Home » Budget Industry » 14 Amphibs Tied Up In Maintenance, Exacerbating Shortfall in Available Ships for Marines’ At-Sea Training


14 Amphibs Tied Up In Maintenance, Exacerbating Shortfall in Available Ships for Marines’ At-Sea Training

Capt. Mark Melson, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), and executive officer Cmdr. David M. Oden inspect the hull of the ship in a floating dry dock at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), Aug. 25. 2017. US Navy Photo

CAPITOL HILL – Nearly half the Navy’s amphibious ships are currently tied up in maintenance availabilities and the service would be several ships short of need if it had to scramble the fleet for a major contingency, in large part due to continuing resolutions and other budget challenges, top Navy and Marine Corps operations officials said today.

Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy (OPNAV N3/N5), said at a House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing today that his number-one funding priority for the amphibious fleet is ship maintenance. The Navy and Marines are lacking available ships to conduct pre-deployment training, joint and international exercises, and concept development and experiments, and that ship availability issue stems from too many ships tied up in maintenance today, he said.

The Marine Corps’ years-old position is that “the Navy and Marine Corps Team require 38 amphibious warships, with an operational availability of 90 percent, to support two Marine Expeditionary Brigades, in order to provide the Nation a forcible entry capability,” according to the service’s 2017 posture statement. In that scenario, 34 amphibs could respond to a contingency if called upon, and four would remain behind in maintenance.

Today, the Navy is already short of that requirement with 31 commissioned amphibs in the fleet, and 14 of those are currently in maintenance, according to Lewis and Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Plans, Policies, and Operations Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault. The admiral made clear that the 90-percent operational availability standard didn’t apply to any given moment in time but rather the ability to scramble ships out of maintenance and gear up to respond to a contingency. Even based on that standard, though, he told USNI News that “If the number [of required amphibious ships] is 30, we’re probably five or so short.”

Lewis squarely put the blame on the ongoing continuing resolutions. Using USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) as an example, he said the dock landing ship had its last maintenance availability deferred by three years due to continuing resolutions – each year, the Navy had to make decisions about how to slow spending, and when Gunston Hall had to miss its planned start date at a private shipyard, it kept losing its place in line and couldn’t be squeezed in any sooner due to funding and scheduling concerns. Ultimately, when the availability finally took place, the delay “increased the cost from $44 million to $111 million. The time in maintenance went from 207 days to 696 days,” he said, since skipping important maintenance tends to lead to more broken parts and a larger scope of work when the maintenance finally gets done.

Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1651 returns to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD-48) to drop off personnel and equipment after completion of certification exercise (CERTEX) on Aug. 18, 2017. US Navy Photo

In addition to years of continuing resolutions wreaking havoc on ship maintenance scheduling and execution, Lewis added that the amphibious assault ships are spending more time in maintenance than planned due to the F-35B LIghting II Joint Strike Fighter interoperability upgrades taking more time than anticipated. The upgrade is meant to boost the ships’ computers and communications to keep up with the sophisticated new fighter, and to strengthen the flight deck to withstand the extreme heat of the exhaust in the vertical-landing jet.

“Those planned availabilities are longer than we thought they were going to be. We’re getting through them, we’ve got three ships that are modified,” he told USNI News, but added that the first couple availabilities took twice as long as expected and planned for.
“We’ve recalculated that; the scope of the work wasn’t fully understood. … It’s all programmed now, but we’re digging out of a hole. [The planning for the LHD availabilities] has been refined and modified, but it ends up costing more money. We’re trying to fill those coffers up to do that modernization, which takes a little priority. We’ve got a limited amount of money to do maintenance on ships. The first thing we do is do the maintenance on the ships that are next to deploy, and then it’s modernization.”

Beaudreault explained during the hearing that the lack of available ships for Navy-Marine Corps training at sea means an inability to “train at higher echelons above the Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Ready Group. Our forcible entry capability, core competency, in the Marine Corps in ’18 here is at risk,” he said. “we can add elements through virtual systems, but at some point you have to put the ships to sea and go through mission rehearsal. The ability to generate the number of ships required to train at a Marine Expeditionary Brigade level just simply isn’t there. so we take it in bite-sized chunks, we try to train elements of the MEB as best we can, but it’s very very difficult lacking the capacity to put the entire [Marine Air-Ground Task Force]/Navy team together.”

The Navy’s amphibious ship fleet is expected to grow in the coming years, reaching the 38-ship requirement in Fiscal Year 2033, Beaudreault said, but it is unclear how long the maintenance backlog will continue to affect amphibious training opportunities.

The Government Accountability Office today released a report noting the challenges the Navy and Marines have with finding sufficient ships to train on but adding that three major changes could be made to improve amphibious warfare training.

