WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s aging Guam-based submarine tender Frank Cable completed sea trials Dec. 19, even as the White House canceled plans for its eventual replacement over cost.
The 40-year-old ship completed a yearlong overhaul in December with sea trials to shake out the cobwebs and retrain the crew, according to a Dec. 26 Navy release. The main focus of the overhaul was boiler repair.
“December has been a very busy and productive month for our team,” Capt. Jeff Bierley, commanding officer of Frank Cable, said in the release. “The ship and crew performed extremely well on sea trials, and it was great to get our ship to sea for the first time in over a year.”
The ship, which was commissioned in 1979, was originally designed as a support ship for Los Angeles-class attack submarines.
The Navy has considered replacing its two submarine tenders with new auxiliary ships that use a common hull, known as the Common Hull Auxilliary Multi-Mission Platform, or CHAMP. But the White House’s Office of Management and Budget directed the Navy to look at alternatives for the CHAMP program after the cost estimate for the submarine tender variant hit $1.3 billion, according to a memo obtained by Defense News.
“The CHAMP submarine tender and CHAMP sealift vessels are not cost-effective solutions. The revised estimate for the sub tender ($1.3 billion) is even more than the $1 billion in the FYDP [Future Years Defense Program] and more cost-effective alternatives should be explored, including procuring and converting a used vessel,” the memo read.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.