US Navy is eyeing to modernize obsolete Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates to bring it back to service in a move to achieve its goal of a 355-ship fleet.
"The move is worth, if the cost of upgrading the obsolete vessels does not turn to be expensive," the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson said in a speech before the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
"The technology on these ships is old and a lot has changed in the evironment, since the time they were modernized last time," Richardson was quoted as saying by Sputnik news Thursday.
Hence, it will be a cost-benefit analysis in terms of how we do that” Chief of Naval Operations added.
Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates were built in in the late 1970s and 1980s to replace World War II-era destroyers.
The low cost of production meant that the Navy built quite a few of them, 51 in just twelve years, but it also meant that they did not age much. Moreover they had short lifespans of 15-20 years on average.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, which began deployment in 1988, utilized Aegis missile defense system while the Perrys did not. Their relatively cheap design and outdated armaments earned the Perrys the derisive nickname of "the ghetto fleet."
"We kind of got rid of [Perry-class frigates] at the 25-year point; we didn't do maintenance on them," said Vice Adm. Thomas Moore during a recent address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"The reality of it is, we really got rid of a lot of those ships because, from a combat systems standpoint, they had become obsolete." Moore said.
Between 1994 and 2015, all of the Perry-class frigates were either decommissioned or given to US allies such as Bahrain, Egypt, Poland, Pakistan, Taiwan and Turkey. Others were sunk for use as diving or fishing reefs, dismantled for scraps or destroyed in missile tests.
However, about 12 Perry-class frigates are still owned by the Navy, part of the "mothball fleets" of inactive ships. While some may still be sold to foreign militaries, it is possible for the others to be modernized and redeployed.
The Navy is likely to be of notion that the restoring the Perrys and equipping them with modern weaponry would be cheaper and faster than building new vessels from scratch.
During his speech, Richardson also discussed the main prong of his plan to reach the magic number of 355: extend the lifespan of existing ships by altering and expanding existing platforms as well as equipping ships with new weapons like directed energy laser guns.
"There are many types of those technologies that are out there, imaging radars, those sorts of things, to make each of these platforms more capable, delivering more naval power," he said.