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Saying Goodbye to the Lyndon B. Johnson | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Saying Goodbye to the Lyndon B. Johnson

Well, it’s always something.

After writing about the need for long-range procurement of warships just a couple of weeks ago, the math wizards at the Pentagon are looking at cutting the third ship in the Zumwalt-class. Although the Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) is over 40% complete, the bean counters are deciding whether completing the ship is worthwhile.

So, correct me if I am wrong, the Navy is funding a Littoral Combat Ship that can’t fight worth a damn (and wanting to expand it into a frigate – that can’t fight worth a damn), but, after chopping the total number of Zumwalts from 37 to eight and then to three, they can’t even budget enough money to finish the third one?

I know times are tough, but this seems criminally stupid.

Sure, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are decent ships. They almost have the capability of cruisers on a destroyer hull, but the design is over a quarter of a century old. The Ticonderoga-class cruisers, of course, were designed a decade before the Burke.

The Zumwalts were designed to complement both classes of ship and create a ship that wasn’t specifically designed to protect an aircraft carrier. It could do that, of course, but that wasn’t its only function.

Conceptual image of the Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002)
Conceptual image of the Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002)

“The Pentagon has a track record of putting out trial balloons of potential program changes, and we’d view this in that light,” said Robert Stallard, a defense analyst for RBC Capital Markets, to Bloomberg. “The shipbuilding budget is well supported in Congress, but the Navy does face a spending squeeze from 2020.”

The estimated cost of completing the third Zumwalt is approximately $3.5 billion. That money, if the program is cancelled, will be spent on the long-lead items for the replacement of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.

The cancellation isn’t a done deal. Congress already blocked one attempt to limit the Zumwalts to a two-ship class back in 2008.

Replacing ship-classes is a tricky problem. The cost and complexity of a modern warship means that you have to start planning the next generation of ships while the current class is in service. Looking at the history of destroyer design from the end of World War II through today, you see the evolution of the United States’ strategy for naval supremacy.

The ‘tin cans’ of World War II led up to the Mitscher and Forrest Sherman-class destroyers of the Cold War. When anti-air missiles were added to the armaments, the Navy first called them destroyer leaders (DL) and then Guided-Missile Destroyers (DDG). There was a confusing period in the 1970s when some destroyers were reclassified as cruisers, but then the Navy settled down and built the Spruance-class DDs and confiscated the Kidd-class DDGs as they were being built for Iran.

The Arleigh Burkes followed the Spruances and, with the fate of the Zumwalts looking dimmer every day, a follow on class for the Burkes will need to be designed and planned. The high cost of the Zumwalt-class may lead the Navy into a destroyer shortage within the next decade.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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