anything you say, it’s on the level of Bush and Cheney like military brilliance. Pretty dumbed down. Proceedings certainly ain’t what it was 20 years ago.

          • NavySubNuke

            I’m not angry at all – who is there to be angry at? It isn’t your fault that you have the intellectual capabilities of a child and don’t realize it. You’ve probably got a whole cabinet full of participation trophies to base your over inflated self esteem on.
            And yes with ISIS it really is just about killing with them since they are not rational or civilized enough to deal with in a more intelligent manner. Also, if you actually knew anything about history you would realize it did work quite well in Vietnam – why do you think we were able to negotiate a cease fire? It was only years after the US troops pulled out and was distracted by Watergate that the North invaded again and fully conquered the south.
            On china – of course they are nervous about the US and our aircraft — why do you think they have been investing billions of dollars every year building up what they hope will be an impregnable A2/AD umbrella? Ever since the spring of 1996 when Clinton embarrassed them by parking two carriers off the coast to make sure they behaved during a time of high tension with Taiwan they have been investing in capabilities to make sure that can’t happen again.
            Keep trying though sweetie – educating you is quite entertaining.

          • Jay

            There’s some dyslexic rewriting of history and current events. If you thought Vietnam worked out so well for everyone, go count 54, 000 names on the Wall — and don’t forget the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese killed. Yeah, big success. “Negotiated a ceasefire”? America was burning down over opposition to a useless, decades long war that was lost. “Distracted by Watergate”? You mean Nixon was so busy violating multiple laws at home that he couldn’t continue to multi task and commit additional war crimes in SE Asia? Yeah, China is pissing their panties over carriers aright, spending 20% of the DoD budget and building simple islands to enforce its will in the SCS. I bet you’re a big cheerleader for the Iraq War — another successful never ending waste! Sounds like you get your “history” from Bullshit Mountain on Fox. The only way you’re “educating”me is showing just how deep the ignorance runs in America.

          • NavySubNuke

            Well by your measure WWII was a much more colossal failure than Vietnam since over 400,000 were killed vs. the 54,000 in Vietnam. Since you only care about casualties I surprised you don’t consider the Iraq war a resounding success since so few died there. But I suppose you have to come up with some sort of rational to say we “lost” both Vietnam and Iraq since that is what your betters told you happened there.
            But no worries – if ignorance is bliss you must be the happiest fool on the block. I’m sure your mother will pick you up another participation trophy for this conversation if you print it out and bring it upstairs to her.

          • Jay

            I have new found appreciation and sympathy for parents of autistic and mentally disabled children.

          • NavySubNuke

            Awww sweetie its so nice to hear that you are finally going to give your mother the appreciation and sympathy she deserves after all these years of taking care of you.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      How dare the Congress provide oversight of the money they appropriate to the administration!

      • Jay

        And what a bang up job they’re doing too! Oversighting hundreds of billions a year in fraud, waste and abuse! Keep believing in the myth.

        • NavySubNuke

          Actually according to GAO DoD’s fraud is among the lowest in the government. The highest levels of fraud belong to the earned income tax credit and medicare. The IRS actually pays out enough fraudulent EITC payments each year to buy an entire aircraft carrier.
          Nice try though sweetie – please keep commenting though I do find your mutterings entertaining.

          • Jay

            OH — so that’s why DoD still cannot pass an audit? That’s right out of Orwell. Next up: DoD is actually SAVING us all money and leading us to heaven! So gullible and so stupid. How many billions building militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan that are now total ineffective? That’s just one example. Sound like you’ve been watching Bullshit Mountain on Fox. That just makes you stupid you know. That kind of stupid is a much greater threat to America than Islamic terrorism; you can’t even recognise basic reality and make informed decisions. But do what you’re good at… sweetie.

          • NavySubNuke

            Awww sweetie your mixing metaphors again. You really should have your betters do a more thorough job of explaining things to you when they tell you what to believe.
            The reasons DoD can’t pass an audit are due to a number of factors – one of the largest being the sheer size of DoD and the inefficiencies and problems of the computer programs it has tried to buy but just don’t work on the something the scale of DoD.
            On the billions wasted in Afghanistan and Iraq – you can blame DoD if you like but DoD didn’t want or choose that war and most of the money wasted was wasted on joint efforts with USAID and State. I can see why someone of your limited intelligence it is easy to blame DoD for that entire mess but it really is the fault of the entire government.
            Keep trying though – eventually you might say something that is either intelligent or at least close to accurate.

    • Steve Skubinna

      Yeah, how dare Congress meddle in affairs it has a Constitutional mandate to!

    • Secundius

      @ Jay.

      WHAT “Arrogant” Congressional SOB, order FOUR Nimitz class Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carriers for a Four-Year “Hold Cycle” called the SEQUESTER…

  • Michael Rich

    Why didn’t we build another 1-2 Nimitz Carriers if we needed them this badly?

    • NavySubNuke

      Money.

      • Rob C

        Building 1-2 more Nimitz Carriers would have probably been cheaper than one Ford class because all of the design work for the Nimitz was done 40+ years ago.

        • NavySubNuke

          Building – certainly. Operating for 50+ years — that is another question.

          • disqus_zommBwspv9

            why not build 3 or 4 gas turbine power/Electric pod 800 foot Aircraft Carriers?

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    Guam will not sink and a holed runway is easier to fix than a sunk carrier. Less than 2000 miles to China Korea, etc. plus there are multiple runways. A 1000 miles from Guam is open ocean with exception of a few islands But the bigger issue how to keep Guam a paradise

  • Brent Leatherman

    This is cute with John pretending to be the CINC and all.

  • sferrin

    Exhibit A as to why the concept of career politicians should be done away with.

  • Pingback: The Male-Only Draft Needs Adjustment LexLeader()

  • Pingback: Wing Designs For Rc Airplanes | hobby - remote control shop()

  • Pingback: Wing Designs For Rc Airplanes | drift - rc drift cars()

  • Pingback: Why Does China Want Aircraft Carriers?()

  • Mike Mulligan

    Come on, “months long voyage to get to the west coast”. A little bit of “fake news” here?