USS Reagan (CVN-76) in drydock during a maintenance "availability."
Navy Will Cancel Maintenance On 23 Ships On Feb. 15; Small Shipyards, Readiness At Risk
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: February 1, 2013
WASHINGTON: The cliff is closer than you think. Pop quiz: When does congressional gridlock start to undermine military readiness? March 2nd, when the automatic cuts known as sequestration will begin to go into effect? March 27, when the Continuing Resolution now funding the government on a stop-gap basis will expire?
Give up? It's February 15, when the Navy will start to cancel $604 million of major maintenance on 23 warships. (This date applies to the major maintenance work across the services, but it's tougher on the Navy for reasons explained below.)
The 23 ships include two of the 10 remaining aircraft carriers, USS Eisenhower and USS Stennis. Also affected are two of the fleet's small and aging force of minesweepers, in high demand in the Persian Gulf and recently reduced from 14 ships to 13 when one, the USS Guardian, was totaled on a Pacific reef; two of its "big deck" amphibious ships, essentially small aircraft carriers that also transport Marines, and two mid-size amphibs; and 15 of its workhorse Arleigh Burke destroyers.
The ships can sail on without the overhauls – which the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert likened to driving your car without changing the oil – but skipping maintenance is especially risky at a time when the fleet is being deployed longer and worn down faster than ever before while it tries to keep watch on both China and Iran at once.