Monday, March 16, 2020

Navy Needs $40B in Savings

As described in a memo from Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly on 18-Feb-2020, the Navy has decided to reduce spending by $40B over the next 5 years (2022-26).(1)  The driving forces behind the reduction decision are, according to SecNav and in his exact words, the need to (1):
  • ‘build a bigger Navy’
  • ‘claw our way out of readiness and lethality shortfalls’
  • ‘begin a 40 year recapitalization of our nuclear ballistic missile submarine force’

Note that neither the cost reduction nor the driving forces are legislatively mandated.  These are, essentially, self-imposed requirements although to listen to the Navy moaning about them, you’d think they were imposed on the Navy by outside forces.

The only legislatively imposed factor is the semi-legislatively imposed prospect of flat budgets for the next few years.  I say, ‘semi-legislative’ because until each year’s budget is passed by Congress and signed into law, the budget is free to increase or decrease by any amount.  The prospect of flat budgets is just the military’s attempt at anticipating the future.  They may well be correct but it is not yet law.

Why does the Navy need to find $40B?  What will it do with money?

We must find savings within the Department to reinvest in the kind of decisive naval force that will provide for our nation’s future economic and political security. (2)

That’s certainly generic and vague enough but what does it mean?  According to SecNav, it means:

These savings will be repurposed in accordance with my top three priorities: designing and building a future integrated naval force structure (355+ ship Navy by 2030); advancing our intellectual capacity and ethical excellence; and accelerating digital modernization across the fleet. (2)

Pardon my language but, holy shit !!!!!!  Have you ever seen a bigger pile of steaming crap than that?  We’re going to cut ships, aircraft, and personnel in order to ‘advance our intellectual capacity and ethical excellence?????  What the hell does that mean?  How is that going to win us a war?  Are we putting pastors with Ph.Ds on the front lines? 

An ‘integrated naval force structure’ is a euphemism for unmanned and networked.  This is saying that the Navy wants to transition from a firepower based force to an unmanned, networked, distributed, multi-domain force with the smallest possible labor force to operate it.  This is the Navy’s current vision of the future.

I have no idea what ‘digital modernization’ is.  Maybe every sailor gets a new Game Boy console to pass time while on watch?

Here’s a couple thoughts to consider about the Navy’s cost cutting drive.
  • If the Navy were content with today’s firepower based Navy then they wouldn’t need any cost savings.  That’s something to ponder, isn’t it?
  • The Navy’s budget is at near historic highs.  The issue is not the size of the budget, it’s how they’re spending it.  For example, $15B carriers is insane!  Or, $8B Zumwalts that have no main weapon is equally insane.

I could go into a long post about the stupidity of the Navy’s rationale and actions but I’ve essentially done that over the course of years of posts, haven’t I?  You all know the idiotic decisions that have gotten the Navy to this point.  Rehashing them won’t cover new ground.  Instead, let’s play a game of pretend.  Let’s pretend that we buy into the Navy’s rationale and need for cost cutting.  Where would we go for cost savings?  What would we cut?  Here’s some of my candidates.

$5.77B.  Eliminate 220 of the 250 Admirals and staffs (say, 20 staffers per Admiral?).  At, let’s say, $250,000 per Admiral and staffer, times 220, that would save $1.155B per year.  Over the target 5 year timeframe that provides $5.775B savings.

$6B.  Cancel the Ford program and build new Nimitzes.  For an average of one carrier over the next five years, that would save $6B ($15B Ford - $9B Nimitz = $6B).

$1.92B.  Scrap the LCS fleet and save the annual operating costs.  I don’t have an exact figure for the operating cost but the Perrys supposedly cost around $16M per year so let’s call the LCS around $12M.  For 32 ships, that’s $384M per year for the LCS fleet and $1.92B over the five year target time frame.

