As China’s Navy continues to expand its capabilities, it now outpaces that of the U.S. in size and strength. China’s warships are equipped with the latest second-to-none technology which would make for an unfair fight against opposing forces who would likely lose their gunfights at sea. Embarrassingly, the U.S. Navy knows they’ve missed the mark and it has little choice but to decommission some of its outdated battleships that are only three years old.
Warships are typically in service for 30-35 years. Somewhere around the 15-year point, they receive a total overhaul with the latest technology to keep them battle-worthy. Admiral Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, let the House Armed Services Committees that the Navy’s anti-submarine ships aren’t worth updating or keeping. They can’t do what they are supposed to do.
“I refuse to put an additional dollar against a system that would not be able to track a high-end submarine in today’s environment,” Gilday clearly stated. He said the anti-submarine systems on the relatively new ships “did not work out technically.”
Gilday said that by not sending the warships to sea as sitting ducks, the Navy could save as much as $391 million in FY23. There was no mention of the sailors on board who’d get buried at sea, but expendable items are inconsequential in such high-level meetings.
That’s a lot of loot except when compared to the $3.2 billion U.S. taxpayers spent to build the nine worthless ships. The USS Witchita, USS Indianapolis, and USS Billings rolled off the assembly line in 2019. They were obsolete prior to the last bolt and nut going in place. The other six being put to rest are around the same age.
As the egg is still dripping off the Navy’s face, it now has to get the decommissioning plan through Congress which will be no easy feat. Congress has never acted favorably toward these types of requests even when ships had some age on them.
But this time around could have a different outcome seeing as how the U.S. Navy is swallowing the wake of the Chinese. Without a larger fleet of more advanced warships, they’ll drown. It’s quite the dilemma.
Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith, said of the ships, “We can’t use them, number one because they’re not ready to do anything. Number two, when they are, they still break down.”
“They’re incredibly expensive, and they don’t have the capabilities that we expected. So regardless of how old they are, that’s a lot of money to be spent to get pretty close to nothing,” he continued.
The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, criticized the Navy via Twitter.
“With the Chinese Navy steadily climbing to 460 ships by 2030, the unforced errors in Navy shipbuilding, like the Littoral Combat Ship, must stop. Programs that can scale up and grow our fleet must be the priority,” his tweet read.
The role of the nine littoral ships included anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, and mine counterparts. The idea was to create one modular design that could do it all.
A highly respected researcher at the University of London who focuses on US military weapons manufacturers, Emma Salisbury, said, “It was basically this magical design that would solve everything. So that was the problem – that, because it had all of these options, it never did any of them very well.”
Pinning blame for the defunct ships would be an impossible task with so many hands involved. It would only prove counterproductive. The main focus for anyone with no interest in furthering a political career should be the lives of our brave and rugged sailors who lay it all on the line when called to do so, without hesitation.
Ultimately, if Congress approves the Navy’s request, it’ll be American taxpayers who’ll pay the price for the expensive blunder. But we also can’t send our ocean warriors to their certain deaths.
Catching up with the Chinese will be a rigorous task that’ll take time. Time we only hope we still have enough of. The average build time for one of these babies is 3-5 years. Oops…