Back Page

  Issue/Date 20180924


Tuesday, September 25, 2018 12:44 PM




P O. Box 465, Silverdale, WA 98383-0465

"Stuff you won't see in the local fish wrappers"


2018 National Convention Western Caribbean Cruise

Oct 21 – 28, 2018

See Who is Going!


CSS3 Menu Div

Left Click on Headline to go Directly to Article

Mattis Denies Rift with Top White House Official over Syria Endgame


Why the U.S Built Only 3 of the Deadliest Submarines Ever, Like The F-22 of Submarine


Let Your Sailors Fix It!

Five Years After Arrest, Navy Bribery Mastermind Testifies at Deposition

Mattis Denies Rift with Top White House Official over Syria Endgame


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton appeared to set different conditions Monday for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, although Mattis insisted there was "no daylight" between them.

Mattis has consistently stated that the 2,000 troops in Syria must remain until the last remnants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are eliminated and security is assured in liberated areas, but Bolton has now suggested that U.S. troop withdrawals would be dependent on the withdrawal of Iranian troops from the region.

Bolton said U.S. troops would remain in Syria after the defeat of ISIS to counter Iran, which has sent small numbers of its troops to Syria and backed the Hezbollah militia fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We're not going to leave [Syria] as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias," he told reporters in New York, where he joined President Donald Trump for United Nations General Assembly sessions.

At the Pentagon, Mattis said the U.S. commitment to Syria is not "open-ended" but gave no estimate on a timetable for withdrawal.

"We are in Syria right now to defeat ISIS and destroy the geographic caliphate and make sure it doesn't come back the moment we turn our backs," he said. "So there is going to be a little while that we've got to work with the locals," once ISIS is defeated.

Currently, U.S. troops and airpower are backing the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in a sweep near the Syrian-Iraqi border focused on the town of Hajin, according to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

Mattis said the U.S. is also intent on resuming peace talks in Geneva led by United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura to end the five-year-old civil war and negotiate Assad's removal from power.

At the Pentagon, Mattis he and Bolton were aligned on Syria, adding, "I think we're on the same sheet of music," but he deferred questions on their possible policy differences to the White House.

The seeming rift with Bolton follows reports -- vehemently denied by Mattis -- that he is considering resigning after the November elections because of differences with the White House on the national security agenda.

On another Syria issue, Mattis and Bolton clearly are in agreement. They are against Russian sales of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

"We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians," Bolton said. The sale, he said, is "something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider."

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putting phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell him that Syrian air defenses are being upgraded to "prevent any potential threat to the lives of Russian servicemen, who are on a mission to fight international terrorism."

Last week, a Russian reconnaissance IL-20 aircraft was shot down off the Syrian coast near the port of Latakia by an errant Syrian missile fired at attacking Israeli F-16s, killing all 15 aboard the Russian aircraft.

Bolton said that a political settlement is the only way out of Syria's civil war, but the Russian sale of the S-300s will make the process more difficult.

At the Pentagon, Mattis said the addition of S-300s will strengthen the regime and make Assad less likely to give up power.



American Submariner, 2018 3rd Quarter (p.27)

Battle Ground, WA - At Battle Ground’s Military Appreciation Night on May 21st, sixteen high school seniors from the community were recognized by City Council for their commitment to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Councilmember Philip Johnson, U.S. Army re-tired, began the event by recognizing the many military veterans and active service members who were in attendance. Amongst them stood Mr. Tudor F. Davis (Bremerton Base Founder/ed), U.S. Navy Retired, a WWII veteran who served in the Navy from 1941 to 1961.


Mr. Davis is a proud submariner who served as a sub-marines – from diesel to nuclear - during his 20-year Navy career. Mr. Davis served as National Commander of the United States Submarine Veterans Inc. from 1984-1985


His active participation in the evening’s event was an honor to all in attendance, particularly to the young enlistees to whom he offered steadfast support and valuable perspective.


