The US Navy's 11-ship aircraft carrier fleet may lose the USS Harry S Truman in 2024, ratcheting the size of the carrier fleet down 9 percent, Breaking Defense reported Wednesday afternoon.
A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to confirm the USS Truman's retirement, noting that the Department of Defense "can't speculate" on "pre-decisional budgetary matters."
The measure would help the Navy save about $30 billion over two-and-a-half decades, the report by Breaking Defense notes, adding that the news is set to be announced in mid-March as part of the 2020 to 2024 budget plan.
It's worth noting that while the USS Truman may be scrapped ahead of schedule, such a decision would come on the heels of the Pentagon's move to push Congress into authorizing a double-buy of the newer Ford-class aircraft carriers.
The decision to retire USS Truman early is probably going to spur outrage within the US Congress. "I can't imagine this will go over well at all," a Hill staffer told Breaking Defense. Lawmakers have previously written into law the requirement that the Navy have at least 11 carriers.
With ships retiring faster than shipbuilders can produce new ones, the Hill staffer says "not only would the fleet not reach 12 any time over the next 30 years, the carrier force would number nine ships for a majority of the 2040s."
The story was first reported by the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who broke the news in a bullet point in an article about Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. "Plans call for buying two new aircraft carriers, a vastly expensive purchase of what critics say are vulnerable platforms. Shanahan opposed buying the carriers in internal debates, but facing opposition, he settled for a compromise: The Navy will shelve plans to rehab one of its midlife carriers, potentially saving as much as $4 billion," Ignatius wrote on Tuesday.
It's not clear why the Washington Post and Breaking Defense have different figures on how much would be saved.