Home » Aviation » Navy Still Struggling With Readiness Balance Between Overseas and U.S.-based Forces


Navy Still Struggling With Readiness Balance Between Overseas and U.S.-based Forces

Amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) prepares to pass Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force general purpose destroyer JS Kirisame (DD 104) on its return to Commander, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo on Sept. 25, 2017. US Navy Photo

CAPITOL HILL — Uneven readiness preparations favored funding deployed forces over those based in the U.S., creates a “tale of two navies” that persists, service leaders told a congressional panel on Tuesday.

A year ago, forward deployed units were described as being operationally ready to respond to any challenge, something U.S.-based units were not ready to do, said, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), during a Tuesday House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing.

She asked if the strain on U.S.-based units been reduced since then.

“I would say it still is a tale of two Navies, absolutely, and the reason is because we haven’t received the additional funding that’s requested in the FY 18 bill,” said Vice Adm. William “Bill” Lescher, in charge of the Navy’s integration of capabilities and resources.

The Navy is currently operating under Fiscal Year 2017 funding levels as part of the latest continuing resolution, Lescher said. The FY 2017 budget did not provide enough funding to pay for supplies and critical infrastructure projects, he said. the Navy would not be able to work on a backlog of readiness-related projects until the FY 2018 and FY 2019 budgets were approved.

Rep. Joe Wilson, (R-S.C.), the readiness subcommittee chair, asked about a current readiness issue related to the Navy’s heavy lift capabilities. The Navy grounded its fleet of C-130-T cargo planes in July after a Marine Corps operated KC-130T crashed in Mississippi.

The four-engine turboprop planes – the backbone of the Navy’s ability to transport supplies and people between theaters – remain grounded because the Navy hasn’t received the $121 million required to purchase a new propeller system needed to get aircraft working again.

What has grounding the C-130T cargo planes done to readiness, Wilson asked.

“Right now, we have 42 percent degradation in that capability and that is related to the grounding of the C-130 Tangos,” said Vice Admiral Luke M. McCollum, chief of the Navy’s reserve force.

The Navy relies on reservists to crew its fleet of C-130T and C-40A cargo planes. To pick up the slack, McCollum said his fleet of reservists operated C-40 A aircraft are currently operating at 100 percent capacity.

If funded, McCollum said he estimates replacing the propeller systems would take between 12 and 18 months. Fulling funding the program now would help the Navy finish the program sooner. The propeller systems, though, are currently listed as unfunded priorities in the Navy’s FY 2019 budget request.

“The Navy is laser-focused on executing this funding responsibly, closely scrutinizing the spending while driving performance,” Lescher said.

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    They struggle to manage and implement an effective 3M program with tons of people (compared to a merchant ship), so.. this isn’t surprising.

    • NavySubNuke

      Yes – clearly this is the fault of the mysterious “they” not actually the fault of congress not providing the funding to buy the parts and supplies to actually carry out the maintenance. That makes complete and total sense….

      • MarlineSpikeMate

        MSC effectively maintains the same ships the USN once ran at a fraction of the cost. And they are older.

        • NavySubNuke

          Certainly – the only possible reason for that is MSC is so much better at implementing a 3M program. There are no differences between how the ship is crewed, operated, or able to be maintained with the resources available.

          • Marc Apter

            Sorry, the ex-Navy ships that are now MSC ships are crewed differently and operated differently, and it has been that way for decades.

          • NavySubNuke

            I know – I was being sarcastic since he was implying otherwise.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Certainly. That is the point. A ship that use to operate 33% of the time IAW CLF now operates closer to 50% of the time doing the SAME mission. Crazy. Makes you wonder why the navy ever operated them to begin with.

          • NavySubNuke

            Of course it is doing the SAME thing. I am sure it is being crewed, maintained, and operated in the exact SAME way too. After all Navy ships and MSC ships all have to meet the same training requirements and certifications and the budgets for both the Navy and the MSC work exactly the same so it is easy and transparent to trace how the MSC is just **so** much better at everything right? (note to the slow: that was sarcasm again)

      • MarlineSpikeMate

        Funding???!!! They get exponentially more money and end up contracting even basic jobs out. They complain about man power and have tons of people. I’ve seen them, half the crew has to spend all day behind a computer instead of actually doing work. The Navy budget has increased by billions over the last two decades while the fleet has decreased in size! What a sorry excuse. What’s to blame? The bureaucracy and mentality of maintenance. They do more choreographed “spot checks” like a broadway play (on how to change a lightbulb or inspect rubber gloves for holes) then they do maintenance. It’s ridiculous.

