Inactive frigates, destroyers and other mothballed vessels won't be making their way back to the fleet, Navy leaders have decided, as they look to add dozens of ships to the service's arsenal in the coming decades.
Navy leaders have wrapped up a review of the service's entire list of inactive ships, Vice Adm. Thomas Moore told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, and decided against resurrecting any that are already decommissioned.
Those ships are stored at the Navy's inactive ship maintenance facilities in Philadelphia; Bremerton, Washington; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
"I was just up in Philadelphia on Friday, and we concluded that the cost of bringing them back was pretty expensive. But more importantly, the capability of the platform itself just didn't lend itself well," Moore said.
The Navy looked especially closely at bringing back frigates, Moore said. He told the Defense and Aerospace Report last year that bringing back any old ships would be difficult since they've been used as "spare-parts lockers" in recent years.
Still, he said Tuesday, officials gave every ship another look before ultimately deciding it wasn't the best way to build up the fleet.
"It's not just about the numbers piece; it's also about having ships that can do what you need it to do," Moore said.
Bryan Clark, a retired Navy officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told Defense News that resurrecting frigates would be expensive, and they'd still be capable of carrying out only low-end missions.
"You're not getting a lot of capability; it's not going to be a ballistic missile defense shooter on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean," he told the paper.
Now, the Navy is forging ahead with its plan that will extend the service lives of its existing fleet as it builds up to a 355-ship fleet. Doing so, Moore said, will allow the Navy to reach that size by the early 2030s.
Destroyers, for example, would remain active for at least 45 years, he said. That's five or 10 years longer than their current shelf life.
"With all the ships that we have, if you're willing to do the maintenance on them, you can keep them a little longer," he said.