A dramatic signal from the Pentagon about the impact of automatic budget cuts. The U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group presence in the Persian Gulf will shrink from two to one. The decision went into effect immediately. Currently the U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is the only carrier in the region. With $500 billion in defense cuts looming over the next 10 years, the Navy can’t justify the cost of two carriers. The Pentagon estimates the Navy would save hundred million dollars per year by only having one carrier in the Persian Gulf. There have been two carrier groups in the Gulf for nearly two years.
“The Secretary of Defense has delayed the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and the USS Gettysburg (CG-64), which were scheduled to depart Norfolk, Virginia., later this week for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility according to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.
“Facing budget uncertainty — including a continuing resolution and the looming potential for across-the-board sequestration cuts — the U.S. Navy made this request to the Secretary and he approved. This prudent decision enables the U.S. Navy to maintain these ships to deploy on short notice in the event they are needed to respond to national security contingencies.
“The United States will continue to maintain a robust military presence in the CENTCOM region, including the current carrier presence and a mix of other assets, to fulfill enduring commitments to our partners. The U.S. military continues to stand ready to respond to any contingency and to confront any threat in the region.”
It would take about two weeks for a carrier group to get to the Persian Gulf from Norfolk, if needed. The Navy currently has a total of 10 nuclear powered aircraft carriers in the fleet, but only three are forward deployed at any given time. Two are normally in the Persian Gulf and one, the U.S.S. George Washington (CVN-73), is permanently stationed in Japan. Typically, carriers are deployed at sea for six months, but due to budget constraints, deployments have lasted closer to nine months.