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One of the 39 ships on the US Navy retirement list is barely 2 years old

LCS and Ticonderoga-class cruiser underway together
Illustration - Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Omaha (LCS 12) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) sail in formation in the pacific Ocean in 2021. Photo: US Navy

A ship that marked the first two years of service in August has been put on the US Navy’s retirement wishlist, the service’s ship newest inactivation schedule has revealed.

The ship in question is the USS St. Louis (LCS 19), a Freedom-class littoral combat ship that will be one of nine ships in its class that the navy wants to retire in fiscal year 2023.

It should be noted that the service’s plans are still contended, with the Senate Armed Services Committee blocking the inactivation of USS Sioux City (LCS 11), USS Wichita (LCS 13), USS Billings (LCS 15), USS Indianapolis (LCS 17), USS St. Louis (LCS 19), as well as Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USS Ashland (LSD 48), expeditionary transfer docks USNS Montford Point (T–ESD 1) and USNS John Glenn (T–ESD 2), and Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69).

There are also several types of inactivation procedures, or stages, as all of the littoral combat ships are planned to be put into what the navy refers to as an Out of Commission, In Reserve (OCIR) status, which means a decommissioned ship will be held in reserve for potential future mobilization.

The service’s retirement plans follow the retirement of the first two LCS in 2021. The ships have been plagued by problems ever since they started entering service, with two major problems being the combining gear issues that prevented Freedom-variant units from reaching their maximum speeds in addition to seeing them break down often and prompting the navy to halt deliveries of new ships in 2021 until the problem is fixed. The second major problem are the delays in the development of mission packages that were envisioned as allowing the ships to perform either mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare missions.

The service is still working with Lockheed Martin on fixing the combining gear issue with further trials scheduled to be conducted on the USS St. Louis, which could be inactivated within a year.

Other ships the navy plans to decommission include two Los Angeles-class submarines – USS Chicago and USS Key West, 12 cargo ships, five Ticonderoga-class cruisers, four dock landing ships, two expeditionary transfer docks, and five Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships that will be sold to foreign military sales customers.

While the Senate Armed Services Committee is blocking the retirement of the LCS, the House Armed Services Committee is blocking the inactivation of all the cruisers earmarked for decommissioning. This means the navy’s inactivation list is likely to see changes following the passage of legislation.