Early Retirement for a Nimitz Carrier?

This is interesting. The Navy is thinking about retiring the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS George Washington sometime in the next decade — roughly 25-years early, Defense News is reporting.

The move, designed to save money, would make the GW, commissioned in 1992 and originally slated to serve for 50-years, the very first Nimitz class carrier to be decommissioned.

According to Defense News’ Chris Cavas, the ship wouldn’t receive the mid-life refueling of her nuclear reactors that’s scheduled for 2016. She’d then serve until her current supply of nuclear fuel runs out — which is expected to happen sometime between 2016 and 2021.

Navy officials are also apparently considering disbanding one of the sea service’s 10 carrier air wings to coincide with the retirement of the GW — both moves would cut thousands of personnel positions and save equal sums of cash.

The Navy would need Congress’ permission to retire the GW early, since this would reduce the Navy’s big deck carrier force to 10 ships and U.S. law mandates an 11-carrier Navy. The currently has ten Nimitz class carriers along with the 50-year old USS Enterprise. The Enterprise will be replaced by the brand new USS Gerald R. Ford in 2015.

While the Navy isn’t confirming this, Chris Cavas is incredibly well sourced and knows the service and its ships better than just about anyone I know. It’s more than safe to assume this is under active consideration at the Pentagon as officials there try to shave $464 billion from DoD budgets over the next decade.

The other thing that’s safe to assume is that the Navy will get plenty of pushback both internally and externally on this idea. Nobody needs to be told that carriers are the backbone of the Navy and one of the keys to U.S.’ military dominance. Reducing the carrier fleet by just one ship will undoubtedly alarm some people given the fact that China is fielding its first, albeit refurbished carrier, and reportedly set to commission two brand new carriers in the coming years.

Remember this fact that Cavas points out:

Congress raised its collective ire only a few years ago when the service asked for permission to temporarily drop to a 10-ship fleet during the time when the Enterprise is decommissioned in 2013 and the Ford is commissioned in 2016. But when the request was resubmitted in an off-election year, virtually no objections were raised.

One veteran observer opined that the Navy could cancel or defer the refueling overhaul, but leave a specific request to decommission the ship until after the election.

Click here for the story.

 

  • brian

    This would be great tragedy if it occurred. I hope this is just the Navy’s way of getting more funding by threatening to cut a fundamental instrument of our defense.

  • arby

    If they really wanted to save even more money, I am sure China would be willing to forgive some debt in exchange for the carrier…

    • EJ257

      Shhh…don’t give them any ideas.

    • jacob

      O god no if we sold them that you would see 20 more ***** versions of it and there’s more technolighy in one aircraft carrier than china has all there military

  • RunningBear

    Parking the GW at Norfolk in a Ready Reserve with a few years left on her reactors would not be the worst decision that could be made. The skeleton crew could be employed also for technology updates. This should be a rotational assignment for all Nimitz carriers, before their mid-life refueling.

  • Jake

    Do re really need 10+ carriers? I am sure if we cut it down to 6-8, we would still have more than enough power projection than the rest of the world not to mention saving tons of money (which we need to do right now).

  • Schreiber

    National Defense is the main purpose of the federal government, yet it seems to be the first place that is effected by budget cuts. In today’s absolutely crazy world we should never jeopardize our safety.

  • VTGunner

    I think a complete rethinking of our strategy is needed. We need to stop being the world’s policeman. I’d rather we be used as the local cop walking the local beat but carrying a huge stick. Cut our carriers to around 7-8, keep them working around our shorelines and only send them out to the Med or Persian Gulf or wherever when needed. If we keep our forces closer to home we will be giving our servicemen and women more time at home. This will not impact their training schedules, if you want to run a two week exercise, well you’re already at homeport so the logistics of such a thing is greatly simplified and reduced in cost. So just put to sea, do your training, and come back.

  • Mastro

    Oh- anyone know why its the GW and not the Nimitz or Ike?

    I remember reading a few years ago that the Ike was a bit of a rat trap and that would be retired first- why one of the newer ones? Did they let rust eat her out?

  • ForrestCantrell

    Why couldn’t we lease it to a close ally that would really want a carrier, like the Australians. Help train a crew, let them pick up maintenance costs, least it for a dollar a year. They already have FA-18s, will be getting F-35s. Similar to Lend-Lease, and we have a close ally with a carrier in the South Pacific.

  • skyking607

    First question asked by our elected officials in a crisis: “Where are our aircraft carriers?” Enough said. Keep the carrier battle groups at full staffing.

  • Ed!

    So we decommission the G.W. I am sure the Japanese would “love” losing that piece of soveriegn US territory while the Chinese navy gets ever stronger.

