There are a number of articles on the Internet today addressing the woeful lack of readiness of our ships. These issues are NOT related to the present budget issues or the pending sequestration. They are in fact, a product of poor management of maintenance funding and inadequate maintenance training.
First of all, Navy ships are very complex machines that require complex, planned, maintenance. That maintenance must be based on comprehensive assessment by experienced professionals. It also requires advanced planning for funding and procurement. Every time we delay or cancel a maintenance period, we negatively impact the ship's operational readiness. In short, we cannot continue to operate ships continuously without understanding that this operation without maintenance will exponentially increase the cost of future maintenance. In other words, you can't fulfill the requirements of a 600 ship Navy with 100 ships!!! Duh!
Second, maintenance training for our Sailors is nonexistent!! Prior to 1990, we had "Hands on" maintenance training for our shipboard technicians from the apprentice level to the master technician level. Now, the first time a prospective fleet sailor sees the equipment is when he or she reports on board the ship! Not a recipe for success!
There are ways to deal with this experience short fall, like "Remote Monitoring" that I have written about before. But, the Navy's Officer corps does not like this approach. My theory is that they don't like the shore establishment know that their ship can't perform! Other wise, hid you deficiencies until they cannot be hid! A this point you may want to research what happened during the Mayaquez incident!
We have the smallest Navy since before World War I. We have more Admirals than we had during the height of World War II! Think about that for just a minute. Let me put it another way. We have one and a half Admirals for every ship, submarine, and aircraft carrier in commission!!! That should cause you concern.
If we are to have a new technical Navy, we must use new maintenance philosophies to manage it. We cannot use yesterday's solutions for today's problems. How we access ships, plan repair periods, and monitor performance must be updated.
One last point. The President of the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) used to be independent and worked directly for the CNO and reported, without filter, to Congress. A couple of years ago, the rules changed and the President of the Board of Inspection and Survey reports to and works for the Four Star Admiral who sits and Commander, Fleet Forces, Command! An Echelon Two Command!! So now, if INSURV makes a bad report on Fleet material condition and readiness, he is putting his BOSS on report!!! I remember when Admiral Bulkley, the retired Admiral, holder of the Medal of Honor, was President of the Board of Inspection and Survey. He told the truth regardless of consequences, without political pressure. Now, I don't think we have the same level of honesty and frankness. And that may be the big issue!