Home » Budget Industry » Admirals: Navy Needs A Bigger Fleet, And Now May Be The Best Time To Plan For It


Admirals: Navy Needs A Bigger Fleet, And Now May Be The Best Time To Plan For It

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65), left, and the Nimitz-class Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) transit the Philippine Sea on Sept. 23, 2016. US Navy Photo

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65), left, and the Nimitz-class Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) transit the Philippine Sea on Sept. 23, 2016. US Navy Photo

A variety of Navy studies point towards the need for a bigger fleet to handle global requirements, and the upcoming change in administration and end to the Budget Control Act spending caps may present an opportunity to begin thinking creatively about what the future larger fleet may look like.

The Navy is nearing the end of a triplet of Future Fleet Architecture studies – conducted by MITRE Corporation, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis (CSBA) and the Navy – to look at how new technologies and concepts may change the size and composition of the Navy in the mid-term. While the Navy has not yet released the details of the three studies, the general consensus is that the future fleet will have to be larger than today’s.

“We are the central force for deterrence and peacekeeping around the globe,” Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran said today at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium.
“Demands on the Navy will continue to grow as we’re battling to reset a force that has been run hard for a very long time. This demands, of course, that we make some really tough choices. We’ve had to prioritize, we’ve had to shift our readiness and shore commands to support our deployed ships and personnel throughout the Navy, and we’ve had to accept risk in a few important modernization programs. One thing is clear, we will not be able to keep up this pace forever unless something changes. Arguably, this involves a larger and more capable fleet, resourced to be ready and manned to win whenever the nation calls us into action. What exactly that looks like is still to be studied, we’re still working on that pretty hard today. … There will continue to be much discussion and collaboration with the Navy, with [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and with Congress as we work together to build and fund the right Navy and Joint Force for the future.”

Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, echoed the calls for a larger fleet at the conference on Wednesday. Speaking of the three studies, he said “they’ll come out about 80 percent similar and some different. They’re all, I assure you, looking for a bigger Navy, just different ways of getting it.”

Similarly, the Navy is revisiting its Force Structure Assessment that calls for an objective fleet of 308 ships – with a specific breakdown of large and small surface combatants, attack submarines, aircraft carriers and so on, based on combatant commander needs. Mulloy said “we have another study coming, the number is bigger.” The timing of the FSA’s release is unclear still, he said, since not only this administration but also the next administration would likely have to sign off on the number.

The 308-ship force has already challenged the Navy, which today sits at 272 ships and expects to reach the 308 figure in 2021 before dipping below again later in the decade. Last year the surface combatant community expressed concerns that growing missile threats in the Pacific would necessitate a higher number of cruisers and destroyers, and Navy officials have generally agreed that more attack submarines would be required in the future and reflected in the next FSA.

Mulloy noted in his speech that, even as the Navy has struggled to pay for its shipbuilding needs in current budget conditions, a higher ship count would only be affordable if the Navy received a higher portion of Defense Department funding or if the Pentagon topline were increased overall.

Despite the funding challenges, Mulloy said the timing of the FSA and the Future Fleet Architecture was opportune: a new administration is coming in, and the Budget Control Act that has capped defense spending levels since 2011 will end after 2023 – just outside of the FYDP. Mulloy said the time could be right for a national discussion about taxes and spending priorities, and where national defense and the Navy specifically fits in with that. He made clear that the nation needs a larger and a different Navy than it has today, but higher toplines would be needed to evolve into a force that can meet future challenges with alternative ship designs, netted manned and unmanned systems, new weapons and more.

Adding to the good timing is the anticipated passage of a defense authorization bill that would grant more acquisition authority to service chiefs, somewhat reducing Pentagon oversight and allowing the service leaders to control their own development programs. These reforms would allow Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to move forward on programs – different amphibious ships, larger destroyers, smaller aircraft carriers, or whatever the Future Fleet Architecture studies recommend – to more quickly design, develop and field the technologies that will transform the fleet.

With all these opportunities for major changes coming up, Mulloy predicted that the annual 30-year shipbuilding plan may soon become irrelevant. He said the Navy would submit one with its 2018 budget request, but he said the plan can stifle creative thinking and may be revamped if the Navy is serious about transforming its fleet. For example, the plan looks 30 years out and replaces every decommissioning destroyer with another destroyer, every amphibious ship with a similar amphibious ship, and so on. He said eliminating this practice and focusing on capabilities rather than platforms may encourage more innovation.

