Home » Budget Industry » Heritage Report: Aging Navy Fleet Complicates Tradeoff Between Buying New Ships, Fixing Old Ones


Heritage Report: Aging Navy Fleet Complicates Tradeoff Between Buying New Ships, Fixing Old Ones

Ships assigned to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group transit the Atlantic Ocean in formation while conducting dual-carrier sustainment operations on Aug. 30, 2018. US Navy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Heritage Foundation released its fifth annual Index of U.S. Military Strength that stated the armed services are too small, too old and not ready enough to support a credible two-war battle force.

“The deterrent value is certainly being compromised” by these factors, Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for defense programs at Heritage and lead editor of the index, said at a Thursday morning rollout event.

For the Navy specifically, the index highlights the need to grow the fleet and boost its readiness – but it also demonstrates how the age of many of today’s ships will complicate that effort.

For instance, 10 ship classes have an average ship age that is more than halfway through the ship’s expected service life, and two of those are more than 75 percent through their expected service life: the Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships and the Los Angeles-class attack submarines. Just five ship classes are below that 50-percent service life mark.

Another way of looking at the fleet’s age is that half the ships are more than 20 years old. These older ships bring with them increased maintenance challenges and higher costs to keep ready – a fact made clear by ongoing struggles to get aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) out of maintenance and back to the fleet.

With a force that skews towards older ships, the Navy can expect a hefty bill in the coming decades to simply replace these ships on a one-for-one basis, let alone grow the force.

The Navy has plans to grow to a 355-ship fleet. The timeline for reaching that figure was accelerated due to a class-wide service life extension for all Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, but ultimately that just delays a dip in the fleet once those DDGs eventually decommission.

The Heritage Foundation, though, recommends a 400-ship Navy to support a two-war capability – which the Pentagon had years ago endorsed but later revised to being able to fight one war and deter aggression in a second theater.

The index assesses that, to fight and win two major contingencies, the Navy would need to provide 13 carrier strike groups and 12 expeditionary strike groups simultaneously, based on historical data of forces used during major wars and contingencies. To keep that sized force forward, with follow-on forces training at home and ships being maintained ahead of rotating forward, the Navy would need 400 ships. The service has 284 deployable battle force ships, according to new counting rules, which is 29 percent short of the 400-ship figure.

Overall the index rates the Navy as “marginal” in strength – the middle rating, essentially a 3 out of 5. Navy capability and readiness also scored a marginal rating. Capacity, though, is rated as weak, or a 2 out of 5.

Wood said during the index rollout that quantity is a major factor when he looks at the strength of the military as a deterrent force: the Navy needs to sufficient numbers “to commit a force, and have uncommitted capability either for reinforcement or to have time and resources available for training and competency.”

Extending the life of the destroyers, for example, does help boost the numbers, but he cautioned against relying on that too much.

“Do I continue to extend the life of a legacy platform to the point where the maintenance cost are eating my budget up and it’s not really giving me relevant, credible combat power with the unfolding of newer battlefields, with the ability of the enemy to bring fires against me?” he told USNI News during a question and answer session.
“And yet, you still need this numbers issue. So if the Navy is really hampered by lack of ships, how do I get more ship hulls into the water? Well, I have steel right here tied to the pier. So I think in the prioritization within that decision (to extend the DDG service life), they said the need for hulls at the moment outweighs the need to stop those kinds of modernization efforts and apply that money to some future ship that maybe hasn’t even been designed yet.”

He noted that uncertainty about the future may be part of the issue for the Navy today. Numerous studies have suggested that a potential war in the Pacific, for example, would require capabilities and ship classes the Navy does not have today, such as a corvette, a frigate, a light carrier and other ideas. Wood said the Navy needs to come to a decision on whether a fight within the enemy’s threat ring would be fought with power concentrated on large ships, like an aircraft carrier, or with a flotilla of smaller patrol craft and small combatants; and if an amphibious assault would require large amphibious assault ships with large well decks, or “something else.”

“Nobody knows what the something else is, so I’m very reluctant, as a service, to let go of something that I currently have and I have utility for given today’s challenges, in the hope that I’m going to be able to grab onto something that’s not even off the design books,” he said.

  • The current US fleet has an average warship age of 18.5 years, while the Chinese fleet is at 12.9 years. However, the disparity in the age of the destroyer/cruiser fleets is much worse, with US ships averaging 19 years while Chinese ships are 7.9 years. The only solution is building more ships, not keeping the current fleet in service for half a century.