        • NavySubNuke

          LOL. Oh certainly – of course you are once again right. Everyone else who disagrees is clearly just an amateur with no real idea of what is going on and no ability to perform even the most basic maintenance.
          The “mentality of maintenance” is a complex and evil thing – if we don’t stop this vast maintenance wing conspiracy in time it will destroy us all I tell you!!

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Disagree with what? Go to statistadotcom and look at the USN budget for the last 17 years, which started at 76 billion dollars and is now at 144 billion. Ship levels have changed from 318 in 2000 to 275 currently. An increase of 68 billion dollars and a decrease of 43 ships. The USN needs more funding? How so? To me it sounds like an internal problem of distributing revenue appropriately. A USN ship is underway approximately 33% of the time according to CLF (combat logistics force). A typical MSC ship is underway closer the 50% of the time. There are many other stats that are clearly researchable and downright embarrassing.

          • NavySubNuke

            If you are interested in actually learning enough about this that you can make intelligent comments I would encourage you to look at the actual budget documents themselves and tracing the money rather than just being lazy.
            Had you taken the time to bother doing that you might have considered how factors such as 18 years of inflation as well as above-inflation level pay and benefit increases for sailors during this period just **might** explain most of this. Never mind the process of actually rebuilding the fleet as we retired ships and replaced with them with new ones.
            I realize actually educating yourself so that you can comment intelligently is harder and takes more time but you really should consider it sometime.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Those are in current day numbers, yes, but to help you along with the math, I’ll do it for you. Inflation would account for about 32 billion dollars, so that would still be an increase of 44 billion. In addition, USN personnel numbers have dropped around 80,000 during the discussed time. The fleet has always been in a process of procurement and decommissioning. I do see a modest increase in pay compared to 2000 (adjusted for inflation) however but do not see it accounting for much. Nice try though.

          • NavySubNuke

            Good try – but it is still clear you are very lazy and more interested in ignorance than actually understanding why the numbers are the way the are.
            “The fleet has always been in a process of procurement and decommissioning” — If the fleet were procured in a steady state pattern this would have some merit but in actuality the Navy’s ship building actually follows much more of a boom and bust cycle. Check out the 30 year ship building plan it has some simple pictures to illustrate this.
            Also you should try to find an actual accurate inflation calculator – remember different commodities actually inflate at different rates so you can’t just use the CPI inflation calculator.
            Finally, you really should look at what the actual cost increase has been in terms of pay and benefits. I realize this is harder so you are probably too lazy to do it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            “If the fleet were procured in a steady state pattern this would have some merit but in actuality the Navy’s ship building actually follows much more of a boom and bust cycle. Check out the 30 year ship building plan it has some simple pictures to illustrate this.”

            Correct, it does indeed. Ship procurement has gotten more expensive (above CPI inflation rates) due to customer driven costs. Wasteful spending is the USN fault. Opening up private ship yards and competition along the coast has helped with this recently. We have been procuring less which has offset the higher prices until recently and this doesn’t account for the gap in increased funding overall. Customer driven cost DOES account for a large portion however. Rand Corporation objective analysis has some very interesting statistics on this if interested.

            “Also you should try to find an actual accurate inflation calculator”

            You must understand the difference between customer driven cost and economically driven cost. Customer driven cost is obviously faulted on the customer, ie the USN. Cost of procurement above the inflation index shows this. Economic cost increase are shown in the CPI, such as for labor, equipment and materials.

            “Finally, you really should look at what the actual cost increase has been in terms of pay and benefits.”

            I have and wish you would look at the numbers yourself. 2000 to 2004 have shown some of the biggest military pay raises in the last several decades with 6.2% and 6.9% in the year 2000 and 2002 alone. 2011 to 2014 have shown less than 2% overall… Benefits followed suit and for good measure you can throw in the smaller numbers we have now as apposed to earlier. You seem to be shooting form the hip here.

