An Department of Defense internal study suggests cutting two aircraft carriers from the fleet — one of several significant changes that would change the U.S. Navy’s force structure were it adopted, according to a report.
Defense News reported that in addition to calling for a fleet of nine carriers instead of 11, the plan would freeze the fleet of destroyers and cruisers at current levels and add 65 unmanned or lightly manned surface vessels to the plan.
The proposal is part of a review of Navy force structure, and represents an indication that the Navy is moving toward a more affordable and agile unmanned fleet, according to the report.
A fleet of that makeup would mean only six or seven carriers would be available at a time, and the Navy would have to change the way they operate around the globe, focusing more on “surging” carriers during emergencies.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Defense News that even with a greater emphasis on unmanned assets, “carriers are very important,” and they would remain a critical part of the force structure.
ARABIAN SEA (April 17, 2020) Personnel assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) conduct small boat operations during a training exercise April 17, 2020. Ike is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brennen Easter/Released)