March 22, 2013

USS Reagan CO Speaks to Carrier Relevance

Commander of one of the world's largest carriers dismisses idea that the ships should be phased out of the U.S. military

The commander of one of the world's biggest aircraft carriers dismissed the idea that the U.S. military should phase out its carriers because they’re too costly and irrelevant.The non-partisan "Center for a New American Security" recently published a piece that has brought new energy to a debate that had existed for decades.In the article, Capt. Henry J. Hendrix, USN (Ph.D.) outlined his thoughts about replacing carriers the writing, “After 100 years, the carrier is rapidly approaching the end of its useful strategic life.

”Not so, said Capt. Thom Burke, Commanding Officer of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.“Those kinds of comments are going to come and go but the carrier continues to prove its effectiveness,” Capt. Burke said.USS Ronald Reagan returned to its homeport Thursday with several thousand crew members.“Getting a big ship this in, there’s just nothing fast about it,” Capt. Burke said.The carrier spent 14 months in Washington where it was overhauled.

The ship, now with a clean hull and refurbished rudders, is only 10 years into its 50-year lifespan.Its commander said the argument that aircraft carriers are “irrelevant” is an old debate.In fact, Capt. Hendrix made a similar argument four years ago in a piece he entitled: "Buy Fords, Not Ferraris." He discussed "The Carrier Dilemma" again two years ago. According to Capt. Burke, the aircraft carrier and its strike group are in the top tier of U.S. military assets that are always ready on call.“When the president wants a mobile platform that can take sovereign territory anywhere in the world almost, he’s often asking for an aircraft carrier,” Capt. Burke said.The carrier will be in San Diego for about a month completing some maintenance.

Then, Capt. Burke said the plan is to get USS Ronald Reagan out to sea in May.With government budget cuts like sequestration the carrier’s scheduled deployment of early 2014 could change.