  • Now would be a GOOD Time for the US Navy to Plan on building a FRIGATE.

    • Beomoose

      How much of the article would you say you read?

      • sferrin

        I’ll bet he at least made it through the title. 😉

    • Secundius

      @ Nicky.

      Just in case you haven’t heard, New England Boating website. Mentioned that USCGC “Tamaroa” is to be Sunk ~25-miles South of Cape May Point, NJ. As an Artificial Dive Reef on 30 October 2016…

  • Lazarus

    There were lots of studies in the 1970’s during the CNO tenures of Admiral’s Zumwalt, Holloway and Hayward. They ranged in size from 400-1200 ships and included many combinations of platforms. It took the 1980’s Maritime strategy (begun by ADM Hayward) and developed by the OPNAV staff to really make a specific number acceptable to a wide audience. The 1980’s “600 ship Navy” was the best figure (in terms of both capability and affordability), cited by multiple studies and supported by CINC (now COCOM) force requirements. It was essential that an influential SECNAV like John Lehman could take the Maritime Strategy to the next level by hitching it to the 600 ship fleet. The 350 ship navy might be achieved, but given current budget issues (sequestration), it will probably take another aggressive and articulate SECNAV to achieve this goal.

    • Beomoose

      Laz, while I appreciate the call for the next Administration to appoint an effective SECNAV, the 600 ship Navy is rather more an example of the dangers presented when a political narrative overrides smart strategy.

      I’ll skip over whether or not 600 was really the magic number, other than to point out that such perfectly round numbers are rarely to be found in serious analysis. The Pre-Lehman Navy plan wasn’t for 600 ships, but it was a balanced, strategy-driven force that kept the fleet technologically in front of the competition and which could be sustained over a long period. By contrast, Lehman’s approach was perilously light on strategy, balance, or sustainability. The “600 ship navy fever” saw vital but less “sexy” ships delayed in favor of burning cash on rushing new-builds and on costly refits and operation of obsolete warships. This not only caused the fleet to shrink more rapidly as the already-old ships got older, but it still effects the fleet today. The rush to crank out submarines, cruisers, and carriers means their service lives are all running short in too little time to affordably keep the numbers up.

      We need a strategy which not only gives the fleet the capabilities it needs, but which ensures it can be sustained over the long haul. We need our SECNAV, and other advocates, to push hard but push smartly. We don’t need or want a politically expedient plan which kneecaps the fleet down the road, again.

      • Lazarus

        Lehman rounded up the 582 ships recommended in Sea Plan 2000 and by ADM Holloway in his term to 600, which sounds better as a sound-bite than 582. Ahh, the sustainability argument that says Lehman (and naval strategy in general) was not, “cost constrained.” The analysis folks (OP 96/965) was making that argument in 1983 (when the Reagan budget was robust) and not in 1987 (when demands to cut defense were more common.) Lehman is an excellent political campaigner and who is to say he could not have secured a 5% or more TOA for the Navy in the face of a continuing Soviet threat? The fleet in fact shrank more due to the end of the Cold War and a desire for a peace dividend than for its age. Sure, some of the older DDG’s, frigates and other ships needed to go, but the US had also just invested in an expensive NTU upgrade for all of the old steam cruisers and even some of the older steam DDG’s (Mahan and Goldsborough.) So I disagree that the 600 ship Navy “kneecapped” the fleet later. In fact, Lehman’s building program provided the bulk of the modern force structure retained after the Cold War.

        • sferrin

          “Sure, some of the older DDG’s, frigates and other ships needed to go, but the US had also just invested in an expensive NTU upgrade for all of the old steam cruisers and even some of the older steam DDG’s (Mahan and Goldsborough.) So I disagree that the 600 ship Navy “kneecapped” the fleet later. In fact, Lehman’s building program provided the bulk of the modern force structure retained after the Cold War.”

          Not to mention the other ships, that were in great shape, that they ditched ahead of their time. Namely the Virginia & California CGNs and the Spruance DDGs. The Leahy/Belknap classes would have been much appreciated with NTU and their RIM-67s.

      • Sons of Liberty

        How did our “rush to crank out subs, cruisers and carrier” reduce their service lives? Many of those ships remain in service today or to their expected service life. There was no dumbing down of service life requirements.

