We’ve previously discussed the Navy’s plan to “idle” and “modernize” 11 of the 22 Aegis cruisers (see, “Idled Cruisers”). ComNavOps suggested – no, he didn’t, he stated flat out – that the Navy had no intention of ever modernizing the cruisers. They were being early retired by leaving them tied to the pier to rot until they’re too old to modernize. Remember that the Navy had proposed retiring seven in the previous budget and that Congress had slapped them down and told them to keep the cruisers. Well, what better way to bypass Congress and retire the cruisers then to “idle” and “modernize” them. It keeps Congress happy, retires the cruisers in terms of operating costs, frees up money for new construction (which is, after all, the entire reason the Navy exists, right?), and, as an added bonus, allows the Navy to continue to count the retired cruisers as active ships in the fleet count – a PR win. I’m sure the only regret the Navy has is that they didn’t think of this ploy earlier. If they had, we’d have “idled” amphibious ships, frigates, and whatever else just waiting to be “modernized”.
Doesn’t it seem odd that the Navy thought the cruisers were so superfluous that they wanted to retire them and then, in the blink of an eye, now claim that they want to modernize them and extend their lives? Doesn’t that strike you as just a bit suspicious?
Well, it appears that others are now catching on to this scheme. Chris Cavas, at Navy Times, has posted an article that’s right up this alley (1). Here’s a few quotes from the article,
“A level of discomfort — if not outright distrust — has been created as the service changed its original 2012 request to decommission seven cruisers under a spending reduction strategy to one where the Navy wants to keep them, but temporarily inactivate 11 its 22 Ticonderoga-class CGs under a modernization plan. Many on the Hill suspect that behind the rhetoric, there lurks a desire to save money by killing the ships.”
Cavas also recognizes that the Burkes, even in a Flt III version, are not a direct substitute for the Ticos. He points out that the command and control functions associated with being the air warfare commander are not well supported on the Burkes.
“… the service announced its decision to put the air missile defense radar on standard DDG hulls, and the ships will be poorly suited to embark the extra staff and provide proper command and control facilities for the air warfare commander.”
Cavas appears equally as skeptical as ComNavOps about the Navy’s abrupt reversal on plans for the cruisers. He cites an unnamed Congressional staffer commenting on the plausibility of the Navy’s plan,
“They wanted to get rid of them, then overnight they came up with this plan.”
Chris, you’re a bit late to the party but better late than never! Welcome aboard.
(1)http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140707/NEWS04/307070028/Navy-s-cruiser-problem-Service-struggles-over-modernization-replacements , Christopher Cavas, Navy Times,