The Navy has been trying for several years, now, to early retire the
Ticonderoga class Aegis cruisers. Presumably, the reason is to eliminate any
potential competition with the Flt III Burkes that might threaten their
funding. Ironically, the Spruance class
destroyers were retired and sunk to eliminate them as competition with the
Ticonderogas! The wheel turns full
circle, I guess.
In any event, here are the specifics on the initial idlings via Defense News website. Here are the ships that have been idled and the year they were idled or are scheduled to be idled.
As you recall, the Navy tried to block retire 11 of the 22 cruisers and Congress blocked that plan. The Navy then came up with the fiction of “modernization”, which was simply an unofficial retirement, and Congress blocked that. Ultimately, the Navy swore to Congress that they really would modernize the ships and return them to service and Congress responded by implementing a 2-4-6 law which limits the “modernizations” to two ships per year with completion mandated in four years and a maximum of six ships in “modernization” at a time. So, four of the allowable six are now idled and, presumably, two more will follow suit in 2017.
Here’s the catch that the Navy, intentionally, hasn’t advertised. When the ships come out of modernization they will replace retiring cruisers. Thus, the four (next year, six) ships represent a net permanent decrease of four (next year, six) cruisers from the force.
It’s inconceivable to me that in the midst of declining fleet numbers and a stated desire for a 300+ ship navy, that we would early retire the most powerful surface warships in the world.
The crews of the ships are being disbanded.
“Once NAVSEA takes control, the ship will slim down from a 325-person crew led by a captain to a 45-person crew led by a lieutenant commander.” (1)
The Aegis cruiser fleet, once 22 ships, is now 18 ships and will drop to 16 next year, never to return.
must simply be giddy with delight. A Chinese secret agent inserted into the
upper ranks of Navy leadership couldn’t do as much damage to the China fleet as we’re doing to ourselves. US
(1)Defense News, “The Navy keeps sidelining its best surface ships. Here's why”, David Larter, Navy Times,
March 25, 2016