        What did happen is our lack of SECNAv and political leadership failed to continue to sustain replacment building. As you recall they even stop Raliegh Burke construction which has since needed to be restarted. So if our politics leadership kept a sustainment replacement program in place we would have affordable kept numbers up and kept our industrial base better supported and would not be seeing the bow wave we are seeing today.

  • Secundius

    It might be Bigger, but is it going to be what the US Navy “Actually” wants…

  • sferrin

    Planning is all well and good, but until you get the budget for it it’s all pocket-pool. Get more proficient at presenting the case to those controlling the purse strings. Hire Fisher Price to make some pop-up books if that’s what it takes to get them to understand.

  • The Plague

    “…the surface combatant community expressed concerns that growing missile threats in the Pacific would necessitate a higher number of cruisers and destroyers…” – What they would really need is more missiles on bigger ships, not more cruisers and destroyers. What really made the carrier viable in WWII is the big battleship escorts with their enormous AAA-capacities. The carriers would not have survived in battle without those. Such magazine-depth has been sorely missing from every single surface combatant since WWII, no matter how good the ships were otherwise. No matter how you slice and dice the argument, the battleship is badly missing from the Navy’s arsenal : a fewer number of big, survivable hulls could provide cost-effectiveness on a scale that a larger number of dingy-hulls can never achieve. The submarine faction will not hesitate to point out that it takes an increasingly inordinate amount of dollars just to provide for adequate air-defense of the surface fleet with these current hulls, leaving less and less for the attack component of the equation.

    • captlou

      Right on. The Iowa class BBs modernized in the 1980s fit the bill big time. Unparalleled firepower, able to withstand multiple hits, continue to fight and bombardment unmatched by any navy. Sorely needed today, my concern is how does the Navy avoid big vessels such as these just floating targets?

      • The Plague

        The Iowa hulls were good, fast hulls, so they could be taken as a starting point.

    • Niki Ptt

      As a ship-designer, I would prefer having numerous smaller ships with a reasonnable amount of ammo onboard.
      That way, you make sure that you only use a small percentage of your Task Force fighting capability if a direct hit should occur. Of course, you need to network the ships together to a common AEGIS-like system, to assign the targets to each ship independently and efficiently.
      And keep in mind that the US Navy CG47s and DD51s are quite badly designed for AEGIS ships, especially the CG47s which are supposed to be dedicated AA platforms. With a more rational arrangement, you could nearly double the missiles carrying capacity of those ships. Problem is, both these classes are using “legacy” seaframes which were not designed for AA ships.

      • The Plague

        By what “more rational arrangement” could they have doubled the missile-capacity of the Tico and the Burke? I have seen alternative superstructure plans for the Burke, I’m wondering if you’d be thinking along those lines…

    • John Locke

      This is outdated thinking and doesn’t fit the need for low observable platforms/weapons

      • The Plague

        And what, exactly, do you mean by “low observable” ?

  • DrydockJoe

    Could not agree more that there is a deep need for a major surface combatant as expressed by The Plague. sferrin has injected a dose of reality that must be overcome by a new kind of politics to get Congress moving.

    I just towed the U.S.S. FLINT to Brownsville last December (she was in great material condition) as one of the last ammunition ships capable of carrying 16″ shells. We don’t need 16″ cannons (although the marines could make a case for that for fire support); just a larger hull with expanded magazine capability and a platform large enough to support/defend the battlegroup.

    Lazarus is spot on.

    • Secundius

      They (the USN) could also Reactivate the Mk.71 8-inch (203.2mm/55-caliber) Auto Naval Artillery Gun too. But the Likelihood of that happening are between “Nil and Zero”…

      • sferrin

        “Reactivate” implies it was ever active. It wasn’t. It’d be like trying to “reactivate” the XB-70. That said, I aways thought they shouldn’t have cancelled it. It was suppose to take the forward position on the Spruance class but they put a Mk45 there instead.

        • Secundius

          Check the RIM’s of your Car, their Probably made of the Melted Down Remains of the “XB-70”. XB-70, was a “LOUSY” Bomber, EVEN Minor Damage could be Fatal for It’s Crew…

  • John Locke

    You can have all the ships you wan but you still have to man them. During the buildup in the 80’s there was a lot of pressure to meet inflated recruiting goals, test teaching and “pushing” of Sailors through “A” and “C” schools in order to get the Fleet manned. This had residual adverse effects in occupational competency throughout the 90’s after the drawdown. Today industry is having similar issues in being able to recruit an adequately trained/educated workforce let alone engineers and scientists that can pass a drug test or a security screening.