$1.2B.  Scrap the Zumwalts and save the annual operating costs of, say, $20M per year.  For three Zumwalts over five years that’s $0.3B.  Given that none of the Zumwalts are yet complete, there are additional construction and fitting out costs that would also be saved.  Let’s estimate those costs as an average of $300M per ship for a total savings of $900M.  That gives a total savings of $1.2B.

$19.7B.  Scrap the F-35 purchases (30 per year x $100M per aircraft x 5 yrs = $15B) and associated operating costs (say, $35K per flight hour x 180 hrs/yr x 150 aircraft x 5 yrs = $4.7B).  Note, this calc is not strictly correct because the aircraft would be phased in over the five year period but I don’t feel like doing the exact calc and this gives us a ballpark idea.

$42B.  Cut shore side manning by 30%.  Currently, there are around 280,000 shore-based naval personnel (this will be documented in a near future post).  Cutting 30% would eliminate 84,000.  At a yearly cost of, say, $100,000 per person that’s a savings of $8.4B per year which, over five years, would save $42B.

Total Savings = $76.59B

Note: The above calculations are just ballpark estimates to demonstrate what general savings could be had.  Don’t bother replying to tell me that I’m 0.4% off on some specific cost estimate – it’s irrelevant.

It’s important to note that these savings, which total far more than the target of $40B, simply cut items that are truly worthless.  They do not touch readiness, maintenance, training, parts supplies, or anything necessary or useful. 

The only item that is remotely debatable is the shore-based personnel.  Did you know that our fleet billets number only around 53,000 versus the shore-based component of around 280,000?  While a certain degree of shore-based support is required, clearly our tooth-to-tail ratio has gotten out of hand.  Eliminating most of the legal, public relations, green initiative, gender/diversity, compliance, useless/duplicate joint positions, etc. we should be able to easily cut 30%. 

I’d also give serious consideration to eliminating NAVSEA since they aren’t doing their job, anyway.  They accept incomplete ships, ships with massive, serious problems, and fail to find problems on the ships they inspect.  Can’t we accept incomplete, flawed ships without needing NAVSEA?  But, I digress …

Well, there you have it.  We can instantly and easily achieve far more than $40B in savings without impacting anything useful.  It took me all of about ten minutes thought to come up with my list.  The Navy, on the other hand, is going to agonize over this for the next year and, undoubtedly, assign a blue ribbon panel of Admirals (did I mention that I’d cut them?) to come up with a list of recommended cuts which will certainly impact readiness, maintenance, and training – the things we can least afford to cut.

So, there you have my easy list.  What’s on yours?


(1)USNI News website, “Acting SECNAV Kicks off Navy ‘Night Court’ Cost Savings Drive with Aim to Save $40 Billion”, Megan Eckstein and Ben Werner, 18-Feb-2020,

(2)Memo from SecNav, “Department of the Navy Stem-to-Stern Capability-Based Strategic Review”, 18-Feb-2020


  1. It is upsetting that we have 250 Admirals with associated staffs, and 280,000 shore-based with 53,000 at sea, and the Navy keeps fighting against manning the ships! Minimal manning has been a disaster, and while shipboard automation has some value, skilled people are still needed for damage control and watch standing.

    It's wild that there are so many complaints by the Navy about how much a shipboard sailor costs while the tooth-to-tail is so unbalanced.

    I like and concur with your list. Shore-side staff, Admirals, and LCS are what I would cut first. That's more than $40B, but I would absolutely hate to see the Navy waste that money on more underperforming and overcost programs.

    1. "but I would absolutely hate to see the Navy waste that money on more underperforming and overcost programs."

      Yeah, that's the unfortunate kicker, here. Whatever they save, they'll just waste on unmanned, networked, no-firepower, worthless stuff.

    2. Congress has an easy way of limiting admirals. Require them to maintain quarters on a combat vessel with a max of one admiral per fighting ship. A good side effect is that it will cool the ardor for unmanned ships.