    For a more detailed breakdown search “Average Warship Age (2018)” with the quotation marks and you should find a blog post with that title that compares the largest navies.

    • Kypros

      Thanks for the link. Very interesting. Russia looks like it’s going to have a BIG problem, soon.

      • Leatherstocking

        In the early 1980s it was believed by US planners that the highest risk for war was when the then Soviet forces were becoming obsolete. The idea was that they would use their forces before they aged out and the Soviet economy could not afford to replace their military investment.

        • Kypros

          I believe the current Russian navy is a hollow force only capable of presence missions. The Chinese navy, with impressive growth and new construction, has yet to prove itself in any meaningful way.

          • Leatherstocking

            Well stated – but in a war with China, we will be facing a significant land-based air force while we try to hold close-in sea lanes – it’ll be a challenge.

          • Kypros

            Agreed! Air supremacy would ultimately be achieved, but not overnight and without cost.

    • Rocco

      Well if we only make up our minds in what direction to go in with what & where to invest our money on!! In my opinion Ford class carriers are a waste of money & time!

      • PolicyWonk

        but But BUT, Rocco: we’ve new got either the biggest, baddest, nuclear-powered training ship – or – the largest LHA on the planet!

        How can THAT be a waste of money and time?

        ;-P

        • Rocco

          Lol agreed!! Can’t be bad if it doesn’t work!!

  • Duane

    Not only are old ships expensive to maintain, but their capability, in terms of lethality and survivability, is significantly less. For instance, many, perhaps most of the Flight I DDG51s will never be retrofitted with new upgrades to AEGIS, or new radars, and they lack hangars for deploying aircraft, both manned and unmanned.

    Not only do new ships cost less to maintain, they also cost much less to man. The complement of Zumwalt destroyer is half that of an Arleigh Burke, yet it is 50% bigger in size.

    • Ed L

      The more complex a warship gets the easier systems break. Keep it simple Plan for the worst and hope for the best

      • vetww2

        The SAE journal now estimates that accessories in autos, not reqired for operating the car, comprise more tan 65 % of repairs.

    • vetww2

      The DD1000 is a crummy, dangerous ship. Why do you persist advocating it dsspite thes 2 PROVEN facts.
      1. It will roll over in a turn in high sea states, and
      2, Its basic design objective (ehich has since been compromised by external additions) is low radar cross section, a great goal 30 years agom but not a major characteristic in the face of wake tracking and GPS/laser predictions,
      3 That is why I am so pleased that I was part of the decision to limit the buy from12 to the 3 whose hulls were anready laid.

  • Tenant1234

    The military industrial complex talking !

  • Marc Apter

    We need to build more ships and repair our old ones, but the Avondale Shipyard in NOLA is being sold to become another container port for foreign flagged ships, as we discuss this.

    • Rocco

      And who’s fault is that??

      • wilkinak

        In part, it’s the fault of the work force at Avondale. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything nice said about their workmanship.

  • tim

    It is an easy answer, we need mire ships and new ones … if it were not for the cost of it all and the lead time. A stron country must be fiscally and militarily strong. Trump will offset his higher spending with a booming economy, so at this time, no one talks about new record spending. What is really needed is for a bi-partisan commitment on long term future funding. I hope that Trump can get some Democrats to join him in that planning … at least he should make a puplic case for it!

    • Duane

      The Fed projects only 2.0% growth in 2019, down to 1.8% growth in 2020 – less than under Obama. Some “booming growth”.

      The dollars aren’t there for a 355 ship fleet, and so they obviously won’t be there for a 400 ship fleet either.

      The Navy needs to have a newer but smaller (compared to 355) and more capable and less expensive to maintain fleet. The dollars aren’t there for a big fleet. And keeping old, less capable and far more expensive to operate and maintain ships is a recipe for degraded readiness of the ships we have, and will constrain how many new ships we can afford to build and operate.

      More reliance on unmanned ships too will be necessary to retain capability at a reduced operating cost.

    • Horn

      A booming economy won’t matter when the government lowers taxes. Our economy was already heading up when he took over. We didn’t need tax breaks at the time. Now when the economy starts to stagnate, they won’t be able to use tax breaks to boost it.

  • PolicyWonk

    A 400-ship navy? The USN is never going to make it to a 355-ship navy unless the federal government and the lunacy that is the current party’s excuse for financial/economic management of this nations affairs learns basic arithmetic and does something radical to increase revenues going into federal coffers.

