From the FY 2015 DON Budget Highlights book, we note that in FY 2015, 8 battle force ships will be delivered:
(1) Nuclear Attack Submarine (SSN)
(4) Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
(2) Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV)
(1) Mobile Landing Platform (MLP)
We also note that 13 battle force ships will be retired:
(10) Frigate (FFG)
(1) Nuclear Attack Submarine (SSN)
(1) Amphibious Warfare Assault Ship (LHA)
(1) Combat Logistics Ship (T-AOE).
In addition, the Navy will stand down half the Aegis cruiser force and I don’t think anyone realistically believes these will ever go to sea again:
(11) Aegis Cruiser (CG)
Added = 8
Deleted = 24
This is the Navy’s assured growth towards a 300 ship fleet??! But wait, it gets worse.
Here's a small note attached to a battle force count table.
“*Note: Starting in FY 2015 ship count includes eight OCONUS Mine Warfare (MCMs) ships, and twelve Non-Battle Force ships--two Hospital Ships (T-AHs) and ten Forward Deployed Patrol Crafts (PCs)—based on new ship counting rules.”
Do you see that? We're now going to start counting hospital ships, Avenger class MCMs, and Cyclone class patrol vessels as battle force assets. If you can't maintain actual combat ship numbers, just count non-combat ships. Could this be a more blatant and transparent scam to make us think the Administration and Navy are maintaining the fleet size?
It’s important to recognize what’s happening here. ComNavOps has been pointing out repeatedly that the Navy’s 30 year shipbuilding plan was a work of pure fiction based on wishful thinking and budgetary miracles that don’t have a snowball’s chance of happening. The trend, as documented above is painfully clear. The fleet is heading towards a 220 ship force with much of that force being non-combat or marginally (LCS) so. The reason is spiraling construction costs resulting in ever fewer ships which means ever larger costs which means even more expensive ships which means … a death spiral. This is why ComNavOps has repeatedly called for simpler, single function ships. The alternative, meaning the status quo, is destroying the Navy.
Well, at least that’s the worst of it, right? Ahh …
For FY 2015, 20% of required depot level ship maintenance is unfunded and will be indefinitely deferred. So, not only is the fleet shrinking and becoming less combat effective but the fleet is also degrading due to deferred maintenance and this is on top of previously backlogged and deferred maintenance. As we all know, it is much harder and more costly to attempt to make up deferred maintenance somewhere down the road. The problems just get that much worse. This is what a hollow fleet is.
C’mon, now, there’s no way it can get any worse. Well …
The abysmally small Reserve fleet which consisted of only 8 ships in 2013 is being reduced to 0 (zero, none, no reserve fleet) in 2015. There is now no reserve to call on if we get into a scrap, suffer attrition, and need immediate replacements.
I’m not going to lay this on the President and Congress. Instead, the blame lies with Navy leadership. They’re the ones who are hollowing the fleet to maintain new construction funding. They’re the ones who have chosen new toys over training, spare parts, and maintenance. They’re the ones who continually present only more and more expensive ship proposals to Congress instead of solid, basic designs. They’re the ones who are early retiring Aegis cruisers and amphibious ships. They’re the ones who allowed our mine countermeasures ships and capability to nearly vanish. They’re the ones who allowed our ASW to atrophy and our Aegis systems to degrade fleetwide. They’re the ones … Well, you know the litany as well as I do. This is purely the Navy’s fault.