Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US

219

Published on

With all the recent talk about sacrificing a supercarrier, I model the implications of four scenarios: (1) the current plan for the fleet, (2) a halt to all supercarrier construction, (3) a halt to …

With all the recent talk about sacrificing a supercarrier, I model the implications of four scenarios: (1) the current plan for the fleet, (2) a halt to all supercarrier construction, (3) a halt to both construction and refueling, and (4) a halt to construction, a long-term commitment to refueling, and the mothballing of two ships now as fleet replacements later in the decade. The last case would maintain a fleet of about eight usable supercarriers through about 2031, but with about $30 billion less spending over the next ten years.

Published in: Business, News & Politics
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
219
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Hasik Analytic LLC Naval Holiday? Some financial and industrial analysis of a hiatus from carrier construction in the US With all the recent talk about sacrificing a supercarrier, I model the implications of four scenarios: (1) the current plan for the fleet, (2) a halt to all supercarrier construction, (3) a halt to both construction and refueling, and (4) a halt to construction, a long-term commitment to refueling, and the mothballing of two ships now as fleet replacements later in the decade. The last case would maintain a fleet of about eight usable supercarriers through about 2031, but with about $30 billion less spending over the next ten years. Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum #2011-07, 9 September 2011 James Hasik +1-512-299-1269 www.hasikanalytic.com THE BACKGROUND As I noted on my blog recently, If you are interested in aircraft carriers, I strongly recommend Robert C. Rubelʼs article, “The Future of Aircraft Carriers,” in the latest issue of Naval War College Review.1 I will state up front that I have some quibbles with individual items. I notably donʼt care for his assertion that ships like American America-class and the British Invincible- class are not “true aircraft carriers”—if the shipʼs primary mission is to carry aircraft, then what else would we call it? But otherwise, it represents some very good thinking on the issue. Particularly helpful is Rubelʼs brief, high-level history of the evolution of aircraft carriersʼ roles, particularly in American service: 1. Scouts for the fleet (back in the day, for the battleships) 2. Hit-and-run raiders 3. Capital ships meant for the destruction of the enemy battle fleet 4. Nuclear strike platforms (mostly in an interservice competition with the USAF)
  • 2. 5. Mobile, self-protecting airfields afloat While even today, American supercarriers perform most of these roles, it is mostly the last that is their stock-in-trade. For as a writer in Naval Institute Proceedings recently put it, in the past few decades, war at sea has largely been replaced by war from the sea. (And I think that I read some Navy Department white paper with that title once...) But the first trouble for the carrier enthusiasts, as Rubel tells it, is that not all these roles are equally important anymore. For example, the raiding role has largely been taken up with cruise missile-carrying submarines. For a short-duration strike, a $2 billion submarine with a crew of 100 is a lot more affordable than a $10 billion carrier with a crew of several thousand—and that whole air wing as well. Even the mobile airfield role seems not as important as it once was. The entire air campaign against the Qaddafyists in Libya was usefully supported by aircraft carriers, at various times including the Kearsarge, Enterprise, Garibaldi, and Charles de Gaulle. But the entire campaign could have been run without any of them. For as the Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton put it a few months ago, “on the periphery of Europe,” land-based fighter-bombers flying from secure NATO airfields can usually do the work of aircraft carriers considerably more cost-effectively.2 The second trouble flows from improvements in the speed and accuracy of antiship missiles, whether ballistic or cruising, and the range and fidelity of electronic scouting systems. Counter- scouting is absolutely an option, but itʼs not foolproof. As American fighter-bombers today have considerably shorter ranges than American carrier aircraft of the 1940s (and I will address that at the end), the modern supercarriers wouldnʼt be approaching the fight with a great deal of standoff—at least not without an airplane like Northrop Grummanʼs forthcoming attack drone. THE PROBLEM The third trouble, if one that Rubel does not directly address, is that the American federal government is essentially out-of-money. This has put everything into play as a possible source of budgetary savings, including those heretofore sacrosanct supercarriers. But fortunately, the situation is not so grim if we can glom up to a few more-than-plausible hypotheses: A. Supercarriers are not exactly critical anymore in the Atlantic B. Supercarriers are still essential in the Pacific, even with all those scary Chinese missiles3 C. All that deploying and “presence” is not as useful as the Navy pretends Hypothesis (A) has substantially been proven by the campaign in Libya: the Navy doesnʼt really send carrier strike groups into the Mediterranean anymore, and this just hasnʼt been a problem, Arab Spring or not. Besides, despite all the recent grousing about European commitment to military strength, the Mediterranean can more than adequately be patrolled and secured by the French, Italian, and Spanish navies. They have, if you havenʼt noticed, more than a few ships. Hypothesis (B) seems self-evident, though it should be noted that presence, such as it is, in the western Pacific is pretty adequately provided by that supercarrier permanently stationed in