    The corporate welfare programs and tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy need to come to a crashing halt. The DoD acquisition system desperately needs a complete, and thorough overhaul. Healthcare expenses need to be brought under control. Education needs a serious boost. And, the USN (as do all the service branches) needs to stop expending energy/funds on stupidities such as these so-called “littoral combat ship(s)”, let alone taking crazy and irresponsible risks like they did with the USS Ford, EMALS, and AAG.

    The 400-ship navy, a worthy goal, isn’t happening. And I’ll be astonished if we ever make it to a 355-ship navy: the federal government is simply too irresponsible/stupid with taxpayers money.

    • Ctrot

      “and does something radical to increase revenues going into federal coffers.”

      Federal revenue is at record highs.

      The problem is SPENDING too much, not taxing too little.

      • PolicyWonk

        Hints: We’re not paying down ANY of the national debt, we’re not significantly rebuilding ANY infrastructure (US air traffic control is long obsolete; roads/bridges not being repaired; education and healthcare are a mess, and the idiots in DC want to cut taxes – for the ultra-wealthy – again.

        Sorry – that dog don’t hunt!

        • Bryan

          We didn’t cut taxes in the last two cycles. And we added massively to the debt. This isn’t a d and r thing. It’s an American thing.

          The problem is our debt often goes up less when we cut taxes. It doesn’t work the way you think it does. Can we cut taxes too much and hurt the bottom line? Yes. Can we spend too much and hurt the bottom line? Absolutely. It’s a balance. Neither party is interested in balancing the budget. They certainly are not interested in reducing the debt.

          The only way for us(the little people) to get that done is? IMO, forget about the r and d’s. Demand it happen and hire someone to do it. Sadly that is going to look more like a Trump than you might like?

          What will happen? We will spend and borrow until we can’t. A crash is coming. There isn’t much anyone will do about it. When it is all over each r will point at d and each d will point at r. Meh….a pack of fools who are more interested in their own power. Don’t be young and don’t be a middle manager. Tough times means people look at what you can and will do. If you’re a paper shuffler then you might be worried.

        • Ctrot

          There you go again. You always do this. You complain about that revenue is falling because of the tax cuts, I point out that revenue is actually growing and then you pretend that you were actually complaining about the growing debt all along.

          Our debt problem is now and always has been one of spending too much not taxing too little. But you “big spending, think all money belongs to the government and you get to decide how much everyone gets to keep” leftists just can’t see the truth.

          • tim

            … well said … but in real life, any president has to find a compromise and as right as you are (in both meanings of the word), income pyramid and wealth pyramid is not as beneficial for the overall health of society, as a more apple shaped one. The “middle class” is the back bone of a successful society and the super rich could pay more and top management could do with less, as lower management and below could do with more. Tax cuts do not do much for me … I would rather see my money pay down the debt. As the matter of fact, there should be a “tax deduction” to specifically apply my “donation” to pay back the debt 🙂

          • Rocco

            Bingo

          • Duane

            No – large deficits are due to spending too much AND taxing too little, and it has always been a bipartisan/bi-ideological issue. Neither leftists nor Democrats care about deficits, and neither do rightwingers or Republicans. Both sides use the deficit to criticize the other sides’ spending priorities. Neither side wants to tax what it really costs to deliver the government that all Americans demand, regardless of party of ideology.

          • Ctrot

            Again you’re wrong. Taxation levels in the US are at almost historical levels. We grew from third world colony into a world power by the end of the 18th century with taxation levels at a fraction of what we see today. We are NOT taxed too little.

    • Ed L

      400 ship fleet. DDG FFG Corvettes. Some conventional design cruisers !

    • Rocco

      Kudos!!

  • Ed L

    A mixed high lo warships capable of fighting against an enemy fleet and shore facilities while protecting the logistics chain. While working with allies and our own army and Airforce. Grenada was the perfect example of not being able to work with our own Army and Airforce

  • Eyes open

    Taxes are going up and the infrastructure is getting worse day after day.So where are we going to get the money for a new fleet? And with fewer yards in teh US, where are we going to build all of these ships should teh money fall out of the sky? Costs are skyrocketing because there is no competition.

  • Christopher Seal

    From 1968 to 1987 I served on four carriers, four fossil-fueled and one nuclear. The Eisenhower was the best of the lot but the Forrestal, my last carrier and just out of SLEP was a close second. I believe it is an utter waste not to extend the life of ships and in this age of computerization a sound method of maintaining a world-class Navy. When the sh*t hits the fan I would want to be on a survivable warship an one that is incapable of protecting its crew and the mission.