GAO Image

According to the report, “we found that each deploying Navy ARG completed training for the amphibious operations mission in accordance with training standards. Similarly, we found that each MEU completed all of its mission-essential tasks that are required during the pre-deployment training program. These mission-essential tasks cover areas such as amphibious raid, amphibious assault, and noncombatant evacuation operations, among other operations. However … Marine Corps units were unable to fully accomplish training for other amphibious operations priorities. These shortfalls include home-station unit training to support contingency requirements, service-level exercises, and experimentation and concept development for amphibious operations. For example, Marine Corps officials cited shortfalls in their ability to conduct service-level exercises that train individuals and units on amphibious operations-related skills, as well as provide opportunities to conduct experimentation and concept development for amphibious operations.”

Cary Russell, director of the GAO’s Defense Capabilities and Management Team, said at the hearing that the Marines rely on an ad hoc process to pick which units get to go to amphibious ships for training when the ships become available, rather than having a deliberate and prioritized process for assigning unit-level training, service-level exercises and experimentation events to available ships.

“the assignment of Navy ships to Marine Corps units was done more ad hoc based on the availability of units, Marine Corps units … rather than having a system of prioritization for those Marine Corps units that were most likely to need training earlier. So, for example, some of those units that might be tagged to go as part of the [Special Purpose MAGTF- Crisis Response], for example, or other things that might have priority. That distinction was not made in the process, rather it was more matching availability.”

GAO recommended that the Navy and Marine Corps create this type of prioritized list, and the Defense Department concurred and noted the “Secretary of the Navy would develop an amphibious operations training construct capitalizing on the application of primary and alternative training resources,” according to the report.

Second, the GAO report points out that “the Navy and Marine Corps do not systematically evaluate a full range of training resource alternatives to achieve amphibious operations priorities. Given the limited availability of amphibious ships for training, the Navy and Marine Corps have not systematically incorporated selected training resource alternatives into home-station training plans. During our review, we identified a number of alternatives that could help mitigate the risk to the services’ amphibious capability due to limited training opportunities. These alternatives could include utilizing additional training opportunities during an amphibious ship’s basic phase of training; using alternative platforms for training, such as [Maritime] Prepositioning Force ships; utilizing smaller Navy craft or pier-side ships to meet training requirements; and leveraging developmental and operational test events.”

Marines and Sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) move M1A1 main battle tanks into the well deck of the USS Somerset (LPD-25) to make room for other tactical vehicles to load a landing craft air cushion in preparation for an amphibious assault rehearsal during exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 6, 2016. US Navy Photo

The GAO “recommended that the Marine Corps develop guidance for the development and use of virtual training devices to address these gaps. DoD concurred with the recommendation and stated it would work with the Commandant of the Marine Corps in its development and implementation actions associated with the use of virtual training devices.”

During the hearing, Beaudreault said there was a system of systems of simulators and trainers that were relevant to amphibious operations around the edges, but there is not today a good simulator for amphibious operations as a whole that could replicate the on-ship experience his Marines need.

Third, the report notes the two services have worked on improving naval integration for training and operations but added that there was room for improvement. Suggestions for the services include writing “joint strategy that defines and articulates common outcomes to achieve naval integration,” establishing compatible policies and procedures to avoid inefficiencies during amphibious training events, and developing “mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on results in improving naval integration.”

  • Ed L

    Shame our Navy is in this situation since President Clinton was elected there has been a decline in the military. That decline was slowed down a little during the Bush administration and the decline accelerated during obama’s Rule

    • Rocco

      On you!!

  • Curtis Conway

    As many of us have previously observed, it will take some months and perhaps years before the scheduled maintenance catches up, spares begin to populate shelves/bins, and training (driving Readiness) will improve and manifest itself in a meaningful way. In the meantime, the Services hold their breath year-by-year, hoping the current pro-defense climate persist so we can catch up, and get back on track. The force had been so reduced (via Peace Dividend), and ignored by the Executive and Legislative Branch of the federal government for so long, that Sequestration funding levels forced raiding maintenance and training budgets to try to build platforms to grow those forces that were pushed beyond extremis. Lack of maintenance and training has cost us dearly! We now lose more defense personnel in training accidents than combat. Will we do it again? I hope not.

    Amphibious Ready Group and Expeditionary Strike Group rotation is very similar to that of Carrier Strike Groups, just a little more dynamic and providing a different flavor of response and presence (The United States Marine Corps). With the advent of the USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7) Large Deck Aviation Platforms (light carriers in essence) employing the new F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, capabilities heretofore not available by such a force can take the pressure off the CSG rotation in AORs not requiring a full CSG capability.

    When the new LX(R) joins future ARGs and ESGs, along with Expeditionary Mobile Basing, the US Navy and US Marine Corps will have completed their Amphibious Improvement Program.

