Navy Wants to Decommission 39 Warships in 2023

The Navy wants to shed 39 ships in Fiscal Year 2023, with the first ship set to depart on Halloween. The list, which includes five guided-missile cruisers and nine Littoral Combat Ships, was released Friday as an administrative message. However, the composition of the final list is far from a done deal. Included on the […]

USS Vicksburg (CG-69) getting repaired at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Va., on April 8, 2022. Christopher P. Cavas Photo used with permission

The Navy wants to shed 39 ships in Fiscal Year 2023, with the first ship set to depart on Halloween.

The list, which includes five guided-missile cruisers and nine Littoral Combat Ships, was released Friday as an administrative message. However, the composition of the final list is far from a done deal. Included on the inactivation list are several ships that could be saved from decommissioning by provisions in the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, as well as the House version of the Appropriations Bill.

The inactivation schedule starts with the decommissioning of USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300)), USNS Fisher (T-AKR-301) and USNS Walter S Diehl (T-AO-193) on Oct. 31, 2022. The last ships scheduled for decommissioning are USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) and USS St. Louis (LCS-19).

Gunston Hall is one of the four dock landing ships included on the inactivation schedule. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA forbids the Navy from decommissioning any of the four Whidbey Island-class ships — Gunston Hall, USS Germantown (LSD-42), USS Tortuga (LSD-46) and USS Ashland (LSD-48). While the committee passed its version of the bill, it has not yet been voted on by the full Senate.

Tortuga is currently being modernized to extend its life in the fleet, USNI News reported.

Of the 39 ships included on the Navy’s list, the House or Senate has provisions to save 16 of them. The final list of what ships will be saved will be worked out once the two chambers conference the NDAA.

The Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA prevents the decommissioning of 13 ships, including the four landing dock ships.

The SASC version would also stop the Navy from decommissioning five of the nine littoral combat ships on the list, while the House Appropriations Committee would prevent four from being decommissioned.

An amendment to the House’s version of the NDAA, submitted by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), prohibits the disposal of littoral combat ships unless sold to an ally’s military. The Navy would place all LCS out of commission and in reserve status upon decommissioning, according to the NAVADMIN.

The House Armed Service Committee also included provisions in its version of the NDAA that would prevent the dock landing ships from being decommissioned as well as limits the sea service to four cruiser decommissions. There are currently five on the list.

The both armed services committees had provisions in their NDAA versions that prevents the Navy from inactivating USS Vicksburg (CG-69). The ship, which is almost finished a $200 million modernization effort, would be decommissioned on June 30, according to the Navy’s plan.

The modernization repairs currently being completed on Vicksburg could keep the ship in the fleet until 2030, USNI News previously reported. Work has been ongoing since 2020.

The Navy plans to inactivate the 22 Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers over the next five years, which would include Vicksburg, USNI News reported. Already, the Navy recevied permissioned to decommission USS Monterey (CG-61), USS Hué City (CG-66), USS Anzio (CG-68), USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) and USS Port Royal (CG-73) in Fiscal Year 2022.

The Navy decommissioned Vella Gulf — the first of ships — Aug. 4, USNI News reported.

The following is the complete list of ships the Navy is set to decommission in Fiscal Year 2023.

Ships Decomission Date Disposition
USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300) 10/31/2022 Transfer to MARAD
USNS Fisher (T-AKR-301) 10/31/2022 Transfer to MARAD
USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) 10/31/2022 Dismantle
USNS Shugart (T-AKR-193) 01/31/2023 Transfer to MARAD
USNS Yano (T-AKR-295) 01/31/2023 Transfer to MARAD
USNS Brittin (T-AKR-297) 01/31/2023 Transfer to MARAD
USS Chicago (SSN-721) 02/08/2023 Recycle
USS Key West (SSN-722) 2/28/2023 Recycle
USS San Jacinto (CG-56) 01/30/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Vicksburg (CG-69) 06/30/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 06/30/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Witchita (LCS-13) 06/30/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Billings (LCS-15) 06/30/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 09/30/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 09/30/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Germantown (LSD-42) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) 09/29/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Tortuga (LSD-46) 03/27/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Ashland (LSD-48) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USNS Montford Point (T-ESD-1) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USNS John Glenn (T-ESD-2) 03/31/2023 Legislative Consideration
USS Hurricane (PC-3) 02/28/2023 Foreign Military Sale
USS Monsoon (PC-4) 03/21/2023 Foreign Military Sale
USS Sirocco (PC-6) 03/07/2023 Foreign Military Sale
USS Chinhook (PC-9) 03/14/2023 Foreign Military Sale
USS Thunderbolt (PC-12) 02/21/2023 Foreign Military Sale
USNS Gordon (T-AKR-296) 03/31/2023 Transfer to MARAD
USNS Gilliland (T-AKR-298) 03/31/2023 Transfer to MARAD
USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak (T-AK-3005) 04/30/2023 Transfer to MARAD
USNS Maj. Stephen W. Pless (T-AK-3007) 04/30/2023 Transfer to MARAD
USNS John Lenthall (T-AO-189) 07/31/2023 OSIR
USNS PFC Eugene A. Obregon (T-AK-3006) 07/31/2023 Transfer to MARAD

USS Vella Gulf Becomes First of Five Ticonderoga-Class Cruisers to Decommission This Year

Nearly 29 years ago, USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) sat in the waters around Norfolk, Va., waiting to be commissioned into the Navy. The ship sat in the same waters Thursday, this time for its decommissioning ceremony as its current crew and plankowners said goodbye to the ship. When Vella Gulf commissioned, every sailor wanted to […]

Sailors and former shipmates stand in formation during the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) decommissioning ceremony, Aug. 4, 2022, in Norfolk, Va. US Navy Photo

Nearly 29 years ago, USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) sat in the waters around Norfolk, Va., waiting to be commissioned into the Navy.