  • honcho13

    Back in the early days of my career (60s & 70s) we had scores of WWII destroyers. There were DE’s, DLG’s, CL’s and CVA’s up the ying-yang that were anywhere from 15 to 30 years old. We were told back then that THE MAIN REASONS that the U.S. Navy was going to invest in the LM2500 gas turbine in the vast majority of surface ships, was because of reduced operational costs, lower down time, higher reliability, reduced parts inventory, longer operating cycles, etc.. – all of which would reduce to need for extended yard and maintenance periods. AND which would allow these ships to operate well into their 4th or 5th decade. THE SLEP program was the mantra! What happened! Yeah, I realized that some greyhounds have been around now for 30 or more years, BUT that was supposed be about the expected “mid-life crisis” period for them! Maybe they just don’t build ’em like they used to? I wonder! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

    • Rocco

      Agreed! Look at cars today! Expensive throwaways!! One classic car hobbies is through the roof for cars from the mid 50’s through the early 70’s are in high demand because they were built to last – can be rebuilt! Today it’s just plug & play. No obsolescence !

      • honcho13

        I agree, Rocco! Good analogy! BUT, I think it goes a bit deeper. And that has to do with competition: there’s basically none! Our Navy HAS to accept what ever rolls down the ways! And, what I think is even worse, there’s no place to get your ship “fixed” these days, except a civilian facility. Gone are the AD’s and AR’s, the SIMA’s, the AIMD’s, etc.. (Why are we still keeping the sub tenders USS Emory S Land (AS-39) and USS Frank Cable (AS-40) in service? ‘Cause the submariners are smart enough to know a good thing when it’s painted haze gray! Something us “skimmers” failed to realize!) What did it cost an MM like me to take a globe valve over to a tender to have it overhauled? Zero! Zip! Nada! So, if you want to start with the reasons “everything costs so much these days” start there! And don’t blame the guys down on the deck plates! ALL these decisions were made by the college boys somewhere up the chain of command! Haze gray and underway (maybe)! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

        • Rocco

          Well yes master chief! I share your greef. Yet again another ship yard down south closes! Not just the college boys at fault but passed administration’s as well. I recently came across a navy chief at an air show at a recruiters tent. He looked like he was just out of college!! I asked him how old are you? Just 24!!! Head Chief in just 4 yrs!! Ridiculous.

          • honcho13

            SENIOR Chief, Rocco, Senior Chief! And, Rocco, somebody’s pulling your chain! There’s is NO way somebody/anybody is going to be promoted to CPO in 4 years! IT IS IMPOSSIBLE! Not enough time in grade and NOBODY (I don’t think) would “field promote” any sailor to CPO at 24! And, IF he said he was the “Head” chief, well, that just means he was probably in charge of the head! (or something else I won’t mention)! Have a great Navy day! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

          • Rocco

            So sorry Senior! Lol too early & had to clean my glasses. This young man was in uniform!! With an officer present. If I felt he was a fake I would of had him arrested for impersonation!! I also ran into another young chief in the Navy Reserve @ 26 yrs old during fleet week. Head chief?? I should prof read first!! Mistake from my stupid autocorrect. Meant to say he made chief in 4 yrs!!

          • honcho13

            I am STILL a “doubting Thomas”! IE: article from Navy Times 2015: “Chief Damage Controlman (SW) Jose Rosario only had six years in the Navy when he got the word he’d been selected for chief petty officer last summer. While most of his boot camp peers in the Navy were deciding whether to reenlist last summer, Rosario, 32 was shopping for new CPO uniforms. Not only was he the youngest chief selected in 2015 in a rating where the average sailor put on anchors, on average, at 12.8 years in service after nearly five years as a first class, no one from any rating has made chief faster in recent memory, according to data obtained by Navy Times from the Navy Education and Training Command.” I will call your attention to the ‘12.8 years in service’ – that’s just about where I was back in 1980 when I was selected! And MM’s (back then) were selected in the hundred’s because we we WERE one of the most critical (and undermanned) rates in the Navy! Even SEALS don’t get promoted that fast! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

    • El_Sid

      Those scores of WWII destroyers were more for show though, it was the peak of concern about the Red Terror and anything was used to bulk up the numbers regardless of how effective they really were. Arguably, the USN could have done with a Jackie Fisher to clear out that long tail of the fleet and spend the money on front-line ships.

