Sunday, February 9, 2014

USS George Washington gets a reprieve from Early Retirement

The Pentagon has dropped a plan to retire one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers after the White House intervened to head off a brewing political fight. 
The military had proposed an early retirement of the USS George Washington, reducing the U.S. carrier fleet to 10, as part of plan to deal with cost cuts imposed by Congress. That touched a nerve among a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a letter last week to block the move and preserve what they argued is a potent symbol of American power.
The behind-the-scenes battle illustrates how politics often complicates the task of wringing savings from the U.S. military budget. Lawmakers, facing pressures from defense contractors and local communities, often oppose proposed cuts to military bases, aircraft and shipbuilding programs and weapons systems. 
Last year, a strategic review by Mr. Hagel on the impact of the mandated across-the-board spending cuts found the U.S. could reduce the carrier fleet to eight or nine—still enough to equal the number of carriers operated world-wide by seven other nations.
But as the controversy began to build about taking the first step in that process, it became clear that any proposal endorsed by the White House to retire an aircraft carrier likely would have been blocked by Congress, opening Democrats to election-year criticism, officials familiar with the discussions said. 
White House officials headed off the issue by telling defense officials in recent days that they would provide extra money—in effect raising the military's proposed budget—to allow the Navy to extend the life of the George Washington, commissioned on July 4, 1992. While actual spending levels are set by Congress, requests such as these from the White House generally are backed by lawmakers.
Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers can have a 50-year life span, but require midlife refueling and refurbishing that can take three to five years. The George Washington—whose flight deck is 1,092 feet long and 275 feet wide, covering 4.5 acres—is due for its midlife refueling and overhaul in 2016, at a cost of about $4.7 billion, according to Navy officials.
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cimbri said...

Mr brother's old boat. He'll be glad to hear this.

Anonymous said...

Instead of reducing the fleet by this ship to save money, how about totally getting rid of the 3 "E's"- Energy, Education, EPA. None is necessary, and oh, so expensive. Problem solved.