The council’s recognition of these young men and women comes during Military Appreciation Month, designated by Congress to ensure that the nation was given the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifices and successes made by our service members.


Standing with Mr. Davis are nine of the enlistees who were in attendance (in no particular order):

Richard Landon (US Army)

Tyler Sandel (US Army)

Spencer Hamilton (US Air Force)

Orion Macy (US Air Force)

Clayton Hively (WA Army Nat’l Guard)

Cristian Whitney (US Navy)

Braxton Haushild (US Navy)

Alexander Perry (US Navy)

Matthew Collyer (US Navy)

Enlistees recognized, but unable to attend the event:

Jennifer Oschner (US Army)

Christopher Flynn (US Army)

Noah Cyr (US Army)

Christopher Mogk (US Army)

Michael Walker (US Army ^


Why the U.S Built Only 3 of the Deadliest Submarines Ever, Like The F-22 of Submarines

US Defense Today




JAMES A. SEACORD III <>  sends ^


Welcome! I started this blog page so that I could get the public interested in a very unique memorial to the submarines that were lost at sea and to keep the memory of these brave men and boats alive for future posterity.

About the Memorial:


Physical Description: The memorial is formed by two terraced stone walls each about 30 feet long with a stone paver patio in front. Two flower planters flank the memorial plaques on the lower of the two walls. On the wall above the plaques is a ships anchor and chain with the letters USN attached. A ships mast flying the American flag and two small submarine service flags stands behind the upper wall and is framed by a third short wall section.






Let Your Sailors Fix It!

Losing Capability


In the 1990s, following the Cold War, most of the afloat destroyer and submarine tenders that provided intermediate (I-level) maintenance support for deployed ships and submarines were decommissioned. At the same time, many of the shore intermediate maintenance activities (SIMAs) were consolidated or closed, substantially divesting fleet concentration areas of I-level repair capabilities. 


By 2003, the Navy had reduced or consolidated training and assessment programs as it moved from developing sailors as operators and maintainers to focusing on equipment oper--ation and watchstanding. Compounding this, over the past two decades sailor training has not focused enough on organizational (O-level) and I-level maintenance. 


While there were some immediate cost savings, these changes had unintended consequences, including a significant loss in fleet maintenance skill and self-sufficiency, ship material readiness, and battle-damage repair capability. Reduced manning on ships and at shore support facilities placed unmanageable workloads on smaller, less trained crews; as a result, ships were not maintained to required standards. 


With the decommissioning of the SIMAs and all but two submarine tenders, there no longer were standard I-level process control procedures where sailors used the same equipment and quality assurance standards they would use at sea. Most equipment that was standard at the SIMAs and on the tenders was sent to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office. A recent review of shipboard repair equipment on big-deck amphibious ships and aircraft carriers found that some of the original outfitted machine shop and repair equipment was removed or sat unused in lay-up. 


I-level Maintenance and Training


To reverse this loss of maintenance and repair capability/proficiency, the Navy has taken action on several lines of effort. First, Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC), and the regional maintenance centers (RMCs), including naval shipyard intermediate maintenance activities, are collaborating on three I-level “value streams”:


 • Maintenance competency development

 • Material readiness support

 • Shop production


Based on an analysis of existing programs and inspection reports, it became clear the Navy had significant challenges with maintenance knowledge and experience, from the shipboard planned maintenance system (PMS) to routine O-level work normally accomplished by ship’s force. The Navy needed a solution that provided not only short-term successes, but also long-term quantifiable successes to ensure continued fiscal support of I-level maintenance and training programs. As a result, in October 2010, CNRMC, with support from the surface type commanders and fleet maintenance officers, began the task of righting I-level maintenance using the Navy Afloat Maintenance Training Strategy (NAMTS) program and hands-on production experience.


