Secretary Spencer Needs To Stop His Business Analogies

by Craig Hooper on October 23, 2019

I don’t know where Secretary Spencer gets his business analogies for his “set” stump speeches, but he tells one about the Truman CVN that…is just wrong. And he tells it a lot, too. Somebody do the Secretary a favor and cut the story out of his speeches.

I’ve heard it several times; he’ll start talking about how “in business” if somebody sees even a modest increase in return or efficiency on something, the offending inefficiency will immediately be replaced or retired. Then, on the basis of the anecdotes from “business”, he tries to make the case that the Ford Class is far more efficient than the Nimitz Class (Fewer crew! More Sorties! etc. etc), ergo, the Nimitz Class should go.

But…there are no metrics on the Ford! It’s all notional baloney.

In business, real businesses use metrics to make decisions. For the Ford, the SECNAV is using decidedly rosy assumptions. He cites notional Ford performance benchmarks that have been repeatedly walked back over the course of planning, production and testing the vessel. The trends in sortie generation, crew size and a whole lot else are pointing the wrong way.

The Ford carrier that deploys will be far less formidable than the one originally advertised.

Now, once the Ford performs, the Nimitz Class will disappear. But the Ford has to perform. And it isn’t. Not yet.


Bryan November 6, 2019 at 1:34 pm

There are at least two ways to use efficiency. In the case of the carrier the Navy decided on more is better. While we are certainly paying for the transformational model and it’s immature technology use, we are also paying for a more is better sortie generation rate, power that we do not need and reduced manning that we could never actual achieve.

In fact most people who have lived it will explain SGR is a strategic parlor trick(if you need it, you can’t use it and if you can use it, you don’t need it) and the power needed may never actually be needed. The precious laser the Navy wants has a physics problem. I believe they will someday come to that conclusion just like they did with most other transformational tech.

We don’t need the SGR of the Nimitz class. It could be lower. We certainly didn’t need to increase it. What miniaturization and proper maturation of technology on the reactor, elevators, arresting gear and catapult could have given us is a 10-15% smaller carrier hull and flight deck. By using a similar elevator and catapult arrangement we would have duplicated the Nimitz class SGR while maintaining the same space for the crew and an expansion to an 80 plane flight deck.

Instead of keeping pace with inflation we got the Ford. Over the next decade the Navy is going to wish it understood the fallacy of more is better. They will long for using technology to trade space inflation. We are all going to pay for this mess in ways they/we cannot even imagine. I just hope it isn’t losing the war that I believe all historic and intelligence indications show China will start in the near future.

Don Bacon October 24, 2019 at 12:48 pm

It doesn’t matter much, most carriers aren’t deployed, they are in port or depot most of the time. Currently two (of eleven) are deployed here.

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