    3. The USN has stopped releasing the names of those nominated for flag rank. The other services continue to do so - subject to Senate confirmation.

  2. The ARGs are too big for peacetime ops. End the LX program to replace the LSDs with much larger and far more expensive LPDs. Move the LSDs to the ready reserve and replace them with the smaller/cheaper LST ship the commandant is talking about that will not deploy with ARGs, but kept in a wartime reserve status with a few for training.

    Drop the almost never used artillery battery from the MEU(SOC)s with its 14 trucks. Air and naval gunfire can fill the gap. Assign embarked Marines to fill many of the crew roles on the amphibs to reduce crew size.

    Cut the steaming days for the ARGs. They don't need to train at sea as much as real warships. Just deploy and spend most time in ports. Amphibs are transports!

    1. Nothing wrong with those ideas. Any guesstimate what the cost savings would be?

    2. How about instead of dropping arty from the MEU's, the Corps invest in the Hawkeye 105mm on the HMMWV chassis.

      This would solve the issue of arty on the MEU, significantly lower the number of HUGE 7-ton MTVR's and this is a much more mobile asset instead of a towed howitzer. Space savings on the ships, reduced manning for the landing force, and still have arty.

    3. "105mm"

      I'm not a land combat guy. Is 105mm sufficiently powerful?

  3. Soon enough the Navy will have more Admirals than actual warships, assuming they're not there already.

  4. CNO,question: if we cut F-35 purchases, what would you buy instead? More Super Hornets, or would you put the $$$ saved into new F/A-xx development???
    Im absolutely seconding the reintroduction of Nimitz production. I would probably stop the new frigate program now as well, and send it back to committee to rethink it. We don't need an Aegis frigate. We need ASW-centric, small ships, and in numbers larger than 20.
    I think in conjunction with your F-35 cuts, Id also mothball the aviation-centric L-platforms, as theyre ultimately a waste. Same with the ESBs. We dont have a clear CONOP for them, so park em!!
    Slashing the flag ranks is a great way to cut the fat, and Id add a streamlining of all the "joint" commands, NATO liasing offices, etc. Id set an arbitrary number of 40%-ish reduction of "admin" manning and weed out all the worthless billets. Use the personnel to rebuild crew sizing and flush the "minimal-manning", while extending the "sea" portion of the sea/shore rotation.
    Obviously, the money saved would NOT go into futuretech unmanned nonsense...

    1. " if we cut F-35 purchases, what would you buy instead?"

      I have a very low opinion of the Hornet (in any of its varieties) as regards its usefulness in a peer war so I wouldn't buy any more Hornets. I'd put the money towards a new long range air superiority fighter. I've previously described exactly how to do it to have an aircraft entering squadron service in five years. See, "How To Build A Better Aircraft"

    2. I recall that post and wholeheatedly agree. Id very much like to see your framework used in ship design, with emphasis on the timeline. Of course, the existing design portion isnt necessarily usable, but the components placed within a fresh hull are, and therefore the ridiculous design timespan involved can be reduced dramatically. I dont see any reason why the LSC, for instance, couldnt go from napkin-doodling the specs to keel laying in a 3-5yr period. It just requires a reduction in beauracracy and the injection of a sense of urgency...

    3. We definitely need more (some) dedicated ASW ships, but after we build up ASW capacity some AAW frigates wouldn't hurt. The advantage of a dedicated AAW ship is that it concentrates your training. The same with ASW. There also cost saving with focused design, but that in my opinion is secondary to the training issue.
      The Wasp and America class ships are useful. Their just more useful for things other than amphib's. They make great helo carriers for MCM and ASW. While we can make helo carriers for this cheaper, a bird in the hand.

    4. "They make great helo carriers for MCM and ASW."

      Only in the most wasteful sense possible! This is equivalent to saying that a battleship makes a great anti-pirate patrol boat. I guess it does but what a colossal waste of resources!

