Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has decided not to reactivate the 10 remaining Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates to increase the service's fleet size, and instead will use the Littoral Combat Ship and Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels to support counter-narcotics missions.
"The LCS is ideally configured for this low intensity operation and the T-EPF has significant potential with some minor changes," according to a Dec. 5 memo Spencer sent to the chief of naval operations. "Both classes need to include basic Remote Piloted Vehicle visual detection similar to SCAN EAGLE employed on USS PONCE (LPD-15)." USNI News first reported the paper's findings.
The operating cost for these ships should be covered with funds appropriated for drug control. Spencer requests the Navy set aside "at least four ship years of this ship combination beginning in early 2018," according to the memo.
This mission should be in the top-priority category, according to Spencer, which reverses a previous decision to eliminate support.
Inside Defense previously reported a CNO paper that warned reactivating the Perry ships would be too costly. The minimum cost for 10 ships across a 10-year service life would exceed $4.32 billion, according to the paper.