Not Every Flattop Is an Aircraft Carrier: McGrath at RCD
Why Big Deck Amphibs Can’t Replace the Navy’s CVNs
The debate over refueling the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73), prompted recently by the Obama administration in its FY15 budget submission, has raised larger questions about the size and shape of the Navy’s power projection fleet. The indomitableRobert Farley urged last month that the Navy widen its aperture by simply lumping amphibious assault ships in with aircraft carriers. Farley contends that “…we endure the polite fiction that the USN’s 45,000 ton aircraft carriers are not aircraft carriers, but rather some other kind of creature.” Farley is not alone in his views of the potential for LHDs and LHAs to supplement andm in some cases, replace the larger nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
Let’s face it. A 45,000 ton ship with a large, horizontal flight deck and up to 20 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters sure does look like an aircraft carrier. And I have to admit that on more than one occasion I have very publicly mused at the possibility of making better use of those planes to project seapower ashore rather than simply (or primarily) reserving them for the support of Marines ashore.
We must however, resist the urge to get sloppy with our designations simply because of budget constraints.
Bryan McGrath is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group defense consultancy and the Assistant Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower.
Image: U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Jared Apollo Burgamy