A primary goal was to restore a path to technical competence for shipboard sailors. As sailors learn maintenance competencies through hands-on, real-world, I-level shop production (tracked by NAMTS), ship material readiness increases. Sailors who complete NAMTS qualifications return to sea with increased skills and confidence to support maintenance actions. An analysis of hull, mechanical, and electrical–rated sailors taking advancement exams showed that those who were involved in or had graduated from a NAMTS program scored higher than their peers who lacked RMC/shipyard-provided hands-on training. 


Developing maintenance competency hinges on the NAMTS program, as it provides graduates with Navy enlisted classification codes to aid in the distribution of maintenance warriors to sea. Sailors stationed at RMCs and naval shipyards are provided meaningful shore duty in fleet concentration areas and continue their professional education by expanding their maintenance competencies as they move from apprentice to journeyman and ultimately to master craftsman.


Following a manpower analysis, the Navy determined 1,587 sailors needed to be assigned to the RMCs to help restore I-level maintenance capability. Southeast Regional Maintenance Center was reestablished in Mayport, Florida, and Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center, Naples, Italy, was stood up, with detachments in Bahrain and Rota, Spain. Sailors also have been assigned to naval shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia; Puget Sound, Washington; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to provide more opportunities to perform I-level maintenance work. 


In 2015, CNRMC also rolled out afloat NAMTS training to carriers and big-deck amphibious ships—which have intermediate maintenance activity capabilities in their own right—to provide them access to NAMTS. The plan is to capitalize on the production work these ships perform to train their sailors. As these sailors come from sea duty to an RMC, their opportunity to become journeymen and master craftsmen is expedited because they are in a continual maintenance environment where they can increase their in-rate training and experience, get training on unique systems, and continue stocking their maintenance competency toolbox

CNRMC and the NAMTS maintenance support team also are working to provide NAMTS training to sailors assigned to precommissioning detachments/units (PCD/PCUs). Realizing there is some available time at PCD/PCUs for training, the support team is working to maximize competency development opportunities. This training usually does not require temporary duty funds because the detachments are located in fleet concentration areas and sailors are trained at the local RMC. 


Because NAMTS’s 340-plus unique maintenance competencies can be earned relatively quickly (two to ten days each), PCD/PCU sailors can earn their required Navy enlisted classification codes and several other competencies while awaiting formal school start dates or orders. All competencies are recorded in the sailor’s electronic training jacket and can be built on by training at any RMC or afloat NAMTS program.


With many ships having a limited number of RMC-served sailors, there is not yet a critical mass of proficient maintainers afloat to move the ships’ material readiness needle, but CNRMC is working with enlisted distribution managers to man ships with the required NAMTS Navy enlisted classification codes and has been monitoring their material readiness, self-assessment ability, and organic repair performance.


Second, the Navy has reintroduced the strike force intermediate maintenance activities structure to provide strike groups organic repair capabilities across the force. This capability is measured in tools and machinery installed on board, sailors qualified to operate the machinery, and materials and support required to use the equipment. A ship’s organic repair assist team now assesses all the ships in a strike force six months prior to deployment; determines what equipment needs to be repaired, installed, or removed; identifies shortfalls in materials and sailor training; and provides a report to the commanding officers of the ships and the strike group commander. In addition, the team assists in installing and repairing equipment and in training sailors to operate it. Building and maintaining this organic repair capability will support the toughness and self-sufficiency described in the Chief of Naval Operations’ “Design for Maritime Superiority.” 


RMC Material Readiness Support


Third, CNRMC is increasing its fleet support through maintenance assist teams (MATs), small-crewed hybrid MATs, self-help opportunities, and metrology and calibration/shipboard instrumentation and systems calibration. 


MATs send 10 to 15 RMC sailors and civilian subject-matter experts, shop-to-ship, to work side by side with ship’s force performing PMS and corrective maintenance on targeted high-failure equipment. The purpose of MATs is to train sailors and provide a comprehensive material assessment and maintenance review, with a goal of increasing the readiness of the targeted systems. Through the use of NAMTS and MATs, unit self-sufficiency is promulgated to ship’s force by over-the-shoulder instruction and hands-on learning while performing the required preventive and corrective maintenance and documentation to support sustained operations.