    The argument of the requirement for additional fully populated ARGs to meet future tasking, Presence Missions, and respond to HA/DR and other contingencies as required, is obvious.

    To provide greater ESG flexibility more no well-deck USS America (LHA-6) should be added to the force. The additional amphibious lift will be provided by LX(R) and Expeditionary Mobile Basing, if appropriately designed and equipped these platforms will also be able to accommodate F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters providing greater flexibility in amphibious force response packages, and providing more ‘Ready Decks of Opportunity’ for F-35B operations.

    • DaSaint

      Agree with much of what you’ve stated, but the Navy has already decided to reverse course, and return to LHD’s with well decks. No more LHA-6 & -7 experimentation. I actually agree that the well-deck needs to be retained, despite the reduction in aviation capabilities. Flexibility is important, and I’m concerned about the possible decrease in lift capacity due to the proposed reduction in well-deck size in the pending LX(R) vs the LPDs.

      • Curtis Conway

        What of expeditionary mobile basing? If you need augmented amphibious lift, you have more than necessary.

        The thing that I still do not see in Navy Plans is sufficient flight deck capabilities to handle F-35Bs when they are coming back . . . after performing CAS missions close to ground fire . . . in trouble and need a deck to land on quickly, or we loose the bird.

        If CSG force strength is not increased to fifteen (15) then augment will be required, and LHA-6 based Light Carriers is the least expensive solution, and we already own the design. Can’t wait to see the USS America (LHA-6) deploy with an USMC F-35B Squadron aboard. That will be an eye opener, and just to us (US).

        • Secundius

          The Navy has plans in the future to Billet MV-22C’s in the Near Future, but NO F-35B’s…

          • Curtis Conway

            I’m well aware. However, USN Reserve Squadrons flying F-35Bs and co-located with the Marine Squadrons ashore to facilitate maintenance, and operational coordination and support, is a good idea.

          • Secundius

            Always assuming that you know where the ESB’s are going to be Deployed…

          • Curtis Conway

            I’m not concerned about where they will be pre-positioned. Only where and when they will operate. Someone had better be ‘thinking ahead’ and ‘minding the store’.

          • Secundius

            Not my point? Who going to Service them, if their’s Nobody Close TOO Service Them…

          • Rocco

            More people in current status should think like you sir!⚓️

          • Curtis Conway

            I’m not specifically suggesting deploying the F-35Bs on the ESBs, but using them as a platform of opportunity for rapid employment, and an Emergency Landing Platform for returning birds.

          • Secundius

            The “ESB” is a “Lumbering Sitting Duck”, barely capable of 15kts (Burden) and Only Defense being Whats ever on Hand in the Ships Bowels. And the Only Ones Granted Access to those Bowels are the Marines Billeted Aboard. And a Ship THAT Size ISN’T going to be Unnoticed by Anyone. What’s the Point of Using the Vessel as an Emergency Roust, if it’s Unable to Protect Its Own Roust…

          • Curtis Conway

            First off, if this employment technique were used, it would not be there by itself, and only used for a short period of time. The new FFG(X) would make a great escort/protection for this model.

            Second, if I have read the tea leaves correctly the USMC is already cooking up a Fly-Away 6-Pack of an F-35B Det that can go and operate anywhere for a short period of time, CH-53 transportable conex boxes, and a temp landing platform. Using the ESB would provide a moving Det, instead of one fixed ashore. In their next yard period just make sure the landing platform can handle the weight, and is coated with Thermion, and the deck-roll is long enough to facilitate takeoff. The MV-22s with the refueling package can top them off after departure, and send them on to the target with a full bag of fuel. If this contingency has not been thought out and planned for, I would be whacking knuckles with a ruler for those who have boohooed the concept, because it will happen one day.

          • Secundius

            If you’re referring to the Fly-Away 6-Pack’s to be Employed with RAN “Canberra’s”!/? I’m already aware off, and have been Since 2014. As far a I know “Thermion” (Aluminum Oxynitride) is in the Pipe-Line for Future MV-22C Deployments. By NOT for Usage with the F-35B’s on the ESB’s…

          • Curtis Conway

            In my humble opinion every US Navy flight deck (with few exceptions) should be able to handle the weight of the CH-53/F-35B and be coated with Thermion. Some thought of the internal size of hangars should be in some people’s minds. The F-35Bs showing up, when no aviation platforms are around, is a good thing.

          • Secundius

            Unfortunately Neither Your or My “Humble Opinion’s” Go Very Far with Either “USNI News” and/or the “US Navy’s”…

          • Rocco

            The F-35B is a stoval Aircraft sir.

          • Rocco

            Not sure if you are aware but the F-35B needs about 600′ for take off!! Landing can like a harrier!