    • Ed L

      Agree I was lucky to be in deck force, the ops and engineering petty officers were bend over the quality

  • James Bowen

    It is encouraging to see Navy leadership speaking the truth about our situation and moving in the direction of pushing for a larger navy again. This is quite a contrast to ten years ago when the brass seemed to be making one disastrous decision after another, such as sending IAs to Iraq and Afghanistan and removing the missile armaments of Perry-class frigates.

    • John Locke

      Why did they remove the missiles from the frigates?

      • James Bowen

        Good question, I don’t know. They claimed that it was a dated system (SM-1’s), but it was certainly better than nothing. The Perrys also lost their anti-ship capability with that removal (a typical loadout, I think, was 36 SM-1’s and 4 Harpoons).

        The Navy had terrible leadership for about 11 years. It seems that Admiral Greenert, when he became CNO, made some good efforts to reverse the damage, and I think we are starting to see the impact of his efforts in that direction on Navy leadership culture, although there are definitely still problems.

        • Hugh

          The RAN Perrys have SM2s, Harpoons and ESSMs. It can be done.

          • James Bowen

            Good point and interesting to know. The Perrys are good ships and they were largely neglected during their last decade of service with the U.S. Navy.

          • Hugh

            And the FFG used for the recent SINKEX showed it was remarkably robust.

          • James Bowen

            Yes, after all the U.S.S. Stark survived two Exocet hits and U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts survived a devastating mine hit.

          • Sons of Liberty

            Yup. And that ship didn’t have the a crew for damage control.

          • El_Sid

            I wouldn’t get too enthusiastic about the Australian Perry upgrade – the SEA 1390 project is generally regarded as a textbook example of a defence project gone wrong. Maybe not quite EFV-bad, but say JAGM-bad.

            The trouble with the Perrys was that they had minimal growth margin (39t) and were very tightly compartmentalised as part of the strategy of making them easy for commercial yards to build. That compartmentalisation is good for damage control, but a nightmare for upgrades.

            The Aussies had all sorts of problems – from memory they retired two ships rather than upgrade them, and each ship ended up costing ~US$350m each for an upgrade to deliver an extra 10 years service, and which was delivered years late.

            The US SM-1 missiles were life-expired so would have needed some kind of SLEPing at the very least, and there was no great call for them at the time, whereas there was pressure on the budget from other sides. At best it would have given them an extra 10 years life with SAMs – it looks like a good decision in a resource-constrained world.

          • James Bowen

            If the Perrys needed a SLEP to keep missile armaments, it should have happened. As far as the Australian Perry’s are concerned, if they got better missiles I would call that project a success–certainly better than ours not having them. There was no point in sending warships to sea if they didn’t have weapons to fight wars.

          • Sons of Liberty

            They were neglected by the service long before their last decade. We never fully developed the Perry like we could have. There never was a true plan and roadmap for upgrade, improvement and modification. The Perry’s in the hands of forgein navies have shown what can be done with them.

            Instead of building a new multi billion dollars LSC Frigate. Lets create a new flight of Perries. Modify their propulsion, sensors, and weapons systems wring everything out of them we can. A new Perry would be cheaper than a new LSC frigate and would be a true gray hull. It also would save compared to developing a new grey hull frigate. Ideal we would license a forgein design but since I don’t see that happening let’s go with something tried and true.

          • James Bowen

            I completely agree.

          • Secundius

            Of the SIX RAN Perry class Frigates, ONLY THREE are Still Active. And Those THREE are Scheduled to be Decommissioned in 2020. The First Three “Perry’s” were ‘Short Hulled Perry’s’ and had to have the Hull Lengthened. But Complications Occurred in the Process, as a Result Adelaide and Canberra were “Scuttled” and ONLY Sydney survived. But with a Mk.13 Missile Launcher modified to handle the SM-2 Missile. HMAS. Sydney is Currently on the Inactive List, Waiting to be “Scuttled” as well. The Last Three Frigates, Darwin, Melbourne and Newcastle. ALL Have Above Deck Mk.41 VLS for ESSM Systems.

