The painful points of the U.S. Navy: is the U.S. fleet in trouble?

The painful points of the U.S. Navy: is the U.S. fleet in trouble?
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The U.S. Navy’s ageing surface fleet is becoming more difficult to maintain and is generally showing a deteriorating condition in several key areas, such as propulsion plants, electrical systems and Aegis, Defense News reports with reference to an annual report from the U.S. Navy Inspection and Survey Board.

Ageing fleet

In more than 30 surface ship inspections in 2019, the Navy recorded a 20% drop in the scores of the main propulsion plant between 2014 and 2019 and another 20% drop in the scores of the ship’s electrical systems, says David B. Larter’s article.

The Aegis system—the heart of cruiser and destroyer combat systems—experienced “a slight but worrying decline” from 0.88 points in 2017 to 0.77 in 2019.

At the same time, the result of the evaluation of aviation systems, launch systems and recovery of rotary-wing aircraft decreased from 0.77 in 2014 to 0.68 in 2019.

Part of the problem, according to the publication, is that the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet is ageing. All cruisers are approaching their 35 years of expected hull life, and the first 27 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are not far from them.

In this context, “the general perspective on how the Navy is deployed must change if significant progress is to be made,” said Bryan Clark, a retired U.S. Navy submarine officer and a member of the Hudson Institute.

The problems with new ships

Meanwhile, U.S. Navy inspectors encountered serious technical problems in the three classes of new ships at the Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard, according to an unclassified report sent to Congress earlier this year, referred to by David B. Larter in his other recent article.

Thus, the destroyer Paul Ignatius, the amphibious assault ship Tripoli and the Portland showed several problems. The last, for example, had failures of propulsion plants, the anchor, the generators and the radars.

Nor does the most expensive ship in history work ideally: the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) nuclear aircraft carrier of the US Navy, valued at about $ 13 billion. In June 2020, the crew was forced to suspend their activities due to a malfunction detected during a test drive.