01 September 2006

Navy Priorities

There is good reason to believe that the U.S. Navy's priorities are askew when it comes to anti-mine warfare. The military blog/reference source Strategy Page says this about the situation (emphasis added):

The 'mine warfare' community is a the smallest in the navy. Most of the mine warfare personnel (4,000 of them) are stationed at a naval base at Ingleside, Texas. About half the current fleet of minesweepers are being sold off to foreign countries. On the plus side, the navy mine hunters are getting a lot of new equipment, including many seagoing robots and portable 'mine hunter kits' that can be carried by destroyers, cruisers, amphibious ships and, especially, the new LCS class of 3,000 ton coastal warships.

Despite the fact that some 70 percent of U.S. Navy combat losses in the past sixty years were caused by naval mines, there was never much enthusiasm for spending a lot of money on mine hunting and clearing. This was not the case with most other nations.

The existing minesweeping ship fleet will be gone many years before the LCS (littoral combat ship) fleet is in place to partially replace it.

The only full fledged naval war fought by anyone since 1946 was the Falkland's war to which the United States was not a party (there, anti-submarine warfare capabilities were paramount). But, the Navy certainly has been called upon in a variety of combat missions short of full fledged blue sea naval war in the past six decades, and it is appropriate to ask why more attention is not devoted to basic, known risks like coastal mines. Mine sweepers are far less expensive than most surface combatants in the fleet today, and there was no pressing need to dispense with them. The ships separated from U.S. service are not being retired, they are seeing further use.

No service needs more of an overhaul than the Navy. This is just one example of why that is the case.

No comments: