Pentagon retiring Navy aircraft carrier 20 years early to save money

(Feb. 26, 2019) Airman David Gonzalez unfolds the National Ensign in preparation for morning colors on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman is currently moored at Naval Station Norfolk conducting targeted maintenance and training, and remains operationally ready. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph A.D. Phillips/Released)

The United States of America will soon be down to ten aircraft carriers, following the decision to retire the USS Harry S. Truman twenty years early.

Fueled by budget concerns and rising consternation over Chinese and Russian anti-ship weaponry, the Pentagon has determined that it would be more prudent to retire the Truman now, rather than refuel her nuclear core in 2024.

The moved would reportedly save tens of billions on overhaul and operations costs- but it would also leave the US with only ten active carriers.

Needless to say, not everyone is on board.

“I can’t imagine this will go over well at all,” one Hill staffer told Breaking Defense.

The decision will face considerable scrutiny, and if the past is any indication, the early termination of the Truman may not happen at all.

When the Obama Administration attempted to retire the USS George Washington before her time, the attempt was swiftly foiled in Congress.

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work claimed that the early retirement is part of a deal to help fund two new carriers, that would take over as other carriers near the end of their service life.

The decision to skip the Truman’s RCOH [Refueling & Complex Overhaul] was part of the deal to fund two new carriers,” Work said. “We would end up with a smaller, but younger fleet…. Secretary [Bob] Gates made a decision to move to five-year [gaps between carriers], which would ultimately result in a 10-carrier fleet around 2040. So we are still on that path. A 10-carrier, nine Carrier Air Wing force sounds about right to me, as technological uncertainty over the carrier’s vulnerability continues to be high.”

The Truman entered service in 1998 and was built to serve half a century with regular maintenance, upgrades and a mid-life overhaul.

Since the beginning of her service life, the Truman has been on nearly non-stop deployment schedules.

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