Will the Navy go out with a whimper instead of a bang?

Preface. This house hearing is about the continuing decline of the Navy There are fewer and fewer ships. The remaining ships are overused, some past their normal lifespan, and under-maintained.

As the U.S. descends into fascist plutocracy enabled by the descent of Americans into the ignorant, conspiratorial, biblical, fake news, and new age myths over 70% of Americans subscribe to, including President Trump,  I can think of nothing better than letting the Navy atrophy, of going out with a whimper instead of an atomic bang.

Why spend trillions on ships that will be rusting and mothballed 15+ years from now as oil continually declines?  If they need to build ships, make then sailing ships, which will also help to keep supply chains going.

Long-term American national security depends far more on stopping topsoil erosion and aquifer depletion than our navy.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]


House 113-7. February 26, 2013. The future of seapower. U.S. House of Representatives.

In January, the Navy presented to Congress a goal of achieving a fleet of 306 ships, a reduction from the previous goal of 313 ships. The fiscal year 2013–2017 5-year shipbuilding plan contains a total of 41 ships, which is 16 ships less than the 57 ships projected for the same period in the fiscal year 2012 budget request. Of this 16-ship reduction, 9 ships were eliminated and 7 ships were deferred to a later time. It should be noted that at its current strength of 286 ships, under the 30-year shipbuilding plan submitted to Congress, the Navy will not achieve its goal of 306 ships until fiscal year 2039. Even worse, the Navy will experience shortfalls at various points in cruisers, destroyers, attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines, and amphibious ships. One would think the number of required ships would have increased instead of decreased with the Navy now bearing the brunt of missile defense missions and the announced rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.

The Navy has been operating in a sustained surge since at least 2004. We have been burning out our ships more quickly because the demand has been high. Indeed, in the past 5 years roughly 25% of destroyer deployments have exceeded the standard deployment length.

And given our past record of meeting long-term goals, I seriously question the viability of the shipbuilding plans presented in the out-years of the 30-year plan.

Another area of concern is the cost of the plan. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in the first 10 years of the 30-year shipbuilding plan that the cost will be 11 percent higher than the Navy’s estimate.

In addition to new construction of ships, I also have concerns on the sustainment of ships already in the fleet. After years of maintenance challenges the Navy has now been forced to cancel numerous ship maintenance availabilities.

A key tenet in the shipbuilding plan is an assumed ship service life for most ships of 35 years. If ships do not get the planned shipyard repairs, attaining this service life will be problematic and ships will be retired prematurely.

In fiscal year 2012, the existing force structure only satisfied 53% of the total combatant commander demand. It has been estimated that to fully support the combatant commander requirements would necessitate a fleet size in excess of 500 ships. Without an increase in force structure this trend would only get worse.

Finally, I think that our Navy needs to place more emphasis on undersea warfare and long-range power projection as part of a strategy to prevent potential adversaries from achieving the benefits offered by anti- access/aerial denial strategies.


First you have to reestablish the commonsense framework for why we need a Navy and where we need it and what kind of a Navy to carry out the task. It was relatively easy for the Reagan administration with a bipolar world in the Cold War. The Soviet threat clarified the mind wonderfully and made our task relatively easy. Today you could argue that the world is a more dangerous place because it is so multi-polar, there are now so many more potential disturbers of the peace all over the world, and yet we are more dependent ever in our history on the free flow of energy and of commerce through the Pacific, Indian Ocean, the Atlantic, Caribbean, and so forth.

We have to have the capability to maintain stability and freedom of the seas wherever our vital interests are involved. We should not be the world’s policeman, but we must be able to give the rest of the world the confidence to know that we are able to maintain the free flow of a global community of commerce and freedom of travel, and that we don’t have today. We don’t need a 600-ship Navy, as we did when we faced the entire Soviet fleet, but we certainly need a good deal more than the 280 ships we have today.

But even more disturbing is what is going on now in the overuse of the assets we have. It is very unfortunate that the institutional memory in the executive branch and in Congress is so short, because we have been down this road before. Both Admiral Roughead and I were in the Navy when we had the exact same situation in the 1970s, and we ran the fleet into the ground. We made deployments, added 50% to deployments time from 6 months to 9 months, just as the Administration has decided to do now. And we did not put—we, the U.S. Government—did not put the money into repairs and overhaul. And as a result the Navy dropped to the lowest readiness ever, where the former chief of naval of operations testified to this committee that we would lose a war if we ended up going into a conflict, and that was not an assessment lightly taken.


As we look at the world today, while it is generally conducive to our interests, it is still a messy place, with disorder and disruption in more areas than just 10 or 15 years ago. And as we look out over that world and as the only global navy, you do have to ask yourself what is the size, what is the capability that you want resident in the Navy that is to be provided and maintained by the Congress. I think it is important as we look at building and maintaining a navy that you can’t decouple it from the industrial base of the Nation. And I think that all too often is overlooked. I think the messiness of the world is spreading. We have been able in recent years to essentially be absent in the Mediterranean. I believe the future is not going to give us that luxury. I think North Africa and the Arab awakening, the Levant, Israel, Syria, energy deposits that are expected to be found in the Eastern Mediterranean are going to inject some friction and potential conflict and a presence will be required there.

