September 1, 2008  

Destroyer flip-flop

TO THE NAVY, for its next-generation destroyer flip-flop. Having spent 13 years and $10 billion in research and development, the Navy reversed course and decided the DDG 1000 program wasn’t right for the threat after all. Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of resources and capabilities, and Allison Stiller, the Navy secretary’s head of ship programs, cited a new “classified threat” as to why the Zumwalt-class destroyer program would be capped at two ships and production of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers would be resumed instead. Yet those same officials just four months earlier were championing the Zumwalts as superior to Burkes, which were built in the 1990s and based on 1980s technologies. The decision to build more Burkes may be prudent. But with so little hard information on why this multibillion-dollar reversal was necessary, it’s hard to know what to believe — harder still for Congress to trust the Navy when it next defends a multibillion-dollar program.