Japan. That gets to hypothesis (C): with just seventy aircraft, individual carrier air wings donʼt frequently deter actual wars. Making that impression requires several carriers, and thus a sailing of the Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 2 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 3. fleet from American ports. With the assumption of the sudden-strike role by submarines, theyʼre also not needed for those much-beloved short-notice smack-downs. In short, it might be time to save a lot of money in steaming back-and-forth by keeping much more of the fleet closer to home. That was, after all, pretty much the way the US Navy operated until the aftermath of the Second World War. And in case no one has noticed, the Cold War is really, really over. Then, without the urge to deploy constantly to the far side of the world, and without the need to balance the fleet between the Atlantic and Pacific, the US Navy could adopt a very different approach to its carrier strike groups. If the six carriers assigned to the Pacific Fleet are today adequate to the job of deterring or defeating some future Chinese malfeasance, then they might be presumed to be all thatʼs needed on that side of the world. Itʼs the five carriers of the Atlantic Fleet, all homeported at the moment in Hampton Roads, that are less valuable. If two would do the job, so that one was always available in a pinch, then are three more excess to real needs? At this moment, anyone from the Virginia congressional delegation reading this might be having a coronary attack. But thatʼs just the geopolitical reality laid bare by the campaign of the past several months. A fleet of eight supercarriers—would this be so problematic to American security? MODELING SOME OPTIONS If not—and I hazard the guess not—then how might this work? Word holds that the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department have been kicking around all sorts of ideas, but they fall into four basic categories: ✦ Stretching out construction of a carrier, either the Gerald R. Ford or the John F. Kennedy ✦ Skipping the construction of the Kennedy entirely ✦ Skipping the refueling of carriers soon needing new reactor cores, notably the Abraham Lincoln or the George Washington ✦ Placing some carriers in reserve, afloat but mostly just tied to a pier I will take this a step further: skipping construction of both the Kennedy (CVN-79) and the as-yet unnamed next carrier (CVN-80) would resemble a building holiday like that of the 1920s and early 1930s—an extended stretch in which the average age of the fleet grows by a year every year, but in which the Navy Department has the resources needed to experiment with new concepts. That skipping a generation of weapons thing worked rather well back in the Interwar period, when the sea services cooked up ideas like dive bombing and proper amphibious assaults. (And I will address this scenario in greater detail below.) Putting some numbers to these ideas is pretty important, so on the next page, I offer some very rough estimates for the annual cost of a supercarrier, depending on what one is doing with that carrier. The estimates come from a variety of sources listed in the notes at the end of this paper. If these figures seem rough, itʼs important to note that the Navy itself frequently doesnʼt know what these will turn out to be. The recent drydocking of the Enterprise, for example, was supposed to have cost about $400 million. Eventually several months behind schedule, the project came to cost closer to $650 million. That is, if the numbers are not to your liking, substitute your own—the structure of the model is possibly the bigger insight here. Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 3 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 4. Table Zero: Rough estimates for the annual cost of an American supercarrier Ship status Very rough annual costs in billions Active $0.4 B; about $0.3 B for personnel and $0.1 B for operations & maintenance Building $2.0 B; about $10 B per ship over a five-year building cycle RCOH $1.0 B; about $3.0 B per ship over a roughly three-year cycle Disposal $1.0 B to remove, clean up, and bury what remains of the reactor cores Stricken Zero, since whatʼs left of a gutted carrier will likely be scuttled Layup $0.1 B, as an upper limit (certainly not more than the O&M of an active ship) Armed with these figures, I can propose some alternatives, and calculate costs. To do so, I postulate a simple model in which carriers change status annually, and in which costs are known and stable. The first condition is simplistic, the second laughable, but they are necessary for a first-order comparison of the options. I start then with Option One, todayʼs plan for the fleet: Table 1.0: Annual Status of Supercarriers as Currently Planned Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD 65 Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken 68 Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken 69 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal 70 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 71 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 72 Active RCOH RCOH RCOH Active Active Active Active Active Active 73 Active Active Active Active Active RCOH RCOH RCOH Active Active 74 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active RCOH 75 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 76 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 77 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 78 Building Building Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 79 Building Building Building Building Building Active Active Active Active Active 80 — — — — — Building Building Building Building Building The Enterprise, according to plan, is due to pay off next year, and then to undergo the first-ever case of the disposal of an atomic-powered aircraft carrier. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard has been doing this to old submarines for years, but pulling eight old reactors out of the Big E will be a much bigger deal. Cost estimates for that effort vary, but several sources Iʼve consulted suggest to me that the cost for the two-reactor Nimitz (due to pay off in 2018) wonʼt much exceed one billion dollars. For the Enterprise, that could be a bit more. Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 4 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 5. Refueling and Complex Overhauls (RCOHs), as the Navy puts them, cost at least $3 billion. Actually, as Defense Industry Daily noted a few years ago, itʼs hard to know exactly what they cost just because the Navy pays for them from so many different accounts. At that price, there may be some method in the accounting madness. But whatever the case, there will be all or part of three RCOHs over the next ten years: Abraham Lincoln is due to start hers in 2013, George Washington in 2017, and John C. Stennis in 2021. And lastly, there are to be three carriers under construction in that time. Two already are: the Gerald R. Ford and the (new) John F. Kennedy. A yet-unnamed CVN-80 (though a congressman from Arizona has already proposed the name Barry Goldwater) is due to be laid down in 2017. The status of each ship flows to an annual cost per ship, and these sum to annual costs for the fleet, as shown in the table below: Table 1.1: Annual Cost of Supercarriers as Currently Planned Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD Sum Ships active 65 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 68 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 0 0 0 69 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 70 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 71 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 72 0.4 1 1 1 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 73 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 1 1 0.4 0.4 74 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 75 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 76 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 77 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 78 2 2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 79 2 2 2 2 2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 80 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 9 8.6 7 7 6.4 7.4 8 7 6.4 7.6 10 9 10 10 11 11 10 10 11 9 Total cost over ten years: $74.4 B • Average number of ships in service: 10.1 • Average annual cost per ship: $0.7 B Note that even today, itʼs not an eleven-carrier navy. The service likes to claim as active ships in drydock, but those arenʼt much use in a fight, and thatʼs what counts, however else the admiralty counts to 313. (And of course, my simple model doesnʼt precisely reflect reality.) Note also that building those new ships is rather expensive. So what if, as argued in the May issue of Proceedings,4 the Navy simply stopped buying new ones, and simply refueled the assets that it already had? What if the government actually took a building holiday again? The fleet would shrink, of course, but slowly, as shown in tables 2.0 and 2.1 below: Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 5 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 6. Table 2.0: Annual Status of Supercarriers if Construction Stops Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD 65 Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken 68 Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken 69 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal 70 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 71 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 72 Active RCOH RCOH RCOH Active Active Active Active Active Active 73 Active Active Active Active Active RCOH RCOH RCOH Active Active 74 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active RCOH 75 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 76 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 77 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 78 Building Building Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 79 — — — — — — — — — — 80 — — — — — — — — — — Table 2.1: Annual Cost of Supercarriers if Construction Stops Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD Sum Ships active 65 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 68 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 0 0 0 69 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 70 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 71 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 72 0.4 1 1 1 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 73 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 1 1 0.4 0.4 74 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 75 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 76 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 77 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 78 2 2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 79 2 2 2 2 2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 80 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 9 8.6 7 7 6.4 7.4 8 7 6.4 7.6 10 9 10 10 11 11 10 10 11 9 Total cost over ten years: $52.4 B • Average number of ships in service: 9.6 • Average annual cost per ship: $0.5 B Thatʼs $20 billion saved over a decade, for a carrier fleet that only starts to tail off at the end. How does that work? Several years after Enterprise pays off, Lincoln rejoins the fleet; shortly after Nimitz is retired, Washington comes back from the yard. Only at the end, when Eisenhower is to old to continue, and Stennis needs refueling, does the number drop to nine. Or take the idea yet further: what if the Navy stopped building new and refueling old? The fleet shrinks more quickly yet, and with a few dollars more in savings: Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 6 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 