US navies and shipyards are badly w-orn out and unable to cope with the load, said the head of the US Fleet Forces Command, Admiral Daryl Caudle. Warships are not being repaired, and the deadlines for the delivery of new ones are constantly being postponed. What this will lead to – in the material of RIA Novosti.
Shortage of shipyards
Admiral Caudle, speaking at the annual Surface Navy Association conference, did not smooth things over and spoke frankly: if the United States gets involved in an armed conflict with a close or equal enemy, the Navy will suffer heavy losses. And there will be nothing to fill them with, since shipbuilding capacities are not enough to repair several large pennants at once. According to the admiral, the worst situation is with aircraft carriers and submarines.
“We don’t have enough dry docks and shipyards,” Caudle emphasized. “And those that we have are working to the limit. And there are no reserves in case of unforeseen circumsta-nces. So, it’s not clear wh-ether it will be possible to keep a nuclear submarine in the fleet ( Submarine) Con-necticut, crashed into an underwater rock in the So-uth China Sea in October last year. It is still awaiting repairs, and when it will be-gin is difficult to say. This is a global problem, and it can become our critical vulnerability in wartime.”
The US Navy spent $2.8 billion between 2015 and 2019 to renovate shipyards. Expected to increase their productivity and efficiency. But, according to a government report, four state-owned enterprises over the years have missed the deadlines for 75 percent of maintenance work on aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. In private companies, the situation is better, but they are mainly engaged in small and medium-sized ships.
The shipyards are very old. For example, Boston is over 200 years old. Of course, the equipment there has been repeatedly changed, but the infrastructure no longer meets modern requirements.
Funding for the navy yards at Portsmouth, Puget Sound and Pearl Harbor needs to be increased first, Caudle said. You should also focus on staff training.
The technical condition of the American fleet has long left much to be desired. In the fall of 2020, a special commission of the Navy reported to Congress about numerous problems with surface ships. Over the past decades, their combat effectiveness has fallen, many are already at “retirement” age. At the same time, the cost of maintaining an aging armada is only growing, creating a serious problem even for the huge US military budget.
Most of the questions are about the power plants: they regularly fail, and the crews have to deal with repairs – right at sea. On more than 30 ships, engine efficiency has dropped by 20 percent in five years. Insecurity and capriciousness, in fact, put an end to the newest high-speed pennants of the Freedom class, which now and then broke down on campaigns. The defect was recognized as a systemic one, and since 2021 the fleet has not been buying these ships.
There is enough head-ache with the Aegis combat information and control system, which, among other things, is responsible for air defense. The destroyers Arleigh Burke and the guided missile cruisers Ticonderoga are equipped with it. However, the system crashes regularly. According to the conclusion of the commission, if the ideal condition of the equipment is equal to one, then the average Aegis combat readiness indicator does not exceed 0.75.
A separate story is devices for takeoff and landing of shipborne helicopters. Their serviceability decreased from 0.77 to 0.68, and failures could lead to tragedy more than once. So, in October 2019, the MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crashed while landing on the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan. Fortunately, there were no casualties. The cause of the accident was an error in the ship’s electrical system, which gave the pilot incorrect data for descent.
Go to scrap metal
As a result, in the coming year, the Navy will write off more than two dozen ships. The list was personally approved by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Michael Gildy. In addition to three Freedom-class pennants, their classmate, the Coronado littoral warship of the Independence project, got there. In August 2016, he returned from the Central Pacific to Hawaii due to an engine failure. Since then, he has hardly gone to sea. Messing with his “childhood diseases” was considered too expensive.
The Ticonderoga missile cruisers will be even tougher. According to the CNO plan, seven of the 22 available — San Jacinto, Lake Champlain, Monterey, Hue City, Anzio, Vella Gulf and Port Royal — will be sent to the reserve. They are close to their 35-year service life limit and cost more than $1.3 billion annually to keep them afloat. And the modernization of only Hue City and Anzio will require another one and a half billion.
Five Cyclone patrol boats – Tempest, Typhoon, Squall, Firebolt and Whirlwind – have been in service since the 1990s and are also rather outdated. They will either be sent for scrap or sold abroad. Five units will remain in the Navy, but they are not much younger and will also be decommissioned in the near future.
The largest pennant that will be withdrawn from the fleet in 2022 is the Whidbey Island landing dock ship with a displacement of 16,000 tons, the lead ship in the project of the same name. He is already 36 years old. The last long-distance cruise was in July 2016: he participated in the international naval exercises Sea Breeze in the Black Sea.