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US CNO welcomes fleet-plan debate

Addressing recent criticism by US lawmakers about the US Navy (USN) shipbuilding and future-fleet plans, Admiral Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations (CNO), said he would welcome further discussion on those plans.

“I’m not critical of their criticism,” Adm Gilday said on 5 April during a media roundtable hosted by the Defense Writers Group. “I welcome the debate. There ought to be a robust debate on the future composition of the fleet. We will continue to have that discussion.”

Adm Gilday touted the recent navy fleet plans, which, he noted, were grounded in analysis driven by the Pentagon, and informed by analysts and experts from the Defense Department, think-tanks, academia, retired military, and naval services.

“This was not just navy self-speak where the navy did the analysis on its own. That’s a requirements document, not based on some pie-in-the-sky numbers, but grounded in analysis,” he said.

However, lawmakers have raised issues with the Pentagon analysis and subsequent fleet plans, questioning the reliance on unmanned platforms at the expense of mondernising legacy warships like cruisers, taking their vertical launch system (VLS) cells out of operations.

“We do not need to decommission 10 cruisers overnight because those VLS cells are not going to be replaced immediately by autonomous ships,” US Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia), House Armed Services Committee (HASC) vice chairman, said on 18 March during a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) online naval discussion.

“We have those ships today,” she noted. “What is the investment to extend their lives for an additional 10 years? We can’t decommission them faster than we can build replacements.”

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