Friday, November 6, 2015

Warning: Our Navy's Carriers are Straining to Defend US

USS Theodore Roosevelt
The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group left U.S. 5th Fleet last month with no announced timeline for when its replacement will reach the Middle East to continue U.S. air strikes against ISIS targets.

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is slated to be the next CSG bound for the Middle East, but the Navy would not specify a deployment time other than later this year.

While in 5th Fleet, the Roosevelt CSG was the largest symbol in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS collation responsible for “1,812 combat sorties totaling 10,618 combat flight hours, taking on 14.5 million gallons of jet fuel and expending 1,085 precision-guided munitions,” as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The ship is now bound for its new homeport at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

The resulting lack of Middle East carrier presence — which could be up to two months or more — in U.S. Central Command has been a rare gap in the last decade.

Previous CSG and three-ship Amphibious Ready Group deployments were often extended to meet the demand of U.S. geographic combatant commanders (COCOMs) at the expense of maintenance setbacks and crew fatigue.

Within the last two years the Navy has retooled its deployment patterns to engineer more predictability in maintenance schedules for the ships and deployment schedules for sailors and Marines. The emerging plan would set a goal of seven-month carrier deployments as a part of a 36-month cycle to allow the crew, ships and aircraft of the CSG enough time to reset between deployments.

Last year an extended maintenance period for USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) caused the Navy to delay its deployment for the Eisenhower CSG and instead moved the Truman CSG to follow the Roosevelt CSG.

While the length of the gap in the carrier presence in the Middle East is unclear, the three-ship Kearsarge ARG departed the East Coast last week and is ultimately bound for U.S. Central Command. The ARG reached the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations on Oct. 13 and will support operations in both the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East during its deployment.

Outside of the carrier gap issue, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is now ultimately bound for a new homeport in California in part of a three-carrier swap that moved USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) to a new homeport in Japan as the Navy’s forward-deployed carrier, while previously Japan-based USS George Washington (CVN-73) is bound for Newport News Shipbuilding to begin a four-year, multibillion-dollar midlife overhaul and refueling.

We now have only 5 operational Carrier groups, significant because the Navy says 6 is the minimum needed to meet operational needs, project American Power and protect American interests. 

Since the retirement of the USS Enterprise our 11 carrier Navy has been reduced to 10 with several needing longer periods off-line for maintenance and repairs resulting from longer deployments to cover gaps such as the one in the Middle East. 

Our new carrier, USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) is due to be delivered next year but the Navy Department has already been predicting that she will be unready for deployment for 2 more years. 

The cost of the Ford is nearing 14 billion dollars, almost 7 billion over budget. This is because the Pentagon, and the Federal Government in general, seem completely incompetent when it comes to administering Government Contracts. They always have been and I’m afraid they always will be. This problem hurts us even more severely when we have an economy that has been hurting as badly as ours has these past 8 years. 

Live Long and Prosper...

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