Few if any civilians understand the complexity of purchasing Naval ships; nor, until they are battle ready just how long and difficult the journey is for each commissioned ship.
Sometimes it is good to really think about what it takes to make sure our superiority in combat on land, sea, and in the air is on target. Like mortgages on our homes, they have to be planned for and each year paid down on, until they are ready to go to sea.
These extremely sophisticated and important tools in our military are essential to provide for our defense and sovereignty. There has been some discussion on usefulness of particular ships but regardless of those discussions, our Navy truly needs to maintain a high level of sea priority and superiority to patrol and defend when called upon.
Navy to Commission Littoral Combat Ship, “Omaha”
Dept. of Defense
February 1, 2018
The Navy will commission its newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Omaha (LCS 12), during a ceremony Saturday in San Diego, California.
The future USS Omaha, designated LCS 12, is the eleventh littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the sixth of the Independence-variant design. It is the fourth warship named for the Nebraska state capital.
“Omaha and her sister ships represent an investment in our Nation, the result of the partnership between the Department of the Navy and our shipbuilding industry. American craftsmen in Mississippi, Alabama, around the country have made USS Omaha possible” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer.
“The LCS fills a unique mission for the United States Navy and as these remarkable ships continue to be produced out of our shipyards, they represent an increase in our readiness and lethality.”
In December 2016, the Navy requested the number of ships be significantly raised from the current fleet of 275 ships to 355 ships. They originally had requested that the level be 308 ships. Toward that goal the CBO did a cost estimate plan.
Ships are extremely expensive and take a very long time to build from the time the contract is accepted until it becomes a part of the fleet and is commissioned. According to the CBO, yearly cost estimates for the original number and then any up to the total of 355 ships would have to be spread over 15-30 years and could cost taxpayers a low average of $27 billion per year in 2017 dollars. Then there is the cost of maintenance and repairs that every ship needs at one time or another.
The CBO estimates to establish a 355-ship fleet, the Navy would need to purchase around 329 new ships over 30 years, compared with the 254 ships that would be purchased under the Navy’s 2017 shipbuilding plan. In particular, over the next five years, the Navy would need to purchase about 12 ships per year under CBO’s alternatives compared with about 8 per year under the Navy’s 2017 plan.
So when I say that in 2017 the United States Navy saw some big leaps forward over the last year, we need to all remember that those ships started the process possibly fifteen years before. A total of eight ships were commissioned in 2017, including the first of a new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, an expeditionary support base, and two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers. Only five were commissioned in 2016.
The loss of even one ship is tragic but over the last two years, the Navy has seen an unusually high number of accidents involving ships. Accidents prior to that were one in 2014 and one in 2004. We lost seventeen crew members in total and sustained numerous injuries from these four accidents.
- 08/2017 – Navy guided-missile destroyer, the John S. McCain, collided with an oil tanker
- 06/2017 – Navy destroyer, the Fitzgerald, broadsided by a Philippines-registered cargo ship
- 05/2017 – Navy guided-missile cruiser, the Lake Champlain, collided with South Korean fishing boat
- 08/2016 – Navy nuclear ballistic-missile submarine, the Louisiana, and the Military Sealift Command support vessel, the Eagleview, collided during routine operations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the coast of Washington State
The next time we get a chance to see a ship glide into harbor, take a moment to appreciate that our tax dollars build and maintain these rolling navy communities. They aren’t just for show of strength but represent an unparalleled way of conveyance and sophisticated communications needed for battle as well as for other assistance on the high seas.