      The Wasp/America are $4B ships with a crew of a thousand-plus, just to operate a handful of helos in the MCM/ASW roles?! Yeah, they can do it and do it well but the colossal waste of resources and the cost per embarked helo is staggering.

      We can convert a cargo ship to operate a handful of helos for MCM/ASW for free, relative to Navy ship costs!

      It would be far better to simply park the ships and save the wear and tear and immense operating costs than to use them in a role for which they are a hundred times overkill.

  5. The Digital Modernization Strategy seems to be the Pentagon's attempt to implement the part of the National Defense Strategy that "dictates that we must improve the speed and effectiveness with which we develop and deploy modernized technical capabilities to our women and men in uniform"

    It seems to be based on the strategy of "Buy whatever we're promised will be modern."

  6. ", ‘semi-legislative’ because until each year’s budget is passed by Congress and signed into law, the budget is free to increase or decrease by any amount. "

    Budget Control Act of 2016 does have its restrictions as spending caps are written in law that Congress has to follow , until it rewrites the laws which it did last year
    "n August 2, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (BBA 2019; P.L. 116-37).
    The bill amended the BCA to increase defense discretionary spending caps by the largest amount to date—by $90.3 billion, to $666.5 billion in FY2020; and by $81.3 billion, to $671.5 billion in FY2021"
    You could best describe it as 'floating cap', but individual services then have to budget within their allocated amount

  7. I would be all for finding $40 billion, even more is possible IF it was to buy real hardware BUT just to buy vaporware? Forget it, I almost prefer to keep the waste then....USN is the most pathetic service,IMO.

  8. Off topic and if you deem fit, you can delete this post and I'll have no issue with it.

    Given recent events, particularly the USS boxer, what kind of effect do you think COVID19 will have on our force projection and international commitment s?

    1. Other than restricting port visits it shouldn't have any effect. It's just a virus. For younger, healthy people it presents no significant risk. The vast majority of people will get symptoms of a mild cold or mild flu and it will pass - no different than the common cold or run of the mill flu and we don't cower from those. This entire thing has been generated by the media looking to sensationalize a story. If I recall, 20,000 people or so die every year from the common flu and yet we think nothing of that and take no great precautions other than getting a yearly flu shot. Yet, for this Coronavirus which has killed 40 so people in the US and around 1300 in China, we're treating it as the end of the world.

      Pure fear-mongering by the media and US authorities have bought into it.

    2. A couple things...

      I'm curious to the short term effects this will have, and I should have stated as such. From what I've read, not only was the one confirmed case transfered from the USS boxer for quarantine, but also were a unspecified number of additional crew for being close proximity to him. Will that tactic be standard across the fleet? If the various cruise liners are any indication, that may be untenable...

      Additionally, you might want to recheck your death figures, they're several days or weeks old.

      One last thing;

      China has no credibility and I do not trust them to accurately report on anything that portrays themselves negatively.

    3. You might want to read up on the 1918 Spanish Flu to see what a real pandemic was and did. This just isn't very serious except for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

      My suggestion for ships with a case(s) is to treat it as any other cold/flu and don't worry about it. Young healthy people are at very little risk.

    4. Thank you for taking the time for providing your opinion on my off-subject question. As events develop, We'll discuss this further in a future post on this topic.

  9. Let me see, you want to stop using the LCS that cost us half billion each , do we can save 12 million that will pay 2% of the billion dollar FFG(x) we will have to buy to replace them. Does not sound like a very good way to saving money to me.

    Look if all you are going to do is look for excuses to kill a program that we all ready paid billions for because you did not like it original, then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    1. Thing being, the LCS is just about worthless. No offensive power to speak of, it cant hardly defend itself, and its certainly not surviveable. Why continue to throw money away?? The money already wasted is a tragic mistake, but why continue??

