Actually - that is being a little like taking credit for water being wet, but considering that as an organization we have gone years telling everyone that water was actually more like lint - I take the following as a very good sign for our Navy. Very good sign.
... the Navy's top officer is telling his sailors that the active fleet will be about the same size in five years as it is now, despite recently announced plans to retire a bunch of ships early and to not build as many new ones as planned.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, told sailors and Marines here that the number of ships in the fleet in 2017 "will be about the same, 285, but it won't be going up as high as we wanted."We have been discussing for years that a combination of forces; the high unit-cost Tiffany Navy we spent a decade planning, the predictable results of deferred maintenance and accrued degeneration of existing ships by the reality-ignoring "Optimal Manning Cult," the predictable post-war budget pressures, and in the last 3+ years the clear coming debt crisis - we knew that 313 was going to be a never-was-has-been.
The Navy has planned for at least 313 ships in the battle fleet for years, and has counted on rapid procurement of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and serial production of the Arleigh Burke destroyers and Virginia-class attack submarines to help reach that number.
And to make our problem even more acute - Admiral Greenert's predecessor (under his eyes) expended a lot of the Navy's intellectual goodwill and credibility on The Hill by putting out unrealistic, rosy-scenario predictions of our shipbuilding future.
There are more challenges on the way. As outlined in URR's post on the USS ESSEX (LHD-2), the condition of our ships is worse than even the Church of Miss Mary Dark Cloud - which I am an elder of - have warned. This will apply downward pressure on ship numbers in the "out years."
The past is the past - I hope that the 285 is just the start of an open and honest discussion of the actual condition of our Fleet and future force levels. Is 285 is too high? I think so, as we have still not fully digested what will happen in the Terrible 20s. In my dark moments I think of a 2030 Fleet of 220, but 240-50 is probably closer.
Wait until we find that LCS - which will be a huge % of the Fleet when we come out of the Terrible 20s - actually has an average life of 20-25 years as they were never designed to have a long life, will be asked to do more than expected, and will have more and more weight added over time. Let's see. When will LCS start dropping off when they reach 20-25 years service? Oh, thats right; the end of the Terrible 20s.
Ungh. Do we call the next decade; the Torturous 30s? What do do?