In Press: No Reserve Ships On The Road To 355

by Craig Hooper on March 7, 2019

Glad to see the Navy finally, irrevocably, kill off the pipe-dream of resurrecting the FFG-7s. As I said about two years ago, when I first panned the fever-dreams of the “Reactivate the FFG-7” crowd, “America need FFGs less than a policy and strategy to guide the graceful transition of combatants from front line duties, through reserve/potential recall status and all the way to the ship’s ultimate retirement.” Hopefully, now that we’re committing to keeping the DDG-51s operational, there will be more thinking along those lines. But here’s my two-cents on the ultimate death of the FFG-7s in the Times Record:

“The scheme to raid the reserve fleet was a figment of (a) fevered and uninformed imagination. It was unrealistic from the start,” he said. “The important thing to note is that the calls to restore the (frigates) was based more upon emotion than upon rational thought.”

According to Hooper, the frigates the Navy was hoping to revive would simply be far too expensive to prepare to reenter the fleet for the limited service life they would provide. The old ships would be essentially obsolete in today’s Navy, he said.

But, of course, as with any big decisions regarding naval ships, the irrepressible Nathan Strout wondered if an FFG-7 reactivation would have meant more work for Bath Ironworks.

My answer was, well, no. This is not the type of work Bath either wants or needs.

Bath is a fabrication yard, and the skills required for repair and for new construction are different. Repair–particularly a repair and restoration of thirty-year old hulks–is not a good business to be in. Well…not really. Repairing a thirty-year old hulk for a paying customer could be great (GREAT!) business. But not for Bath. Sure, Bath would be a logical contender to serve as the planning yard, but competition from scrappy yards like Detyens or BAE Jax, or Philly Shipyard would drive the margins for the refit itself down to nothing.

For Bath, if they’re going to stay on as part of the General Dynamics constellation of businesses, it’s probably win the FFG or bust (or become some sort of a sub maintaining yard, but that’s a post for another day).

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