    This is military thinkers trying to win a budget battle. Here’s a way to save some money without cutting an entire carrier and flight group. You want to save money? Check your contracts and start enforcing penalties for late contracts and cut out the massive cost overruns on these contracts. They could save most of this money if they would have had the F-35 developed on the correct schedule and not go over the Nunn-McCurdy act with it.

  • Shail

    Well hell,
    why don’t we just lease one of the Nimitz class to the Euros (UK, etc) indefinitely,
    park it in the Med near Italy or Greece (stationary floating runway), let them maintain it and launch all the anti-Libyan and Middle East peacekeeping mission they want off her decks…

    (sarc)

  • Musson1

    We spend a zillion dollars trying to develop a space plane or subspace ICBM that can hit any spot on earth in 2 hours. Meanwhile, we are cutting back on our ability to project boots on the ground power and lengthening the time required to get there.

  • jamesb

    This is just window dressing….
    Smart though…
    None of the action moves would be for AT LEAST 5 Years…
    More than ample time to reverse if the Economy picked up before then….

  • STemplar

    It would be ok to consider moves like these if we would resolve some of the needs. If we could get some closure with the Norks and bring the regime in Tehran to an end the need we go with them to some extent. As long as our foreign policy and national security moves are dependent on the UNSC agreeing to something I don’ t see how we can scale back carriers.

  • Lance

    I hope they make a new USS Enterprise by the end of the decade not a US Navy w/o the Enterprise.. I think the USS Nimitz itself would be retired first after the Enterprise since its the 2nd oldest carrier we have. I dont get to retire them before the replacement sales They should keep the Enterprise in service till 15 itself and then retire it after the USS Ford is launched.

  • carrier aviation has been a joke since they retired the A-6 without an adequate replacement.

  • Dan

    Didn’t the GW take over for the Kitty Hawk in Japan? I wonder what ship would take that duty?

  • Tad

    This would be stupid. Cut the bloated AF, cut the Army, pull our troops out of the silly wars they’re in, but giving up the key to US power? Nuts.

  • Jeremy

    Would be a terrible move IMO…..

  • Kski

    NO NO NO don’t retire a carrier early. Cut defense programs before you cut very very valuible combat and power projection forces. Esspecially when we can expect the Chicoms to make more very unsettling decisions that can upset the pacific.

  • Andrew M

    Cut foreign aid to Pakistan

  • roland

    With Iran and N. Korea as a threat we still need this for defense.

  • Pharsalus

    Tssss. do like the Chinese do: turn it into a nuclear casino with wedding chapel.

  • PolicyWonk

    This has bad idea written all over it – especially in light of China’s military buildup being fuled by American dollars due to incredibly stupid trade policy on the part of the United States.

  • XYZ

    Apparently, this CVN caught fire in 2K8 and was exposed to radiation in 2K11. They may have good reason to retire her early…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_George_Washingto

  • Move_Forward

    Upfront caveat. This is pure speculation and online research (was censored elsewhere perhaps because of excess open source detail). This carrier is a national asset and piece of U.S. sovereignty. In or before 2016, it could become a centerpoint of a stationary island constructed in the reefs/banks of the shallow Spratly Islands to maintain law and order for oil exploration by all countries. Could the carrier’s reactor life be expanded by making it a stationary feature?

    It could become an LCS base for guarding the Malacca and other straits from piracy. Instead of planes launched by catapault, it would become a joint base with Soldiers, Marines, Navy, and Air Force assets…primarily joint helicopters, F-35B, and ships, and ground troops permanently embarked on Naval LCS and High Speed Vessels. Another alternative would be to ground it in the Malacca Straits which are seldom more than 120′ deep and as shallow as 82′ in shipping lanes.

    • tiger

      You do realize You need wind over the deck to launch? That means moving……..

  • BigRick

    Cut the beyond stupid LCS program and there will be plenty of money for keeping all of the carriers around

  • Robert

    In way makes alot sense their retiring the Nimitz Class ships earlier, aside with possible radiation leak/clean up. Keeps the shipyards busy and cycles newer technologies on aging ships. When Nimitz was design, i can’t imagine that folks at Pentagon actually believe turn even of events that would come with 21st Century. Cold War ends, force deductions on large scale, declining production, esclating of costs rearch and development of all things involing the DoD from tiny field weapons to aircraft carriers themselves.

    Its make sense in some ways, but it still doesn’t cure fincianal problems or these actions will cause in the future of the America’s defense forces.

  • ew-3

    I’d be curious what the operating costs of an SSGN are.

    Perhaps we could trade one carrier for 2 or 3 SSGNs. If you figure time on patrol they would give at least as much first strike capability.

  • bart

    The SSGNs would also be safe from these new carrier killing ballistic missiles.

  • Andy

    Would there be any benefit to having more smaller carriers of the Wasp class? Some as regular assault carriers and some without the helicopters but with more F-35Bs. It would seem to me that 80 F-35Bs spread over four locations would be tactically superior to 80 f-35s in one location.