7. Table 3.0: Annual Status of Supercarriers if all Recapitalization Stops Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD 65 Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken 68 Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken 69 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal 70 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 71 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 72 Active Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken 73 Active Active Active Active Active Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken 74 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal 75 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 76 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 77 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 78 Building Building Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 79 — — — — — — — — — — 80 — — — — — — — — — — Table 3.1: Annual Cost of Supercarriers if all Recapitalization Stops Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD Sum Ships active 65 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 68 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 0 0 0 69 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 70 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 71 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 72 0.4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 73 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 0 0 0 0 74 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 75 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 76 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 77 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 78 2 2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 79 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 80 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.0 6.6 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.6 4.2 3.2 3.2 4.4 10 9 10 10 10 9 8 8 8 6 Total cost over ten years: $45.2 B • Average number of ships in service: 8.8 • Average annual cost per ship: $0.5 B That definitely makes things affordable (for everyone except the people at Newport News Shipbuilding), but it also reduces the size of the carrier fleet to a point of reasonable discomfort for many. The Navy took six carriers to war in 1991 and five in 2001—this approach leaves no margin for sudden failures or combat losses. So is there a way to more cost-effectively manage the assets? Sure—the old school approach was mothballing, as shown in the next two tables: Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 7 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 8. Table 4.0: Annual Status of Supercarriers with Construction Halt and Selective Layup Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD 65 Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken 68 Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken 69 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Disposal 70 Layup Layup Layup Layup Layup Layup Active Active Active Active 71 Layup Layup Layup Layup Layup Active Active Active Active Active 72 Active Disposal Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken Stricken 73 Active Active Active Active Active RCOH RCOH RCOH Active Active 74 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active RCOH 75 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 76 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 77 Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 78 Building Building Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active 79 — — — — — — — — — — 80 — — — — — — — — — — Table 4.1: Annual Cost of Supercarriers with Construction Halt and Selective Layup Ship # 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Enterprise Nimitz Eisenhower Carl Vinson T. Roosevelt Abe Lincoln G. Washington Stennis Truman Reagan George Bush Gerald Ford JFK TBD Sum Ships active 65 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 68 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 0 0 0 69 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 70 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 71 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 72 0.4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 73 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 1 1 0.4 0.4 74 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 1 75 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 76 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 77 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 78 2 2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 79 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 80 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.4 6.0 3.4 3.4 3.4 4.3 5.2 4.2 3.6 4.8 8 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 9 7 Total cost over ten years: $44.7 B • Average number of ships in service: 7.9 • Average annual cost per ship: $0.6 B This last case considers the option to just tie two ships—here, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Carl Vinson—to piers for five and six years, with just caretaker crews, bringing them back only when another shipʼs paying off requires one to return to service. As noted above, their shutdown, upkeep, and restart costs might be hard to predict, but theyʼre not likely more than the O&M costs of any such ship in high tempo operations. Itʼs the crew costs on which the Navy Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 8 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 9. would save, assuming that 3,200 sailors are promptly sent home with small severance checks and thanks-for-your-service medals. THE INDUSTRIAL RAMIFICATIONS What the chart doesnʼt show is what lies to the right, and thatʼs where the advantage of layup is found. By accepting immediately the reasonableness of an eight-ship long-term supercarrier fleet, the Navy could