      The structure of all navies has been affected by the mass decomissionings at the end of the Cold War and the low build rates of the 1990s – several of the Perrys spent just 14 years in US service, it was considered not worth doing a mid-life refit and that generation of ships was not particularly easy to upgrade. Now that so much happens in software, the balance is tipping the other way.

      • honcho13

        Sorry, shipmate, but I have to disagree. You make it sound as though ships of that era were just “throwaways”! Not true! Look at the list of DD’s, DLG’s, CA’s, etc. (and don’t forget the New Jersey!) that plied the waters off the coast of Vietnam for 10 or more years! Notice how many made multiple deployments and received numerous battle stars. A lot of the “small boys” provided GFS and picket duty. Two WWII HEAVY cruisers (Boston, Canberra, St. Paul or Newport News) were always on station providing Gun Fire Support. Sometimes there were 4 – 6 carriers in the theater of operations (Shangri-La, Princeton, Bennington, Midway, Coral Sea, Ranger, Enterprise and 17 other carriers – total of 24) almost all the time that provided tens of thousands of sorties and traps. And they ALL required escorts and plane guards. (And, I certainly don’t want to forget our shipmates who rode the dozens of oilers and supply ships that kept us going!) No, my friend, the old iron-and-steel Navy of the 60s and 70s was not just for show! Fair winds and following seas! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

  • RunningBear

    In the interim, “If it floats, It fights” is a good immediate solution. The recently built LPDs and the new LX(R)/ LSDs can both be retrofitted into the existing hull with VLS-41. Those missiles can protect both the ship and the ARG when sailing “in group” as a mini/lite-carrier strike force with an MEU of 2,000 Marines. Building any USN vessel that can’t contribute to the defense of the whole is unpardonable. Networking ships in CEC is a minimum and supporting the “boots on the ground” is a basic requirement for their presence as a local deterence force. These same amphibs could contribute to NIFC-CA defense when coordinated with either a CG or DDG, sailing as an ESG. It simply provides a higher capacity magazine for the existing ships.
    IMHO
    Fly Navy
    🙂

  • Bryan

    Do we really need a 355 ship navy? If so there isn’t enough money. So we will have a choice, cut a lot from the air force and the army or never get to 355. Heck I think we will have to get creative just to keep what we’ve got. As I heard someone say(CDR Sal?) that we can afford a 240 ship navy right now.

    In some cases it’s an either or. I suspect the first few DDG’s will be in rough shape. Some of the previously forward deployed DDG’s will also be bad off. Retiring them will make sense.

    A slow steady building of new DDG’s is in order to replace our retiring DDG/CG’s that protect our carriers and for BMD (hopefully most of that mission goes ashore in a few years.)

    If we want to use the old DDG’s I think the answer is to use them for a lower end mission where we don’t ask as much. A degraded SPY-1 can still use a SM-2. Perhaps not a SM-6/SM-3.

    Use them as a frigate. Small load out of SM-2/ESSM/ASROC. Rest of the load out is Tomahawk and ASM. Combined into a SAG with a LCS will add a bit of teeth. Send it to go work with our allies and leave our new DDG’s for higher missions.

    That won’t get us to 355 but it will get us effective fighting ships in the 2020’s until the ffg come out in numbers.

    • Duane

      Downgrading the mission does nothing to reduce the operations and maintenance cost of an old obsolete ship. Every dollar spent operating such a ship detracts from the readiness of more capable ships, and is a dollar deducted from building newer, more capable, and more cost effective ships.

      The single biggest expense in operating any warship is the crew cost. The newest ships cut crew costs by anywhere from 1/3 (the Ford CVN) to greater than 1/2 (the Zumwalt DDG).

      Also, the cost of maintaining old ships is not just the dollars spent per hull, but the effective dollars of ship value that must be deducted when the ship is sitting in the yard two, three, or four times as much as newer ships. Every ship in overhaul requires another ship to replace it, or else our effective fleet size shrinks by a ship.

      • vetww2

        I have decided that there must be 2 “DUANE”s on this cite. I can’t equate the extemely savvy and informative posts to some of the looneyist, outlandish writings ever. OR are you a schitso? I am thoroughly at sea.

        • Duane

          It’s easy. Just stick to debating or discussing the facts, and leave the personal attacks out of the discussion. You should have learned that by now.