    2. " you want to stop using the LCS that cost us half billion each , do we can save 12 million"

      If you read the post, you'll note that the LCS savings is $2B and I'm not even including the savings from dismantling the supply chains, shore side repair facilities, shore side maintenance people, etc. so the actual savings is probably more like $4B.

      The larger point is that the LCS brings little effective combat power. With its inherent short range, short endurance, need to put into port for maintenance and repairs every two weeks, and requirement for massive shore side support, an LCS has no ability to conduct sustained combat operations in theater. Consider the Navy's vaunted distributed lethality concept. By the time an LCS could transition to deep inside the enemies waters to begin its 'lethality' patrolling, it would be time to immediately turn around and return to port for biweekly maintenance. That's useless in a war. Why would we want to continue operating a ship that has no effective role in a war? Even if the savings were zero we should still get rid of it.

  10. From The Congressional Budgets Office’s 2016 U.S. Military’s Force Structure report:

    Military Personnel per Unit: 430 (190 direct, 70 indirect, 170 overhead)
    Annual Cost per Unit $100M (2017 dollars)

    Military Personnel per Unit: 500 (220 direct, 80 indirect, 200 overhead)
    Annual Cost per Unit: $100M

    F-35 Fighter Squadron (12 airplanes)
    CBO estimates:

    Military Personnel per Unit: 2,940 (430 direct, 1,510 indirect, 1,000 overhead) Annual Cost per Unit: $570M

    Assuming a full fleet of 32 LCSs and three Zumwalts, this would be an annual expenditure of $3,5B and requiring 14,940 men to operate. Over five years the cost would be $17,5B.

  11. I’ve merely added the cost and personel numbers per unit, given in the report. A larger naval fleet or airwing will have shared support and overhead staff and logistics of scale, so the numbers are probably incorrect. That doesn’t negate the fact that an enormous amount of money and manpower are wasted on dismal platforms with little or no use in war.

  12. Hi CNO,

    The US military budget is quite strange.

    It doesnt go directly to hardware and troops. For example, $105bn per year goes to veterans, another $50bn to Homeland Security, if I read this correctly

    In addition, it's not just admirals who make the personel tree top heavy.

    In 2020, there were almost 10,000 Commanders and Captains.

    Captain (O6) 3,189
    Commander (O5) 6,720

    So there's huge savings to be made to reducing the officers by 70%

    However, there's big problems:

    - they'll get pension
    - they'll be upset, and that's around 10,000 potential traitors the CCP and Russia can recruit.

    But I agree with you about cutting the LCS and Fords. even if you pay penalty fees, you'll save on infrastructure, and free up dry docks.

    If you focus on the ships, a you can get 11 FFG(X) (1.1bn ea) for a single Ford. 7 cancelled Fords = 77 FFG(X). If you add the 20 FFG(X) already in the pipeline..... Boom, 335 ships (approx).

    Assuming there's no issue with maintenance.


    1. And it's not just the Admirals but the flag-level SES civilians! These are often retired Admirals. I looked into this years ago and found as many SES suit and tie Admirals as active duty Admirals.

    2. "SES"

      Good point. Current Navy website description lists 'approximately 300'. This is an area I know little about. I don't know what jobs they hold or how important those jobs are.

  13. My continuing argument is that if you want to save big money from the Navy budget is you have to get rid of all the nuclear carriers, both Nimitz and Ford classes and revert back to conventional carriers, have previously mentioned cost of reactors, RCOH and disposal costs compared to conventional, today manpower numbers.

    As you have mentioned fleet billets only total 53,000, if all the ten Nimitz were ever operational at same time they would fill every one of those billets, with zero left over for any other ship (nuclear carriers with their boilers are very manpower intensive), but due to the longer length of time nuclear carriers spend in maintenance and RCOH compared to conventional carriers (GAO), seen reported only average of 3.3 Nimitz's deployed per year eg Nov 2019 all six east coast CVN's in dock at Norfolk and none deployed, Truman had a casualty, but even if it hadn't occurred that would only be one out of six.

