Navy may cancel plans to extend lives of Burke-class destroyers

March 13 (UPI) — The Navy is jettisoning plans to add 10 years to the expected service lives of its destroyer fleet.

James Geurts, the Navy’s Assistant Secretary for Research, Development and Acquisition, submitted written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee saying performing service life extensions on Arleigh-Burke class destroyers is not cost-effective.

“Service life extensions can be targeted, physical changes to specific hulls to gain a few more years, or a class-wide extension based on engineering analysis,” the testimony said. “The Navy has evaluated the most effective balance between costs and capability to be removing the service life extension on the DDG 51 class.”

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said in December that the Navy needs to grow its fleet to 355 ships.

But the cancellation of service life extensions means that between 2026 and 2034 the branch will lose 27 destroyers from the battle force, according to Defense News.

Under the proposed fiscal year 2021 defense budget, the Navy has essentially the same funding as in fiscal year 2020, but according to Vice Chief of Naval Operations Amd. Robert Burke said inflation reduces the branch’s buying power.

“It’s about enough to keep a fleet of between 305 and 310 ships properly manned, trained, equipped and maintained,” Burke told Congress during hearings on the Pentagon budget. “And we’re not going to recommend increasing ship numbers if we can’t keep them properly equipped manned and ready to fight.”

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