          • vetww2

            I avoid PERSONAL attacks, but bristle when the argument presented is spurios. My apologies if any of my responses seemed to cross the line

      • tim

        … any ship is a hole you throw money in … age does not change that. We do not need to have a two war strategy against the worst case scenarios. Even for China right now, all we need is any decent sized ship flying our flag to enforce right of passage, protection from pirates, hunting down drug smugglers etc. … sailors are expensive and upgrades too, but we need a healthy compromise … we cannot just do one or the other!
        I personally would have liked to cut the Columbia project and use the money somewhere else … but I trust that you will never have all you need, no matter how carefully you plan, but plan uou must.

  • MutantDog

    In retrospect, these platforms should have been built with upgrade-supporting IT infrastructure. I could say the same for most aircraft. I expect some *pushback* in response, for calling the transportation equipment out as being first and foremost a platform. Which it is, at least in retrospect.

    As a taxpayer I would hope the services would squeeze all the juice they can out of my tax dollars. I also look with suspicion at the military-industrial complex.

    • Rocco

      You can only squeeze so much out of anything today!! Which to say the least minimum . Look at electronics. Cell phones especially. If you don’t by a new phone by the time your bold one is obsolete companies like Verizon with deliberately slow your phone down!

  • omegatalon

    Fixing might not be the word to be using as much as ‘updating’ because if the price to update an older Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to the current Flight III specs is the same as building a new ship they should just go ahead and decommission the older ships and begin building new ships.

    • El_Sid

      Updating a Tico to Aegis Baseline 9 costs about 10% of a new Flight III. Add another 10% for SLEPing the mechanicals. Although it’s probably not practical to do a full Flight III upgrade to existing hulls, the IIA’s could take a cut-down version of AMDR, or there’s a cheaper upgrade of just the amplifiers etc which could be applied to any of the I/II/IIA’s. So you’re probably looking at 3-4 “Flight 2.7’s” for the price of one new Flight III – given that quantity has a quality of its own, that’s probably an equation that works.

  • Kypros

    I get the argument about focusing resources towards new construction rather than maintaining/updating old ships, but the way I see it, there simply won’t be enough new construction to go around without extending the life of current ships. Do you give up 2 or 3 early Burkes for one new one?

  • Ed L

    Maybe it’s finally time to augment America’s Submarine Force with Air-Independent Propulsion Submarines: Stealthy, Cheap and the Future. Putting AIP power Submarines near shallow water choke points or near the disputed islands to lay in wait could be a game changer. I bet that a chincom aip boat driver would risk all including death to slam a spread of torpedos into a Nimitz class Carrier. The Japanese( Stirling Cycle) French (Closed Cycle Steam Turbines) and Germans (Fuel Cell) all make good submarines. Soviet Tango subs were always a bit difficult to track

    • honcho13

      While I agree with your basic premise, which would be cheaper to construct and run, I think your chasing rainbows! The powers-that-be, the people who hold the purse strings, are wedded to the “Nuclear Triad” concept. Remember: all the movers-and-shakers in today’s Navy have grown-up knowing nothing but nuclear submarines. I also believe that, because the U.S. Navy operates further from its shores than any other Navy in the world, belief in nuclear-powered boomers and fast attacks is not a concept that the submariner community will relinquish any time in the near future. We are NOT, and never will be a shallow water Navy! And, they are NEVER going to accept a “nuclear concept” based-on what the Japanese, the French, the Germans or even the Soviets (OOPS – I mean Russians) are doing or planning! Look what’s in-the-pipeline in the Navy’s near future: the Ohio-class Replacement Program boats (ORP, formerly known as SSBN(X)). And, unless there is a major (operative word) shift in technology and world politics, the “Silent Service” will remain nuclear powered! Have a great Navy day! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

      • vetww2

        That is why I promote the integration of NAVY and COAST GUARD.

        • honcho13

          I just hope that doesn’t EVER happen in my lifetime! The Navy has enough problems without getting into bed with the Coast Guard! The “Blue Water Navy” is where the Navy SHOULD BE concentrating all its efforts! To paraphrase the Bible: “Give to the Navy the things that are the ocean-based, and give to the Coast Guard their “shallow water” domain!” And, never the twain shall meet! MMCS(SW), USN (ret)

    • vetww2

      Small correctios, the Stirling cycle is not Japanese, but British and the Fuel cell is strictly American. Aside from those minor points, your post is correct.