    As said nuclear carriers are manpower intensive and it costs, looked at the 2021 budget figures Navy 347,800 plus Marines 184,100 total cost $55.2 billion, average cost $104 thou per year for sailor and marine, plus Navy has 190,600 civilians to fund. Back in 2012 Sec of the Navy Ray Mabus said sailor cost $300 thou per year (never seen breakdown to confirm figure), but for argument sake will use it and only assume crew saving of 1,000 for a new conventional carrier as opposed to nuclear. 3.3 carriers operational x 1,000 x $300K x 5 years ~ $5 billion and would expect similar saving in maintenance costs?, that would give you 25% of Modly target of saving $40 billion over five years.

    Perhaps the reason Modly has just started six month study to look at possible alternative new carrier, one of his comments "Well, even if you looked at our own plans that we’ve developed, we never get to 12 in 50 years or something – I think 2060 or something is when we get to 12 carriers”

    PS Not 100% sure of my figures as have seen slightly different numbers in different reports on the PB FY2021 budget, recently looked at CBO FY2020 report which quoted $16. 2 billion for Ford at 2019 prices and $5 billion R&D, whereas GAO quoted $6.1 billion for Ford development costs as at June 2018?

    1. There arent 1000 "nukes" on board a CVN, or even close, so you arent going to reduce crew numbers by going conventional. The BT rate is dead, so are we gonna restart the "A" school and resurrect it? Can we recall enough old timers to teach there? What company is going to revert to building naval boilers and steam turbines? Im sure someone would, but the fact is, theres no current pipeline for them. That could be a hiccup. So maybe we use gas turbines instead?? As theyre notoriously thirsty, they may need MORE bunker space than boiler driven ships. How many GTs will it take to push a 100k ton hull through the water, and how many crew will it take to man them? The other rates in Engineering wont change that much. You just lost most of your manpower savings. What you also lost was the extra space for weapons storage and fuel that was gained over previous conventional ships by nuclear propulsion. You also added the need for more oilers on station, possibly in harms way more often, as now the carrier will need fuel, instead of it being a convenient source for the escorts. You also added MORE oilers, more often needing escort, pulling valuable ships from more offensive-oriented duties.
      Ive previously dug up numbers showing how the nuclear component of an RCOH is a small fraction of it, regardless of peoples assertions. So while there is more expense to nuclear powered ships, the overall bottom line ends up being a wash...
      Having said that, I think the Fords are an absurd waste, and should be cancelled immediately. Return to Nimitz production until the tech is proven, then look at restarting the class, IF the insane cost can be drastically cut. And if not... we have a hot line turning out proven, capable Nimitzes again until either the carrier is proven obsolete, or a proper, affordable new design comes along.

    2. Thanks for reply and your info, all I can do is refer to the Aug 1998 GAO near 200 pp detail report "NAVY AIRCRAFT CARRIERS Cost-Effectiveness of Conventionally and Nuclear-Powered Carriers" which gives actual figure in the era when both conventional and nuclear carriers were operating. Figures out of date now due to inflation but in percentage terms still gives ball park feel, build cost ~100% plus for nuclear; mid-life refit, annual costs, total life cycle costs all ~60% plus for nuclear option p.74 (the mid-life refit costs seem contradict your findings on the nuclear component of the RCOH).

      Nuclear is an expensive option for the marginal gains in the light the rest of the CBG ships which are powered by oil (the USN did plan for an all nuclear CBG but just found it too expensive, the last four nuclear cruisers, the 12,000t Virginia class, averaged only 18 years in commission and scrapped before Navy incurred cost of nuclear re-fuelling and ever since the Navy has abandoned nuclear propulsion for all its future cruisers/destroyer build).