            The fact of the matter is the USN has become an expensive bureaucratic red tape institution that requires more and more funding despite becoming smaller and smaller.

          • NavySubNuke

            I do love all of the assumptions and biases that are required to come even close to the “conclusions” you attempt to offer.
            “Ship procurement has gotten more expensive (above CPI inflation rates) due to customer driven costs. Wasteful spending is the USN fault…. Customer driven cost is obviously faulted on the customer, ie the USN. Cost of procurement above the inflation index shows this.”
            Yes – of course the only reason ships have gotten more expensive is due to wasteful spending by the Navy. It isn’t the fact that we have contracted the number of shipyards to the point that there are only 7 and several of those 7 only produce Navy ships and only produce one kind of Navy ship at that. The fact that those 7 yards are producing fewer ships also won’t do anything to increase the costs right? Because when you divide the fixed cost of facilities and personnel overhead over fewer ships that would NEVER add any extra costs to the ships.
            And the amount of technology we pack into ships today, especially certified technology produced at a trusted facility in America, doesn’t add anything to the costs either right? Certainly not.
            And never mind the impact of congress forcing the Navy to waste money on ships it doesn’t want or need but that congress needs to have jobs back home. In 2018 alone the Navy is being forced to buy 2 additional little crappy ships even though these ships are overpriced death traps the Navy has no interest in buying.
            “The fact of the matter is the USN has become an expensive bureaucratic red tape institution that requires more and more funding despite becoming smaller and smaller.
            I understand that it is how it appears to you because you are lazy and biased but that doesn’t actually mean it is true.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Ok I concede. The Navy is a model organization in maintaining, manning, operating efficiently.

            Yes, ships are more expensive for a variety of reason. This completely mitigates the huge problems I have pointed out, and discredits what I said about consumer driven costs above the CPI rates. I now see how this is not separate from the economic cost.. Who knew they were one in the same as you pointed out! The many research organizations and watchdog groups are all completely wrong. Even though the procurement documents illustrate less ships procured mitigate the increased costs, the extra 40+ billion is needed for this smaller more efficient navy. I wish more organizations would take heed!

            NSN, the bureaucratic cheerleader!

          • NavySubNuke

            “Yes, ships are more expensive for a variety of reason”
            Hey look at that – you actually said something correct. Congratulations — I realize there is a first time for everything but precious moments like this should actually be celebrated.
            “The many research organizations and watchdog groups are all completely wrong.”
            I love the fallacy you attempt to imply here – as if the reputable research organizations and watchdog groups actually agree with the biased nonsense you spout when you say naive nonsense like you spouted in this whole thread.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Ah yes. I agree I agree. The Navy is a marvel of economics, procurement, maintaining and operations. I bow my head in wonder and amazement. They are so perfect. I mean even the sources I cited are clearly mistaken.

    • homey

      and does MSC have to deal with the multitude of certifications, workups, training, collateral duties, endless GMT’s, sexual assault stand-downs, safety stand-downs, NKO trainings? Would be easy to implement 3M programs without the extra distractions going on….

      • MarlineSpikeMate

        You would think with all that they would be effective at maintaining, operating and fighting the ship, you know, the important stuff. All the engineering casualties, fail to sails, collisions, allisions, groundings and money funneled to contractors to fix simple things seems unnecessary for such a good program.

        There was talk about having civilian mariners man commissioned ships to operate everything but combat. This has already been done on the USS PONCE, and a few others as well…

  • publius_maximus_III

    The USMC KC-130T crashed in Mississippi on July 10, 2017. That was EIGHT months ago. Shouldn’t there be a report available by now?

    • Secundius

      According to ASN (Aviation Safety Network), the KC-130T crash took place on 10 July 2017 at ~1630 hrs…

      • publius_maximus_III

        Thanks, fixed it.

