The Pentagon tried to mothball one of its aircraft carriers twice this year and kept getting shut down
The Pentagon has tried twice in the past year to push a plan that would retire the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman decades early and cut its air wing
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The Pentagon has tried twice in the past year to push a plan that would retire the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman decades early and cut its air wing.
Last month, amid fiscal year 2021 budget negotiations between the Department of Defense and the White House's Office of Management and Budget, the Pentagon pushed a plan to retire the flat top early rather than move forward with plans for its mid-life refueling in fiscal year 2024 and continued service after that.
“The Navy's does not refuel the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN-75) or maintain its associated air wing,” an OMB memo obtained by Defense News reads.
By not moving forward with the refueling complex overhaul, during which the carrier's nuclear reactor is refueled, the Truman's 50-year hull life would be cut in half.
The OMB response to the Pentagon's proposed budget instructs the Department of Defense to provide a carrier refueling plan for the next 30 years that “includes the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN.” The Pentagon complied and restored funding for both the carrier and its air wing.
The Pentagon also proposed major cuts to the size of the fleet overall through early decommissioning of a handful of littoral combat ships and dock landing ships and by defunding the construction of a number of destroyers. OMB instructed the Pentagon to present a plan consistent with ambitions for a 355-ship Navy, according to Defense News.
The recent negotiations mark the second time this year the Navy has tried to decommission the Truman ahead of schedule.
“We made the difficult decision to retire CVN 75 (USS Harry S. Truman) in lieu of its previously funded refueling complex overhaul that was scheduled to occur in FY 2024,” the Navy said in an overview of the fiscal year 2020 budget released in March.
The decision was purportedly made to free up funds for the development of unmanned, attritable systems that would better prepare the Navy to take on near-peer threats.
The plan to retire the Truman early faced pushback from Congress, and in April, the White House publicly reversed course on the budget plans, with Vice President Mike Pence announcing aboard the carrier that “the USS Harry S. Truman is going to be giving 'em hell for many more years to come.”
The next day, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was “overriding the Decommission Order of the magnificent aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman,” effectively reversing his own administration's plan.
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