            RAN “Nickname” for the Oliver Hazard Perry class Frigates, are “Oliver Hazard(ous)-duty Perry” class…

          • Hugh

            Initially the RAN ordered 3 of the Class, delivered in the early 1980s as Flight 1. We upgraded them to Flight 3 in the mid/late 1980s – extended transoms, heavier flight/hangar decks, higher hangar clearances, additional strength doublers at the shearstrakes and keels, install fin stabilisers, etc. Subsequently all applicable SHIPALTS were completed, and additionally we re-worked the aluminium superstructures on ADELAIDE and CANBERRA to address detail design and build shortcomings and minimise cracking. All 6 were to be mid-life upgraded with ESSM, new DAs, etc, but there were delays with the design including debugging the new software, so a decision was made to not upgrade the oldest 2 as the remaining lives would not have represented value for money, notwithstanding that most of the equipment for 6 shipsets had already been ordered. Accordingly they were decommissioned early, and as there was a strong interest, they were given over as dive wrecks to join some of the DDGs and Type 12s.

            That nickname must have been in small circles, but I never heard it while working as a government civilian naval engineer, subject matter expert for naval architecture on FFGs etc (1965 – 2015).

          • Curtis Conway

            Tough oceans around Australia. This is why this small boy was as small as you could get and still do reasonably well in Blue Water operations. The Aussie Frigate Sailors are good troops, hard working sailors, and squeezed every bit of performance out of the hull possible given its one screw.

          • Secundius

            RANFrig’s were Tough “Picket Boats” during First Gulf War…

      • old guy

        So they wouldn’t look so threatening.

    • Sons of Liberty

      Bring back the Perrys and kill the LSC.

  • Ed L

    Many of you were not around in the early 70’s when the decommissioning of all the WW2 Korean era ships, the REP was murder. They where letting people go left and right and not only in the Navy. Then Carter came along and any ship not schedule for a deployment lost a lot of people to fill empty slots on ships deploying. And that did not fix the deployment. One deployment between the deck department we were supposed to have around 70 to 80, we had 58 34 of them were on at sea watches. The rest work maintenance, flight quarters, lifeboat crew, plus giving 4 up to mess cooking The engineers were in worst shape. Port and starboard the entire deployment We hoard srape metal old winch cables, 1st LT special fund to hire locals to clean up the sides when we went into port. Then when the rebuilding started. I swear half the kids we got did not know the difference between the bow and stern

    • honcho13

      I know exactly what you mean, shipmate! I was on the Coral Sea at the
      time. My “sea duty” was extended by 2 years, which eventually became 3,
      in order to complete the “Iranian Hostage Rescue” mission. I ended up
      doing almost 14 years on continuous sea duty, before I ever got my first
      shore duty! How the heck the Navy is gonna fill all their “at sea”
      manning requirements and still fulfill its schooling staff and shore
      duty requirements – at the present manning levels – is beyond me!!! And
      I don’t see Congress increasing the manning levels for any of the
      services! And to paraphrase the movie “The Right Stuff” – “No Buck
      Rogers, no bucks!” (sic) I kinda get that uncomfortable, queasy feeling –
      like the first day at sea! And it ain’t going away any time real soon!
      MMCS(SW), U. S. Navy (ret)

      • old guy

        Ride all the Pentagon Desk sailors around on LCSs., preferably on Long Island Sound.

  • Hugh

    In the 1990s there was hope for continuing worldwide de-escalation. Since then……..!

  • PolicyWonk

    Mulloy noted in his speech that, even as the Navy has struggled to pay for its shipbuilding needs in current budget conditions, a higher ship count would only be affordable if the Navy received a higher portion of Defense Department funding or if the Pentagon topline were increased overall.
    ==================================================
    HOGWASH.

    It might be affordable NOW if the following occurs:
    1. The USN gets REALISTIC w/r/t what is necessary to build a capable fleet, which means they have to thoroughly divorce themselves of some of the delusional requirements regarding what is necessary to provide for the national security of the United States and its allies. For example: we should be building light carriers along the lines (and/or size) of the new USS America class (LHA-6), on the same sea-frames.

    These cost less than 1/3 of what a USS Ford cost, and we’d therefore get 3 TIMES the coverage in less volatile parts of the world than we get now. The war fighting capabilities would be better than that of a Nimitz of 20 years ago, due to the advent of smart weapons. This would free up the CVN’s to patrol more volatile parts of the world, and/or be available for emergencies should the need arise.

