The Biden-controlled U.S. Navy is planning to further reduce America’s naval fleet by eliminating another 24 ships, some only a decade old, even as China vastly increases its blue-water forces.
The U.S. Navy is floating the plan of eliminating a large portion of its Freedom-class littoral combat ships that were originally conceived as lightly armed, fast-moving, coastal patrol ships to be used to combat pirates and other unorganized threats across the world.
The LCS fleet cost $4.5 billion to construct, according to the Associated Press.
But now, the Navy brass want to take its first four LCS ships out of commission and place much of the rest in inactive reserve.
The oldest of these ships is only ten years old. And some of them only recently left drydock and were put into commission. But the Navy claims that the move would free up $50 million per ship per year that could be used elsewhere in the Navy budget.
However, the plan may be a hard sell in the halls of Congress, where many representatives are already worried that the U.S. Navy is dwarfed in size compared to China, a country that is rapidly increasing the size and capacity of its own naval forces.
Still, Admiral Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, defended the move, saying that the Navy needs to reconfigure its defense posture to blue-water ships — instead of those that patrol shallow costal waters, such as the LCS force — to face the growing threats the U.S. faces today.
“We need a ready, capable, lethal force more than we need a bigger force that’s less ready, less lethal, and less capable,” Gilday said on Monday during a visit to the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space symposium in Maryland.
There is more to the Navy’s plan, though. Gilday noted that the Navy is not just looking to eliminate its LCS class but is also looking to dump five cruisers and a pair of Los Angeles-class submarines, as well.
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The Navy is planning to replace that huge reduction with a mere nine new, more modern blue-water ships.
Despite worries about force reduction that might goad Congress to keep them active, the LCS force was beset by cost overruns and manufacturing defects from the start.
The ships were designed to have combat modules that could be added or removed at will, depending on the mission the ship was assigned to perform, but many of the removable modules had manufacturing problems.
There were so many defects in the LCS systems that Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, blasted the Navy and warned it to be sure that “moving forward the Navy must avoid similar acquisition disasters.”
Then there were the “green” worries inherent in the LCS supercharged engines that environmental critics called gas-guzzlers. While making the ships very fast, they still did not offer much of a military edge.
U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D. -Va.) also blasted the Navy, saying, “The Navy owes a public apology to American taxpayers for wasting tens of billions of dollars on ships they now say serve no purpose.”
Luria has a point, of course. The LCS systems were conceived and manufactured in a knee-jerk reaction to the War on Terror. They were often criticized as a solution looking for a problem and an unnecessary expense.
Regardless of that specific criticism, analysts have been warning for years that the U.S. Navy continues to weaken itself and downsize away from a blue-water force, even while our enemies increase their blue-water capacity.
Back in 2015, for instance, Naval War College professor Peter Dombrowski noted in the National Interest that “all three Sea Services are in trouble. The Navy is operating, and has operated for a long-time, at a barely sustainable operational tempo.”
Dombrowski also noted that the Coast Guard’s fleet was seriously depleted and the U.S. Marines had fallen away from their Naval operations training. His opinion has been echoed for years by many naval analysts.
Just last year, the U.S. Navy was rated as “marginal” and approaching a “weak” rating in its ability to defend America’s vital national security interests, USNI News reported.
This isn’t even to mention the left’s campaign to emphasize wokeness in our armed forces, something that is also weakening our national security.
In a warning on that issue, a report titled “The Fighting Culture of the United States Surface Fleet” which was prepared by two retired members of the Navy brass, Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle and Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, claimed that readiness skills in the fleet have degraded because of an obsessive focus on diversity, coupled with thin resources.
Obviously, having the largest naval fleet is no guarantee of victory. But every time the Democrats take control of the White House and Congress, our armed forces are materially undermined, reduced, defunded and weakened. And once again, with Biden in the lead, Democrats are looking to continue gutting our Navy.