WASHINGTON — The U.S. surface Navy is moving rapidly toward buying a new large surface ship that will replace the aging cruisers, a ship that Navy leaders and experts say will need to be spacious to accommodate future upgrades and weapon systems.
The office of the Chief of Naval Operations Director of Surface Warfare, or OPNAV N96, has convened a “large surface combatant requirements evaluation team” to figure out what the Navy’s next large ship will look like and what it will need to do. The goal, according to the N96 head Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, will be to buy the first cruiser replacement in 2023 or 2024.
The acquisition process should kick off formally next year once a capabilities development document is completed, but a few main factors are driving the size requirement, Boxall said.
The fleet is pushing towards designs that can easily be upgraded without a major overhaul. To do that, the Navy thinks its going to need a lot of extra power for more energy-intensive weapons in the future, such as electromagnetic rail guns and laser weapons.