The U.S. Navy plans to inactivate half of its fleet of Ticonderoga-class cruisers for a return to service in 2019, changing a 2012 request to fully decommission seven of the cruisers, Defense News reported Sunday.
Christopher Cavas reports the Navy hopes to lengthen the missile cruisers’ service lives through a phased modernization program, as it views the 22-ship fleet as critical in the defense of its aircraft carriers.
According to the report, the cruisers are facing the end of their lifespan within the next decade and currently no ready replacement following the 2010 cancellation of the CG(X) next-generation cruiser program.
However, Congress is instead proposing to let destroyer ships take over the primary defensive role in aircraft carrier deployments, writes Cavas.
“We have done air defense with missile destroyers before,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, director of surface warfare for the Navy.
“But the density of the ship, the ability to add staff to the ship, the reduced command, control and communications equipment on our destroyers really makes them not as optimal an air defense commander ship as our cruisers.”
Rowden noted the differences in the radar transmitters, missile cells and communication suites between cruisers and destroyers alongside their different operational functions.
The report said the current cruisers would leave service by 2028, but if the 11 cruisers are temporarily inactivated, they would still be operational until 2035 to 2045 after reactivation, allowing more time for the development of replacement ships.