Saturday, October 4, 2014

I'd Like This Gift Wrapped Please

What a cool story. The government finally did something right for a change.

A 30 Ton Gift
The U.S. Navy's oldest nuclear aircraft carrier has given a piece of itself to one of the younger carriers in the fleet.

Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding said this week that its workers had transferred an anchor from the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the Navy's first and oldest nuclear carrier, to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), a Nimitz-class carrier launched in 1988.

The Enterprise, which was launched in 1960, was inactivated in 2012 and is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2016. Once its nuclear fuel and reactors are removed, it will be cut up for scrap. It has been at the Virginia shipyard for the de-fueling process.

The Lincoln is in the same shipyard for what is called a refueling and complex overhaul. "During this multi-year process, every inch of the carrier is updated or refurbished, including its two massive anchors," the shipyard said in a statement.

When it was found that one of the Lincoln's 30-ton anchors needed to be replaced (side note: Why did the anchor need to be replaced? How do you break or wear out a 30 ton hunk of metal? Anyway, back to the story.) crews turned to the Enterprise, which had an exact match that would have been headed to the scrap heap with the rest of the five-decade-old ship.

"With this anchor, both ships will be linked, and Lincoln will carry Enterprise's spirit as it returns to the fleet," Chris Miner, Newport News' vice president of in-service aircraft carrier programs, said in a statement.

That anchor move may assuage some Navy enthusiasts, who have pushed for a new Navy vessel to carry the name Enterprise once the current ship finally leaves the fleet. The carrier now docked in Newport News is the eighth American warship to carry the Enterprise name. The Naval Vessel Register, the service's official list of ships, shows the Enterprise name assigned to hull number CVN-80, a proposed aircraft carrier yet to be authorized or funded by Congress.
Sigh ... if there's one thing that's indispensable in our arsenal, it's aircraft carriers. One would hope that even our dysfunctional government could figure that out, and take action to ensure we have what we need to protect our national interests. Even Bill Clinton gets it.
"When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident that the first question that comes to everyone's lips is: 'Where's the nearest carrier?'"

President Bill Clinton
March 12, 1993
aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt  
And yet:
The Navy’s in a carrier crunch. US commanders around the world keep asking for carriers to cover trouble spots from Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan to the Western Pacific and the South China Sea, but the Navy doesn’t have enough to go around. And they may well lose another.

In recent years, amazingly, the Navy has managed to increase the number of aircraft carriers deployed overseas at any given time even as the total number of carriers in service decreased. But the price was high: extra-long deployments, stressed-out crews, and overworked ships requiring extensive and expensive unplanned maintenance...

“We currently are an 11-carrier navy in a 15-carrier world,” (Rep. Randy Forbes, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower) said, referring to repeated Navy studies that say only a fleet of 15 could meet global demand. But Forbes — a legislator — is citing the law, which requires an 11 carrier fleet: In fact, we’re down to 10.

Congress was told the drop to 10 aircraft carriers would be temporary. It was supposed to just require a waiver of the statutory requirement between the retirement of the 50-year-old USS Enterprise last December and the 2016 commissioning of the high-tech and high-cost USS Ford. But if the president’s fiscal year 2015 request actually does cut a carrier, and if Congress actually approves that cut, then we would never get back to 11.
Much more at the link. Interesting, if sobering, reading.


Old NFO said...

And it's NOT just carriers... 8-10 month deployments are the 'new' norm. This administration is gutting the Navy. Period. End of subject...

CenTexTim said...

Gutting not just the Navy but the entire military. And by making a mess out of the Mideast he's forcing the next president to rebuild the military to take care of business there.