          • Secundius

            Can also perform an SRLV (Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing), opposite of a Short Take-Off in about 450-feet. Without Ordnance/Fuel Dumping, with as must as 5,000-pounds of Unexpended Ordnance Onboard and/or Fuel…

          • Rocco

            I know I saw it on video of about 400′! Off the WASP!

          • Secundius

            Depends on Sea State thought! Approach Speed varies from 65kts @ 45* to 85kts @ 30*…

          • Rocco

            You won’t see the F-35B on any ship but an amphibious ship or a carrier.

          • Secundius

            Yes, I know that! But “Curtis” keeps holding on the [What If] Scenario’s that Might and/or Might Not Happen…

          • Rocco

            Agreed!! He’s a little more old school than I am lol.

          • Curtis Conway

            I’m aware. It is possible to take off vertically, but not fully loaded. My primary interest is not losing F-35Bs that are in trouble and must sit down somewhere. With the next engine upgrade, the VTOL will be very possible. The GE F-136 would make it possible today, but they killed that flight test a week before it was to take place. Plan for the worse and hope for the best, and ALWAYS plan for the future. Too many times we are myopic and short sighted.

          • Secundius

            Not Necessarily, F-35B’s could Take-Off with Light Fuel Loads and Top-Off by either an KV-22C Tanker or CH-53K operating as a Tanker…

          • Rocco

            Why??

          • Secundius

            If your Base of Operations is an ESB, your Boxed In on Both Sides of the Flight Deck. Which will only allow you to Take-Off Vertically and Land Vertically. There’s not Enough Room for Either a STOL Take-Off or a SRVL Landing with Superstructures on Both Sides of the Flight Deck. Unless the Flight Deck were able to Pivot…

          • Rocco

            Agreed must be old age!! Lol🤔😑

        • DaSaint

          I’m ok with the EMBs except for the fact that they’re slow, and therefore their movement telegraphs possible intent. They surely can’t adequately deploy with the 20+ knot ARG. If they’re forward-deployed and in essence pre-positioned, then ok, then they don’t tip their hand.

          Much like ‘Distributed Lethality’, I think EVERY major amphibious-capable ship should be capable of at least embarking an F-35B for the very reasons you state.

          • Curtis Conway

            This is one of the differences between the ARG and coming Amphibious Operations, and an Carrier Strike Group / Expeditionary Strike Group. The ARG can move quickly enough, but usually its intent is well understood before it is employed in a combat role (if you can’t convince them with words, then you bring bullets). The CSG/ESG can show up suddenly and hammer the beach, and inland reaches quickly in light of day, or dark of night, including vertical envelopment.

          • Secundius

            Their “Barely” capable of doing 15kts…

        • Rocco

          I believe the America deployed with F-35B’s already? Or was it for training?

          • Curtis Conway

            That was a training and demonstration off the California Coast. Went well too.

          • Rocco

            Yes I saw the wright up in combat aviation magazine.

          • Curtis Conway

            It was a good write-up and was it Right!

          • Rocco

            Yes I never miss an issue! This month has a great naval aviation breakdown. When I’m done with the mag I leave it in the ready room so others can learn.

          • Curtis Conway

            Rocco, I’ve decided to double your pay for being the president of my fan club . . . AND you can have the guys ask if their dad’s or Uncles were ever controlled by STAR Control (Sleeze, Torch, Astro & Rocket) on the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47). I was the “Torch”!

          • Rocco

            Lol copy that sir!!🤑⚓️🍻

          • Rocco

            Yes I know. Lol you told me awhile back!

          • Curtis Conway

            Well Rocco, you are now showing your age. it was a beautiful woman, but it wasn’t Elizabeth Taylor, it was Sophia Loren. The interesting thing about the making of the movie is Sophia and Charlton didn’t get along. It was a long movie for both of them. If you ever buy the DVD, get the director’s cut and watch the extra material in the making of the movie. It is very enlightening.

          • Rocco

            Ahhh yes a very young & beautiful Sofia!! Long hair down to her ……..But! Luck Chuck!

          • Secundius

            There’s STILL the Two “Royal’s”…

          • Rocco

            &?

          • Secundius

            They (the Brit’s) barely have enough F-35B’s to form One Squadron, and they have Two Ships. And their being Outfitted with Heavy Lift Helicopters. Not the Same a Gator-Freighter, but Neither are the “No Well Deck” America’s…

          • Rocco

            Yes agreed!

          • Secundius

            This has ALL the “Fingerprints” of Speaker Paul Ryan “All Over It”! He wanted to Extend the 2013 Sequester THROUGH 2019…

          • Rocco

            He’s an idiot!!! Totally contradicts Trumps plan for a 355 ship Navy!! But at the very least have a budget to keep what we got up to status!!