Initially, the MAT program started with valve MAT, focusing on main and secondary drain systems; deck MAT, focusing on boat davits, J-Bar davits, lifelines, and topside ladders; and auxiliaries MAT, focusing on air conditioning and refrigeration, hydraulic systems, and anchor windlass and steering systems. Following the success of these teams, the program expanded to include electrical, gun, gas turbine, rigid-hulled inflatable boat, watertight door, and laundry and galley. Metrics continue to show that ships that take advantage of MATs within six months of Board of Inspection and Survey reviews are able to exceed their material readiness requirements. 


MAT use has seen a slight downward trend over the past two years and has fallen to below CNRMC’s expected number of visit requests because of a lack of awareness by stakeholders. To address this, CNRMC is working to establish a “push vs. pull” schedule. RMCs are assisting ships in scheduling teams and are evaluating syncing MATs to total ship readiness assessment events. The goal is to make the full set of MATs available to each ship during its optimized fleet response plan cycle.


CNRMC also is working with the Mid-Atlantic RMC to develop hybrid MATs. With small-crew ships, the standard MAT execution is a challenge, so CNRMC developed a hybrid model that will contain RMC sailor and civilian team members supporting several different MATs simultaneously. These hybrid teams can be tailored to specific ship classes based on equipment and systems. 

Hybrid MATs are of particular interest for Fifth Fleet small-crew ships and Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center Bahrain, which recently stood up I-level capabilities. 


During the past year, CNRMC and the NAMTS industrial plant equipment team have installed and tested numerous pieces of I-level support equipment in their temporary warehouse facility. This facility is supporting the mine countermeasures/patrol coastal ships and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command boats until a new facility can be built. The new building is scheduled for completion in fiscal year 2019 and will support I-level production and provide limited support to deployed littoral combat ships.


Next Steps


By restoring hands-on training through I-level MAT visits and a robust NAMTS program, CNRMC is improving ship material readiness. The Navy must continue to man and equip its RMCs, shipyards, and ships’ organic repair capability. More manning already is requested in Program Objective Memorandum 2020, and it is critical to the future self-sufficiency of the fleet that these sites are funded and manned. Once these NAMTS warriors are trained and returned to sea duty, they will need receptive chains of command to support them by providing the tools, equipment, and materials to work on their equipment. Using distance support and on-board technical experts, ships can repair their equipment much faster. 


Today’s ships and submarines must be more resilient and capable of self-repair. Let’s trust the chiefs to train their sailors and get them working on their gear!

Master Chief Kelley is the command master chief of Navy Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, VA. He previously served as command master chief of a guided-missile destroyer, cruiser, and frigate, a naval shipyard, and a type commander staff. ^


Five Years After Arrest, Navy Bribery Mastermind Testifies at Deposition

Five years ago, investigators with the U.S. Navy knocked on the door of a San Diego hotel suite, waiting for the Malaysian businessman inside to answer -- and in the process launch what has become the worst corruption scandal for the Navy in decades.


Since the arrest of businessman Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis that day, federal prosecutors in San Diego have methodically filed charges or secured indictments against 32 defendants, including 27 Navy officials, for their roles accepting bribes from Francis, owner of the ship servicing firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Hundreds more Navy personnel who had interactions with Francis or his company have had their cases reviewed internally by the Navy, with several facing court martial.


And while the tally of the accused has continued to rise, nothing has been heard from Francis -- until July, when he answered questions behind closed doors.

Francis, who pleaded guilty in January 2015 and agreed to cooperate with investigators, testified for the first time -- in a deposition taken for a court martial case for Cmdr. David Morales, a fighter pilot charged with conspiracy and bribery.


Francis testified at length and in detail about his interactions with Morales, who fought the court martial charges filed against him. But the defense lawyer who questioned him asked for a mistrial at the court martial because he said Francis committed perjury.