Even though we talk about a rebalanced Asia, we are not turning away from the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf and the importance that that geographic area has on the global economy. And in a few years the Arctic is going to open, and the Arctic is an ocean. I refer to it as the opening of the fifth ocean. And so what sort of a force do you need there, what are the numbers that you need there? And all of that needs to be taken into account.

In the Air Force the average age of an airplane is something like 28 years.

Mr. LEHMAN. I would not pick a specific risk, because I think when you have to stretch as thin as we are now already stretched, when we can’t meet deployments that everyone, every combatant commander believes is minimally necessary, that we can’t protect all of our ships, commercial ships in the Indian Ocean, for instance, the first time in history that the U.S. Navy has told ships they have to stay 600 miles away from the east coast of Africa because we can’t protect you. So the danger is when you are stretched that thin, an incident happens, and because you have the number of submarines deploying with a Marine amphibious group, that some North Korean submarine happens to get a shot off the way they did to the South Koreans and sinks an entire aircraft carrier of marines and equipment, that is catastrophic. What that would that do to world markets, to our economy, we would be in the tank overnight. Nobody sleeps well if they are depending on the North Koreans or the Iranians not doing anything irresponsible. We are there now, so I wouldn’t say that you could pick a time where it gets worse. Obviously the fewer ships we have the more that makes us vulnerable to unforeseen events. And they happen. As any student of history knows, they will happen.

We clearly are already at the tipping point, best expressed in the book by Lee Kuan Yew. He is one of the wisest global viewers of this century or last century. And he says the U.S. is declining and that people in his neighborhood do not believe they can rely on the U.S. as they have in the past. But the perception in Asia is that we are not going to be able to do much in the future, which begets the temptation of disturbers of the peace like North Korea to go beyond prudent risk. So we are already there.

Currently the Navy has 286 ships. In order to pay for even drastically reduced current operations, the Administration will be retiring a score or more of modern combat ships (cruisers and amphibious vessels and frigates) well before their useful life. In order to reach a 350-ship fleet in our lifetime, we would need to increase shipbuilding to an average of 15 ships every year. The latest budget the administration has advanced proposes buying just 41 ships over five years. It is anything but certain that the administration’s budgets will sustain even that rate of only eight ships per year, but even if they do, the United States is headed for a Navy of 240-250 ships at best. So how is the Obama administration getting to a 300-ship Navy? It projects a huge increase in naval shipbuilding beginning years down the road, most of which would come after a second Obama term. In other words, the administration is radically cutting the size and strength of the Navy now, while trying to avoid accountability by assuming that a future president will find the means to fix the problem in the future. This compromises our national security. The Navy is the foundation of America’s economic and political presence in the world. Other nations, like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, are watching what we do-and on the basis of the evidence, they are undoubtedly concluding that America is declining in power and resolution. Russia and China have each embarked on ambitious and enormously expensive naval buildups with weapons designed specifically against American carriers and submarines.

The Department of Defense acquisition process is seriously broken. Under the current system, it takes decades, not years, to develop and field weapons systems. Even worse, an increasing number of acquisition programs are plagued by cost over runs, schedule slips and failures to perform. The many horror stories like the F-35, the Air Force tanker scandal, the Navy shipbuilding failures and the Army armor disasters are only the visible tip of an iceberg. The major cause has been unbridled bureaucratic bloat (e.g.690,000 DoD civilians, 250 uniformed Joint task forces) resulting in complete loss of line authority and accountability. As the House Armed Services Committee formally concluded: “Simply put, the Department of Defense acquisition process is broken. The ability of the Department to conduct the large scale acquisitions required to ensure our future national security is a concern of the committee. The rising costs and lengthening schedules of major defense acquisition programs lead to more expensive platforms fielded with fewer numbers. That is, of course, an understatement. We are really engaged in a form of unilateral disarmament through runaway costs. Unless the acquisition system is fixed it will soon be impossible to maintain a military of sufficient size and sophistication with which to secure our liberties and protect the national interest.

MILITARY COMPENSATION Just as entitlements are steadily squeezing out discretionary spending in the Federal budget, personnel costs in the Pentagon are squeezing out operations and modernization. There has not been a comprehensive overhaul of military compensation, retirement, and medical care since the original Gates Commission during the Nixon Administration. It is long overdue.



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One Response to Will the Navy go out with a whimper instead of a bang?

  1. I says:

    Navy ships as they exist now are starting to be useless, not through neglect, but through obsolescence. A few thousand air and submerged drones, packed with high explosives, in a swarm attack could take out any military ship in existence.

    At this point, ships are pork barrel for congress, little more.