Much of the US Army’s supply aircraft fleet is old – the newest KC-135 Stratotanker, for example, was built in 1965. And the sealift ships available to the US Army are also approaching the time when they should retire.
“When I look at Transcom’s capabilities, [when] I look at shipping, our ships are 46 years old,” Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of US Transportation Command, said in a discussion today with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The reserve fleet, she says, even includes steamships.
“You can’t even find engineers working on steamships,” she said. “We have to keep 60 or 70-year-old engineers to continue to lead them. We need to recapitalize that.
Supply planes and sealift ships are important parts of US Transportation Command’s mission, and both must be recapitalized as soon as possible if Transcom is to continue to be as efficient as it is.
Van Ovost said one way to bring new ships into the shipping fleet, at least in the short term, is to buy used ships. This is something the Navy is currently working on.
“In our discussions with the Navy, there is a strategy to start buying used ships, which was essentially our strategy almost 30 years ago,” she said. “It’s to buy second-hand ships and integrate them into the fleet because our fleet is old.”