save two ships for recommissioning at a later date, thus extending that average number of eight until about 2031. At that point, the government would have saved about $40 billion from twenty years of not-building-super carriers. And with a clearer view of the technologies available in 2031, the government could also make a much more informed decision as to whether construction should be restarted. Could aircraft carriers be mothballed? Of course—lots were after the Second World War, and brought back into service for the Korean War. Can nuclear-powered supercarrier construction be restarted? Of course—DCNS built the Charles de Gaulle from scratch. Was their angst about the French “nuclear-powered aircraft carrier industrial base” before there was a French nuclear- powered aircraft carrier? Of course not. These alternatives are quite possible. Itʼs just that the US Navy hasnʼt considered them in decades because it hasnʼt wanted to. There has been far too much institutional enthusiasm for retaining as large a supercarrier fleet as possible—until perhaps now, when the bills are really coming due for decades of governmental largesse. To put it bluntly, Iʼm trying to imagine what war the United States would necessarily lose with only eight supercarriers—seven more than its nearest competitor. No—the large losses would not accrue to the United States. They would accrue to investors in Huntingon Ingalls, a group of industrial workers largely concentrated in Tidewater Virginia, and to suppliers distributed throughout the United States and even further afield. But it wouldnʼt kill the business. Newport News Shipbuilding earns its revenues in nearly equal thirds from building new carriers, overhauling old carriers, and building (in concert with Electric Boat) new submarines. Removing the first plank would cut the work by a third. A one-third downturn in military procurement over the long haul is something that every military supplierʼs corporate leadership ought to be considering a strong possibility. We know that Newport News would manage that downturn, if painfully, because Newport News and firms like it have done so before. Indeed, ending supercarrier construction for a few decades (at least) could carry two partly offsetting benefits. The first concerns the aircraft industry. Itʼs notable that I have not included the cost of any air wing in the calculations above. This may be an absurdly conservative approach, but it rests on the assumption that carriers today are mostly just mobile, self- protecting airfields. If thatʼs so, then removing the carrier doesnʼt remove the need for the aircraft; whether they carry Navy or Air Force markings, I have demonstrated herein no such case again them. If I did make that case, it was in my indictment of the Joint Strike Fighter in DIRM #04 (12 August 2011). If China is the threat, then the United States is building far too many fighters of six hundred mile range. Some money would be well spent against another requirement. And as for the Navy, if the service is indeed worried about the survivability of its carriers in the Western Pacific, it could find more money to build longer-range carrier-borne aircraft, like the eventual production drone presumed to be coming behind that X-47B from Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 9 of 10 9 September 2011
  • 10. Northrop. If some shipbuilding savings can be kept from the Treasury, the Pentagon could accelerate that program. The second offsetting benefit could actually accrue to Newport News. The Navyʼs possible disquietude about Chinese antiship capabilities does not, it seems, extend to the Virginia-class submarines. By sacrificing the new supercarriers, the Navy could shore up the budget for these, and perhaps even expand production. It might find the money for that concept of a stretched Virginia to serve as a cruise missile carrier, after the first four Ohios retire.5 And it might even find the money for the SSBN-X program. But letʼs not get carried away. THE USUAL BOILERPLATE This memorandum is for private circulation and distribution, and is provided for information only. Hasik Analytic LLC makes every effort to use reliable, comprehensive information, but does not represent and cannot warrant that it is necessarily accurate or complete. The views in this publication are those of Hasik Analytic LLC and are subject to change without notice. At the same time, Hasik Analytic LLC undertakes no obligation to update its opinions or the information in this publication. Neither Hasik Analytic LLC nor any respective officers, employees, or affiliates accepts any liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this publication or its contents. Analysts may own securities of the issuers discussed herein. © Copyright Hasik Analytic LLC 2011, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, sold, or redistributed without the prior permission of Hasik Analytic LLC. NOTES Defense-Industrial Research Memorandum 2011-07 Hasik Analytic LLC page 10 of 10 9 September 2011 1 Robert C. Rubel, “The Future of Aircraft Carriers,” Naval War College Review, Autumn 2011. 2 The Chief of the Air Staff was speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aerospace 2011 conference in London on 13 April. Quoted in Craig Hoyle, “Libya: Harrier retirement was unavoidable, says RAF chief,” Flight Global, 18 April 2011. 3 See particularly Vitaliy O. Pradun, “From Bottle Rockets to Lightning Bolts: China's Missile Revolution and PLA Strategy Against U.S. Military Intervention,” Naval War College Review, Spring 2011. 4 Henry J. Hendrix and Noel J. Williams, “Twilight of the Superfluous Carrier,” Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute, May 2011. I reviewed all three of these articles on my blog in “A review of three articles on life after the supercarrier,” 9 May 2011 5 Jennifer McDermott, “EB: Submarines can be ʻstretchedʼ to boost firepower,” The Day (Connecticut), 13 April 2011

×