          • Secundius

            WORSE! According to “The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities” the Sequester was a 10-year Act, which Officially doesn’t end until 2021…

          • Secundius

            The Official Date of the Start of the Sequester was suppose to be 26 February 2013 and End in June 2017. But it was Revised to Start in 27 April 2012 and End in 2021 (No Month Given)…

          • El_Sid

            At the moment we haven’t got any ships – although QNLZ will finally commission next week. She won’t be ready to receive F-35B’s for a while yet but the whole point is that she can flex between going Merlin-heavy and F-35-heavy.

            It’s planned for a USMC squadron to deploy on her first cruise which makes a lot of sense – aside from us having ships and not enough F-35’s whereas you guys have F-35’s and not enough ships to carry them, it’s a great training opportunity to have an experienced USMC squadron on board to share their knowledge.

          • Secundius

            Not Many British One! But Plenty of American Ones…

          • Curtis Conway

            Part of the ‘1,000 Ship Navy’.

          • El_Sid

            They seem to be almost there but baulking at taking them in harm’s way, despite some of the hype. It feels like they don’t quite trust ALIS to deliver when it really, really matters yet, but that’s purely my speculation.

            It could also be that they were waiting for the “final” 3F software for the F-35B – I know a British plane has flown with it recently so at least there’s progress on that front.

          • Rocco

            Correct I just followed up on this..

        • incredulous1

          well until Japan buys F-35Bs for the Kaga and Izumo. But their budget is growing too small as too many are not waking up to the arms race they’re in. But obviously they have been training for the MV-22 ops aboard with the deliveries beginning soon.

          • Secundius

            Unfortunately the Japanese DIDN’T write their Constitution! The United States DID! Which WROTE into the Japanese Constitution on How Big their Military could be and What Percentage of GPD was Acceptable for Defense Needs…

          • incredulous1

            so you must not have heard about the new legislation that passed allowing defense spending to float up without restriction to support the new policy of defending allies and their assets and territory. But political sentiment still wants govt spending to take care of the aging population instead of the military, even in the face of the new arms race. So they have been getting creative and incentivizing investment by industry as part of the negative interest rate effort, thus the new Mitsubishi fighter demonstrator and a host of other items they don’t want to wave under China’s nose,…. yet.

          • Secundius

            Yeah I read it! Unfortunately it STILL doesn’t Alter the Fact that Japan’s Playing the Defense Force CARD and NOT the Offensive Force CARD…

          • Rocco

            The F-35B can’t operate off that ship!!!

          • Secundius

            Not unless a “Ski-Jump” is employed. The Smaller of the Two, the “Hyuga” has a Angled Flight Deck. Though on a Narrower Angle to the Main Flight Deck…

          • Rocco

            1: the Japanese ain’t gonna put a ski jump on them!!
            2: the ship’s can’t accommodate the F-35B!!

          • Secundius

            Yea and No!/? It can Rearm and Refuel, but NOT Maintain. Hanger Deck space below Flight Deck are Cramped and would Require Folding Wings for the F-35B’s…

      • Rocco

        I actually agree with Curt! But who are we to say what the geniuses decide! But if all future versions are to have a smaller well deck the ship should be stretched to 900′!. This increases the flight deck, adds more room . Make the island smaller. Add aviation fuel & fuel storage etc. Eventually the hull platform can make for a new CVL class carrier.

        • Curtis Conway

          If we had Royal Air Force Detachments of Merlin AEW&C Helicopters, then we could cover the operational bases.

          • Rocco

            Agreed

          • Curtis Conway

            I suppose they are RAN vice RAF Merlin AW101 Helos w/Crowsnest.

          • El_Sid

            Royal Australian Navy?!?

          • Secundius

            I suspect “Curtis” is referring to the Two “Canberra” class LPD’s…

          • Curtis Conway

            RN? The Royal forces nomenclatures have always thrown me for a loop, particularly the aviation units that went both ways.

          • El_Sid

            FAA not RAF.

            But since the whole point of Crowsnest is that it’s modular, it would make more sense to fly it (or more likely the losing Lockheed version) on Seahawks or Ospreys rather than introduce a new helicopter type.

          • Curtis Conway

            The US & UK both operate the F-35B and quite a few British pilots are flying with the Marines. I gotta believe they will be cross-decking regularly. This should also happen with the UK Crowsnest Units.

          • Curtis Conway

            Royal Navy’s Leonardo AW101 Merlin HM.2 helicopters with Crowsnest

          • El_Sid

            That’s what I said – the Fleet Air Arm is part of the RN.

            But we’re tight on Merlins as it is, so don’t expect anything more than brief cross-decks for PR purposes, we just can’t spare them. So it would be sensible for you guys to get Crowsnest-type modules into something that can fly off your gators, but there doesn’t seem much appetite for that in the current budget environment.