  • NavySubNuke

    The inability of Congress to perform it’s most basic function – the passing of an annual budget – is doing more harm to the Nation than any peer or near peer competitor could even hope to perform.
    The inadequate and damaging budget of 2017 continues to damage the Navy today and will continue to do so for months to come since the Navy can’t just flip a switch and magically receive all the parts it can’t buy right now because congress hasn’t given the money and the funding levels they are allowed to spend to under the CR aren’t adequate to buy those parts.
    What a debacle.

  • PolicyWonk

    When the economy crashed towards the end of the GOP Administration of George W Bush, it became obvious (given we’d just lost 6M+ jobs in the proceeding 6 months, and the economy bleeding 800k jobs/month by the time Obama took office), it was hardly a national secret that budgets were going to be cut back.

    By the time sequestration was being discussed, the US armed forces (in this case, the USN) decided to gamble and keep the fleet numbers up, thereby sacrificing maintenance and readiness, believing that sequestration wouldn’t happen. Then it did – they didn’t change the plan – and years later they’re paying the price (as are our sailors, etc.). And of course, they’d rather buy useless “littoral combat ships” that aren’t built for combat and take up pier space as opposed to getting our real warships back up to snuff.

    Note: When this happens to the British, they opt for maintaining training, readiness and maintenance, etc., and mothball the parts of the fleet they need less. Will the USN learn from this episode? Doubtful – this isn’t the first time this has happened.

    Then we have a pair of HoR’s that can’t do basic math, can’t get themselves to tax and spend responsibly, turned away from conservative fiscal/economic policies (after years of blathering about fiscal conservatism and the national debt during the Obama years), and instead opted to repeat the same budget-and-economy busting mistakes they made during the GWB years.

    This is both the fault of very poor planning on the part of the USN, and incompetent HoRs.

    • Ctrot

      Just to be clear and to correct your veiled blaming of GWB for the crash of 2008, the primary cause of that disaster was the collapse of the US housing bubble which was created by democrat party policies carried out by Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac and other loan institutions forced to work under policies set by democrat / leftist politicians / bureaucrats.

      • PolicyWonk

        What you need to do is go and read (or re-read) the CBO report on the Causes Of The Great Recession.

        Where conservatives love to make that claim that is was all about the democrats and the housing bubble, the CBO report on the topic attributes 90% of the blame on the GOP-run White House and HoR’s, declaring that the lions share of the damage was done prior to the 2006 election that won the democrats a slim majority in the HoRs.

        The democrats don’t get off blameless – but the GOP utterly failed to listen to the warnings that started coming in as early as Spring 2001, of problems in both the financial and real estate sectors. These were a result of deregulation of the markets and real estate sectors, that then-POTUS Clinton said in his signing statement, would require vigilance: if/when problems were detected we would have to clamp down hard and fast because no one understood how far the effects (positive and otherwise) might go.

        However, neither the GOP-led HoR’s or White House took any notice whatsoever despite repeated warnings that came in year after year, until the economic roof caved in.

        Cheers.

        • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

          Nobody is giving anyone a free pass but the entire thing could have been avoided to begin with if 20% down, conventional loans had been maintained as the norm. Thanks to James Earl Carter III for inventing the idiotic CRI and Clinton for vastly expanding it, we got to where we were. The policy itself was a democrat creation and was expanded under a democrat. Obama did nothing to curtail it except blame banks and invent another useless agency like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

          I have a friend who manages financing for several large car dealerships. One outcome of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that he must use race as a factor in loan generation.

          If the borrower is White and has a Beacon score of 800 and another party is not and has a Beacon score of 550, he has to give them the same terms and rates. However, if the White has a score of 550, he pays a far higher interest rate. My friend, needless to say, is disgusted with the entire thing. Loans should be predicated on risk and risk alone.

          So much for liberal democrat policies and ideological vapidness?

          • PolicyWonk

            Go and read the CBO report. The real problem was that our government FAILED to heed the warnings, or even demonstrate the vaguest amount of curiosity when the problems in the housing and financial sectors started coming in – they simply ignored them.

            Those issues started coming long before the historic economic catastrophe called the Great Recession took place, and at a time when they could’ve been addressed far more easily. Hence – the deflection simply doesn’t work because the bottom line remains the SAME – the GOP-led White House and HoR’s totally failed to address the problems when the issues presented themselves.