      As you say GTs can be gas guzzlers, they need to operate at minimum of 90+% rpm to be economical, that's why the Brit 65,000/70,000t QNLZ class use full integrated electric propulsion with four Wartsila DGs providing the base load of 40 MW and bring online its two MT30 GTs as and when necessary, so looking at max possible ~110-120 MW for ~26+ knots, you would need to double the MWs for ~ 30+ knots. What found striking was the cost of the Wartsila 40 MW DGs, 2007 contract was 30 million euros for two ship sets equivalent to ~$17 million per ship set, understand only one component of the IEP but it does gives an indication of the magnitude of the savings you can gain with conventional propulsion.

      The other striking point from the QNLZ is the low crew numbers ~ 800, whereas Ford ~2,700, a total apples to oranges comparison as the Ford is a real carrier, CATOBAR, but making an arbitrary assumption that doubling QNLZ crew numbers to 1,600 you could crew a ~80,000t conventional CATOBAR carrier which would allow you to fund and operate 12 carriers with higher operational availability, Ao, and it would not take another 50 years to achieve 12 CVNs with current funding levels (Modly).

    3. "The other striking point from the QNLZ is the low crew numbers"

      Crew numbers are a complete non-issue (post coming!) and a totally arbitrary one. We can build a Ford class carrier to be unmanned if we want. Of course, it won't be combat effective but at least the crew number will be zero, if zero crew is our objective.

      The UK carrier is not peer war combat effective. The air wing is far too small and it lacks tankers, effective AEW, effective EW, and ISR.

      If the only goal is to not have much of a crew, the UK carrier is the way to go. If your goal is to be combat effective, the UK carrier is a failure.

    4. " all I can do is refer to the Aug 1998 GAO"

      I've read that report. It has a lot of problems in terms of methodology. As you know, conclusions are only as good as the assumptions and data that go into them and that report had some problems in that area. The comparative analysis is all about what factors you include or exclude. For example, there is a cost for nuclear disposal at the end of the ship's life. Do you include that in your analysis? There is a cost for constructing dozens/hundreds of oil/fuel tank storage facilities associated with conventional powered ships. Do you include that in your analysis? How about the cost of the crew required to operate the tankers that support the conventional powered ship? And on and on. The report seems to stack the assumptions against nuclear power.

      That said, there is no question that nuclear power costs more to construct. The question is whether the cost is justified by the operational and tactical benefits and that's a debatable point.

      Also, the basic cost data that the report used was flawed in the sense that the nuclear carrier construction costs steadily increased over and above inflation even while nuclear costs were decreasing (smaller, more efficient reactors). Thus, GAO used a skewed cost data set.

      And so on. The report has serious flaws.

      As I've always said, I'm ambivalent about nuclear power. It offers some operational/tactical benefits but it does cost a bit more (not by an extreme amount if ALL factors are included). My larger concern is battle damage impact and I don't have a good feel for that - just a concern.

      I'm ambivalent. What I don't want is a UK type ineffective carrier.

    5. "(the mid-life refit costs seem contradict your findings on the nuclear component of the RCOH)"

      As CNO noted, the report is flawed in how it presents/interprets data. Weve repeatedly had this discussion in the past, and when I pulled the numbers showing ACTUAL costs of nuclear reactors, nuclear components of RCOH, etc, you would never acknowledge the them. I dont wanna waste time doing it again. Its ok to have an opinion, and Im not a nuke proponent btw. Im all about supporting what makes the most sense for combat effectiveness, with an eye on what is also tactically, strategically, and fiscally best for the Navy. And so far, I have to land slightly on the nuclear side of the fence. That doesnt mean I support the Fords either. Thats a program that should have been cancelled long ago.

    6. CNO "If the only goal is to not have much of a crew, the UK carrier is the way to go. If your goal is to be combat effective, the UK carrier is a failure"
      Agree, question is what is the level of additional crew numbers required to operate nuclear carrier as opposed to new oil propulsion powered carrier?

      CNO "It has a lot of problems in terms of methodology"
      Agree GAO report has problems and needs to be updated, but it as far as know its the most comprehensive available even though over 20 years old.