The ship sat in the same waters Thursday, this time for its decommissioning ceremony as its current crew and plankowners said goodbye to the ship.

When Vella Gulf commissioned, every sailor wanted to be on an Aegis-class cruiser, said Capt. Constantine Xefteris, the ship’s first commanding officer. Those cruisers set the standard for performance.

“I don’t care whether you’re playing a sport, whether you’re playing a musical instrument, whether you’re playing chess, you want to be the best,” Xefteris said. “You want to play with the best, and you want to play against the best. And Aegis cruisers were just simply the best.”

During its time in the Navy, Vella Gulf deployed multiple times, visiting Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Scotland, Israel, to name a few, said Capt. Mike Desmond, the ship’s current commanding officer.

“And by my calculations, Vella Gulf has sailed nearly a half million miles,” Desmond said.
The miles took their toll on Vella Gulf, with Desmond saying that in its later years, the ship became temperamental.

“When all systems were a go, operating as designed, she was arguably the most reliable, capable and lethal warship on the planet,” he said. “And certainly the most fun to sail.”

Vella Gulf had two COVID-19 deployments, Desmond noted.

That includes a deployment with Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in February 2021. However, Vella Gulf was shortly sidelined due to mechanical issues.

The ship also deployed with the Eisenhower CSG in 2020, sailing to the Middle East and Europe, said Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, commander of Naval Surface Forces Atlantic.

“Two hundred and five days straight underway. Nobody came out. Nobody left,” McLane said, referencing the period when the Navy halted port calls to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Vella Gulf is one of five cruisers that will be decommissioned in Fiscal Year 2022. The ship will get towed to the Navy’s Inactive Ship’s facility in Philadelphia, Pa., on Oct. 11. It will be placed in Logistical Support Asset status.

Cruiser USS Vicksburg Nearly Finished with Modernization Program, Set For Decommissioning

A Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser the Navy wants to decommission next year is nearly finished with a modernization overhaul that costs hundreds of millions of dollars, a service official told lawmakers today. USS Vicksburg (CG-69) is about 85 percent of the way through the cruiser modernization program meant to extend the life of the ship. “The […]

USS Vicksburg (CG-69) getting repaired at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Va., on April 8, 2022. Christopher P. Cavas Photo used with permission

A Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser the Navy wants to decommission next year is nearly finished with a modernization overhaul that costs hundreds of millions of dollars, a service official told lawmakers today.

USS Vicksburg (CG-69) is about 85 percent of the way through the cruiser modernization program meant to extend the life of the ship.

“The cruiser Vicksburg, I think, is in that 85 percent range,” Jay Stefany, the principal civilian deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee on Wednesday.

Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD-46) which is also undergoing upgrades to extend the ship’s service life is at a similar stage in its modernization, according to Stefany. He confirmed the Navy has spent close to $300 million to upgrade each ship.

Vicksburg and Tortuga are two of the 24 ships the Navy wants to decommission as part of its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal. Both ships are undergoing their modernization programs at BAE Systems Ship Repair in Norfolk, Va.

Asked last month for the completion percentage of the two ships, a spokesperson for Naval Sea Systems Command said the Navy does not track these figures. The spokesperson said Vicksburg is slated to finish its modernization overhaul in the summer of 2023, but that the completion date for Tortuga “is under review.”

The recent budget request, which also proposed decommissioning every Freedom-class LCS currently in service, has met criticism from lawmakers who are unhappy that the Navy is decommissioning more ships in a year than it plans to buy.

During a separate House Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) criticized the Navy for how it has used taxpayer funds. Granger, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the service in the last two years has spent almost $500 million to modernize Vicksburg.

“Some of these ships – especially the Littoral Combat Ships – are among the newest in the fleet. The Navy claims they don’t have enough sufficient funding to maintain and operate these ships, but that’s not the case. Instead, they’ve mismanaged billions of dollars in maintenance funding. One glaring example of this is the USS Vicksburg, a cruiser up for decommissioning this year,” Granger said.
“Since 2020, the Navy has awarded nearly $500 million in contracts to upgrade the cruiser. At a time when the ship is still in its maintenance period, the Navy is proposing to scrap it. If the Navy experts expect Congress to support its vision for this fleet, it must do a much better job of managing the inventory it has. We will not stand idly by as valuable taxpayer funds are wasted.”

Navy officials have repeatedly argued the money would be better spent on modernization efforts than on extending the life of the aging cruisers. During the March budget rollout, Navy deputy assistant secretary for budget Rear Adm. John Gumbleton said decommissioning the proposed 24 ships in the FY 2023 budget would save the service $3.6 billion across the Pentagon’s five-year budget outlook.

Seeking to justify the proposal before defense appropriators today, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said both the LCS and the cruisers would not stand up well in a potential conflict against Russia or China.

“We took a look at our topline and we took a look at a Navy that we can sustain, a Navy that we can afford. But to make it the most lethal, capable, ready navy that we can – in other words, we’re trying to field the most lethal, capable, ready Navy we can based on the budget that we have rather than a larger Navy that’s less capable, less lethal and less ready,” Gilday told lawmakers.

“So we stratified our warfighting platforms. An LCS fell at the bottom of that stratification, along with the older cruisers that have an older radar, that have leaks below the waterline, radars that can’t detect these new Chinese threats, as an example.”