            Cheers.

          • El_Sid

            Nobody is giving anyone a free pass but the entire thing could have been
            avoided to begin with if 20% down, conventional loans had been
            maintained as the norm. Thanks to James Earl Carter III for inventing
            the idiotic CRI and Clinton for vastly expanding it, we got to where we
            were.

            The CRA is an easy target but is irrelevant to this argument – defaults on CRA loans were actually slightly below average. The banks were quite capable of making really stoopid lending decisions without the CRA forcing them to do so.

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            And why? Because they knew the loans could be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the government would take the risk.

          • El_Sid

            So you agree CRA is irrelevant.

            You miss the point that plenty of non-US banks were also lending like idiots, without Fannie/Freddie to back them up – there was a more general perception of reduced risk, which was partly just collective delusion but also linked to eg buying insurance from the likes of AIG FP which turned out to be worthless. But the story of AIG FP is a whole different story….

        • Bubblehead

          The CBO report? The same CBO report that said Obamacare premiums would go down and would not increase debt? That CBO?

      • Curtis Conway

        Don’t forget the Dodd/Frank debacle too.

    • Bubblehead

      USN probably didn’t believe they would not happen because Obama repeatedly promised Sequestration would no happen. Of course he only said this to get re-elected. Obama devastated the military. Hard to deny that. 1st POTUS not to attend Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day, he was busy with a Chicago fundraiser.

      • PolicyWonk

        The Spring 2009 JCS Report on Force Readiness to the POTUS (issued within a few months of Obama taking office) declared the US military was at its lowest state of readiness since Vietnam.

        You can blame Obama all you want – but you have to do so knowing well that the US military had been already been devastated by the two incompetently managed wars he’d just inherited. Obama wasn’t given the opportunity to screw up the military – the GOP Administration of George W Bush beat him to the punch (with “friends” like these – we don’t need enemies). Given the results were vastly less than positive (to be generous), a total waste of Treasure, international reputation, and lives.

        Add to that, the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression (for all the whining done – the state of the economy is historically the fault of the POTUS – and GWB himself admits fault). But despite that – Obama got the ship building program moving again (unfortunately, the USN made some very bad decisions, and now we’re well on our way to having $50B worth of “pier-queens” as opposed to usable warships) and left a solid economy for his successor that we’re still enjoying.

        Cheers.

      • Secundius

        Sequester was Automatic, as it was Written into Law. Speaker of the House John Boehner introduced the Sequester in 2011, to Start in 2013. But Republicans in the House, activated the Sequester in 2012 instead. You’ll be Lucking to know that “IT” doesn’t end until the Summer of 2021, instead of 2017. Just because the Republican House decided to Extend “IT” for 10-years, instead of the Original 5-years…

      • muzzleloader

        That, and frequenting the bathhouses.

  • Curtis Conway

    Every US Navy C-130T should receive a complete airframe inspection, including wingbox, and receive the following upgrades:
    1) Digital Avionics Backbone
    2) CNS/ATM compliant Rockwell Collins Glass Cockpit piggybacking on the USAF Reserve C-130H Upgrade Program (unless a CNS/ATM system is already installed)
    3) NP2000 propeller and controls
    4) Rolls Royce T56v3.5 Engine Upgrade

    If funds are available I would modify all KC-130Ts to support the installation of the US Coast Guard Minotaur Mission Pallet and buy five (5) units with two on each coast and one held as a spare.

    Hopefully the Marines get their two expected C-40A Clippers. Current tasking loads may stimulate the purchase of another squadron, or greater augment of the Marine birds so they can have two on each coast.

    • Secundius

      The C-130T might be replaced! In 11 January 2018, Boeing has a 51% controlling interest in Embraer Aerospace of Brazil. The C-130 could be replaced by the Boeing KC-390…

      • Curtis Conway

        I LIKE the KC-390 Tanker/Cargo aircraft. It would make a great Joint Cargo Aircraft . . . Oh that’s right . . . Time Sensitive ? Mission Critical cargo getting on a runway less than 3,000′ long runway with a 50′ obstacle is not in the USAF C-130’s operational manual (unless they recently revised it).

