Deeds Not Words…
After almost eight years locked in port as part of the Navy’s troubled CG Phased Modernization Plan, the Tico-class Aegis cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) saw blue water again last week on a short cruise under her own steam.
The Bath-built ship, commissioned on 22 June 1991, has been in what would have been described in the old days as “in ordinary” since September 2015 when she shifted homeports from Mayport to Norfolk and entered the CG Mod pipeline.
Gettysburg and sister USS Cowpens started in 2015, followed by USS Vicksburg and USS Chosin in 2016, USS Anzio and USS Cape St. George in 2017, and USS Hue City in 2019.
Each upgrade, originally set for at least 11 cruisers, was set to be accomplished in three phases: tear out, repair, and modernization.
The thing is, it turned out the 25-year-old ships needed a lot more repair than was estimated, particularly with fuel tank issues, hull systems, and piping, then shipyard worker shortages, and finally supply chain issues all dog-piled to stretch the planned multi-month overhaul to multi-year. This was all compounded by the fact that the ships often sat undermanned with just 45 sailor crews for years waiting for the next phase of the program to get started.
“The cruisers right now and the modernization are running 175 to 200 percent above estimated costs, hundreds of days delay. These ships were intended to have a 30-year service life, we’re out to 35,” CNO ADM Mike Gilday told the House Armed Services Committee in 2021.
Speaking of cost, Hue City and Anzio alone were expected to run $1.5 billion each over the course of the CG Mod program, which led the Navy to add them to their “dead pool” of seven cruisers to decommission in FY22. To this was added Vicksburg, even though she was about 85 percent of the way through the CG Mod program meant to extend the life of the ship.
With all that being said, it is nice to see Gettysburg close to being complete. It’s been a long time coming.
I have had this same argument with several people over the years. Taking old ships and making them work like new isn’t just a case of dropping in a new 350 and putting on a fresh coat of haze gray. Ships are incredibly complex, and get worn out on the same timeline as everything else mechanical, and when they have passed a point of age and wear through every day use they aren’t worth trying to turn around in a lot of cases…it’s cheaper to start over and you end up with a ship that will last a lot longer.
I served on class of ship built in the early 60’s back when the Tico’s were coming online as the latest and greatest. My particular vessel had undergone a similarly lengthy and extensive upgrade in the early 80’s (as did the rest of that class). Despite the lipstick, it was still an old ship and had old ship problems right up until the end. It was gone and decommed by the early 90’s. They got an extra 10 to 12 years on average for all that money and trouble. I expect the Tico’s will have a similar fate.
Pingback: Second CG finishes Modernization Program | laststandonzombieisland