  • OMEGATALON

    The US should consider selling older Nimitz class carriers to countries like Australia as this would allow us to build more CV21 (Gerald R Ford class).

  • jhm

    sigh, once they get rid of this carrier, those carrier cutters will get emboldened and cut another, and another… I really hope that doesnt happen.Plus, if this battle group is eliminated, what happens to the escort ships?

  • May be China can lease nimitz aircraft carrier, i think good idea for defense bugdet cut.

  • Dennis

    You cannot retire any carriers!!!!
    It seems history is repeating itself. Before ww2 we had only 7 carriers. Two where in the Atlantic and one was just finishing construction and another just finished with refit. Japan had 6 fleet carriers in the Pacific against our 3. If it was not for Roosevelt we would not have had those.
    Russia and China have already announced they will or are building carriers and both their Governments hate the U.S. For Russian Government the cold war is not over and the Chinese Government seems to be acting like the Japanese in the 1930’s.
    Today it takes more than 5 years to build a carrier. There more complex to build today. What we will have if a world war breaks out is what we will have to fight with. It wont be like WW2 where we built Carriers in 18 months.

  • Eddie Gentry

    We should look into donating or a lend Policy to put a few aircraft carrier under the UN control. they currently lack a large military muscle, leaving the US to project force to the likes of Somilia and west africa for regional problems, not to mention the Persian Gulf. If they had a carrier or three they could post there and unload this global stabilization burden from the US significantly. If they bad enough they offend the global Morality and International law then the UN would send their forces. a cost burden carried by the globe and also negating more the need or desire for countries like Iran to posture aginst the whole world, not to mention making their intervention in the Warlord Countries easier to implement from a larger force. dumb down the carriers from the High security electronics to international approved systems. refuel once and donate them, along with some standard aircraft they are able to support on the carriers. Such a effort will make a emense dent in our own long term threat defense policy by relieving a lot of these threat we react to thru the years,

  • Derek

    So… send a squadron of F-16 fighting Falcons and 200 Abrams M1A1 Main Battle Tanks to Muslim Brotherhood led Egypt… then start retiring our greatest non nuclear weapons? More GREAT work by Obrozo….

  • david

    why retire the g.w it was commissioned in 92 wasnt the original 1st of class nimitz built about 20 years earlier . then why retire a ship 20 years younger?

