Skip to comments.The Navy Is Dropping Down to Just Two Deployed Carriers
Posted on 01/25/2014 7:09:17 PM PST by ClaytonP
The U.S. Navy is about to cut in half the number of aircraft carriers it keeps ready for combat. Starting in 2015, just two American flattops will be on station at any given time, down from three or four today.
The change is spelled out in a presentation by Adm. Bill Gortney, head of Fleet Forces Command. The U.S. Naval Institute published the presentation on its Website on Jan. 24.
The new Optimized Fleet Response Plan represents an effort to standardize training, maintenance and overseas cruise schedules for the Navys 283 front-line warships, in particular the 10 nuclear-powered carriers.
The OFRP is also meant to save money and keep the Navy functioning under budget cuts mandated by the sequestration law. But to be clear, even after the change the Navy will still deploy more, bigger and better ships than any other maritime force in the world.
Warships will adopt a 36-month calendar. In each three-year cycle, a ship will sail on patrol once for eight months. All required maintenance, training, evaluations and a single eight-month deployment will be efficiently scheduled, Gortney claimed.
That means less than a quarter of the combat fleetpossibly fewer than 70 shipswill be deployed at any given time, down from 81 today. The Navy keeps around two-thirds of its combat power in the Pacific, equal to around 45 deployed ships under the OFRP.
Fewer frontline ships will be on patrol under the new plan, but those shipsand their crewsshould be in better condition, having spent more time at home for training and refit, Gortney claimed. The Optimized Fleet Response Plan has been developed to enhance the stability and predictability for our sailors.
Sailing less often also helps the Navy shift funding into ship maintenance, a traditionally under-funded but vital activity that ensures vessels can serve for their entire 30-to-50-year planned lifespan.
But the undeniable fact is that there will be fewer Navy ships near potential hot spots starting next year. Based on historical patterns, its likely the Navy will keep one aircraft carrier in the Western Pacific near China and another in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to watch over Iran.
U.S. flattops will be routinely absent from the rest of the worlds oceans, although the Navy will also be able to deploy two assault ships carrying helicopters and Harrier or Joint Strike Fighter jump jetsmini-carriers, in a sense.
Moreover, the OFRP standardizes and enlarges carrier strike groups, concentrating the smaller deployed fleet into fewer but bigger formations. These CSGs will be composed of seven to eight, vice current three to four, surface combatants, Gortney explained.
The concentration will be achieved in part by shifting ballistic-missile-defense shipscruisers and destroyers fitted with missiles and radars for shooting down enemy rocketsaway from independent patrols. Instead, many of the BMD ships will sail alongside the carriers.
The addition of missile-defense ships to the carrier groups could help the flattops defend themselves against Chinese-made DF-21D carrier-killer rockets in the event of a major war.
But Gortney stressed that some missile-defense patrols will need to be independentmost likely, those conducted by the Navys new four-ship destroyer squad in Rota, Spain. Those four ships are meant to patrol the Mediterranean, where American aircraft carriers will rarely venture.
The handful of destroyers carrying Scan Eagle drones and Fire Scout robot helicopters could also be exempted from carrier-group duty, Gortney added. These vessels frequently sail alone along the East African coast in order to gather intelligence for Special Operations Forces secretly working ashore.
The new plan will mean fewer but more powerful Navy deployments, but does not mean an end to routine, small-scale humanitarian and goodwill cruises. Rather, those softer naval missions are increasingly the purview of the quasi-civilian Military Sealift Command, which operates more than 100 lightly-armed specialist ships alongside the frontline Navy.
The Navy recently bought MSC 10 small, speedy catamaran transports and four Mobile Landing Platform sea base ships specifically so that those cheaper vessels could handle soft missions. Sealift Command ships might become a more common sight across the globe at the same time that aircraft carriers become rarer.
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That’s about enough of a navy to maybe defend Canandaigua Lake.
All those dormant flattops will make great section 8 housing for the underprivileged.
Shades of the fading British Empire about 55 years ago.
All part of the left’s plan to put the U.S. on an equal footing with other nations.
It’s just not “fair” for us to have more military might than, say, Angola. What’s so special about us?
Active Duty ping.
3rd world military here we come, wearing turbans and pink berets and rainbow sashes
Hey, wouldn’t want to put our enemies out with too many targets.
Si vis pacem, para bellum
Heck, they may even invited them in on the plunder of the spoils.
Would not be unexpected
I guess I can forget everything I ever learned...like “haze gray and underway.”,and the prime directive...”sailors belong on ships and ships belong at sea.”
So two carrier task forces deployed at any given time means one off the East Coast and one off the West Coast, right?
No. It means one in the Western Pacific and one in the Indian Ocean / Persian Gulf region.
There is sonething fundamentally wrong with our foreign policy.
If these cuts are occurring during a time of “economic recovery,” imagine what shape the armed services will be in at the next downturn.
Two rubber duckies
With the Dhimmis in charge, there will never be an economic downturn. Remember, under Stalin, the USSR never had a downturn. (/sarc)
Mr. Hagel, you didn’t ask me, but, you’ll be sorry you allowed us to lower our defenses to this light level. The Chinese are doing the exact opposite.