    Furthermore, we could be licensing/purchasing AIP boats, and forward basing them in the S. China Sea, the Med, and Middle East. These cost a fraction of what a Virginia cost, which again gives us better coverage than we have now.

    In both cases – we still need to continue acquisition of nuclear carriers and subs because they provide a capability you can’t get any other way. But – we need to be much more flexible regarding how we arm the nation to reflect the fact that we don’t live in an ideal world.

    We should cease building the miserably failed “littoral combat ship” classes, that according to former CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert, were “never designed to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”. The staffing plan is a FAIL. The utilization plan is a FAIL. The methods they opted for w/r/t mission packages are a FAIL. The most basic element of what it must have to be a “ship” – the propulsion systems – are a FAIL (far too complex). They are heinously expensive given the pathetically small benefit to the USN and Taxpayers. And they have zero resemblance to the original “street fighter” concept for which they were funded – and as if that wasn’t asinine enough, NECC wasn’t even involved in the design.

    2. The entire DoD acquisition system should be extirpated and replaced with a system similar to that used by the British. The US Taxpayers easily get the lousiest deal for defense dollar spent, due to the horrifying levels of redundancy and waste. All service branches gold-plate features whether they need it or not; they change designs/requirements all the way from inception thought manufacture/construction; they often provide requirements that require direct violations of the laws of physics, time, and science; and when they purchase – they do so in complete absence of any overall national defense strategy that would normally assess the threats, and then determine the weapons and force structure required to defeat those threats.

    All the above are addressed by the system the British use.

    The USN and service branches (in collusion with the HoR’s) like the system the way it is, because it provides a direct career path to a high-paying retirement to the defense industry for the officers in charge of the various acquisition programs. Hence, no matter how lousy the system (or weapon) is, it gets built anyway (the deceitfully named “littoral combat ship” is but on example). The HoR’s like it because its hard for them to find a corporate welfare program to kill when the contractors in question are donating massive amounts of money to their campaigns, while they litter the sub-contracting across the entire lower 48 to help ensure no program – no matter how putridly run – will get cancelled.

    The system is morbidly corrupt, and delivers minimum value to national security at the maximum price.

    If national security were truly the concern – given how long we’ve been in lean times – they would’ve addressed DoD acquisition practices at the root by now – and haven’t.

    And BTW – the Chinese, who were the beneficiaries of the largest dual-use technology transfer in world history, are likely the biggest threat. The Russians, under Vladimir Putin, stupidly annexed the Crimea and are fighting an illegal invasion in Eastern Ukraine, make a lot of noise, but are just about out of cash reserves due to the sanctions imposed by the west. Their economy, much of which is oil-based, is suffering from both a lack of customers and very low oil prices – and can’t (for a while yet) build enough of their newer weapons to be strategically significant.

    • Curtis Conway

      HEAR HEAR! Good piece. The LHA-6 Large Aviation Platform idea alone cost no more dollars for shipbuilding and increases deployment capability freeing up CSGs for higher tempo/bandwidth combat.

      “…the Chinese, who were the beneficiaries of the largest dual-use technology transfer in world history, are likely the biggest threat.” Thank you LORAL and the WJ Clinton administration.

      • PolicyWonk

        Thank you, sir.

        For a truly depressing read w/r/t technology transfers to the ChiComs, take a look at the 2008 NIE. I would advise doing that early in the day, because if you do it for bedtime reading, I can guarantee it’ll take you hours to get to sleep. If you have high blood pressure

        In short – in 6 years, the ChiComs got more dual-use technologies than the Soviets got in 60 years of Cold War.

        Makes you wonder who’s side our “leadership” is on 🙁

        • Curtis Conway

          One must first believe that Evil exist. When you have an administration like this one that says we have to give Evil ‘equal time’ . . . well, we know who’s mindset that was in the Garden . . . don’t we?

          • PolicyWonk

            The old adage of “good fences make good neighbors” comes to mind. Prepare, provide, and train like you’re gonna fight – and then hope it never comes to that.

      • Bernie Schwartz, we really miss you – NOT!

