Gortney: ‘We Can’t Afford Not To Do Optimized Fleet Response Plan’

(SEAPOWER 24 JAN 14) … Richard R. Burgess

ARLINGTON, Va. – The new 36-month readiness cycle being implemented for the Navy’s carrier strike groups (CSGs) is essential in order to afford to deploy the CSGs to meet the requirements of national defense.

Speaking Jan. 23 in a teleconference with reporters as a follow-on to his Jan. 15 address to the Surface Navy Association convention, ADM William E. Gortney, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said that in the restricted budget environment the new Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) is necessary to afford the readiness needed.

The Navy is implementing a gradual realignment of its ship deployment and maintenance plans to create a 36-month cycle for its carrier strike groups. The OFRP is designed to keep two carriers and 27 escorting cruisers and destroyers deployed at all times (including the forces forward-deployed) for the next two years to foster stability and predictability for the crews, create more unity of command and ensure maintenance is executed on schedule.

“Given the fiscal uncertainty of the future, if we don’t do Optimized FRP, if we don’t change the way we generate our forces, we’re not going to be able to survive an uncertain fiscal future,” Gortney said, as he recounted his response to a question from a group on master chief petty officers on Jan. 22. “These are all key areas to make us more effective at a lower cost. We can’t afford not to do Optimized FRP.”

Beginning in November with the USS Harry S. Truman CSG, the carrier and its escorts will enter a 36-month cycle that will begin with maintenance availabilities, followed by basic and integrated training, and culminating in an eight-month deployment. The last 14 months of the cycle would be spent at home, with availability for surge and local operations. Succeeding CSGs will follow in implementing their own 36-month cycles.

The current average of eight to nine deployments in 24-month cycle is “not sustainable over the long haul,” Gortney said. “We’ve got to get our force-generation model back under control.”

With the OFRP, the Navy will fix the unit composition of the CSG so that the same ships and squadrons remain for the full 36-month cycle. The service will try to stabilize manning as well as and maintenance execution and improve the quality of life for the Sailors and their families.

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