Friday, February 19, 2016

Still Trying To Retire Cruisers

The Navy is at it again.  You’ll  recall that the Navy attempted to retire 11 of the 22 ship Aegis cruiser force under the guise of “idling” them while slowly modernizing them and then eventually bringing them back into the fleet as one-for-one replacements for retiring cruisers.  [See, “Idled Cruisers” and “Idled Cruisers – Update”]  Of course, ComNavOps pointed out that if you remove half the cruiser fleet and then bring them back on a one-for-one replacement basis you will have effectively retired 11 of the 22 cruisers since, in one fell swoop, the cruiser force would be reduced from 22 to 11 and never rise above that number again.

Of course, that was the best case plan.  More realistically, the “idled” cruisers would never sail again.  Can you really see the Navy following through, several years from now, on modernizing ships that are even older at that point?  Of course not!  Once idled, these ships are done.  The operating costs disappear, crews vanish, money is saved, and new construction is assured.

Why, you ask, would the Navy conceivably want to early retire the most powerful warships in the world, some with BMD capability already, all with potential BMD capability, and all with many years of service life left?  The answer is two-fold:

  1. As we just discussed, saving money for new construction.
  2. Eliminating a potential and very viable alternative to the Burke Flt III which, if exercised, would threaten new Burke Flt III construction funding.  This was the same tactic used when the Spruance class was literally sunk to prevent competition between the Spruance/NTU and the, then, new Aegis system.  The Navy also did the same thing by neutering and retiring the Perrys to avoid competition with the LCS.

In any event, Congress didn’t believe the Navy’s “modernization” plan any more than ComNavOps did and they legislated that the Navy continue to operate the cruisers.  Then, when the Navy continued to try to back-door Congress, passed the 2/4/6 law which limited the Navy to 2 “idles” per year, mandated that the modernizations be completed in 4 years, and only allowed a maximum of 6 cruiser to be “idled” at a time.

So much for the history of this.

Undeterred, the Navy is once again attempting to retire 11 cruisers (1) in one stroke.  This time, recognizing Congress’ distrust, the Navy has offered (is insisting, actually) to have Congress write legislation mandating the return of the modernized cruisers to the fleet.  That way, the Navy claims, they can’t renege on the plan and retire the cruisers.

How dumb does the Navy think we are?  This is just a rehash of the original attempt whereby half the cruiser force would be idled for an extended period and then returned to the fleet on a one-for-one basis to replace retiring cruisers.  It still results in 11 cruisers being dropped from the force, permanently.  The article also makes it crystal clear that the Navy recognizes and publicly acknowledges that Congress does not trust them.  As I’ve said, the Navy has squandered whatever good will they ever had with Congress.  Now, though, they’re in the process of squandering their intellectual credibility.

At a time when the Navy is claiming to want to build the fleet up to 300+ ships, claiming that BMD is one of, if not the top, priorities, and is supposedly preparing for a Pacific Pivot and potential confrontation with China, how can the Navy possibly retire 11 of the most powerful warships on earth and replace them, numerically, with LCSs?  Honestly, if China could slip an agent into the Secretary of the Navy’s job with instructions to weaken the US fleet, they couldn’t do it better than this.

This latest attempt demonstrates, yet again, the Navy’s blatant disregard for Congressional wishes and highlights the absolute insanity that is now passing for leadership in the Navy.


USNI, “WEST: Navy Wants Congressional Mandate Preventing Decommissioning Modernized Cruisers”, Megan Eckstein, February 18, 2016,


  1. Congress should tie Admiralty pay and pensions to the Tico ship maintanance budget of the USN.

    1. No need to do that. Congress sets the budget in whatever amount of detail they wish. They can, if they wish, specify exactly what amounts to use for what rather than simply giving the Navy total amounts for unspecified maintenance. Congress did this the first time the Navy tried to retire the cruisers.

      Congress also approves flag lists. They need to do a better job of screening those people.

  2. None of the four Ticonderogas scheduled for retirement were equipped for anti-missile work. But five of the Ticonderogas in service are and more are scheduled to be converted.

    "21 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, are scheduled to be equipped to be capable of antiballistic missile and anti-satellite operations"
    That was back in 2012.
    But correct strategy is to make the ABs more capable, they only have a small number of SM-3 missiles on baord ($10 mill each!)

  3. I swear the airforce and the navy share notes. But besides the point, I feel if the russians keep to their schedules and introduce the lider class dds in 19, the navy will force to keep them. Kinda what the kirov did for the iowas in the 80's. Thats if they don't scrap them.


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