Monday, June 11, 2012

Salvaging the USS Miami (SSN-775)

Reasons to salvage SSN-775 may not be based on sound economic criteria as thrifty taxpayers would have hoped. Early estimates of cost to repair are unrealistically low, and the estimated completion time frame for return to sea is no doubt too short.

Does it make sense to repair an obsolescent class rather than use the $500,000,000+ that would have been spent to accelerate building a new $2-billion Virginia class boat sooner? If your answer is it would be better (52% probability) to scrap Miami and build a new Virginia sooner, you correctly nailed a no-brainer. But, there are political realities we must also consider...

Three (3) possibilities might override the no-brainer. We will mention them in order of their increasing likelihood:

1) "Looks like the USS MIAMI may become Moored Training Ship MIAMI (MTS-755). Only question now is how much life she has remaining in the ole' reactor. Sad to see a 688I being chained to a pier in Charleston, but it could be the smart money. " -Anonymous
Probability: 2% -Very, very unlikely

2) Continue on with plans to upgrade the 688I class Miami as if the devastating fire were a minor interruption. Yet both admirals and politicians have promised to repair this hulk. Absent such promises, the probability would be 21% - Very unlikely. A fact that could override the low probability, however, would be predication of sabotage by a foreign power:

"Let's see what the Admirals and Mabus decide and whether government (shipyard) or crew or both are held accountable, which would be the case even if Putin had an infiltrator planted to start the fire after his Yekaterinburg submarine fire debacle last year." -Vigilis

3) Upgrade Miami as planned, BUT convert the berthing plan to accommodate women sailors. Of politicians supporting Miami's repair, (several have been female U.S. Senators), and admirals have promised eventual assignment of women to SSNs as well as SSBNs and SSGNs currently. This adaptation of repairing Miami helps to deflect some very difficult realities:

a) Escalating annual costs of repair (compared to original estimates) in the government-owned shipyard whose negligence contributed to the fire in the first place.

b) Enabling an SSN to berth women sailors earlier than previously believed feasible:
.....i - Adding popularity among clueless women voters to a difficult re-election campaign.
.....ii - Assuring said SSN will have little chance of serious deployments during a 2nd term, because of time it will take to incorporate the women's berthing arrangements.
....iii - Providing ready explanations for both the cost escalations and expanded time frame.
....iv - Reducing the possibility that intervening deployments could be marked by embarrassing female medical absences from sea duty.
Probability: 25% - Unlikely, but the most likely other than scrapping.

The total probability of the possibilities discussed above (Scrap- 52%, MTS- 2%, Repair- 21%, and Accommodate women- 25%) is estimated to be 100%. Time will tell us.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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