The military judge hearing the case did not agree, but he acquitted Morales of the most serious charges against him, which relied in part on Francis's version of events.


A lawyer defending a Navy officer now under indictment for accepting bribes from Francis, attended the court martial and said later that the deposition could put Francis's credibility as a witness in play in future cases.


"It was clear to everyone in the courtroom the judge had serious questions about Leonard Francis's credibility as a witness," said Joseph Mancano, a lawyer representing retired Capt. David Newland, facing charges of conspiracy and bribery.


"I think the words the judge used were 'possible embroidery' of his testimony and how Leonard Francis had trouble answering questions directly."

Francis also testified about his current status at the deposition. The 54-year-old Malaysian businessman is suffering from renal cancer, and for months has been under the care and treatment of physicians in San Diego, according to the transcript and court records in San Diego federal court.


He's no longer in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, nor is he in a federal jail. He is on a medical furlough requested by attorneys and approved by the federal judge overseeing his case late last year.


Francis is living in a small apartment above a garage at the home of one of his physicians. He is under guard 24 hours a day by private security guards, which his family is paying for. They are allowed to visit him for up to three to four hours at a time, he said. He's allowed to go to church once a week.


As part of a plea agreement Francis entered into in January 2015, he agreed to forfeit $35 million to the government -- a measure of how much he profited from the bribery scheme.


Yet Francis has paid only $5 million of the amount, and did so -- as the agreement required -- in the first 90 days after he pleaded guilty. There's no indication of when the rest will be paid.


That may not be unusual. For all his time in custody and the years since he pleaded guilty, Francis has yet to be sentenced for his crimes. Typically, cooperating witnesses like him in multiple-defendant cases are not sentenced until all the cases against other defendants are finished.

At that time, prosecutors can ask for a reduced sentence based on the cooperation of a witness. Francis is working for that.

At the deposition, Frank Spinner -- the attorney for Morales -- read from the cooperation agreement Francis has with the government that spells out the possibility of a lesser sentence, and then asked Francis if he was counting on that.


"I hope so, yes," he answered.


Spinner also pressed about the money owed. He asked: "With respect to the forfeiture agreement of $35 million, was there a schedule set for you to pay the balance of that $35 million or is it your hope that that amount will somehow be reduced by cooperating?"


"I paid the $5 million as part of my plea agreement," Francis responded, "and the rest of my restitution is, I'll do my best at the end, sir."


The U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, where the investigation is anchored, declined to comment for this story.


When the end comes in the scandal is an open question. Just last month, federal prosecutors indicted three more people. Nine defendants indicted in 2017 still have active cases that may go to trial. If any do, Francis is likely to testify.


So far the 21 people who have admitted guilt did so by plea bargains and without a trial.


The core of Francis's decade-long bribery scheme was to bribe Navy personnel with sex, liquor, cash and gifts, and then have them use their influence to get ships to dock in ports his company controlled. Once there, he gouged the Navy for providing things like fuel, waste removal, fresh water, land transportation and security.^


Russian stealth nuclear submarines invade UK waters and MoD admits it cannot find them
Richard Wheatstone, The Sun, September 9

The submarines can sail so quietly, they cannot be traced by Britain's underwater defence systems, including sonar.

President Putin's latest hi-tech Borey-A and Yasen-A subs are believed to have carried out missions tracking British submarines and mapping vital energy and communications cables.

British submarines are believed to have been tracked as they left the top-secret Faslane base in Scotland.

Russia is also said to have been building up details of telecommunications and internet cables beneath the English Channel.

If these cables were destroyed it would plunge the UK into darkness and a communications blackout.

It has previously been revealed there has been a tenfold increase in Russian submarine activity in UK waters since 2015.

Russia is known to be increasing its military activities around the world.

At least two Russian vessels were spotted passing through the Channel last month as they headed for the Atlantic - as the Royal Navy scrambled to intercept the shifts.

A defence source told the Mail on Sunday: "We believe that a specific Russian submarine is focusing its attentions on the UK naval base in Western Scotland [Faslane] and on undersea piping in the English Channel.


