The US Navy wants to decommission its entire fleet of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers by 2027 due to its costly repair work, USNI News revealed.
The repair work was intended to keep half of the fleet’s 22 cruisers, built from 1980 to 1994, operational into the 2030s.
However, if the navy’s plan to decommission the fleet passes Congressional scrutiny, only 12 of the vessels would be left by the 2023 financial year, the outlet added.
The navy wants to decommission five cruisers — USS Vicksburg, USS Bunker Hill, USS Mobile Bay, USS San Jacinto, and USS Lake Champlain — by 2023 in addition to the five others that have already been approved for retirement this year.
Expensive Repair Work
Deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities, Vice Adm. Scott Conn, was quoted by the outlet as saying, “It really comes down to – for these ships that are all over 30-years-old – whether we want to continue to pour resources into them from a modernization perspective when only one of the five has actually been delivered.”
“Congress may not be happy, they may push back. So it’s just a part of our ‘get real’ perspective in the Navy in terms of assessing where we are. And is the investment we continue to make on these ships going to give us a return from a warfighting capability perspective?”
Lack of Alternatives
Despite the spiraling cost of keeping the aging cruisers afloat, Congress is reluctant to decommission them too rapidly.
The navy wants to temporarily replace the cruiser with the upcoming Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, scheduled for commissioning in 2023, until the DDG(X) class enters service by 2028.
According to the outlet, the fleet decommissioning plan is expected to receive pushback from Congress, particularly due to the rising Chinese threat against Taiwan.
What Critics Say
Citing Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), The National Interest wrote that the decommissioning would result in the US Navy losing around “1,200 missile tubes, and with them, a significant portion of the military’s maritime strike capabilities. That is, if it is allowed to retire all of the cruisers that it wants in the timeframe that it seeks.”
Another critic of the decommissioning, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), told UNI News last year, “It’s a ship that we have, and the cost of modernizing and upgrading it for extending its service life 10 or so years is significantly lower than building a new ship.”
“We need to look at what we have today and how we can use it and how we can use it most efficiently. The idea of divesting of current platforms that still have usable service life in order to invest in something that we might develop the technology for in the future – paired with our poor track record on [developing new] platforms – just makes absolutely no sense to me.”