        • Secundius

          Unfortunately the KC-130F that took off the USS Forrestal in 1963 in just 745-feet with an Assisted Head Wind of 40-kts. had a Maximum Take Off Weight of ~121,000-pounds and NOT the ~175,000-pounds of the KC-130T. The KC-390’s MTOW is ~178,574-pounds…

          • Curtis Conway

            That Navy crew earned their pay that day. The Youtube video is really good. I think one of the serials did a show on it. Interesting contingent capability. A Coasty HC-27J could do it easier. OV-10 Broncos did it all the time. Most folks just ignore the capability. This is one of those examples like an F-35B showing up for recovery on a CATOBAR Carrier. Procedures been developed, published, and exercised ? . . or should the Marine Aviator just punch out of a $100+ Million aircraft because the US Navy has not done their home work.

          • Secundius

            And when did “Anyone” even and/or ever try to make a Carrier Landing with the HC-27J…

          • Curtis Conway

            My point exactly. Far easier than a C-130! Great contingency to fall back on though.

          • Secundius

            But as you said before, the KC-46 is a Mil-Spec trying to Fill the Role of a Mil-Std. The KC-390, is a From the Ground Up purpose built Mil-Std. Tanker/Cargo Aircraft, with a wing span ~26-feet shorter than the C-130. While I don’t seeing it fill the Niche of a Carrier based Tanker/COD, it does fill the role better than the KC-46. Also the HC-27J has an ~94-foot wing span that “Doesn’t” Fold for Hanger Deck Storage…

          • Curtis Conway

            A ‘contingency’ is NOT something your going to incorporate into the Carrier Air Group. However, it is a possible solution when Time Sensitive / Mission Critical cargo simply must get there. I would be very happy to see the KC-390s incorporated into the VR (and potentially VRC) Squadrons in place of some C-40A Clipper spots, especially for the Marines. Today we are practically flying the wings off the C-40A Clippers picking up the NUFEA tasking that the KC-130T medium lifters cannot do right now because they are parked. If you asked the US Marine Corps if they would rather have the two C-40A Clippers for VMR-1 . . . OR two KC-390s, I bet they would go for the KC-390s every day, and twice on Sunday. It comes with their paint job from the factory.

            The Naval Air Reserve would be more than happy to put the two C-40As to work in their busy schedule. NAS Ft. Worth JRB, and NAS North Island have plenty of room on the ramp.

          • Secundius

            I’m sort of curious on where you got the notion of a Aircraft Carrier based HC-27J “Tanker”?/! Because “Fire Aviation . com” is reporting about the US Forest Service, trying to acquire HC-27J’s and HC-144’s “AS” Fire Bombers for the Forestry Service. They developed an Fire Dump Box that has a ~2,650-Gallon capacity Tank that will fit inside either aircraft’s. The only thing holding up the acquisition, is the US Senate…

          • Curtis Conway

            When the USAF divested itself of the Joint Cargo Aircraft C-27Js there was quite a debate about who should get them. The US Forest Service was in the running, but it would best be used for Smokejumpers instead of dropping retardant. The MAFFS units fits in C-130 cargo bays so it wouldn’t fit in the C-27J. The deal was cooked up where the US Coast Guard HC-130s would be given to the USAF for conversion to fighting forest fires, and the C-27Js would turn into HC-27Js, which is happening at present. One is at PAX River for development, integration & testing of the Minotaur Mission Fusion System that will be installed in all of them, and the USCG C-130s will be replaced with new HC-130Js. All in all, the US Army has received the short end of the stick. The USAF took over the JCA program then cancelled it. All the US Army C-23 Sherpas are either parked in the desert, or turned over to the US Forest Service to support Smokejumpers.

            The box idea for dropping retardant has been around a while, and will work with anything with a rear ramp, including the C-27J.

          • Secundius

            Actually it wasn’t the US Army that “Divested” itself of the C-27J’s, it was the US Congress! The US Congress, in “It’s Infinite Wisdom” has decided that the US Army should be a “Vertical Transport Service Only Service” (i.e. Helicopters). Its only a matter of time that the US Army also looses its only remaining Fixed Wing Aircraft, the Beechcraft C-12 Huron as well…