Skip to comments.American aircraft carriers remain essential to commanding the seas
Posted on 09/16/2011 11:50:01 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
American aircraft carriers remain essential to commanding the seas
By Robert O'Brien 1:09 PM 09/16/2011
Last month, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis rendezvoused in the Pacific with Carrier Strike Group-3, which is composed of the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and the USS Pinckney, USS Kidd, USS Dewey and USS Wayne Meyer. Carrier Strike Group-3 will soon take up station in the Arabian Sea to support American combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. En route, the carrier and its escorts have shown the flag in the Philippines and Malaysia and sailed boldly through the South China Sea, which China has basically declared its own lake in violation of international maritime law. Both missions are critical to the United States and are possible only because the Navy maintains the capability to deploy strike groups built around super carriers such as the Stennis.
In May, I had the unique opportunity to spend several days as a guest of the U.S. Navy aboard the Stennis off the coast of California as it prepared for its current mission. Landing on a carrier deck is quite an experience but what is even more striking is the level of activity on the flight deck you see as soon as the ramp of the C-2 Greyhound transport (COD) is lowered. F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighters, E-2 Hawkeye surveillance planes, EA-6 Prowler and EA-18 Growler electronic warfare aircraft, CODs and Sea King helicopters taxi, take off, land and park on the warships four and a half acre flight deck. It is all choreographed by scores of young sailors in colored helmets and jerseys, who dart in and out of the traffic.
While I was on board, the strike group was assessed for performance in a strait transit exercise. Californias Channel Islands were a stand-in for the Strait of Malacca. A military contractor was the opposing force and deployed small speedboats to harass the warships in simulated attacks by pirates or an enemy such as Iran that employs such tactics. The strike group used air and surface assets as well as helicopter-borne special operators to successfully handle the scenario.
No navy in the world can put to sea a ship comparable to the 100,000-ton-displacement Stennis or its 10 sister carriers, which are powered by two nuclear reactors, carry 85 aircraft and are crewed by 5,400 sailors and aviators when their air wings are embarked. It is for this reason that in a crisis, the first question asked by an American president is, Where are the carriers? It is the reason that our ally the Philippines welcomed the Stennis and its escorts into the neighborhood last month as a counterweight to the regions assertive superpower, China. It is the reason our commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq can send soldiers and marines into desolate and hostile environments. They rely on fighters launched from the Stennis to deliver ordinance, on demand, to support their missions. These carrier-based aircraft do not require bases in the war zone or in nearby fickle allied nations. Its why China has been developing anti-access and sea-denial strategies to deter the United States from sending its carriers into the Western Pacific.
Senior Navy commanders have told me that it seems like China is launching a new attack submarine every month. The fact is that the Chinese submarine fleet, which constitutes a serious threat to our carriers and other surface ships, is growing at a rapid pace and is employing increasingly sophisticated technology. Unfortunately, Americas anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability has atrophied since the end of the Cold War, when U.S. ships and ASW skills were at their peak. Chinas carrier-killer anti-ship ballistic missile, the Dong Feng 21D, has achieved some level of operability and is potentially a game-changing threat to American carriers in the region. Unfortunately, our carriers have not had a strike bomber tailored to taking out enemy missile sites since the Navy retired the A-6 Intruder in 1997. Its anticipated replacement, the A-12 Avenger II, was cancelled in a cost-cutting move.
The Navy faces other challenges. The fleet is the smallest since WWI and is 20 ships below the minimum level of 313 that Congress has deemed necessary for the service to carry out its missions. The USS Enterprise, famous in pop culture for starring in Top Gun and The Hunt for Red October, is being retired shortly with no carrier to replace it in the near term. Most of the Navys guided missile cruisers have had cracks in their hulls. Many of the Navys and Marine Corps frontline F-18 fighters have flown thousands of hours past their intended lifespans. The aircrafts replacement, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is behind schedule, over-budget and may be on the chopping block in the latest round of defense budget cutting.
The United States Navy, built around unrivaled aircraft carriers such as the USS John C. Stennis, has kept the peace, secured the sea lanes that allow us to trade, protected our allies and punished our enemies for the better part of a century. The officers, NCOs and seamen I met on my recent embark are professional, dedicated to their service and have high morale. They possess the skills and warrior attitude to take on any foe or respond to any contingency. We can rightly be proud of these men and women. It is up to us to ensure that they have the warships, aircraft and weapon systems to accomplish their missions. Especially now in the face of the congressional super-committee defense cuts or possible mandatory sequestration of defense funds, it is critical that we do not fail them and our nation.
Robert C. OBrien is the managing partner of Arent Fox LLP Los Angeles. He is a former U.S. Representative to the United Nations. Robert can be followed on Twitter @robertcobrien and on his web page at www.robertcobrien.com.
Command the seas? Are you serious?
Americans want to command their smart phones, while watching the Kardashians.
We can’t afford our navy, and it will gradually be mothballed.
Then we can do as China tells us to do.
Don’t let Obama know how much we need carriers. He’ll cut their budgets, and redistribute the funds to union jobs and green energy.
I am pro-military, but I don’t see how when we are in as much debt as we are, we need 11 carrier groups when the most any other country can muster up is 1.
I served on board two carriers; theRanger and the Kennedy.
There have always been idiots in this country, but to call Americans idiots in general is a disgrace.
“There have always been idiots in this country, but to call Americans idiots in general is a disgrace.”
52% of Americans voted for Obama. That’s a majority.
I rest my case.
It is hard to accept for some, but a brief look at the "popular culture" is very grim. The votes for Zero are indeed just another indicator.
“52% of Americans voted for Obama. Thats a majority. I rest my case.”
The court is adjourned. Sad, isn’t it. Clearly half the country supported that idiot.
A close-up view of a crack in the hull of the Aegis-guided missile cruiser USS PRINCETON (CG-59), part of the damage sustained when the vessel struck an Iraqi mine while on patrol in the Persian Gulf on February 18th in support of Operation Desert Storm. The incident resulted in the injury of three crew members and also inflicted propeller damage on the ship, however, the Princeton was still able to navigate and operate its weapons systems.
Aside from the fiscal ability to project power,one must also wonder,given the evolution of asymmetrical warfare and the proliferation of small missile technology among the second and third worlds, if carriers will be highly vulnerable in future conflicts? Will or should the ability to project air power from outer space be the military doctrine of the future?
“...and Sea King helicopters taxi, take off, land and park on the warships four and a half acre flight deck”
I live in San Diego and I have not seen a Sea King helicopter in years.
I was on the Kennedy and the FID...(Forrestal for you non navy types)
52% of 131.3 million voters, not 52% of 300+ million Americans.
68.28 million Americans are idiots, which is only 22% or so of Americans.
I was aboard the Nimitz and Carl Vinson with VA-35.
Obama: Where are the carriers?
Aide: “At the piers, where you ordered them.”
“I dont see how when we are in as much debt as we are, we need 11 carrier groups “
Well, when we deliver goods overseas we’ll need to protect them from being confiscated on the seas by our creditors.
Convoy duty in the post-Obama world...
“68.28 million Americans are idiots, which is only 22% or so of Americans.”
Do you really want to fight this fight?
Population: 300 million.
Number of eligible voters: 213 million
Turnout: 132 million
Obama votes: 68 million
213 - 132 = 81 million who didn’t vote. I submit to you, that anyone who didn’t vote in that election is as dumb as an Obama voter.
So, out of 213M eligible voters, 149M are not deep thinkers. That’s roughly 70% of Americans who aren’t really paying attention.
And of those under 18... many of them are being raised by that 70%.
Trying to defend an indefensible position isn’t a good move.