Tuesday, February 07, 2012

CNO Goes Salamander on Ship Numbers


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."
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.
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.

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?

Well, we don't have a CG(X). I think DDG(X) is going to be DDG-51 Flt III. LCS will be ... well ... LCS. I don't think we will build a smaller Amphib than LPD-17 - so what do we do? It is FEB 2012 with 285. By OCT 2012 do I have a bid for 275 as new the official number?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

When we all come back from CENTCOM and hang up our DCUs for the last time, we'd like to know there will be a fleet for us to return to and a mission we can all believe in.

John said...

If Obama gets a second term, put me down in the despair pool at 225.

Only idiots would continue to build LCS for any reason.  Waste of money, with phoney capabilities attributed to them that make them basically meaningless in counting fleet strength.  I guess you can count them as hulls, but it is delusional to count them as warships.

James said...

I've wondered if it might be better for the US to invest in 75-80 or so Absolon class vessels Or a american version there of. This would distribute the firepower of the fleet out over a larger area and give us more platforms to do ALL the odd and in jobs that the navy needs.
Then dedicated Anti-missile captial ships like the DDG-51's and the Tico's then the rest is taken up by the amphibs, carriers, etc.........maybe 12 or so heavy dedicated NGFS ships to use as the battering ram from hell for amphibious ops and such.

James said...

Forgot to add the subs.

Though i wonder if our future subs will have such defined roles as SSBN,SSGN,SSN.

There is a push to extend the virginia hull form and place in a extended magazing for either SLBM or Tomahawks. So maybe our subs are going to become more like DDG'S in some ways.

Old Farter said...

Better hope that INSURV is on their game and that COs don't get canned for speaking up when their ships are broken.   Past time to get serious about training the sailors to do preventive maintenance and repairs. We had the systems and infrastructure in place in the early 90s and systematically dismantled it. Time to dust off those old tech manuals, 3M binders, roll up the sleeves and start turning to.

Snowman said...

Since water is lint, we'll have the Threadbare 30's.

Can we all tap our heels together and say, "500 in the 50's...NIFTY!"  Too much to ask, I guess.

Dayum.

OutlawMike said...

Admiral Greenert's predecessor? Who was that?

(scratch)

(scratch scratch)

.......

(*!)


Ow!

ewok40k said...

I prophesize 200 ship navy by 2020...
at least you are getting some new ships while AF has F-22 slashed when it actually started to drop its price per piece, and is in the limbo with cold war era fighters waiting for the F-35 to overcome its problems - and should it fail there is risk of having to emergency procure some new fighters from abroad (RAF 1940 style...)

Byron said...

First time an LCS sinks during an unexpected storm (yes, weather is unexpected at times) the fleet will get a lot smaller when the Navy parks all the LCS while Congress howls to the wind...

MR T's Haircut said...

Hopefully we wont have to share ships with the Brits and the French...

UltimaRatioRegis said...

What number will the Navy say the current shipbuilding plan will give us?  I axed dem da question at USNI West, (a post yet to be written, BTW) and was told "as far as we know, it is still 313", with an acknowledgement that there is no real intellectual rigor going into the hi-lo mix calculations. 

We will be lucky to have 275 in actual commission by October.  I cannot see the current shipbuilding plan yielding a Navy larger than 215-225 combatants at the end of the Terrible 20s.  That said, I would not be surprised to see 185 if they use the 215-225 figure as the next benchmark to calculate massive cuts.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

And his predecessor's predecessor?

DeltaBravo said...

I WAS GOING TO CALL IT THE THREADBARE 30s.  You beat me to it!  Hmmph.

Alo Konsen said...

Sal, do you have a standalone page somewhere that outlines Plan Salamander?

juan said...

Seems like the only hope is some nearly miraculous improvements in automation. Personnel costs seem to inexorably rise and will eat the budget. No politician will vote to reduce pay and benefits, so the only option is reduction in #s. Perhaps a miracle will occur there.

Another area to hope for a miracle is ship-building. Again maybe some miraculous automation tech will emerge that makes ship-building vastly cheaper. Wouldn't count on it though.

Seems a lot of the strategy of western nations these days is to just ... hope a miracle occurs.

cdrsalamander said...

Personnel costs only rise because we let them rise. If you knew the things the VA spends money on ... and then claims poverty to help actually medical problems - your head would explode.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Bingo.  Personnel costs as a function of loaded labor rate should be consistent with pay rate.  If they are not, something is badly wrong.  Wild guess what it is.... (Phib gets gold star)

Retired Now said...

Paraphrasing a President from first half of last Century:

  Can't we just buy one ship for each coast, and let the boys take turns sailing each ship ?

   Modern Update:   replace "boys" with "boys and girls". 

Retired Now said...

The way NOT to attack total personel costs:  greatly reduce the  crew size on very busy warships. 

Obviously the way to curtail crew costs is to stop things like giving each sailor BAH (tax free) if they are single in port.  What we did back in the 60's and 70's,  a lot of bachelors would get together and share rent of some modest apartment / house.   Now-a-days,  every sailor takes their BAH, and goes out and lives (fairly nicely) off ship.  Might as well, they get up to $2,000 + per month tax free even for Petty Officers !

Here's what NOT to do:   put a 145 person crew total on each 15,000 ton DDG-1000.   That includes the Helo Dets.
Navy should ask USCG what happens when they put a 140 to 150 person crew on their brand new 4,100 ton National NSC cutters ?

Look at recent errors:  too small crews on deploying DDG, CG, LCS.   Reduced crew manning under the excuse of ship automation is just not working  like some leaders and bean counters had hoped.  

arkhangelsk said...

Too late now. You simply cannot take away privileges you've already handed out for some time without making it look like you are depriving them of a right. You might as well propose cutting their pay.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

You sure can cut those benefits. 

Cutting pay and cutting retirement benefits have been on the table for a long time. 

DeltaBravo said...

One interesting effect housing allowances has on a heavily military area is it messes with everyone's prices.  Because the military personnel get that much tax-free extra for housing, the prices go up across the board.  Which then leads to the military NEEDING that extra money to have off-base housing.  If you don't get that allowance.. well..... oh well.

Retired Now said...

What about the concept of the United States Armed Services ??

The word "service" means _________.

So, let's consider unmarried E-1 to E-4 and 0-1 to O-3 as doing "service" to their country for the first 4 or 5 years.

They "serve" their country for 4-5 years at very low pay and live modestly, without tax free BAH while single.

The Armed SERVICES ......    or is that all a distant and antiquated idea now ??

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