Redeploying Carriers, the U.S. Navy Falls Further Behind


The Ukraine War and the Hamas-Israeli situation have presented the US Navy with new challenges in maintaining and deploying a multi-ocean Navy. Bottom line: Not enough ships, compounded by an ageing fleet that needs replacement.

The recent deployment of two aircraft carrier groups, the Nimitz-class, nearly 50-year-old  USS Enterprise, which was due for decommissioning in 2027, plus the newest USS Ford, herself two years overdue, has created a domino effect. The Ford’s full capability still has not been reached. The electromagnetic catapult system and weapons elevators continue to have limited use, which means the Navy’s premier Lockheed Martin F-35Cs cannot be brought on board.

According to Bryan Clark, a senior fellow and director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, keeping carriers active may be easier than decommissioning them. There are very few companies (only three in the bid to decommission the Enterprise) that have the capability to decommission. The process can take years beginning with removing the nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, the ship occupies a drydock that is needed for new construction.

The Navy recently announced that the plan to start decommissioning the fleet of Nimitz-class aircraft carriers has been bumped aside by redeployment cycles. Translation: more years at sea. That means “at least one extension,” Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, then-commander of Naval Air Forces, said during an August discussion.

The Navy has never been able to fulfill its post-Cold War plan for a permanent aircraft carrier presence in three hubs — the Western Pacific, the wider Middle East, and Europe. To meet its plan the Navy needs 15 carriers, but it currently has only 11 operational carriers.

Peter Herford
Peter Herford
The Seattle-based author has many years of experience in national broadcast news, including years teaching journalism in mainland China.


  1. The Democrats keep cutting the fleet and the military. They would rather spend the time and money on woke practices instead of readyness!

  2. The US has 20 carriers. 11 aircraft and 9 helo. The next closest is France and Japan with 4 each (who are our allies) and China with 3. Russia has 1. Maybe defense spending could be better used towards supporting its own instead. Especially when Senator Tuberville is holding up promotions.

  3. We’re still building aircraft carriers, in other words, the Spanish Armada? With the progression of technology, air and sea drones, smart weapons, advancing A.I., these dinosaurs are incredibly vulnerable, and just great big targets. Remember the sinking of the Russian Flagship Moskva in the Black Sea last year? That’s the future. They have to sail further and further from land, and their cost at 15 billion dollars apiece is an insane waste of money. I’m afraid this won’t stop until one is sunk, with thousands aboard, or badly damaged, and then they’ll stop building to win the last war.


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