Navy's top officer sees shorter sea stints, more ships in Pacific
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors can expect to spend shorter times at sea and see more ships forward deployed to the Pacific, the Navy’s new chief of naval operations told an all-hands briefing Thursday.
Adm. John Richardson, who is visiting the region for the first time since his appointment last month, said the Navy is planning to cap all future deployments at seven months, with the new tempo fully in place after 2017.
“Between now and then, few and fewer ships will be planned to deploy longer than seven months,” he told sailors at Yokosuka. “With the plan that’s in place and continuing to work on execution, I think that seven-month deployments are achievable.”
The Navy has recently made changes to its Pacific forces, sending more ships to Yokosuka and replacing older vessels with newer or modernized ones as part of Washington’s “Pacific pivot,” which has a goal of sending 60 percent of the Navy assets to the region by 2020.
Under a 30-year ship-building plan, the Navy is on course to see its submarine fleet drop by 25 percent in the 2020s. Despite those reduced numbers, the Navy is building more ships and will continue to send them to the Pacific, Richardson said.
“We are moving a submarine to Guam, which allows it to have a more forward presence,” he said. “We’re moving more forces to Yokosuka; we are moving more forces to Singapore … We are going to have more ships by 2020 than we have today. We will continue to manage the inventories as best we can by continuing to look at these forward-deployed options.”