Team the P-8 and Sea Hunter for ASW



The U.S. Navy faces a growing submarine threat that it soon will be unable to match numerically. It is imperative that the service find an alternate approach. One solution is to use the U.S. Navy’s newly fielded P-8 Poseidon aircraft in tandem with the unmanned surface vessel Sea Hunter to prosecute submarines cheaply and with minimal manning.

A Numbers Problem

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is investing heavily in diesel submarines, which are cheaper to produce than the United States’ nuclear counterparts. Given the price disparity, the PLAN likely will be able to deploy more submarines than will the U.S. Navy in the event of a future conflict. Currently, the U.S. Navy expects to have just 42 attack submarines by 2028, while the PLAN is projected to have at least 70 by 2029. 1 Exacerbating this situation is that U.S. submarines must patrol the globe while China is able to narrow its mission area to the Indo-Pacific. 2

Attempting to outproduce the Chinese in submarines is unrealistic. For the U.S. Navy to maintain its dominance in the undersea domain, it must adopt a paradigm shift. One avenue that is gaining traction is to leverage unmanned systems such as the Sea Hunter.

The Sea Hunter is the prototype for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Antisubmarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel program. 3 It is the first field-tested medium-displacement unmanned surface vessel (MDUSV) that can go “from San Diego to Guam and back to Pearl Harbor on a tank of gas,” according to Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager in the Tactical Technology Office. 4 In June 2016, the Sea Hunter successfully completed all initial performance trials, and it has proved its ability to track submarines with its hull-mounted sonar. It is scheduled for offensive antisubmarine payload testing in 2018 and soon will have the ability to carry antisubmarine torpedoes. 5

The principal advantage of MDUSVs is cost. The average diesel submarine costs about $400 million to build, compared to around $20 million for a Sea Hunter. 6 These figures do not include the difference in the cost of manning, which clearly favors the Sea Hunter as it has no on-board crew.

It would be a serious oversimplification, however, to mass-produce unmanned surface vessels and expect them to autonomously track, detect, and destroy submarines. There are hardware, physical, and moral constraints. How, then, can the Navy optimize its use of MDUSVs?

 A Solution

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is a powerful antisubmarine warfare (ASW) asset. It is capable of carrying 120 sonobuoys to detect submarines and can remain on station for approximately four hours while loaded for an ASW mission. Upon submarine detection, the P-8 can use its High Altitude Antisubmarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) Mark 54 torpedoes to destroy the target. 7 Equally important as its armament, the P-8 has the ability to control unmanned air vehicles to extend its sensor reach. 8 This type of communications ensemble could be modified to integrate with the Sea Hunter, enabling the P-8 to extend its detection capabilities in ASW.

The P-8 and Sea Hunter have been paired in simulations, which demonstrated that the ideal implementation of the two platforms operating together would be for the P-8 to identify and confirm targets to be fired on by the Sea Hunter. This decreases the average time to locate and destroy the target submarine while simultaneously mitigating any moral argument against having an unmanned system carry weapons.

The U.S. Navy must ensure all decisions to engage with lethal force keep a man in the loop, that is to say, a human operator must always be the final decision maker when lethal force is used. To do that, MDUSVs must receive an order to fire from a human operator, which necessitates maintaining communication between the MDUSV and a manned platform. In this case, the ideal platform is the P-8 Poseidon.

The P-8 is a natural complement to MDUSVs. Its predecessor, the P-3 Poseidon, historically has worked in tandem with ASW surface vessels such as guided-missile destroyers and cruisers. 9 The P-8 possesses a powerful communications suite that is more than capable of communicating with and controlling an MDUSV. 10

Another advantage of using the P-8 is that submarines are hindered in their ability to fire on aircraft. Surface vessels that could pair with an MDUSV are at an inherent disadvantage because they work in the environment in which the submarine prefers to fight—the water.
Read All^


US submarines are better than China's 'by far,' but in a war that may not matter
Christopher Woody, Business Insider, September 11
The US and others around the Pacific have watched warily as China has boosted its submarine force over the last 20 years, building a modern, flexible force that now has more total ships than the US.

