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$13 billion aircraft carrier now short-sighted

The USS Ranger arriving in Pearl Harbor in 1993. This one is dubbed CV-61. CV is for conventional attack carrier. My ship with the SPN navigational receiver (whose antenna was mounted on the base at very top platform on the mast "island") was similar to this one, named USS Independence, CVA -62. Both are either in or in the process of being moth-balled now. Tons of money, they are! But they've helped keep the nation safe. (Navy file photo)

The USS Ranger arriving in Pearl Harbor in 1993. This one is dubbed CV-61. CV is for conventional attack carrier. My ship with the SPN-38 navigational transponder/receiver (whose antenna was mounted on the base of the very top platform on the mast “island”) was similar. It was the USS Independence, CVA -62. Both are either in, or in the process of being, moth-balled now. Tons of money, they are! But with their long-distance capability they helped keep the nation safe. (Navy file photo)

 

 

By Dan Bodine

 

Talk about being short-sighted! At an average of $13 billion a pop, the U.S. naval planning brigade has stepped in it big-time! Modern-day aircraft carriers, critics say, don’t have the long-range poop for the pop!

A far cry it is from my own navigational-transponder experiences during the Vietnam era. The SPN-38, i.e., from my recollections, only worked “at sea” when we had a factory representative aboard who could stay on top of the damn thing! But in a crisis, our “long-term planning” was up to snuff!

As electronic technicians, for “our safety,” we secretly carried longitude and latitude-reading paper maps with us — just so we could “plug in” correct readings on the sweet little jewel‘s visual display screens when it came time for port call!

The ship’s captain wouldn’t let us go ashore, you see, “’til all the gear was up and working properly.”

Talk about a crisis! Aw, no worry. We pulled out our maps! That’s called being “long-sighted” and prepared.

But naval strategy has gotten away from that type of thinking, it appears. Overall, especially.

A new report prepared for Congress, e.g., has found “that a misguided decision over the past 20 years to prioritize short-range, light attack aircraft — rather than those with deep-strike capabilities and longer range — coupled with the development of new, anti-ship missile technology by several unfriendly nations, jeopardizes the safety of the American vessels,” according to CNN.com today. (my emphasis)

“Today’s carriers and their accompanying air wings, with their shrinking ability to project mass power at great distance, represent 25 years of actively forgetting critical historical lessons,” according to the author’s report.

“The rise of new powers now threatens to push the Navy farther from shore and beyond the range of the aircraft the carriers hold,” according to the report written by naval expert Jerry Hendrix of the Center for New American Security. “This push-back would limit the service’s ability to project power and thus undermine the credibility of the United States.”

According to Hendrix’s report, the loss of seven aircraft carriers during World War II led the Navy to initially prioritize the development of aircraft that could travel long distances — to still hit land-based targets with their planes, and bring them back.

The policy allowed the carrier to stay further away from enemy territory. I was on one of those.

Fortunately my Vietnam-era duty was spent mostly assigned to the eastern seaboard — which meant mostly Northern Atlantic and Mediterranean deployments.

My two years aboard the ol’ USS Indy included many months being battle-ready though cruising off the coasts of the mid-east countries — some at times of hostile conflict.

Being prepared was an important strategy.

More so — personally — when it came time to returning to port in Athens, Greece. Ooo-La-La!

The ol’ SPN-38, afterall, was the back-up to the back-up in the ship’s complex array of navigation systems.

At port call, it needed to be working.

Thanks to the maps!

We made it ashore!

Note to readers: For the past year or so we’ve had a “notifier” bug problem with the site, and are in the process still of chasing it down. You’ll be getting some of my ol’ off-base yarns for a spell now as “test posts” as we work our way through this. Thanks. -db

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