Squeezing more life out of the Arleigh Burkes

DDGs Stetham and Fitzgerald

Arleigh Burke class destroyers
USS Stethem (DDG 63) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)

U.S. Navy To Extend Destroyers’ Service (subscription only)

The U.S. Navy will add five years to the planned 35-year service lives of its workhorse Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, according to the service’s latest version of its 30-year shipbuilding plan.

The plan was issued Feb. 4 in conjunction with the Defense Department’s 2009 budget request.

To field a fleet of at least 313 ships beyond 2020, the service must modernize its destroyers and CG 47-class cruisers, the plan says.

Between 2021 and 2038, 165 ships will reach the end of their expected service lives – twice as many as will be retired from 2009 and 2020, according to the report.

The fact that the Navy is having to extend the life of these ships to meet the 313 goal, plus the fact that the projected budget to make the plan work went through the roof, shows just how badly the Navy is screwed. And it’s not like it’s breaking news, as questions were raised immediately after the plan was announced. Add to that the ongoing problems with the LCS program and the uncertainty of the DD(X) program and we’ve got a recipe for disaster. Already, the Navy is planning to build fewer ships than called for.

Except for the first five in the class that don’t carry the Vertical Launching System (VLS) and have been decommissioned, the Ticonderoga-class cruisers are being upgraded. One of the Flight 1 Ticos, the USS Valley Forge (CG-50), was sunk in weapons tests in 2006. CG(X) is likely to be delayed given the issues with DD(X), so getting the Ticos up to snuff and keeping them there is crucial.


  1. I am concerned that the Arleigh Burke’s are not going to be able to take the pounding. They are already starting to fray at the edges. Given the Navy’s future basing concepts ‘from the sea’ and all that, the Burke’s are going to used more then ever. If the Navy was a commercial operation – the board of directors would of fired and the stock holders would of been sue the stuffing out of anyone in charge. Of all the procurement debacles we bitch about, the Navy’s is the worst by far. The Navy has lost control of its procurement system, its letting the vendors design the ships. The Navy’s tactics are flawed and in numerous war games, proven flawed, but the Navy cannot address those flaws because it has no control over its ship building. We have a Navy that is full of bluster but short of substance. If we ever get in an actual shooting war, its going to sink like a rock. People are going to be shocked to see just how vulnerable our ships are. I would hate to see thousands of sailors die in order for us to get our ship building house in order, but I am afraid that is what its going to take. The only solution I see is for the Navy to relearn how to build and design ships. The Navy is going to have to rethink its concept on how ships fight and the limitations of its designs. The DD(X) must be scrapped – its is so very wrong on so many ways. ‘All composite deckhouse?’ on a warship? why? to see how toxic fires are started? A quick solution is to buy a stake in a ship yard (preferably Korean or Japanese) and have that ship yard build prototype ships and train the Navy on how to build a ship.

  2. So you’re saying all that aluminum foil and heavy gage stamped cardboard they make those tubs out of won’t take much of a shot? Bah! We’ll NEVER have to worry about that, because we have TOTAL air dominance (for some reason this is where I always get a horrible mental image of our fighters dressed up in leather and chrome) and our ship defence systems are state of the art (bad mental image of 12 grade art teacher in leather and chrome)…… OK, I’m done now!