The FY 2023 proposal wants to decommission nine Freedom-class LCS and axes the planned anti-submarine warfare mission package originally slated for both variants in the class.

“Much of the testing done on that module was done on LCS-3, the Fort Worth, that helped us make the determination that we should not put another dollar against that system because it wouldn’t pan out against high-end Chinese and Russian threats,” Gilday said of the ASW mission module testing. Granger was the sponsor for USS Fort Worth (LCS-3).

“So regrettably we made tough decisions in this budget proposal to decommission, or propose to decommission, ships that just wouldn’t have added value to the fight,” Gilday said. “At the same time, we’re taking that money and investing it in our priorities, which are readiness, modernization, and then capacity at an affordable rate.”

Granger expressed her skepticism about the Navy’s plans for the LCS.

“Each one of these ships has significant useful service life left. One of them … was just commissioned in August of 2020. I don’t know how we can have confidence in your request when just a few years ago at this same hearing, the Navy advocated for LCS funding with the same passion you’re now expressing to get rid of them,” she said.

After a Decade of Debate, Cruisers Set to Exit Fleet in 5 Years

NORFOLK, Va. – USS Vicksburg (CG-69) is in the middle of a $200 million repair period meant to keep the guided-missile cruiser in the fleet well into the 2030s. Shrouded in scaffolding and white plastic at BAE Systems Ship Repair, shipyard workers have been upgrading Vicksburg since 2020. The repair work was part of a […]

USS Vicksburg (CG-69) getting repaired at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Va., on April 8, 2022. Christopher P. Cavas Photo used with permission

NORFOLK, Va. – USS Vicksburg (CG-69) is in the middle of a $200 million repair period meant to keep the guided-missile cruiser in the fleet well into the 2030s. Shrouded in scaffolding and white plastic at BAE Systems Ship Repair, shipyard workers have been upgrading Vicksburg since 2020.

The repair work was part of a controversial decade-old Navy modernization plan to keep 11 of the remaining 22 Ticonderoga-class cruisers in the service’s inventory into the 2030s to operate with carrier strike groups and host their air defense commanders.

But now the Navy wants to abandon the modernization as part of a wide-ranging cut of legacy platforms the service says cost too much to fix and maintain. In the next five years, the Navy plans to shed its entire cruiser force, including the ships part of the ongoing modernization program, according to the long-range shipbuilding plan released this week.

Should Congress allow the Navy to move forward with its plan, the service would decommission 10 cruisers in two years, bringing the cruiser inventory down from 22 ships to 12 by the end of Fiscal Year 2023.

“It really comes down to – for these ships that are all over 30-years-old – whether we want to continue to pour resources into them from a modernization perspective when only one of the five has actually delivered,” Vice Adm. Scott Conn, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities (OPNAV N9), told reporters on Wednesday.
“Congress may not be happy, they may push back. There is concern at the waterfront. Having been down and visited Vicksburg last week, and walked that ship and they got a lot of stuff done. And they have a long way to go. So it’s just a part of our ‘get real’ perspective in the Navy in terms of assessing where we are. And is the investment we continue to make on these ships going to give us a return from a warfighting capability perspective?”

Along with Vicksburg, the Navy wants to decommission USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), USS Mobile Bay (CG-53), USS San Jacinto (CG-56) and USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) in FY 2023 and is already cleared to decommission USS Monterey (CG-61), USS Hué City (CG-66), USS Anzio (CG-68), USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) and USS Port Royal (CG-73) this year.

All 22 remaining cruisers are set to leave the fleet by 2027.

The Navy’s proposal is expected to continue years of debate between the service and Congress, as lawmakers have repeatedly criticized the Navy’s push to get rid of the cruisers without a platform to replace them.

Shedding the cruisers has been a thorn in the side of the Navy – and lawmakers – for over a decade, with the service offering various proposals to mothball and later modernize the ships or to decommission them permanently. All of the service’s ideas have been repeatedly rejected by Congress.

The back-and-forth between the service and lawmakers is convoluted, changing in detail and reasoning from year to year, but consistent in the overall theme of the Navy pushing to reduce the cruiser force and Congress pushing to keep the ships until there’s a viable replacement.

“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,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday told the House Armed Services Committee last year.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), the former executive officer of Anzio, has been a vocal critic of the Navy’s plan to decommission the cruisers in the face of China’s naval buildup. Luria and others have invoked the “Davidson window” – former U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson’s warning that China could move against Taiwan by the end of the decade.

“It’s a ship that we have, and the cost of modernizing and upgrading it for extending its service life 10 or so years is significantly lower than building a new ship,” she told USNI News last year.
“We need to look at what we have today and how we can use it and how we can use it most efficiently. The idea of divesting of current platforms that still have usable service life in order to invest in something that we might develop the technology for in the future – paired with our poor track record on [developing new] platforms – just makes absolutely no sense to me.”

The Navy’s current plan is to replace the cruisers with the upcoming Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The first Flight III, Jack Lucas (DDG-125), is set to commission next year. The destroyers will enter service at a rate far slower than the cruisers are leaving.

USS Anzio (CG-68) pier-side at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on April 7, 2022. USNI News Photo

The service had planned to create a next-generation cruiser, CG(X), but the program was abandoned in 2010 due to cost.

In the mid-2010s, the service went ahead and took seven of the ships out of service, saying they would later be modernized to reenter the fleet as older cruisers reached the end of their service lives. The ships were not officially decommissioned, but instead entered a limbo state where crew numbers shrank to near-caretaker size. Stores, fuel and much of the ships’ equipment were removed, and at different stages the ships were “inducted” into a cruiser modernization program. Some shipyard work was done on the ships, but only in phases.