  • Curtis Conway

    With the US Navy force levels currently equal to what it was at the beginning of WWII, I continually hear the discussion that our forces are four times as capable as they were 70 years ago. Well, the Star Trek universe only exist on TV, and we have many more treaty obligations to meet today, in a much more dangerous world requiring presence so countries are less likely to build artificial islands in our absence. Preoccupation with war in the Middle East, force levels, and some policy decisions have prevented us from paying attention. GWOT is not going away. Waiting until 2023 is obviously out of the question, and all the DoD studies support a leviathan of a procurement system whose tail cannot see the head, or even know what direction it is going, and provide solutions time late, or inappropriate. The fleet must grow in numbers and capabilities that can provide meaningful presence in international waters for extended periods must be provided. Some changes require a greater budget, and other items are just reprogramming for greater versatility and lethality.

    Considering carriers . . . alternating between LHA-6 Class with ‘well-deck’ and ‘non-well-deck’ versions for the next ten (10) units provides the option of an Expeditionary Strike Group equipped with an augmented MAGTF with a Marine Air Group containing more F-35Bs (Super MAG), giving us the option of sending a less expensive ESG in place of a full Carrier Strike Group. The Amphibious Warfare’s new sea-basing concept already increases the LCAC/SSC support for supporting amphibious operations. This new carrier augmentation concept can provide solutions for small presence problems that are larger than a couple of destroyers or frigates. The F-35B’s very capable combat system, along with the ESG’s escorts, needs a capable, and persistent VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft.

    When confronting the reality that there is a proliferation of Tactical Ballistic Missiles worldwide (supersonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles [ASCM], hypersonic Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles [ASBM]), the US Navy fleet NEEDS capable vessels to defend not only themselves, but provide capable Proactive Presence in their respective regions of responsibility for the Unified Combatant Commanders, provide support to formations in the mission the US Navy told us ‘went away’ and is no longer relevant, but was the mission the USS Mason (DDG-87) was performing defending the USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15)), and now we find ourselves missing the 50+ FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Frigates. The vacuums in presence created problems that were not solved by regional forces filling in, for all manner of reasons, and platforms that are more capable than the Mk13 equipped OHPs are required in numbers in the future to maintain superiority.

    Since US Navy platforms must be more capable than potential adversaries, these vessels must be multi-mission and able to perform those missions in ALL-OCEANS, perhaps even the Arctic. This new small surface combatant must be equipped at least with Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles and perhaps longer range ordinance, possesses a very capable non-rotating 3D AESA radar (9-Radar Module Assembly AN/SPY-6(V) radar), and should be able to hunt submarines (Variable Depth Sonar & Towed Array) for up to 30 days. The LCS, even in its projected upgraded FF configuration is not up to the task, particularly in Blue Water Operations, and is wholly inappropriate for the Arctic. The US Navy needs an All-Ocean, multi-warfare Small Surface Combatant that Unified Combat Commanders can KNOW will fill the need when on station when patrolling in Harm’s Way, and can address whatever problem they confront from AAW, ASuW to ASW, as well as anti-piracy and presnce. This little combatant should have a 5″ gun (as did most USN frigates HiStorically until OHP) to take advantage of the new Hyper Velocity Projectiles, and perhaps be the introductory platform for Directed Energy that augments the passive combat system for detection, tracking, and fire control in Emission Control (EMCON) environments which will increase in importance in all theaters in the future. This small surface combatant should take full advantage of the scalable AN/SPY-6(V), that will also use the same signal processor and tracking capabilities as the DDG-51 Flt III destroyers, but have less ‘power out’, but equals the tracking (and other) capability of the SPY-1 radar family in the DDG-51 Flt IIA(s) and the Cruisers. This capability should also include the Baseline-9 Combat System driving a COMBATTS-21 CIC, all installed in a National Security Cutter (NSC) hull that (perhaps) is ice-hardened and can perform Arctic Operations when required. Every Unified Combatant Commander on the planet will be very happy to welcome this platform to their theater. This is where most of the growth in the fleet should take place. Numbers should be in the 30-50 range with same hull but different missions (half ASW/Escort & half AAW/Escort). The HM&E would be the same, same AAW capable radar on both with the ASW having two hangars, but the AAW version having only one hangar providing additional space for missiles outboard. The ASW version would have a towed array and VDS, and the AAW version would have boats aft like the NSC. Compete two yards and MYP the program for a couple of decades.

