The navy wants to eliminate 39 ships in 1 year

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US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Bowser

  • The navy has submitted plans to decommission nearly three dozen ships in 2023.
  • The loss of hulls comes just as the Navy reports it has hit a high of 300 ships.
  • One of the ships, USS Saint Louiscost $450 million and has only been in the fleet for two years.

    The US Navy plans to get rid of more than three dozen ships in 2023. While some ships are too old, having served for nearly four decades, some are apparently too young, having served only three to five years on their expected life of 25 years. . The service, which has been committed to increasing the size of the fleet for years, will decommission a total of 39 ships next year, including 23 from the combat fleet roster.

    Among the ships are two submarines, nine littoral combat ships, five cruisers and six amphibious ships, according to United States Naval Institute News. The list also includes five small patrol boats, transport ships, and fuel and ammunition ships.

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    Twenty-three ships belong to Naval combat forces, a category that includes “warships capable of contributing to combat operations, or a United States Navy vessel that directly contributes to naval combat or support missions.” Ship Battle Forces is the critical number that the Navy and others use as a benchmark to compare the fleet to foreign enemies, especially China. The number of American ships in this category has increased from 318 in 2000 to a post-Cold War low of 271 in 2015. Today, the number stands at 300.

    181215 a qm520 0069 gulf of oman 15 december 2018 the cyclone class coastal patrol vessel uss sirocco pc 6 patrols the gulf of oman sirocco is deployed to the u.s. 5th fleet area of ​​operations in support of operations naval forces to ensure maritime stability and security in the central region, linking the Mediterranean and the Pacific across the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points U.S. Army Photo by Private First Class Preston hammonpublished
    USS Siroccoone of the remaining five Cyclone-class patrol boats. The Navy would like to retire all five in 2023.

    U.S. Army photo by Private First Class Preston Hammon/DVIDS

    The Pentagon and the Navy have repeatedly pledged to increase the size of naval combat forces. Each time, the number of ships increases, while the completion date is pushed back. In 2017, the Navy believed it could get to 355 ships by 2030. Earlier this year, the Navy said it could go to 373 manned ships and 150 robot warships, a total of 523 ships, by 2045. Despite declaring shipbuilding a priority, the Pentagon and Navy have not allocated funding to support meaningful long-term growth.

    The loss of 23 ships from Ship Battle Forces will drop hull counts to 2015 levels. More ships will be commissioned in 2023, but given recent trends, the Navy will only build about a third of ships compensate for the expected loss. The Navy could end up taking one step forward and three steps back.

    uss zumwalt
    The USS Stealth Destroyer Zumwalt. Originally, 32 ships were planned, but cost concerns forced the Navy to cut 29.

    Getty Images

    How did we get here ? After 9/11, the Navy struggled to stay relevant as America and its allies fought ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Navy Littoral Combat Ship and Zumwalt-class destroyers were intended to provide support to ground forces. The navy, lacking a major peer adversary, enjoyed maritime superiority by default.

    The rise of the Chinese navy and, to a lesser extent, the Russian navy, challenged American maritime dominance. At the same time, mechanical problems with the frigate-sized littoral combat ships, as well as development issues, hampered their use. Ships are also expensive to operate, costs $70 million a yearcompared to $81 million for the most capable Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The Navy has also tried and failed to develop a replacement for the Ticonderogaclass cruisers.

    bulgaria nato exercise
    USS Vicksburg, shown here outside the Bulgarian port of Varna, is about to complete a $200 million upgrade. According to Navy plans, she would be retired this year.

    NurPhotoGetty Images

    Now the Navy wants to shelve the oldest of the Ticonderoga-class ships, arguing that they are worn out after more than three decades of use. The service wants to retire five Ticonderogas—the oldest commissioned in 1985 and the youngest in 1992. The Navy even wants to retire the USS Vicksburg, about to complete a $200 million upgrade, wasting the money. Together, the five ships have a total of 610 vertical launch silos capable of launching anti-aircraft, anti-submarine, land attack and anti-ship missiles, without even having a rough idea of ​​when they could be replaced.

    The Navy also wants to decommission almost all of the existing Freedom-class littoral combat ships. Each of the nine ships cost $500 million to build, for a total of about $4.5 billion in ships. The oldest of the ships, USS fort worthis ten years old, while the youngest, USS Saint Louis, a little over two years old. About five other littoral combat ships are in various stages of construction and outfitting, and it is difficult to see the Navy keeping these ships for any significant length of time.

    china navy
    This undated photo taken in April 2018 shows China‘s only operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (front), sailing with other ships during an exercise at sea. Since then, China has probably added more than 100 ships of war to his fleet.

    Getty Images

    Congress and the Navy disagree on this. Congress wants the Navy to keep all Combat Force ships slated for disposal except for two Los Angelesnuclear-powered attack submarines. While it’s easy to say the Navy should keep the ships, on closer inspection, the age of the Ticonderogas and the sheer number of flaws and problems with littoral combat ships means the fleet is probably better off without them. The real problem is that if the ships were laid up today, the Navy couldn’t make up for lost capability for another decade, even if it had the money.

    Will the navy expand its fleet to match China? Department of Defense and Navy officials seem determined to make it happen, but also determined to grope the job. Year after year, lofty goals and ambitious timelines are thrown around and nothing ever materializes. Only one Pacific Navy achieves its goals: in 2021, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has ordered 32 ships.

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