None of the ships inducted into the cruiser modernization program have returned to service. Two, Hue City and Anzio, are already slated for decommissioning this year and are in such poor condition the Navy determined they’re no longer worth repairing.

Earlier this month, Anzio could be seen at Naval Station Norfolk with no lifeboats, its painting turning pink and corrosion creeping up the hull from the waterline.

Conn said the new plan is “a realization that we have concern whether it will work. Gettysburg did deliver. I’m looking to see that ship get actually underway. Vicksburg has got a date. We’ll see if she can make that. … Nothing is carved in stone by the hand of God, it’s all on paper, it’s future decisions. There are people that can change it.”

Randy Forbes on a Decade of the Cruiser Debate

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus speaks with Randy Forbes in Forbes’ office on June 13, 2013. Forbes is the likely pick for a Trump administration Secretary of the Navy. US Navy Photos

USNI News contributor Christopher P. Cavas interviewed former chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee Randy Forbes on the history of the Navy’s cruiser modernization program. The Virginia Republican was front and center in Congressional opposition to the Navy’s efforts to draw down the cruiser force. Now out of Congress and in private life, last week he reviewed some of the history of the issue for USNI News.

FORBES: Actually the cruiser fight started longer than a decade ago. There was this huge movement in the Navy that was undermining force structure. We began to see this erosion of morale throughout the entire Navy. Ultimately that came to fruition and people began to see it in very painful ways – you see a force structure that is deteriorating rapidly. I think the cruisers were perfect examples of this.

When the Navy first came over there was no mention that we’re going to get rid of cruisers, that we want to take our force structure down. That wasn’t even a blip on the screen. The Navy’s first foray into this was to say, “oh no, we think the cruisers are important. We think we have to keep them. We’re just trying to find a way to modernize them in the most efficient way we can.”

And the way they were going to do that is if you’ll help us lay some of these up, then we will be able to modernize them more economically, more quickly. And they will still be a viable force to get us through until we can get something to take over their place.

However, we knew that was not their real intention. We knew that while they were coming in and talking about creating a hospital for these cruisers, what they really wanted to do was create a hospice for these cruisers, and we knew that they would be gone and they would never come back.

We went to work trying to paint a picture for Congress as to why the Navy itself was important and why fleet structure was important. And to ask the Navy one question – do you need these capabilities? And if you don’t need the capabilities, how are you going to replace them? And the Navy never answered that question.

They next came in and had yet another argument of what they were going to do to help the cruisers – it was never to take them out, it was to help them. And we stopped them on that. Then they came in with this 2-4-6 plan to take them on a limited basis. [A Navy plan to lay up two cruisers per year for a long-term phase modernization period, no greater than four years and no greater than six in modernization at any given time.]

We had all these discussions with the Navy. We were saying, you know right now you guys are focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, but you’re gonna blink your eyes and you’re gonna be looking at China and you’re gonna be looking at a rebuilt Russia. And you’re gonna need this force capability.

That continued to the point where today they have really bootstrapped this, by their own efforts, by their own work. They have now created the basis for getting rid of the cruisers, which they wanted to do a decade or more ago and just didn’t have the transparency to say that the only reason they were doing it was cost, that we need to cut the Navy. But we knew they were at the center point of what we were going to have to be able to do to keep our carrier groups competitive in the world that they were going to be facing.

These cruisers became symbolic of a lot more than just cruisers. Tell us how you’re gonna replace these capabilities? The Navy has never been able to adequately do that. And now they’ve even got this new red herring of, “we’re doing it for the safety of the men and women.” Well, I mean, what kind of argument is that, to put men and women on a ship that’s not safe?

[What the Navy has] generated with the cruisers has been a self-fulfilling prophecy they have brought on themselves, by the process that they put together in trying to do or not do the maintenance that was needed on those vessels.

USNI News: So what happens now?

FORBES: The Navy has, by its own efforts, probably put the cruisers in a position where it’s going to be next to impossible to salvage them. If I were king, though, I would use this as an opportunity to do something I’ve been advocating for over 15 years – bring in the Navy leadership to make a presentation to Congress of the risk they think the United States Navy is going to face in the next 10 to 20 years. Then to say and definitively show the capabilities they need to defend against that risk.

Then I would get them to show what the risks are to the United States and to the men and women of the United States Navy if they don’t provide those capabilities. I would make that decision first and then apply the money and the budget to say, ‘okay, if we make this cut or that cut, this is what that risk factor is going to be and this is what our exposure is going to be.’

The Navy has never, at least in my career in [Congress] and the positions that I held, never been held accountable to do that. If we don’t correct how we got here, we’re going to be here in another instance, in something else, on another platform at some other time, five years from now, or 10 years from now.

And I would say, ‘tell me what the hell you’re going to do to cover this capability right now? Why hasn’t that been fixed? Because you’ve had 10 years to run with this and you still haven’t done it.’

If you don’t have that kind of accountability, all of a sudden the Navy wakes up tomorrow and they’re in a fight and they don’t have those capabilities. And everybody’s pointing the finger at everybody else. But I think if you use this as kind of a defining mechanism of how we change, how we move forward in the future, I think that’s incredibly important.

I would use this whole debate on the cruisers, not to let it just go by the wayside and say, ‘okay, the Navy got what they wanted, they finally destroyed the cruisers.’ But I would use it as a great methodology of how we really bring strategic planning into play for the United States Navy and stop letting the budget drive what we’re going to do in terms of national defense. Really have a debate of what we need for national defense, and then at least understand our risk when we do a budget application on top of that.