US subs remain far better than their Chinese counterparts, but in a conflict, numbers and geography may help China mitigate some of the US and its partners' advantages.

Naval modernization is part of Beijing's "growing emphasis on the maritime domain," the US Defense Department said in its annual report on Chinese military power.

As operational demands on China's People's Liberation Army Navy have increased, subs have become a high priority — and one that could counter the US Navy's mastery of the sea.

The force currently numbers 56 subs — four nuclear-powered missile subs, five nuclear-powered attack subs, and 47 diesel-powered attack subs — and is likely grow to between 69 and 78 subs by 2020, according to the Pentagon.

China has built 10 nuclear-powered subs over the past 15 years. Its four operational Jin-class missile boats "represent China's first credible, seabased nuclear deterrent," the Pentagon report said.

In most likely conflict scenarios, however, those nuclear-powered subs would have limited utility, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Budgetary and Strategic Assessments.

"They're relatively loud, pretty easy to track, and don't really have significant capability other than they can launch land-attack cruise missiles, and they don't have very many of those," Clark said. "They're more of a kind of threat the Chinese might use to maybe do an attack on a ... more distant target like Guam or Hawaii."

Conventionally powered subs are the "more important part of their submarine force," Clark said, particularly ones that can launch anti-ship missiles and those that use air-independent propulsion, or AIP, which allows nonnuclear subs to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen, replacing or augmenting diesel-electric systems.

Since the mid-1990s, China has built 13 Song-class diesel-electric attack subs and bought 12 Russian-made Kilo-class subs — eight of which can fire anti-ship cruise missiles.

Kilos are conventional diesel subs, which means they need to surface periodically.

"Even with that, they're a good, sturdy, reliable submarine that carries long-range anti-ship missiles," Clark said. On a shorter operation where a Kilo-class sub "can avoid snorkeling, it could ... sneak up on you with a long-range attack, so that's a concern for the US."

China has also built 17 Yuan-class diesel-electric, air-independent-powered attack subs over the past two decades, a total expected to rise to 20 by 2020, according to the Pentagon.

"The Yuan AIP submarine is very good," said Clark, a former US Navy submarine officer and strategist.

"For the duration of a deployment that it might normally take, which is two or three weeks, where it can stay on its AIP plant and never have to come up and snorkel, they're very good," Clark added. "That's a big concern, I think, for US and Japanese policymakers."

Yuan-class boats can threaten surface forces with both torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.

For US anti-submarine-warfare practitioners in the western Pacific, Clark said, "it's the Yuan they generally point to as being their target of concern, because it does offer this ability to attack US ships and [is] hard to track and there may be few opportunities to engage it."

Despite concerns China's current diesel-electric subs inspire, they have liabilities.

As quiet as they are, they are still not as quiet as a US nuclear-powered submarine operating in its quietest mode. They don't have the same endurance as US subs and need to surface periodically. China's sub crews also lack the depth of experience of their American counterparts.

"Chinese submarines are not ... as good as the US submarines, by far," Clark said.

China's subs have made excursions into the Indian Ocean and done anti-piracy operations in waters off East Africa, but they mostly operate around the first island chain, which refers to major islands west of the East Asian mainland and encompasses the East and South China Seas.

Chinese subs also venture into the Philippine Sea, where they could strike at US ships, Clark said.

Much of the first island chain is within range of Chinese land-based planes and missiles, which are linchpins in Beijing's anti-access/area denial strategy. It's in that area where the US and its partners could see their advantages thwarted.

"Now the Chinese have the advantage of numbers, because they have a large number of submarines that can operate, and they've only got a small area in which they need to conduct operations," Clark said.

China could "flood the zone" with subs good enough to "maybe overwhelm US and Japanese [anti-submarine warfare] capabilities."

