January 4, 2017 by JImbo
I didn’t entirely believe it when I saw the headlines that “All US aircraft carriers are docked at once! First time in 70 years!”
So, as usual I did the research.
Turns out it’s true for the most part.
(old photo, used for reference photo of carriers in port, not actual carrier disposition. Eisenhower is not yet back in port for example.)
(source STRATFOR intelligence analysis website)
The “Amphibious ships” are aircraft carriers technically, but they’re not generally considered “real” ones since they just have helicopters on board usually. Sometimes a jump-jet, but not a full sized carrier. They are usually configured with lots of transport helicopters to carry Marines to shore, not bomb things.
The Eisenhower already spent 7 months bombing ISIS and is headed home. As such it’s not really available for operations. The crew is tired, the stores depleted and it’s headed home to resupply and repair.
So, while two ships carrying airplanes are technically on the water, the headlines are roughly correct for practical intents and purposes. Out of 10 active full deck carriers, not one is ready to deploy.
Why is this?
Depends on who you ask. The Navy is claiming that due to “lack of funds” it takes longer to turn the ships around and resupply them in port. The right-wing blogs say it’s all a big conspiracy to cause another Pearl Harbor or something. The White House says it’s because we are “not engaged in any conflicts at present.”
(Yes, the bombing of ISIS, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc… not conflicts. I bet they will be once Trump gets into office…and they’ll all be HIS fault… wanna bet?)
The REAL issue isn’t that ships go to port to resupply and upgrade. The point is that ever since World War 2, we have managed to schedule them so that they aren’t ALL doing it at the same time.In the past they’ve always found ways to stagger the refitting schedules so they weren’t ALL unavailable at the SAME TIME.
Not only that, but nearly the ENTIRE Navy is in port.
(Source: US Navy Website- http://www.gonavy.jp/CVLocation.html)
Not just the carriers…but almost EVERYTHING. The Navy website lists only 30 out of 274 deployable ships are actually out of port. That’s 11%. So that means that 89% of our Navy is sitting in port. That’s unprecedented in at least the past 75 years.
I’m going to guess that most of those 30 ships are nuclear subs. I sure hope so. We’re supposed to keep at least a third of our subs underway and in deep water to have a nuclear strike option with ballistic missiles in case of the “big one.”
We have about 69 subs. So, a third of them underway is about 23. I know there is one helicopter-carrier (USS Makin Island) underway with a battle group of about a half dozen surface ships and a couple subs per standard SOP.
Given the Navy’s figures…that’s about it. Once you take out the subs and the one carrier with escorts…that’s the entire US Navy outside of port right now. Not a single big deck carrier. Maybe one cruiser. A couple destroyers.
I’m not saying it’s some massive conspiracy. It could be simply incompetence at the top. Maybe it’s just terrible planning. Maybe it’s political maneuvering to prove a point. Is it that we are “at peace” if the ships are in port? Is the Navy trying to point out how they can’t afford to be sailing ships and flying planes without more money? Maybe it’s just on pouting president outgoing and wanting to throw every monkey wrench he can into the next president’s gears.
Any way you slice it, it’s NOT good for national security. It takes weeks to get a ship on station. If something explodes overseas, or there is a tsunami or earthquake, we will NOT have any ships nearby. Period.
Any way you slice it, someone at the TOP made the decision to ground virtually our entire Navy (89% of it) at the same time. There are only really three people that could manage that.
The Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of Defense
And the President has the final say.