The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
Dirty Little Secrets
Why Carriers Are So Damn Expensive
American nuclear aircraft carriers are expensive to operate. It’s not just the food and other supplies for the 5,600 people on board, or all the spare parts and fuel for the aircraft. A major expense is the periodic upgrades and refurbishments. For example, the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) will complete its mid-life refurbishment and refueling early next year. This RCOH (Refueling and Complex Overhaul) took over three years and cost $3.2 billion. The RCOH requires that the ship be partially dismantled so that the spent nuclear fuel can be replaced. This takes a little longer than your usual DPIA (Dry-docking Planned Incremental Availabilities) and usually costs a billion dollars or more. The Roosevelt RCOH was so expensive because the four screws (underwater propellers that move the ship) were replaced, as was much of the “island” (that tall structure on the side of the flight deck). There were upgrades to living quarters, electronics, and the usual replacement of worn out electrical and mechanical components. The ship is repainted inside and out and returning sailors feel like they are entering a new ship, not one that has already seen over two decades of hard use.
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