            F-35B’s are different, at least on your side, it’s planned that a USMC squadron will sail with QNLZ on her first deployment, partly to fill out what would otherwise be a somewhat empty deck, but more importantly for knowledge transfer.

          • Curtis Conway

            I saw FAA and thought about an Aviation Administration.

            I though El Sid was from Espania? I own the movie, and watch it often. A Knight (at heart) at least you are. Thanks for the update.

          • Rocco

            Your showing you’re age!! Elizabeth Taylor was hot in that movie!

          • Curtis Conway

            The RAN could use a Fleet Air Arm of F-35Bs. They already own the platforms.

          • Rocco

            If!! We’re lucky we got what we have!!

        • Curtis Conway

          Sounds like you want the Ford virus to attack the LHA-6 (“… island smaller. Add aviation fuel & fuel storage etc….”).

          • Rocco

            Yes why not! If they won’t make the ship longer shrink the superstructure! I’d rather see the ship stretched.

          • Secundius

            Still won’t be able to Launch and Recover an E-2D Hawkeye II safely without Widening the Flight Deck…

          • Curtis Conway

            With the Merlin Crowsnest we won’t need it.

          • Secundius

            But then again, the “Merlin/Crowsnest” ISN’T Needed either if the Leonardo “Osprey” Bolt-On Phased Radar system is used in conjunction with the MV-22C airframe…

          • Rocco

            I know that!! Not what I was implying! Just a more useful LHA!!

          • Secundius

            If they Widen the Flight Deck by 20-feet, one could be used. Or Outfit an MV-22C with an Bolt-On Application Leonardo “Osprey” Phased Radar Array Panels. Can Detect Fighters out to 200nmi and Missiles out to 150nmi. Array LESS Console ONLY weighs ~63-pounds, which Frees MV-22C to perform other duties when not being used as AEW&C…

          • Rocco

            I agree but not in this case as the port side elevator is too far back! Plus it would have to be widened on both sides to evenly balance the ship.

          • Secundius

            I know that, but I already Knew that you Knew that as well…

          • Rocco

            Then why did you say it to me

          • Secundius

            Would you have Preferred Me to be Condescending to you! How long have [WE] communicated with each other through “USNI News” or “Breaking Defense”…

          • Rocco

            You already are by saying I knew you knew that!! You could of just said agreed! But then it’s hard to tell someone’s mood on here!

          • Secundius

            Agreed! Not having a “Face-to-Face” talk is rather Difficult when using a Keyboard, because Body Language “Doesn’t” Translate well into Words…

          • Rocco

            Agreed

          • PolicyWonk

            Heh – isn’t it simpler to just modify the design to include an angled flight deck?

          • Secundius

            I suspect the reason there “Aren’t” ANY Designs of the “America” class Gator-Freighters with Angle Flight Decks, “Floating Around” on the Web. Is because THOSE that designed the “America” and THOSE in the US Navy have Already Thought the Possible Design Arrangement Through. And found IT to be a “Evolutionary Dead-End”…

          • PolicyWonk

            Well, lets face it – there are a number of ideas the USN has thought were evolutionary dead-ends, only to find other navies use them and get vastly better results than we do.

            For example: every other navy with the exception of the French use ski-jumps on their carriers, which is dirt cheap, dirt simple, and allows them to carry heavier ordnance and fuel loads – yet we languish in the dark ages; it took the START treaty to get us to face decommissioning of our Ohio’s, for us to finally decide to convert them to SSGN’s, and now we don’t want to lose that kind of firepower, so we’re trying to band-aid over it with the VPM’s, which we should’ve done anyway.

            We also have ideas that are supposedly not evolutionary dead ends are are in theory designed to avoid that – but then we end up with a pair of floating abortions, such as the hyper expensive and nearly useless LCS classes.

            The USN wants Big Nuke carriers, and will always take the high-end option even when it compromises national security, sacrifices readiness, and gives us less coverage. They don’t like the idea of building AIP boats either – despite the fact that we’ve consistently had our clock cleaned in war games against AIP boats that cost less than 1/3 of what a Virginia costs.

            So the reasoning that its an “evolutionary dead end” is only a dead end in the minds of those who put their priorities above US national security.

          • Secundius

            On just Maybe it “Isn’t” that the US Navy “Doesn’t” want them, but the US Congress “Doesn’t” want them. There’s NO Money to be Made on Cheaper Vessels. Senator John McCain “Didn’t” become Millionaire (from ~$330K in 1987 to ~$21-Million in 2017) on a Congressman’s Salary of ~$150-Thousand/Year…

          • PolicyWonk

            A lot of millionaires were made in the HoR’s, because they were immune to the insider trading rules that would put a Wall Street trader in prison.

