“The military is poised to decide whether it will use the littoral combat ship to stop illegal drug shipments from South and Central America to the United States.
“The move, amid pressure from lawmakers and the military command covering the Southern Hemisphere, would signal a new intensity in combating the importing of illegal drugs amid a tidal wave of opioid deaths in the U.S. It would also mean a program that has seen near-constant churn as the Navy has struggled to integrate the ship into the fleet may see more changes ― if it does have to gear up for a new mission.
There are some surprising remarks by a retired Navy Captain, reflecting what many of us believe.
“…Ultimately, if the Congress was serious about combating drugs in SOUTHCOM, he said, it should adequately fund the Coast Guard.
“What they oughta do is take a few billion from the Defense Department’s budget and give it to the Coast Guard,” Hoffman said.
“Operating Navy ships is expensive, and, at that cost, it may not be practical to send gray hulls,” he said, adding that the Coast Guard can do the job cheaper and better.
This may also reflects a desire among many in the Navy to avoid this mission.
As a side note, I would observe that the frequent assertion that the Navy is being run ragged bears some examination as to why. It does not seem to be because the ships are underway that much. The US Naval Institute News service provides a weekly “Fleet and Marine Tracker.” You can see the most recent here. Among other things it provides a number of ships in the fleet and number of ships underway. Generally the number underway is only a little over one quarter of the fleet total, and it almost never exceeds one third.
Note, I am not saying the crews are not overworked, I am just saying, it is not because they are underway too much of the time. As I recall my days afloat, we got a lot done while underway, away from the inport distractions.