      Jjabatie do apologize for ignoring your past input, if you could give me a pointer to your past posts would be grateful. I agree with your sentiments on Ford and as Modly saying if Navy continue down same path it will another 50 years ~2060 before able to hit twelve carriers in fleet.

      It is to be hoped Modly's Future Carrier 2030 Task Force six months study into possible new affordable carrier design bears fruit, think odds against it.
      It will have to overcome Navy/Congress nuclear mafia backing the big nuclear carrier advantages of max speed for long periods etc bolstered by the threat to areas of the CVN industrial base of 57,000 jobs across 46 states. An outside chance Modly can ride the current Congress sentiment that Navy not doing enough in building/planning to achieve the Congress law for a 355 fleet in foreseeable future and if new lower cost conventionally powered carrier chosen will be looked on favourably if part of the delayed 30 year force structure plan to hit 355 fleet. Another possible outcome as Modly only Acting Sec of the Navy his tenure uncertain and replacement may kill the task force, task force report lost in the presidential election etc.

    7. "what is the level of additional crew numbers required to operate nuclear carrier as opposed to new oil propulsion powered carrier?"

      I don't know that any additional crew is required. I've never seen a nuclear/non-nuke manning comparison. For all I know, it requires less crew for a nuclear plant. Do you have any data on this?

      Regardless, as discussed in today's manning post, the cost of crew is almost negligible as far as impacting the annual operating cost of a ship.

  14. This is dated, but according to Wiki, "A GAO report in July 2014 found that the annual cost to operate an LCS was $79 million, compared to $54 million to operate a larger frigate. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus pointed out that new vessels traditionally start off costing more to operate due to difficulties with ships being built and tested simultaneously; GAO reports of new warships since the 1960s support this claim. As more littoral combat ships are built and enter service, Mabus said operational costs will decline to acceptable limits." The reference was a Navy Times article from 2014.

    I'm not sure what the "acceptable limits" are, this is the Navy after all. But, I think $60 million a ship is a better estimate.

    Whatever caused you to think anything would be cheaper when it comes to the LCS? 😕

    1. Blimey! I didn't think an emoji would post.

    2. "A GAO report in July 2014 found that the annual cost to operate an LCS was $79 million, compared to $54 million to operate a larger frigate."

      No, this is not the annual operating cost. This is the life cycle cost which includes procurement cost, R&D cost, module procurement costs, module R&D, and other factors unrelated to operational costs. The values were also based on 55 ships and 65 modules, both of which have been severely curtailed.

      That said, the LCS operating costs are approaching or, likely, surpassing the Perry costs and possibly the Burkes. The cost for shore side LCS support is generally ignored in cost analyses but shouldn't be since it is a routine and required operating cost.

  15. A certain amount of green initiatives can be useful in a little bit of budget maskirova. Several years back, the Army wanted to develop better performing rifle ammunition, but did not have the funds for that. The Army *could*, however, be allocated funds to develop environmentally friendly rifle ammunition... so the Army went ahead and developed the new M855A1 green round, which gives superior barrier penetration performance and terminal effects, all while being environmentally friendly! If only the Navy would engage in a little bit of that creative thinking!

    (That said, lead-free environmentally friendly ammunition does have a legitimate purpose for the Army - millions of rounds are fired into ranges every year in training, and all that lead can leach into groundwater and poison the land. We should be giving the enemy lead poisoning, not doing it for him :V)

    1. The M855A1 is probably the driving force for the current round of new rifle selection as failure rates have increased in the M4/M16 family and probably the M249 as well, due to higher PSI ratings.

      It's also is the upper limit of performance that can be expected for a 5.56x45 cartridge, hence the Army relaxing the ammo submissions in said new rifle trials.

      Additionally, it is not a NATO complaint ammo, due again to its loading.

  16. Whatever the savings I would say this

    Train people to actually sail their ships.


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