- The Pentagon has reportedly decided to mothball one of its aircraft carriers, the USS Harry S. Truman, two decades early.
- The move, however, is already receiving pushback from Congress.
- The chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee says he thinks there is "zero" chance the reported plan will be approved if it is put before Congress this year, according to Defense News.
The Pentagon reportedly plans to retire an aircraft carrier two decades early in a high-stakes bid to secure the billions of dollars needed to build new Ford-class carriers, but Congress is already pushing back.
The Department of Defense reportedly has plans to mothball the USS Harry S. Truman far ahead of schedule, Breaking Defense reported Wednesday, building on an earlier report from the Washington Post. A key lawmaker says that’s not going to happen on his watch.
Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat and the chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee, said Thursday that he will block plans to decommission the Truman ahead of schedule, according to Defense News.
The Pentagon reportedly intends to retire the Truman early rather than complete the necessary mid-life overhaul in 2024, a necessity for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers which need to have their nuclear reactor cores refueled. The plan could, according to Breaking Defense, save $30 billion over 25 years.
The life of a Nimitz-class is roughly fifty years, and the Truman only entered service in 1998. Courtney told reporters that the carrier is too young, stating that there is "zero" chance his committee will approve the decommissioning of the Truman this year.
"The Truman is only about 25 years old, which in [terms of] an aircraft carrier is actually pretty young," he said, explaining that it is contradictory to take steps to reduce the size of the US Navy’s carrier fleet when Congress is currently supporting the fleet’s expansion with the purchase of two additional carriers.
The USS Truman is a 95,000-ton bargaining chip in the apparent Defense Department effort to get more shipbuilding money from Congress — and a card that the Pentagon has played before.
The Navy tried to mothball the USS George Washington during the Obama administration. To prevent a big fight with Congress, which was brewing at the time, the White House intervened and offered additional funding that essentially increased the defense budget, Stars and Stripes reported in 2014.
If Courtney’s comments are anything to go by, Congress is unlikely to allow the Pentagon to take this drastic action with the Truman, but it remains to be seen whether the military will get the additional funding it’s seeking.
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- US aircraft carrier fleet set to shrink as Pentagon reportedly decides to retire USS Truman 2 decades early