  • Edwin Claveria

    DEAR SIR, i am a filipino,,from the PHILIPPINES-…THE my country is faithful ally of the U.S. ESPECIALLY during the 2nd world war…..If i may request to the AMERICAN GOVT. to PLEASE grant this AIRCRAFT CARRIER TO THE PHILIPPINES FOR ITS DEFENSE AGAINST CHINA….CHINA IS BULLYING US.. One reason is the huge mineral, gas and oil deposit we have in the west PHILIPPINE SEA..WHICH WELL WITHIN OUR EEZ….CHINA IS SO GREEDY AND SLY…IF THIS MINERAL RESOURCES (WHICH IS VERY HUGE) WILL BE TAKEN BY CHINA BY FORCE OR ANY OTHER WAY, CHINA WILL BECOME VERY POWERFUL IN THE WHOLE WORLD…..SOON ALL THE OTHER COUNTRY INCLUDING THE UNITED STATE WILL BE UNDER ITS MERCY AND COMMAND….A COMMUNIST SELFISH IDOLOGY IN NATURE…..THE VERY HUGE POPULATION OF CHINA SHOULD IT BECOME THE TOP POWERFUL COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WILL BE A GREAT FACTOR TO EXERCISE WHATEVER IT WANTS TO DO…..AS A MATTER OF FACT.. THE LOYAL COMMUNIOST FOLLOWERS OF CHINA IS INSIDE THE PHILIPPINE GOVT. AND SOCIETY -SPREADING HAVOC ..AND TRYIONG TO OVERTHROW THE DEMOCRATIC GOVT. OF MY COUNTRY WHICH WAS FOUNDED BY THE U.S….
    FOR YOUR INFORMATION- THE IDEAL FILIPINOS LOVE AND WANTS THE AMERICAN PRESENCE IN OUR COUNTRY…IT IS ONLY THIS SPIES FROM CHINA WHO WNTS THE AMERICAN OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES SO THAT CHINA COULD EXERCISE ITS MUSCLE AND SOON WOULD INVADE THE PHILIPPINES
    IF THE PHILIPPINES WILL BE INVADED BY ADDING THE RESOURCES IT HAS—THEN THE NEXT BIG THING IS THE WORLD……PLEASE DONT LET THIS HAPPEN…WE. LIKE YOU , LOVES FREEDOM AND LIBERTY…TOGETER, We can stop CHINA FROM DOING THIS NO MATTER WHAT……..SURELY, YOU DONT LIKE CHINA TO RAISE ITS FLAG IN WASHINGTON ….OR DO YOU?……
    ON THE OTHERHAND , IF YOU COULD GRANT THAT AIRCRAFT CARRIER WITH ITS FULLY GOOD OPERATING CONDITION TO OUR COUNTRY—WE CAN SURELY PAY THAT IN THE NEAR FUTURE–AS WE ARE NOW WANTS TO EXPLOIT GAS AND OIL RESERVE IN THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA, BUT CHINA IS PROHIBITING US WITH ITS NAVAL BLOCKADE…EVEN OUR FISHERMAN ARE BEING DEPRIVED OF FISHING INSIDE OUR WATER…THEY ARE BEING SHOT BY CHINA……RECENTLY, THEY BUILT A MILITARY GARRISON IN THE MISCHEEF REEF THIIS OPLACE IS WELL WITHEN OUR EEZ……EVEN REED BANK- WHICH IS 30 MILES AWAY ONLY TO PALAWAN –CHINA STOP OUR OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION THERE……PLEASE REFER TO THE ON-GOING HISTORY IN THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA OR SOUTH CHINA SEA…..MANY CHINESE POACHER SND ILLEGAL FISHERMEN WITH THEIR FLOTILLA OF ISHING VESSEL ARE INTRUDING OUR WATER WITH THE COMPANY OF THE CHINESE NAVAL SHIPS—WHAT CAN WE DO……PLEASE HELP US….WE HUMBLY ASK YOUR DIVINE HELP …….
    WE NEED TO HAVE THE NAVAL RESOURCES WHICH YOU AE ABOUT O RETIRE AND SOME WHICH ARE NOT SO OLD…..W CAN PAY THOSE BY THE TIME WE COULD FREELY EXPLOIT OUR RESOURCES…EVEN IN THE MAINLAND PHILIPPINES–THRE ARE PLANTY OF MINERAL ORES..SOME ARE BEING RAMPANTLY STOLEN BY THE GREEY CHINESE AND BRING THEM TO THEIR HOMELAND…..PLEASE HELP US SO THST WE CAN BE A USEFUL PARTNER IN THE NEAR FUTUR….MAYBE WE CAN HELP YOU TOO…THANK YOU SO MUCH UNCLE SAM……..LASTLY—THE PHILIPPINES WANTS YOU THERE..,….THE ONE WHO OPPOSE YOU TO BE THERE ARE THE SPIES OF CHINA …WHICH HAVE BEEN TRYING TO DESTABILIZE THE GOVT…..LIKE THE NPA—THE COMMUNIST PARTY WHO ARE CONSTANTLY KILLING INNOCENT CIVILIANS WHO ARE AGAINST THEM AND KILLING MILITARY TOO …WE WANT TO GET RID OF THEM……..THANK YOU AMERICA—YOU ARE OUR BIG BROTHER……WE ARE WITH YOU THRU THICK AND THIN……MAY GOD BLESS OUR TWO COUNTRIES…

  • Edwin Claveria

    AND ALSO, you can build your base there,,,,like in Japan….remember that YOU have built before already the naval base in SUBIC ZAMBALES in the northern tip part of the PHILIPPINES…AND THE AIRFORCE BASE in ANGELES CITY- THE CLARK AIR BASE…..
    THE PHILIPPINES AS AN ARCHIPELAGO IS IN THE STRATEGIC LOCATION MILITARILY AND ECONOMICALLY ALSO OF THE U.S. and THE PHILIPPINES ITSELF….WE ARE YOUR LOYAL LONG TIME ALLY IN THE PACIFIC—AND MAYBE THE FIRST…… we need to build a strong naval and airforce to deter CHINA–AND TO BE A STRONG ALLY OF THE UNITED STATES, LIKE JAPAN……WE CAN ONLY HAVE THESE WEAPONS THRU LONG TME LOAN……..,WE HAVE OUR COLLATERAL …PLEASE SIR……DO DISCUSS THIS THING TO OUR PRESIDENT -AQUINO….OUR ONLY DEDICATED PRESIDENT AND THE RIGHTOUS ONE AFTER HER PREDECESSORS…….THANK YOU SO MUCH…AMERICA

  • A Nicolson

    The UK is currently building two carriers of its own. With forward thinking the two carriers in question should have been assigned to the UK with all refit costs also going their way. The USS Nimitz would be the “new” HMS Queen Elizabeth and the GW could have been the “new” HMS Prince of Wales. At times like this allies should be pulling together and not figuring other ways to waste cash. Save the cash for the bombs and bullets we need to get rid if ISIS / ISIL / IS. but this will not be as the UK squandered cash developing their own smaller ships.

  • Gunner63

    Real simple, cut foreign aid to Isreal at 3.2 billion a year an let’s keep the 11 carrier fleet. I am sick of being Isreal’s bitch.