Hot Topic: Is the USS Truman Really Retiring Early? 

Hot Topic: Is the USS Truman Really Retiring Early?  | Frontline Videos

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jay C. Pugh / Public Domain


On February 27, 2019, the Pentagon announced that the scheduled 2024 midlife refueling and overhaul of the USS Harry S Truman might be cancelled. Instead, they proposed retiring the carrier early and shifting the budget towards next-generation capabilities like unmanned vessels.

But Congress is not a fan, and neither is the White House.

Here are the arguments for and against retiring the USS Truman early:

Retirement Pros

The Military Sealift Command ship USNS Spica (T-AFS 9) steams alongside USS Harry S. Truman during an Underway Replenishment. | U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class John L. Beeman / Public Domain
  • Money, money, money – The greatest argument for retiring the ship early is money. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer believes it would be much better to focus on buying two Ford-class carriers.
  • The Ford-class carrier – Ford-class carriers are going to be the new standard, so why bother with the old? The new carriers will have a higher sortie launch rate, require fewer sailors, and are easier to maintain.
  • China – Another argument is that carriers in general are becoming less significant as countries are developing powerful long-range weapons. China’s precision anti-ship missiles, for example, pose a threat to U.S. carriers creeping anywhere closer than 1,000 nautical miles from the mainland. Why wait to make the switch to robotic vessels and unmanned scout ships?

Retirement Cons

  • Requirements won’t be met – Decommissioning the Truman early could mean that the number of carriers will dwindle to a measly 9 by 2046. That’s 3 less than the required 12.
  • Problems with Ford – It would be a disaster to retire the Truman and have the Ford-class carriers not even work properly. To date, the new carriers have been plagued with issues. It is several years behind schedule, and while we can appreciate that these things can’t be rushed, it’s been an awfully large money pit.

  • The USS Truman is young – Many have a hard time justifying the retirement of a good thing early. The Truman is still very young at about 25 years, and it’s been doing it’s job well.
  • We still need carriers – Representative Elaine Lauria , a retired navy commander, believes the presence of carriers are needed more than ever. Without them, U.S. power is weakened. She says,

“We’re planning to decommission six cruisers, no investment in a ship to shore connector, decommission an aircraft carrier halfway through its life cycle and decommission 11 minesweepers, yet we’re doing everything we can to meet (combatant commander requests)?”

At The End Of The Day, It’s A Money Issue

What do you think should be done about the USS Truman?


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