March 1, 2009  

Destroyer daze

TO THE NAVY for not knowing what it wants. Trying to decipher where the Navy is headed with its new ship programs is increasingly a voyage into unclear waters. Last year, the Navy back-pedaled on the DDG 1000 destroyer, the price tag for which has hit $6 billion a piece and which may now be in a Nunn-McCurdy breach. After long defending its need for the DDG 1000, the Navy reversed course and said the program wasn’t right for the threat after all and it would switch back to the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Now it’s touting a yet-to-be-defined “future surface combatant,” as the answer. The Navy hasn’t decided what it wants the FSC to be — perhaps a ship based on the DDG 1000; perhaps a version of the DDG 51 — or what it wants the FSC to do. Navy leadership needs to return to their new maritime strategy, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower,” define the roles of the future surface fleet from that mission, and then apply a laser-like focus to developing only those vessels that will deliver that capability.