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Official: CNO Misspoke on Mahan, Destroyer Costs

by Brendan McGarry on September 6, 2013

CNO speaks

An assistant to the U.S. Navy’s top officer contacted Military​.com today to confirm that the destroyer, USS Mahan, will sail to its home port of Norfolk, Va., instead of remaining in the eastern Atlantic Ocean to assist with a potential strike on Syria.

Military​.com previously reported on the pending return of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. But when asked yesterday about its status during a public forum in Washington, D.C., Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said the ship was staying within the Navy’s 6th Fleet area of operations to “be made available, if necessary.”

The admiral misspoke and the Mahan will, in fact, be returning to the U.S., the assistant said today.

Obama administration officials are pressing lawmakers to support a limited air campaign against Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians. U.S. intelligence has determined the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed at least 1,429 people, including at least 426 children, in an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus.

During yesterday’s forum at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank, Greenert also discussed the potential costs of any kind of sustained or prolonged military operation in Syria. He estimated the cost of maintaining a carrier strike group flying extended operations at about $40 million a week, including about $7 million a week per destroyer.

The latter figure also wasn’t correct and is actually closer to $2 million, the assistant said today.

The Navy has positioned four destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the USS Stout, USS Ramage, USS Barry and USS Gravely. The amphibious assault ship, USS San Antonio, is also in the Med on routine port visit to Haifa, Israel, according to a Defense Department official who asked to remain anonymous to freely discuss ship locations.

The Nimitz carrier strike group is in the Red Sea. In addition to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, which holds some 80 aircraft, the strike group includes three destroyers, the USS William P. Lawrence, the USS Stockdale and the USS Shoup, as well as the cruiser USS Princeton.

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