          • Secundius

            Insider Trading Immunity “Didn’t” go into effect, until After the Arrest of Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (7-time Vietnam Fighter Ace) in March 2006…

          • Rocco

            Wrong I have one!! Got it from the war zone blog!! I can’t figure out how to put it here from my device!! Lol.

          • Secundius

            You’re referring to “The Drive”? Do you remember the “Title” of the Article…

          • Rocco

            Yeah that’s it! Ahhh I believe it was about CVL’s. & A blogger posted his kids version of an America class LHA / CVL. It’s pretty cool.

          • Secundius

            I agree with the Article that “HEAT” Produced by Both the F-35B’s and V-22C’s would probably be the “Achilles Heel” in such a Design Modification. And you’d could Only Place 16 F-35B’s on the CV-L, [IF] Four KV-22C “Tankers” were also be Billeted aboard the Proposed CV-L…

          • Rocco

            Not only heat the the wind created by the osprey could do alot of damage not to mention send you sailing!!

          • Secundius

            Even using “Thermion” (Aluminum Oxynitride) as a Thermal Barrier on the Flight Deck (rated to 3,902F). An MV-22C can’t be Powered for More than 10-minutes at 75% Power, without causing Sever Damage to the Flight Deck…

          • Rocco

            That’s hot!!!

          • Curtis Conway

            Probably, if you were going to do that, and if we did it in 1950-1970 could make it happen fairly quickly (24 months or less). Not possible given the processes used today. Our modern 3D superwizbang over automated industry just can’t figure it out, accomplish the task, document meeting all the regulations fast enough today. That being the case it would take a decade at least . . . unless some wise man exempted the requirements that served no purpose except to report activity to someone else, not involved in the engineering, manufacturing/construction, and testing process. THIS is part of Defense Procurement Reform!

            The OT&E should not actually be a part of this process because the platform already does its job stellarly, and has proven so. We would just enhance that process by adding equipment. However, I still feel that a VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft is required to support amphibious operations, and other SLOC choke points that are:
            a. far from safe land bases
            b. can operate off of any flight deck
            c. has a decent range and on-station time
            d. can surveil 200+nm for a tactical aircraft sized target 360°

          • PolicyWonk

            I would think we’d want to add a ski-jump to our large deck amphibs so that we can launch with both more fuel and weapons.

            And I agree, a AEW&C solution, along with a in-flight refueling solution for the large deck amphibs, makes sense.

            cheers.

          • Curtis Conway

            Can you imagine . . . a VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft (CMV-22B OSPREY COD developed perhaps) that can operate off of any US Navy flight deck that can handle a V-22? THAT aircraft will play key roles in many wargames that give the Battleforce a significant advantage in a FORCEnet-21 environment. One could even operate it off of an US Coast Guard Icebreaker.

          • Secundius

            I could! And I’m Fairly Curtain the US Navy has also considered to Value of the Worth. But “Could” the US Congress? Because Ultimately THEY would be Funding It…

          • Curtis Conway

            Much less expensive, and provides much more utility in far more areas, to develop the VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft. That is the inestment to make!

          • Secundius

            Probably one of the Reasons the US Navy is Billeting USMC in Perth. With ALL the Associated Equipment, including MV-22C’s and F-35B’s for possible operations on the “Canberra” class Home Ported there. For just that purpose…

          • PolicyWonk

            Cool idea! One of these could operate off of a wide variety of existing platforms, and be quite the force multiplier.

            Hope they do it…

          • incredulous1

            We’d all be surprised at how fast things can move if there is a war. This far ranging agonizing pace is peacetime mental gesticulating BS. We may yet find out just how fast… It also amazes me that no one is alarmed by China’s slow systematic choke point acquisition over the past 7-10 years. Have you seen the base at Djibouti? They claim is for anti-piracy mission? BS it’s another freakin choke point, this one for the Suez Canal traffic. They could shut down about HALF of the world’s trade right now. I just fear that we have been asleep at the wheel of strategy too long.

          • Curtis Conway

            “…we have been asleep at the wheel…”

        • PolicyWonk

          Why bother? Just alter the design with an angled flight deck.

          Done.

          • Rocco

            Not that simple!!

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        It isn’t a course reversal…. it was always intended to be 2+9 in favour of well decks.

        • DaSaint

          What leads you to believe that? From a deployment standpoint having 2 LHAs doesn’t guarantee that 1 will always be deployed, and even if it is, may not be where you most want it.

          So what leads you to believe that the USN deliberately wanted just 2 of anything, particularly this?

    • PolicyWonk

      I’m sure you’re aware that after the America and Tripoli, only well deck variants of the LHA-6 class are being built (as is currently planned). I, like you, am fully on-board with using the LHA-6 sea-frames as CVL’s, equipped with F35B’s, and V-22’s, to lighten the load of the CVN’s (the idea of only building non-well deck variants is interesting, but the proposed offsetting of the well deck capability with the LX(R), while interesting, might prove too costly in the long run).