Navy Clear to Decommission 5 Cruisers, Unclear Which Ships Will Leave the Fleet

The Navy is clear to decommission five Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers following the passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 defense appropriations bill, USNI News understands. The overdue spending bill follows the FY 2022 defense policy bill and allows the Navy to decommission five of the seven cruisers originally requested as part of the White House’s budget […]

Five cruisers that could be targets for decommissioning this year, according to the Navy’s latest inactivation plan.

The Navy is clear to decommission five Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers following the passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 defense appropriations bill, USNI News understands.

The overdue spending bill follows the FY 2022 defense policy bill and allows the Navy to decommission five of the seven cruisers originally requested as part of the White House’s budget request.

Congress didn’t spell out which five cruisers will leave the fleet, according to the FY 2022 defense authorization bill that was signed into law in December, and the Navy isn’t sure which ones will go.

“The Navy is moving forward with the formal process outlined in the FY22 NDAA to approve the five Ticonderoga-class Cruiser hulls that will decommission in Fiscal Year 2022,” reads a Navy statement. “The Navy will share the specific hull numbers and plans for the decommissionings as the information is available for release.”

In July, the Navy’s most recent decommissioning memo identified seven ships, two of which were to leave the service in February – Norfolk, Va.,-based USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) and USS Monterey (CG-61).

Vella Gulf and Monterey returned last year from a deployment with the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

Vella Gulf was stuck pier-side for two months after the crew discovered a leaking fuel tank while underway shortly after the deployment began. The issue became a visible example of the maintenance issues in the class. Monterey came back from an independent deployment after supporting the Eisenhower CSG in September.

The other ships that were earmarked to leave fleet by April, per the advisory, were USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), USS Hué City (CG-66) USS Anzio (CG-68), USS Port Royal (CG-73). The currently deployed USS San Jacinto (CG-56) was set to decommission at the end of its deployment.

The Navy has 22 cruisers in the battle force that have been part of an extended maintenance plan for the last decade that sought to preserve the cruiser capability for the carrier strike group.

The service’s primary reason to keep the cruisers well past their service lives is to support the air defense commander of the carrier strike group and their staff, as well as the additional vertical launch cell capacity to add to the guided-missile destroyers with the CSG. More than a decade ago, the Pentagon deemed the Navy’s previous attempt to build a replacement cruiser as too expensive. Instead, the Navy developed the Flight III version of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that will fill in as the platform for the air defense commander, USNI News understands.

Extending the life of the cruisers is proving expensive and taking much longer than scheduled, Navy leaders have stressed to Congress.

“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,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday told the House Armed Services Committee last year.

Top Stories 2021: U.S. Navy Operations

This post is part of a series looking back at the top naval stories from 2021. Naval operations this year once again saw the United States Navy balancing presence in multiple theaters, as the U.S. withdrew from the war in Afghanistan and continued emphasizing the Indo-Pacific region. In addition to a U.S. presence in the […]

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105), front, and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) transit the Pacific Ocean on June 13, 2021. US Navy Photo

This post is part of a series looking back at the top naval stories from 2021.

Naval operations this year once again saw the United States Navy balancing presence in multiple theaters, as the U.S. withdrew from the war in Afghanistan and continued emphasizing the Indo-Pacific region.

In addition to a U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific, 2021 saw several U.S. allies send ships to operate in the region, giving American ships and crew the opportunity to drill with both European and regional allies.

While the U.S. Navy kept a steady warship presence in the Middle East, this year was the first in several in which the Navy did not have an aircraft carrier consistently operating in U.S. Central Command.

This year also saw the Navy’s first deployment of its new CMV-22B Osprey carrier onboard delivery aircraft and the F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine helped the service ease some of its pre-deployment restrictions on sailors and resume some normal aspects of deployments like port calls.

The Navy also continued to grapple with the fire that led it to scrap the former USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) and its pressing maintenance backlogs at the public shipyards.

Indo-Pacific

Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) as the ship passes by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-70) while returning to Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., on May 25, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Navy kept a largely consistent carrier presence in the Indo-Pacific this year, as the new Biden administration sought to continue the prior administration’s emphasis on the region and China.

In its second deployment within a year, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) spent the first several months of 2021 operating throughout U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The aircraft carrier deployed at the end of last year with two of the escorts from its first deployment earlier in 2020.

 

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group transits in formation with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group in the South China Sea on April 9, 2021. US Navy Photo

In April, the TR Carrier Strike Group and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group drilled in the South China Sea amid heightened tensions between China and the Philippines. At the time, Chinese maritime militia vessels gathered near the Whitsun Reef off the coast of the Philippines, an incident the Pentagon voiced concern over at the time. Several months later, in June, the Philippines for the second time paused its plans to terminate part of the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.

Meanwhile, U.S. Navy ships performed transits through the Taiwan Strait at nearly monthly intervals for much of 2021, including multiple transits that received protests from Beijing. The repeated transits came amid increased concern in the U.S. over tensions between Taiwan and China, and as China on multiple occasions flew jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

The service also performed several freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea this year.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Luis Correia, from Boston, pushes back an arresting gear cable after an EA-18G Growler attached to the ‘Shadowhawks’ of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 lands on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on May 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), the Navy’s Japan-based forward-deployed carrier, operated in the Indo-Pacific for part of its 2021 spring patrol before getting diverted to the Middle East.

Since August, the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group has been operating throughout Indo-Pacific Command, drilling with multiple countries’ navies, including the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group 21, the Germany Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

The Vinson CSG deployment features the Navy’s most sophisticated air wing yet, with the first deployment of a combined air wing with the fifth-generation F-35C and the new CMV-22B Osprey.

