US Navy's Cruiser Problem | Defense News |

WASHINGTON — The US Navy and Congress are in a sort of faceoff over the fleet’s cruiser force. To extend their service lives, the Navy is asking to take half its cruisers — CGs in Navy-speak — out of service now and gradually bring them back starting in 2019. Congress, fearful that Pentagon budget-cutters will instead decide to cut costs and reduce the force, is insisting the ships be modernized now and kept running.

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.

Meanwhile, production of new DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers continues. To some, the DDGs, equipped with more up-to-date versions of the same Aegis combat system that equips the cruisers, seem up to the task of replacing the older CGs. But the Navy insists it needs its cruiser force, and the issue brings up some fundamental questions: What is a cruiser, what’s the difference between a cruiser and a destroyer, and what ship will protect the fleet’s aircraft carriers in the 2030s?

via US Navy’s Cruiser Problem | Defense News |

The Navy sometimes seems hellbent on discarding servicable surface warfare ships, as older ships eat a disproportionate share of the maintenance budget. But the problem is, designing and buying new ships costs far, far more than refurbishing older ships with significant life left.

Tight budgets, and especially the squeeze on total personnel numbers, makes manning the fleet we have hard. Having said that, there’s a stunning number of shoreside billets in the Navy.  But the shrinking number of hulls, coupled with an ever expanding number of missions, means the relatively few ships left spend ever more time deployed. Which tends to drive out the people assigned to those ships. And also tends to wear out the hulls we do have faster than anticipated, and greatly increases the costs of upkeep.

There soon comes a tipping point where the Navy simply has to say “we don’t have enough ships to do every job.”

Mind you, this isn’t the Obama administration kneecapping the Navy. The Bush administration pretty much left the Navy to decide what it wanted to do in terms of shipbuilding. And that disaster haunts the Navy to this day.

8 thoughts on “US Navy's Cruiser Problem | Defense News |”

  1. The main problem with the USN is that there are way too many flag officers. The same is true with the other branches as well. Get rid of at least a third of the O-7s and above and there will be funds for more useful things.


    1. Cut half the flag officers, all the remaining LCS designers in NAVSEA , the building LCS class, and all the diversity HR personnel.

      Keep the Supply class AOEs, the CGs, and build an already designed FFG. Let NAVSEA build the FFGs under license, or relaunch the FFG-7s. Use PGs for littoral and Naval Base local defence.

    2. Great point…good O-6’s get the job done during peacetime anyway.

  2. Do we all agree that we should only have as many admirals as we need in peace time because if there’s ever a war where we need a lot more admirals, we can easily recruit or promote as many as we need?

    1. People forget that Bradley and Patton went damn near the whole war before picking up their fourth stars. Bradley had more men under his command as a 3-star than are in the entire USA, USAR, and ARNG today.

    2. I’m going by analogy here, but most of the well-known generals of WW2 were Colonels or even Lieutenant Colonels when the US participation began.

      The fun part is that when the war* begins the best leaders usually aren’t in charge.

      Dunnigan & Nofi’s Shooting Blanks, War Making That Doesn’t Work contains an entertaining & instructive table on how many generals were fired during WW1, WW2, Korea, and so on. A very simple rule of thumb would be that the flag officers at the end of the war will be a very different group than those at the start of the war. First corollary: don’t have so many so you can save on the paperwork. 🙂

      *Not calling the Iraq invasion a war, and the following armed occupation wasn’t an existential thread to the US, so the screw-ups could be protected, just like in Vietnam.

Comments are closed.