Exasperation is growing over the U.S Navy’s inability to get missiles and weapons delivered fast enough to keep its own magazines full, let alone offer more assistance to Ukraine or other partners in need, several leaders said at this week’s annual Surface Navy Association conference.
“I’m not as forgiving of the defense industrial base,” Adm. Daryl Caudle, the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said Jan. 11. “I am not forgiving the fact that they’re not delivering the ordnance we need, I’m just not.”
“All this stuff about COVID this, parts, supply chain this, I just don’t really care,” he continued. “I need [Standard Missile]-6s delivered on time. I need more [torpedoes] delivered on time.”
Caudle oversees the readiness-generation of all ships, submarines and aircraft on the Atlantic side of the Navy. He said the service is working internally to boost its readiness, including announcing this week the surface fleet would aim to have at least 75 mission-capable ships at all times to send on missions with little notice — but this progress is being hampered by backlogs in industry.
The Navy is buying two submarines a year, but industry is only delivering at a rate of 1.2 a year.
“In five years, instead of delivering 10 fast attack submarines, I got six. Where’s the other four? My force is already four submarines short,” Caudle said. Ships coming out of maintenance availabilities late, both at Navy public yards and private industry yards, worsens the problem. While the Navy should have 10 of its 50 subs in deep maintenance, 19 are in or awaiting repairs.
“Imagine if I was on time, my submarine force would be nine ships larger. That is a significant number,” he said.