On 17 October 2014 the U.S. Navy’s oldest warship, the USS Constitution, got under way ahead of a three-year maintenance period.1 Unlike other surface combatants entering shipyards in the next few years, she will not receive ballistic-missile-defense upgrades or directed-energy weapons. Nor will she be called on to deploy in support of combatant commanders around the world when she leaves the yard. While a national treasure, the Constitution is the shining example of maintenance without modernization. At almost 220 years old, she has not advanced one iota in countering threats developed over the last two centuries, yet she is still able to get under way. While other ship classes have undergone expensive modernizations to pace the threat, some have not, and entire classes of ships have been decommissioned. There is another path, that of payloads, which can breathe life into older or less capable ships and allow some to serve in missions for which they were not originally intended, and for others, the ability to stay relevant throughout their service lives.
Maintenance, Modernization & Modules
The key to rebuilding and retaining naval readiness? Take greater advantage of the Military Sealift Command fleet’s potential versatility.
By Captain Robert N. Hein, U.S. Navy