Kudos to the indispensable Chris Cavas for his reporting on the removal of the USS WASP (LHD 1) from the starting rotation of the deployable US Navy for what appears will be a term of at least nine years. I’m sure WASP’s availability as a JSF test platform was convenient for the test community; however, this strikes me as insufficient rationale for delaying necessary upgrades to her combat system. In fact, I believe her status was driven by the cost of the upgrade. In the link above, one source indicates a cost of $170M to upgrade the ship to SSDS Block II. The number “$170M” stuck out in my mind though, as it jogged my memory to an FY11 reprogramming request made by the Department of the Navy (in conjunction with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture) for biofuel development, which was turned down.
Budgeting is the process of rationalizing strategic choices. For some reason, Administrations since 2004/5 have failed to prioritize the return of USS WASP to the line. Indeed, officials from the Administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama would doubtless declare the importance of other priorities and the solemn responsibility of making tough choices.
But there it was; in 2011, the Navy had a critical capital asset essentially out of service for the want of combat systems upgrades. Yet the Service felt it had money available to subsidize policy objectives appropriately placed in other Cabinet-level departments. This was a choice. Good luck with the knife fights in the Pentagon when choices like this are made.