Magazine article National Defense

Friendly Navies Sought for Unwanted U.S. Ships

Magazine article National Defense

Friendly Navies Sought for Unwanted U.S. Ships

Article excerpt

The delivery of two former Navy warships to Taiwan last month marks the beginning of what is expected to be a busy ship-transfer season for the United States.

Four years after the Navy agreed to turn over its Kidd-class destroyers, all four vessels are now in service with the Taiwanese navy.

On the heels of the Kidd-class transfer is the handoffof the USS Trenton amphibious transport ship to the Indian navy, a transaction that is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2007. The Trenton in recent months gained notice for its participation in humanitarian campaigns, such as hurricane relief in the United States and the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Lebanon.

The handover to the Indian military is what the Navy calls a "hot transfer" - the Trenton will remain in service under U.S. flag until the very same day that India re-commissions it. "Cold" transfers, by comparison, involve ships that have been out of service for an extended period and require extensive repairs and reconditioning.

"Hot transfers are more common than cold ones," says Capt. David Tungett, the Navy's program manager for ship transfers.

Next on the list are the anticipated hot transfers to Egypt of two mine-hunting ships - the USS Cardinal and the USS Raven. These are two of the Navy's 12-ship Osprey class of coastal mine-hunting vessels.

The Navy would like to execute hot transfers for 10 of the 12 Osprey ships, and will keep two in storage for spare parts until the entire class is decommissioned, Tungett says.

The Greek navy currently is the top candidate to receive two mine-hunters, the USS Heron and the USS Pelican. Four others will be offered to Turkey and Lithuania.

Two Osprey-class ships already have been decommissioned from U.S. service and are being offered to Taiwan as a cold transfer.

The Navy's decision to do away with the mine-hunting fleet has stirred controversy, because it leaves the service with no dedicated anti-mine warships. To replace them, the Navy is deploying mine-sweeping and minehunting helicopters aboard amphibious ships and plans to introduce new mine-hunting robotic vehicles with the next-generation littoral combat ship. Critics argue that the Navy is rushing to give away the Osprey class at a time when it may need them for operations in the Persian Gulf or other hotspots where potential enemies would lay underwater mines. Also fueling the debate is the fact that the Osprey class ships are relatively new - all were commissioned in the mid-to-late 1990s. …

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