The aircraft carrier strike group is composed of a carrier and air wing, a submarine, and five or six escort destroyers and cruisers. The escorts protect the carrier by interdicting enemy units attacking the group.
Unfortunately, at times the carrier has only one escort because the other ships are dispersed hundreds or even thousands of miles from the carrier to carry out “patrol missions, exercises and port calls”. An example of this policy occurred in 2008 when the Carrier Theodore Roosevelt visited South Africa while some of its escorts were in the Mediterranean and another escort went to France for a D-Day event.
As stated, the Navy is comfortable dispersing the ships because we are not “facing direct, hot war threats”, but what would happen if Russia or China with its submarines and missile delivery systems decides to launch surprise attacks against our carriers? One escort and the air wing cannot protect a carrier from a large scale attack.
Our carrier strike groups should remain intact when they are deployed, and ancillary events should be handled by other ships in the fleet, or possibly not at all.
We currently have 283 naval ships, which is the smallest U.S. Navy since 1916, and it is 17 ships short of the recognized minimum of 300 ships. It is a woefully inadequate number of ships.
We need more ships.
Commentary by Donald A. Moskowitz of Londonderry NH. He is a former AG2 and LT, USN.