In their latest act of delusional fantasy, the Navy is looking at arbitrarily extending the service life of ship classes. Of course, followers of this blog are well aware that very few Navy ships even make it to their current service life endpoints before being retired. The
class submarines, for example, are
being retired, on average, several years prior to their service life endpoints. Los Angeles
Here are some of the current and proposed service life endpoints as documented in a
25-Apr-2018 NAVSEA memo.
Class Current, yrs Proposed, yrs
CG 52-73 35 42-52
DDG 51-78 35 45
DDG 79- 40 46-50
LHD 1-8 40 46-53
LHA 6-8 40 47-49
LSD 41-52 40 45-52
LPD 17-28 40 47-53
LCS 1-26 25 32-35
How can the Navy seriously propose extending service lives when they can’t even reach the current endpoints?
Some of these service lives are already delusional. For example, the DDG 79 has already been arbitrarily extended from 35 to 40 years with no physical or maintenance changes that would rationalize the extension. It was just an arbitrary extension to make things look better when devising 30 year shipbuilding and fleet size plans. Does anyone think we’re going to take a Burke class that was designed for a 35 year life span and, without doing anything to actually improve that span, suddenly make it to 50 years just because of a memo?
There are two main reasons for premature retirement of ships.
- Physical abuse due to insufficient and chronically deferred maintenance. This is self-inflicted neglect and is an ingrained aspect of the Navy’s failure to properly maintain the ships they have.
- Technological obsolescence. This is the excuse trotted out whenever the Navy wants new toys but can’t otherwise justify them. Of course, this utterly ignores the ease and cost effectiveness of upgrades.
Do you recall the Perry class? They were standing in the way of the LCS but the Navy couldn’t come up with a good reason to retire them so they removed their weapons and then claimed that they had to be retired because they were underarmed and couldn’t be upgraded. Of course, the Australians and others promptly went and upgraded them, putting the lie to the Navy’s claims.
Does anyone believe that when the next new ship toy comes along that the Navy wants, they’re going to stop and say, “Wait, we can’t get our new toy yet because we still have service life remaining on the current class.”? Of course not! They’ll early retire the current ships just as they do now.
To be fair, NAVSEA points out that in order to meet these proposed service life endpoints, the Navy must adhere to the class maintenance plans – something the Navy has never done.
The memo might just as well call for extending the service lives to 100 years, or a thousand years, because they have an equally good chance of reaching those points as reaching these delusional points. Heck, we could project a 1000 ship fleet if we simply make the service lives infinity!