The U.S. military would benefit from having two more destroyers stationed in Europe, and increased ship capacity overall, U.S. European Command’s leader said March 5.
Speaking at a Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told lawmakers he has requested for two additional destroyers to be stationed in his area of responsibility to keep up with Russia’s “evolving and modernizing” fleets.
“If we want to remain dominant in the maritime domain, and particularly undersea – which we are today – we have got to continue to modernize. And I think we need to build our capacity,” he said.
Scaparrotti declined to provide additional details regarding the need for more ships to counter Russian aggression outside of a classified setting, except to say it had to do with “capabilities that deal with the number of Russian ships that we see within our theater today, and also for anti-submarine warfare.”
Asked by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), whether the U.S. military required more ships or less ships to meet the Russian threat, Scaparrotti said, “In my area, more.” He added that he would like to see the rotation of naval components such as carrier strike groups and amphibious strike groups move “at a little better pace than I have seen in the three years that I have been in command.”
Wicker served as chair of the SASC Seapower Subcommittee until January, and remains a subcommittee member. One of the two Arleigh Burke-class destroyer manufacturers, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ [HII] Ingalls Shipbuilding, builds its ships in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Navy this past September awarded Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics [GD] fixed-price multiyear contracts to build 10 new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers for a combined $9 billion (Defense Daily, Sept. 28, 2018).
Four ballistic missile defense-capable destroyers equipped with Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] Aegis Combat System – the USS Carney (DDG-64), USS Ross (DDG-71), USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and USS Porter (DDG-78) – have been ported at Naval Station Rota, Spain, since they were transferred there between 2014 and 2015.
Two of those ships, the Carney and the Ross, began operating in the Black Sea in early 2018. The Navy at the time said the ships were operating under a regional “proactive” presence mission in the sea, according to USNI News.
The decision to homeport the four U.S. destroyers came about as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach in 2011 and was announced by the United States, Spain and NATO, according to a February 2019 report by the Congressional Research Service on “Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.”