Monday, February 9, 2015
Navy Plans To Augment Pearl Fleet By Two Ships
William Cole, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Feb 7
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Friday during a stop at Pearl Harbor on his way to Australia and New Zealand that Hawaii – the “gateway” for the Pacific re-balance – will see a net gain of two surface ships by 2020.
Three guided-missile destroyers will replace three aging cruisers here, but Pearl Harbor also will gain an additional destroyer and a troop- and equipment-carrying Joint High Speed Vessel catamaran, the Navy said.
Pearl Harbor is the home port for 12 surface ships now, according to Navy Region Hawaii.
Greenert held an “all hands call” at Pearl Harbor’s Bloch Arena to take sailors’ questions and hear their concerns, with about 2,000 Navy personnel attending.
The highest-ranking officer in the Navy fielded questions about aircraft carrier numbers, the high costs of some ships, uniforms, possible changes to retirement, whether knowledge of the U.S. Constitution should be required in the Navy, and other issues.
One sailor inquired about women on submarines and asked Greenert whether he felt that was a good idea with the “cramped spaces” aboard the ships.
“We’ve had women in the Navy for over 30 years,” Greenert responded, to applause. “My point is, we’ve worked through these things before, and there’s been doubt and wonder because it’s change, and I understand that.”
Greenert also said considering the population of the United States, “we need women in the Navy. We need many more than we have.”
Female officers already have served on ballistic missile and guided-missile submarines, he noted.
“I think we’ll get through this just fine. We’re on a track to do it, (and) we’ll do it deliberately,” he said.
The first women on Virginia-class attack submarines in the Pacific will serve on the USS Texas and USS Mississippi at Pearl Harbor starting in fiscal 2016, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last year.
Greenert was asked about the number of aircraft carriers to be operated by the Navy.
“We need 11 carriers to do the job that we need to do,” Greenert said. When the USS Gerald R. Ford is finished in 2016, “we’ll go from 10 to 11 carriers. We have 10 today,” Greenert said.
“It is right now the plan to be at 11 carriers as far out as I can see,” he added.
Greenert said he is headed to Darwin, Australia, where by the end of the decade, the U.S. Navy expects to be sending amphibious ships and 2,500 Marines for exercises in Southeast Asia.