December 17, 2021

The Navy is Rusting Away Thanks to a Crushing Deployment Cycle

Source: Task and Purpose

Journalist: Jeff Shogol

For decades, the Navy has pushed its ships and sailors to the breaking point in order to maintain a constant presence around the world, and now several Navy vessels are in such dire need of maintenance that their unseaworthy appearance is an embarrassment to the United States. The Navy spends billions of dollars a year fighting corrosion; yet ship watchers have posted images for years of Navy vessels covered in running rust, including the destroyers USS Curtis Wilbur and USS James E. Williams as well as the dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry.

The outward signs of corrosion on Navy ships are visible evidence that the service’s operations tempo is so crushing that it has become difficult to do all of the necessary maintenance needed to keep rust at bay.


Most recently, longtime naval journalist and commentator Chris Cavas shared pictures on Twitter that showed the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke covered in rust.

“Rust is found on ships that have high op tempo,” said Wasser, a fellow with CNAS’ defense program. “Constant operations really means that there’s less time for the necessary maintenance and upkeep.”

The non-stop operations also take a toll on the sailors who are constantly underway, she said. Not only is it harder for sailors to stay current on their qualifications if they are always at sea, but longer deployments also mean that sailors are spending more time away from their families

Read the full story and more from Task & Purpose.


  • Becca Wasser

    Senior Fellow, Defense Program

    Becca Wasser is a Senior Fellow for the Defense Program and lead of The Gaming Lab at the Center for a New American Security. Her research areas include defense strategy and o...