Middle East

Sailor directs an aircraft on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) Jan. 24, 2021. US Navy Photo

This year began with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group operating in the North Arabian Sea for the end of its deployment. It was the second year in a row that started off with heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. After originally calling for the carrier to come home, the Pentagon – citing threats from Iran on the anniversary of the killing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Commander Qasem Suleimani – kept USS Nimitz (CVN-68) operating in the region through the rest of January.

Shortly after Nimitz’s departure from the region at the end of January, the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group moved into the Persian Gulf and operated in Central Command until another aircraft carrier arrived on station in early April.

After operating in the Mediterranean, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group eventually took its place in U.S. Central Command. It was the second deployment within a year for Eisenhower and one of its escorts – USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) – and one of two so-called double-pump deployments for the Navy this year, showing the continued strain on the carrier force.

Sailors from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) hold US state flags on the bow of the carrier as it approaches Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on July 18, 2021. USNI News Photo

Eisenhower left for its deployment in February, allowing the Navy to offer its sailors the COVID-19 vaccine before they left Norfolk, Va. Around the same time, the service announced new guidance for sailors preparing for deployment to account for the availability of the vaccine. At the time, the Navy had been enforcing bubble methods and restriction-of-movement (ROM) sequesters to prevent sailors gearing up to deploy from catching COVID-19. But the February guidance allowed sailors who were fully vaccinated to remain at their own homes, instead of a hotel room or other housing, for the two weeks leading up to deployment.

IKE remained on station in the Middle East through the end of June, when the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group entered Central Command to relieve IKE and support the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was the first time the Navy’s Japan-based carrier operated in the Middle East since the former USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Over the summer, the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group also operated in Central Command to support the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

An MV-22B Osprey, attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 (Reinforced), takes off from the flight deck of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) during routine flight operations on Aug. 25, 2021. US Navy Photo

After the withdrawal concluded at the end of August, Reagan left Central Command in mid-September, having operating in the Middle East for almost three months. Iwo Jima also left the region in September.

Since mid-September, the Essex Amphibious Ready Group has been operating in the Middle East.

Atlantic

USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) has detached from the strike group and began her transit home on October 19, 2021. Royal Navy Photo

This year saw the U.K.’s maiden deployment for its new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), which deployed with a multinational carrier strike group that included American destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) and Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805).

In May, the U.K.’s CSG 21 operated in the North Atlantic with the Iwo Jima ARG for an exercise that combined the U.K.’s Strike Warrior drills with the United States’ Ragnar Viking drills that included multiple NATO allies.

That same month, NATO allies participated in the first phase of Steadfast Defender 2021, which featured 11 NATO countries drilling in the Atlantic.

The Navy this year also performed its Large Scale Exercise 2021, a massive drill that spanned both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters to test out the service’s operating concepts across staffs and time zones around the globe. During the two-week exercise, USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) performed a fueling-at-sea test in the Atlantic with USS Gonzalez (DDG-66).

Maintenance

Screenshot of YouTube video from May 31, 2021 of the hull of Bonhomme Richard arriving in the Port of Brownsville, Texas.

The Navy continued to deal with the fallout from the July 2020 fire aboard the former USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), which was decommissioned earlier this year and sold for scraps to Texas-based International Shipbreaking LTD.

When the amphibious warship caught fire last July, it was was nearing the end of a maintenance period at Naval Base San Diego, where it was receiving upgrades to accommodate the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The Navy in July charged Seaman Apprentice Ryan Mays, who was working aboard Bonhomme Richard at the time, with aggravated arson and hazarding a vessel. The sailor’s Article 32 hearing took place last week and U.S. 3rd Fleet commander Adm. Stephen Koehler will decide how to handle the charges.

A guided-missile cruiser in port for maintenance experienced its own fire in July. USS Gettysburg (CG-64) was at the BAE systems repair yard in Norfolk, Va., when a small fire broke out onboard. USNI News reported last year that ships undergoing maintenance phases are at a higher risk for fire damage due to ongoing hot work and welding.

In response to fires the service has experienced over the years, earlier this month Naval Sea Systems Command announced it had created the Industrial Fire Safety Assurance Group (IFSAG) to thwart future fires and harness better practices can be used both during maintenance phases and when building ships.

USS Connecticut (SSN-22) Sea Wolf-class nuclear attack submarine leaving San Diego, Calif., on Dec. 15, 2021. San Diego WebCam Photo

Meanwhile, the Navy hit another hurdle that is likely to affect its maintenance woes when Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-722) struck an unmapped seamount in the South China Sea in October. The collision damaged the ballast tanks and the forward section of the boat, USNI News previously reported.

The submarine earlier this week reached its homeport in Bremerton, Wash., where it will be repaired. But the public shipyards already face a submarine maintenance backlog and the Navy’s acting assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition told Congress in October that fixing Connecticut at one of the public yards would affect the logjam of work.

“If we ended up doing [the Connecticut work] in one of the public shipyards that would certainly cause perturbations in all the other work in the shipyards,” Jay Stefany told the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee at the time.