    CG-X was cancelled. However, the DDG-51 Flt III will be a significant increase in capability over DDG-51 Flt IIA, and with AMDR will eclipse the CG’s tracking capability. If increased berthing and additional consoles could be added to the Flt III CIC they could assume the role of AAW Commander, and this could fill the gap as the Cruisers begin to be removed at the end of their 30 year lifespan. Baseline-9 Combat Systems with NIFC-CA will provide a significant capability increase, and . . . combining additional F-35s will provide a significant advantage over potential adversaries. However, with current announced plans of the Russian government to expand their Kirov Battlecruiser Fleet (28K ton, 800+ feet long, nuclear combatant) a new generation of US nuclear cruisers may be in order. That hull could be the genesis of a whole new class, or more than one class of ships (nuclear battlecruiser, BMD Ship, Ice breaker). A new nuclear cruiser will be Ballistic Missile Defense capable, and provide a solution for problems in more than one job (ice-hardened hull for icebreaker duties?) if this concept is adopted.

    However, with the proliferation of ship and submarine launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, it may be time for the federal government to consider a National CONUS Tracking Network that would basically be Aegis Ashore using AMDR across the continent that could provide capability from BMD defense to tracking information for FAA. One can even track migrating birds for ornithology research in the flyways.

    Post WWII the United States Navy operated Icebreakers, but that mission has been given to the US Coast Guard. Today, the United States armed forces has access to three Icebreakers, one of which is not operational at present USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB-11). The US Navy is coordinating with the US Coast Guard in exploring solutions for the Icebreaker design. Since the Russians “Threw Down The Gauntlet” in the Arctic Region, perhaps it is time to fill the need across the board. This is not just necessary because of a neglected, and nearly non-functional Icebreaker fleet, but because the commercial traffic in the Arctic has increased, the Russians have increased force levels that in effect militarizes the region. In this environment, the US Coast Guard is replacing their twelve (12) Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutters with eight (8) very capable Legend Class National Security Cutters (NSC), reducing overall cutter inventory, and therefore presence down to one cutter in the Arctic. Perhaps it is time for the US Navy to get back into the Icebreaker business, and that platform be multi-mission capable as well (nuclear battlecruiser, BMD Ship, Ice breaker), and make sure that our new small surface combatant can operate with it in the Arctic as well. The AN/SQS-53 Sonar equipped ships are not going to be pulling a lot of duty in ice-filled waters, and certainly not be breaking ice with the rubber window up front.

    The LCS hull-form vessels are going to be handy in the littorals, but a dead weight on a fast Carrier Strike Group, or Surface Action Group, and be a greater problem for the battle force commander than an asset (low combat power and very frequent UNREPS). However, for SOF support, littoral operations (which is usually the purview of the US Navy Expeditionary Combat Command) it is useful, and mine countermeasures is the closest mission we can solve using the LCS platform. The LCS program is just too expensive and lite in combat capability except in very limited circumstances . . . like the littorals . . . maybe.

    The T-AOE 6 Class Fast Combat Support Ships are sorely missed by Commanders Afloat trying to provide replenishment of CSGs and ESGs. Some thought to replacements (four) should be considered.
    Some consideration should be given for two additional LPD-17 Class vessels for Command Afloat for the NECC in disparate theaters providing a mobile base divorced from shore support.

    Concerning submarines, twelve Columbia Class FBMs should be sufficient, but given current nuclear inventory developments, I would prefer one-for-one replacement. However, the SSN fleet should look more like 50+ (54?) with at least more than four (4) equipped with Virginia Payload Modules (VPM). Either the Russians of the Chinese could stand up FBM patrols and the composition of this force via tasking would be affected significantly.

    A consideration for all US Navy flight decks to be able to provide support to 70,000 lb platforms, and be coated with Thermion should be a standard.

    Just my 2ȼ.

    • Secundius

      Either Thermion (Aluminum Oxynitride) or LI-900 (Reinforced Carbon-Carbon Silica Tiles) rated at 2200F as long as Surface Pressure doesn’t exceed 22-lbs/ft.cubed…

    • No ship regardless of capability can be in more than one place at a time (whereas the enemy is under no such restriction). 70,000 lbs? Sounds like you’re fixin’ to trap a F-111. We all know how that went. We need more men like Tom Connolly.

      • Curtis Conway

        No, 70,000 lbs is for F-35B ‘Ready Deck of Opportunity’, and CH-53K King Stallion.

  • old guy

    Hey kids, dust off the old NAVY 2025 study we did under Zumwalt’s direction. It just might inspire you.