Amphibs, warships split up by new plan

USS Essex (LHD 2) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) receive fuel from fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204)

USS Essex (LHD 2) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) receive fuel from fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204)

Given the current low-intensity warfare and the extreme shortage of ships and money:

The Navy is breaking up the deployments of amphibious ships and surface combatants formerly known as expeditionary strike groups, part of a top-down review that could have far-reaching consequences for how sailors and Marines spend time at sea.

For the past six years, ESGs paired a big-deck amphib and two small-deck gators with two or three surface combatant escorts. Now, the gators and warships will go separately.

As of March 9, the gator groups were renamed “amphibious ready groups,” reviving a term that was shelved several years ago, and combined with the name of their accompanying Marine expeditionary unit, said Lt. Cmdr. Phil Rosi, a spokesman for Fleet Forces Command. Although these were the first changes to come from a joint Navy-Marine ESG working group, they won’t be the last, he said.

Though full-on warfare is pretty limited right now, the demands on the fleet are as high as ever. There are only so many ships to go around, and current procurement plans aren’t going to do a lot to change that. The overwhelming power of an ESG isn’t in real high demand at the moment. So expect a lot of juggling along these lines as the Navy tries to squeeze every bit of productivity it can out of what they’ve left themselves with.