      With the advent of smart weapons, these smaller carriers can pack a lot of destructive power.

      The San Antonio’s and LX(R) classes should both be upgraded with VLS, along with other missiles to add to the firepower of our amphibs, and I’d like to see a San Antonio based arsenal ship added to the fleet (which reminds me – I’ve heard nothing about the previously reported arsenal plane that was under development – that could be a real game changer). Now that HIMARS was successfully tested on an amphib (long overdue), and soon other options will be tested in that environment as well, the stage is set for making the vision of “every ship a shooter” a serious and destructive reality.

      • Curtis Conway

        If not back-fitted with the 9-RMA AN/SPY-6(v), then the three (3) fixed array face (3X3X3) EASR of the FFG(X) Program should go on board as a primary sensor and fire control system for the Mk41 VLS on LX(R) and LPD-17 Classes. The CICs will have to grow.

  • Secundius

    The is an alternative, in the “Short-Fall”!/? Unfortunately not a Good One! The “JHSV’s”, Small? YES! And Limited Capabilities, but better than nothing…

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      Only if war is blessed with calm waters.

      • Secundius

        If an “HIMAR” can be Fired from the Flight Deck of “Essex”, it could probably be Fired from a JHSV too…

  • El_Sid

    It would be interesting to see what that chart looks like by tonnage rather than ship numbers. Has the trend towards fewer, bigger ships gone too far?

  • Leveller

    And Who’s Resolving Them? NOBODY!

  • At least the Royal Navy/Royal Marines isnt the only Western Navy in crises.

  • kye154

    The article pretty much backs up the claim that the navy is resource poor and certainly not capable of fighting any extended war, much less to fight a third world nation like North Korea. And for training…..I spent my time in the Navy back in the 1960’s to make an objective comparison of “training”, and how poorly the naval standards for training has become today.

  • Rocco

    So Stupid idiots like you that are cowards can post comments like you just did! So save yourself further embarrassment your out classed here!!!😤

  • Rocco

    Yeah ok GFYS!!! Liberal!!

  • Rocco

    GPS!!!

  • Adam P.

    Our defense budget is hamstringed because certain people in congress would rather spend money on handouts, both domestic and overseas, than provide what is needed to keep our warfighters funded. We need to set priorities, either we have what we need or we curtail our overseas operations. The “We have done so much with so little for so long we can now do everything with nothing” attitude has run it’s course. Either we pay for a top notch military or not, the American people need to be given the facts and make that decision. This isn’t the 1940s, we can’t produce the numbers of aircraft, ships, and armor that we did then at the rate they were produced. I won’t debate the merit of the wars we are currently in or their legality. We owe it to our service men and women to give them what they need to preform the missions we send them on, that includes material and training. Some people just assume we are number one and will always be so. Ask the British during the time that “The sun never set on the British Empire” if they ever saw a time that it wouldn’t be so. Our spending priorities are completely out of hand and to quote an old adage “You get what you pay for”.

    • PolicyWonk

      One of the larger problems is deeply rooted in the DoD acquisition system, which guarantees the US taxpayer gets by far the lousiest deal for defense dollar spent of any nation in the western hemisphere (and arguably the other one as well).

      The bloat, waste, and redundancy is appalling; weapons are purchased with only passing regard for interoperability with other service branches let alone any cohesive strategy. And all service branches still change requirements all the way from inception through construction/manufacture, sometimes with as-of-yet uninvented gizmos that defy the laws of physics, science, and time.

      But the DoD and HoR’s like it this way: it guarantees cushy defense-contractor jobs upon retirement for defense program heads; and the redundancy and waste guarantees both jobs for constituents and donations to campaign coffers.

      National security has nothing to do with it – and frankly isn’t the priority for either.

  • Western

    USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) maintenance is now projected at $111 million and 696 days? Is that one yard worker with a chipping hammer?
    Cut your losses. Put the hundred million and two years into a new shipyard.

  • Ctrot

    So is he right wing or fascist? He can’t be both.

    • Secundius

      “Horseshoe Theory”!/?

      • Rocco

        Lol

        • Secundius

          Actually there IS something called the “Horseshoe Theory”, that explains how Someone can be Both…

          • Ctrot

            The “Horseshoe Theory” is nonsense. Left/Right political thought do not loop around like a horseshoe and meet. Left wing political thought centers around the idea of more government control over more things, Right wing political thought centers around the idea of less government control over fewer things.

            Don’t confuse the sometimes big government / left wing actions of actions of some claiming to be “right wing” with true right wing philosophy.

          • Rocco

            Never heard of it.

    • Rocco

      Neither!!!

  • Rocco

    🤔hmm I think I was just insulted!!….🖕