President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that he was overriding the plan to decommission the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.
The order called for the carrier to be disassembled, rather than repaired, despite the aircraft’s relatively newer model. Trump argued that the repairs would be more cost-effective than decommissioning the Truman, which was commissioned in 1998 and cost $4.5 billion.
Calling the carrier “one of the largest and finest in the world,” the president tweeted that it “will be updated at a fraction of the cost of a new one (which also are being built)!”
I am overriding the Decommission Order of the magnificent aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, built in 1998 (fairly new), and considered one of the largest and finest in the world. It will be updated at a fraction of the cost of a new one (which also are being built)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2019
Vice President Mike Pence reported the fate of the carrier to its crew members Tuesday afternoon in Norfolk, Virginia.
— Andy Fox (@AndyFoxWAVY) April 30, 2019
“We are keeping the best carrier in the world in the fight,” Pence told the crowd, a statement that was met with a wave of applause.
Robert Daigle, head of the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, was one of the driving forces behind the Truman decommissioning plan. Daigle favored “investments in long-range fires and unmanned technologies” rather than repairing the beloved aircraft carrier, according to Defense News.
Daigle plans to step down from the post this month, Foreign Policy reported.
Adm. Bill Moran, incoming chief of naval operations, defended Trump’s decision on the Truman, arguing against claims that the carrier was no longer effective against long-range missiles during his confirmation hearing Tuesday.
Moran told lawmakers the Navy carrier “is still relevant,” Defense News reported.
“We have for years evaluated the threats to our aircraft carriers and the other ships in the strike group to be able to deal with those [threats],” Moran said. “The aircraft carrier is the most survivable airfield that we have today — anywhere. And we project it will remain that way well into the future.”
He said the vessels are not the problem, but the weapons they carry need to be updated.
“Where we are trying to regain our superiority is in the weapons that are carried by that air wing: longer range, more networked, all the things that will make us more effective against a tough adversary at the high end,” Moran said, adding that Truman’s refueling would open up more money for investments into the proper areas like the weapons.
— USS Harry S. Truman (@USSHARRYSTRUMAN) March 18, 2019
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised Trump’s overruling action.
“I have pushed hard against the Administration’s plans to mothball the Truman at the midpoint of its working life,” Kaine said. “I am gratified that the Administration listened and is now committed to the refueling.”
“This is the right call for our national security,” he said.
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