The Navy’s ongoing maintenance backlog has caught the attention of lawmakers, who have expressed concern about the service’s 20-year timeline for the plan to modernize the public shipyards. In response to this concern, NAVSEA chief Vice Adm. Bill Galinis said earlier this year that his team was assessing the potential to speed up the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP) to a 10 and 15-year timeline.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Feb. 1, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Feb. 1, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Feb. 1, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

297

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
49 39 88

Ships Deployed by Fleet

Fleet Forces 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
0 0 2 19 13 61 95

In Japan

Chief Culinary Specialist Anthony Scott walks through the ceremonial quarterdeck of the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) after being pinned to chief petty officer. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

Reagan, which is the service’s forward-deployed carrier, pulled into its homeport of Yokosuka on Nov. 14. Japan-based U.S. carriers typically make two shorter patrols every year, with a winter maintenance period in Yokosuka.

In the Philippine Sea

An F-35B Lightning II assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) flies over the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) Jan. 30, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) is underway. America has recently been operating off the coast of Okinawa – the headquarters of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) – along with Sasebo, Japan-based amphibious warships USS New Orleans (LPD-18) and USS Ashland (LSD-48).

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the Philippine Sea, after conducting operations in the South China Sea last week.

Carrier Strike Group 9

Sailors stand in formation on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony on Jan. 29, 2021. US Navy Photo

The San Diego-based CSG 9 commands the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 11

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the ‘Blue Diamonds’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) on Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of VFA-154 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Liberty Bells” of VAW-115 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Eight Ballers” of HSC-8 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Wolf Pack” of HSM-75 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

  • USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 23

USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194), front, resupplies the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59) and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a replenishment-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 23 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Russell (DDG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS John Finn (DDG-113), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

In the Indian Ocean

Ens. Admiral Brower, from Richmond, Va., monitors the distance between the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) during a refueling-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the Nimitz CSG have departed the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea. The CSG is now transiting through the Indian Ocean near India. This appears to be the beginning of the Nimitz CSG’s return transit to homeports on the West Coast.

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego in May for a deployment to the Middle East that began in June. The strike group left the Middle East in November for a quick exercise with the Indian Navy and then returned back to U.S. 5th Fleet.

The strike group’s deployment was extended in the Middle East in the wake of threats from officials in the Iranian government on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani. If the Nimitz CSG transits directly to the West Coast, that would put them back in homeport at the end of February.

Carrier Strike Group 11
San Diego-based CSG 11 commands the Nimitz CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.

Carrier Air Wing 17

An E/A-18G Growler from the ‘Cougars” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139 launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) during flight operations in the north Arabian Sea on Jan. 27, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked on Nimitz and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Redcocks” of VFA 22 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) F/A-18F Super Hornet – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Kestrels” of VFA137 F/A-18 E from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA 94 F/A-18F from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Death Rattlers” of VMFA-323 F/A-18C from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar San Diego, Calif.
  • The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) EA-18G Growlers – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) E2C Hawkeye – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) C-2 – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Screamin’ Indians” of HSC-6 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) MH-60S– from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Battlecats” of HSM-73 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) MH-60R – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

USS Princeton (CG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 9

Sailors prepare for a night live-fire exercise on the flight deck of the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) on Jan. 27, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 9 is based at Naval Station Everett, Wash. The DESRON commodore and staff are embarked on Nimitz.

  • USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • USS Sterett (DDG-104), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), homeported in Everett, Wash.

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 15th MEU continues to operate off Somalia albeit closer to the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. The Makin Island ARG and 15th MEU recently provided operational and air support to Joint Task Force – Quartz and Operation Octave Quartz. Octave Quartz is the U.S. mission to reposition 700 troops from Somalia to other parts of the region. The repositioning is now complete.

The ARG includes amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22). The 15th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/4; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 15. Other units include Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Beach Master Unit 1, and Fleet Surgical Team 1 from San Diego and Assault Craft Unit 5 from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In the Eastern Pacific

Capt. Scott Miller uses the shipboard general announcing system to address the crew of Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) after assuming the duties and responsibilities as the ship’s commanding officer on Jan. 24, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson CSG and Carrier Air Wing 2 are underway in the Southern California Operating Areas. Later this year, the strike group will deploy for the first time with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter the CMV-22B Osprey aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

In the Western Atlantic

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Alyssa Chavez, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, stands watch in the tactical operations plot aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG remains underway. The carrier and its escorts are expected to complete a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) off the East Coast ahead of a second deployment – likely to the Middle East to relieve the Nimitz CSG.

Carrier Strike Group 2
Norfolk-based CSG 2 commands the Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 3

Sailors repel down a rope from a a MH-60 Sea Hawk assigned to the ‘Dusty Dogs’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 onto the flight deck of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG-72) on Jan. 27, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 3, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Fighting Swordsmen” of VFA-32 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Gunslingers” of VFA-105 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Wildcats” of VFA-131 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Rampagers” of VFA-83 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Zappers” of VAQ-130 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Screwtops” of VAW-123 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Dusty Dogs” of HSC-7 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Swamp Foxes” of HSM-74 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
USS Monterey (CG-61), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 22

USS Laboon (DDG-58), left, and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) transit the Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 25, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 22 is based at Norfolk, and its leaders are embarked on Eisenhower.

  • USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported in Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Laboon (DDG-58), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mitscher (DDG-103), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mahan (DDG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Cory Woycitzky, from Tawas, Michigan, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) security department, stands watch on Ford’s flight deck as the ship transits through a snowstorm during a sea and anchor detail on Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) got underway on Jan. 28 for an independent steaming event (ISE) as part of its 18 months of post-delivery trials. “During ISE 15, Ford will conduct various drills and system tests as part of her post-delivery test and trials (PDT&T) and will continue carrier qualifications (CQ) for Naval Air Force Atlantic fleet replacement pilots and student naval aviators assigned to Chief of Naval Air Training,” according to the Navy.
Ford has recorded nearly 6,400 aircraft launches and recoveries with the state-of-the-art Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear, including more than 5,600 launches and recoveries since January 2020 across a total of eight ISEs.”

Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Riva Redding, from Norfolk, Virginia, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) deck department, pulls a messenger line through a chock on the ship’s fantail during a sea and anchor detail on Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

In addition to these major formations, not shown are thousands of others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Jan. 25, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 25, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 25, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

297

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
58 33 91

Ships Deployed by Fleet

Fleet Forces 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
0 3 2 22 15 55 97

In Japan

Aviation Support Equipmentman 2nd Class Rawley Mendiola, from Vale, Or., assigned to Commander, Fleet Air Western Pacific Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Detachment Kadena, disassembles an aircraft utility crane disk brake assembly at AIMD Kadena Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

Reagan, which is the service’s forward-deployed carrier, pulled into its homeport of Yokosuka on Nov. 14. Japan-based U.S. carriers typically make two shorter patrols every year, with a winter maintenance period in Yokosuka.

In the Philippine Sea

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Cosme Zamora, from Compton, Calif., assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), signals an F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on the ship’s flight deck on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) is underway. America has recently been operating off the coast of Okinawa – headquarters of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) – along with Sasebo, Japan-based amphibious warships USS New Orleans (LPD-18) and USS Ashland (LSD-48).

In the South China Sea

Seaman Aaron Martinez, from Austin, Texas, handles line aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, after being deployed to the region for the second time in a year. According to a U.S Indo-Pacific Command news release on Jan. 23, “the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) entered the South China Sea January 23 to conduct routine operations.”

“While in the South China Sea, the strike group is conducting maritime security operations, which include flight operations with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units,” reads a statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet. Jan. 23 was the same day Taiwan defense officials reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defense identification zone in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands.

Carrier Strike Group 9

Oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) resupplies the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a replenishment-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

The San Diego-based CSG 9 commands the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 11

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the ‘Blue Diamonds’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of VFA-154 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Liberty Bells” of VAW-115 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Eight Ballers” of HSC-8 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Wolf Pack” of HSM-75 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

  • USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 23

USS John Finn (DDG-113) transits the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 23 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Russell (DDG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS John Finn (DDG-113), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

In the Gulf of Oman

USS Princeton (CG-59) steams alongside the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) during a refueling-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the Nimitz CSG are operating in the Gulf of Oman.

Carrier Strike Group 11
San Diego-based CSG 11 commands the Nimitz CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.

Carrier Air Wing 17

An F/A-18F Super Hornet, from the ‘Mighty Shrikes’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94, launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 19, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked on Nimitz and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Redcocks” of VFA 22 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) F/A-18F Super Hornet – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Kestrels” of VFA137 F/A-18 E from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA 94 F/A-18F from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Death Rattlers” of VMFA-323 F/A-18C from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar San Diego, Calif.
  • The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) EA-18G Growlers – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) E2C Hawkeye – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) C-2 – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Screamin’ Indians” of HSC-6 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) MH-60S– from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Battlecats” of HSM-73 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) MH-60R – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

A Super Puma (EC-225) helicopter conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) on Jan. 13, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Princeton (CG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 9

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 19, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 9 is based at Naval Station Everett, Wash. The DESRON commodore and staff are embarked on Nimitz.

  • USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • USS Sterett (DDG-104), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), homeported in Everett, Wash.

In the Indian Ocean

Sailors participate in a damage control drill aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 15th MEU continues to operate off Somalia. The Makin Island ARG and 15th MEU recently provided operational and air support to Joint Task Force – Quartz and Operation Octave Quartz. Octave Quartz is the U.S. mission to reposition 700 troops from Somalia to other parts of the region. The repositioning is now complete.

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) also participated in the operation. Commissioned on March 7, Williams is a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary sea base and is based in Souda Bay, Greece.

The ARG includes amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22). The 15th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/4; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 15. Other units include Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Beach Master Unit 1, and Fleet Surgical Team 1 from San Diego and Assault Craft Unit 5 from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In the Eastern Pacific

Chief Warrant Officer Jorge Agostini, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the ‘Flying Eagles’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) on Jan. 19, 2021 US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and Carrier Air Wing 2 are underway in the Southern California Operating Areas. Later this year, the strike group will deploy for the first time with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter the CMV-22B Osprey aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

In the Western Atlantic

Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Josean Alviraamaro, from Jersey City, New Jersey, cleans an F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to the ‘Fighting Swordsmen’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG is underway. The carrier and its escorts are expected to complete a composite unit training exercise (COMPTUEX) off the East Coast ahead of a second deployment – likely to the Middle East to relieve the Nimitz carrier strike group, USNI News reported.

Carrier Strike Group 2
Norfolk-based CSG 2 commands the Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 3

An MH-60R Sea Hawk, attached to the ‘Swamp Foxes’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74, prepares to land on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on Jan. 20 ,2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 3, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Fighting Swordsmen” of VFA-32 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Gunslingers” of VFA-105 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Wildcats” of VFA-131 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Rampagers” of VFA-83 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Zappers” of VAQ-130 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Screwtops” of VAW-123 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Dusty Dogs” of HSC-7 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Swamp Foxes” of HSM-74 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Andrew Christiansen from Elko, Minnesota, brazes a pipe on the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) on Jan. 20, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
USS Monterey (CG-61), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 22

Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Sujan Thapamagar, stands look out watch to search for foreign vessels on the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG-72) on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 22 is based at Norfolk, and its leaders are embarked on Eisenhower.

  • USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported in Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Laboon (DDG-58), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mitscher (DDG-103), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mahan (DDG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are thousands of others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.