Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How long do we want our ships in service again?

Last week we looked at aircraft maintenance a bit. Let's take some time to look again at ship maintenance.

All the talk the last 18-months about a 355-ship Navy has left me cold for a couple of reasons beyond the budget hole;

1. We have a huge backlog of deferred maintenance and gundecked maintenance needing correction that needs funds.
2. We are not properly budgeting (though indications are improvements are being made here in the last year+), in time or money how much it is going to take to make sure our ships last as long as some want them too.

I have two things for you to consider in line with the above;

First let's check in with Ike;
Aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) will remain tied up in maintenance at Norfolk Naval Shipyard until early 2019, resulting in a maintenance availability about triple the expected six-month length.

Eisenhower is no stranger to overrun availabilities, after its last 14-month docked availability ran about 24 months. The carrier is the second oldest in the fleet at 41 years old – only outdone by lead ship USS Nimitz (CVN-68) at 43 years old – and has been among the hardest-run carriers in the fleet, contributing to its maintenance difficulties.
This is a sober and correct response. We should use this experience to re-calibrate the benchmarks we use to estimate yard time;
“The U.S. Navy is committed to sending to sea ships that are at a peak level of readiness in terms of manning, training and equipment. Anything less is unacceptable,” U.S. Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Cmdr. Dave Hecht told USNI News on Friday.

“In terms of maintenance of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, that is an extremely complex process, especially when it comes to vessels that have been in service for as long as USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. IKE’s maintenance is pressing forward with all expediency, and while delayed, we expect the ship and her crew to return to sea in the near future, fully capable to execute any mission handed to them.”
Next, a picture.

Just look at this PAO pic from the USS WASP (LHD 1). What concerns me more, I don't know; that the ship is in such a condition or that our Navy decided that it was OK to put out a photo demonstrating such as a good-news story.

What message does this send to our friends and potential adversaries? Does this give the impression of a navy on the rise or decline? Of a serious sea power (yes, two words this time), or one that is coasting on reputation and inertia?

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