The anti-submarine-warfare capabilities of the US and its partners may also be constrained.

US subs would likely be tasked with a range of missions, like land attacks or surveillance, rather than focusing on attacking Chinese subs, leaving much of the submarine-hunting to surface and air forces — exposing them to Chinese planes and missiles.

"The stuff we use for ASW is the stuff that's most vulnerable to the Chinese anti-access approach, and you're doing it close proximity to China, so you could get stuck and not be able to engage their submarines before they get out," Clark said.

Numbers and location also give China a potential edge in a "gray-zone" conflict, or a confrontation that stops short of open combat, for which US Navy leadership has said the service needs to prepare.

China's subs present "a challenge [US officials] see as, 'What if we get into one of these gray-zone confrontations with China, and China decides to start sortieing their submarines through the first island chain and get them out to open ocean a little bit so they're harder to contain,'" Clark said.

"If we're in a gray-zone situation, we can't just shoot them, and we don't necessarily have the capacity to track all of them, so now you've got these unlocated Yuans roaming around the Philippine Sea, then you may end up with a situation where if you decide to try to escalate, you've got worry about these Yuans and their ability to launch cruise missiles at your ships," Clark added.

"As the home team, essentially, China's got the ability to control the tempo and the intensity," he said.

The US and its partners have already encountered such tactics.

Beijing often deploys its coast guard to enforce its expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea (which an international court has rejected) and has built artificial islands containing military outposts to bolster its position.

When those coast guard ships encounter US Navy ships, China points to the US as the aggressor.

In the waters off the Chinese coast and around those man-made islands, "they do a lot of that because they're on their home turf and protected by their land-based missiles and sensors," Clark said. "Because of that, they can sort of ramp [the intensity] up and ramp it down ... as they desire."

The circumstances of a potential conflict may give Chinese subs an edge, but it won't change their technical capability, the shortcomings of which may be revealed in a protracted fight.

"Can the Chinese submarines — like the Yuans that have limited time on their AIP plants — can they do something before they start to run out of propellant, oxygen, and start having to snorkel?" Clark said.

"So there's a little bit of a time dimension to it," he added. "If the US and Japan can wait out the Chinese, then their Yuans have to start snorkeling or pulling into port ... that might make them more vulnerable."


Navy Pilot Gets Distinguished Flying Cross for Shooting Down Syrian Bomber 10 Sep 2018 By Gina Harkins

A Navy pilot who took out a Syrian attack jet that was dropping bombs on friendly forces last year -- the service's first air-to-air kill since the end of the Cold War -- was recognized for his heroism this weekend.

Lt. Cmdr. Mike "MOB" Tremel, an F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot with the Strike Fighter Squadron 87, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on Saturday during the Tailhook Association's annual conference. The medal is awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement during aerial flights.


Tremel is credited with "extraordinary achievement" during a mission in which he shot down a Syrian Su-22 Fitter attack jet over Raqqa on June, 18, 2017.


"By his superb leadership, skilled airmanship, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Lieutenant Commander Tremel reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service," his award citation states.


He and his wingman, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff "Jo Jo" Krueger, initially set out from the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush with two other pilots on what they thought was a close-air-support mission.


But the airspace was crowded, and when Tremel split off from the rest to track a Russian aircraft in the area, he spotted a Syrian jet.

"Our whole mission out there was to defeat [the Islamic State group], annihilate ISIS," he said at last year's Tailhook symposium. "... At any point in time, if this had de-escalated, that would have been great. We would have gotten mission success and [gone] back to continue to drop bombs on ISIS."


Instead, the Syrian air force attack jet ignored repeated warnings from the Navy pilots about getting too close to friendly forces on the ground. When the Fitter took a dive and began dropping ordnance, Tremel fired off an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile.


When the missile didn't make contact, he let another fly. The second round, a radar-guided AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM, hit its target.


"While monitoring a Russian SU-35 Flanker operating above him, Lieutenant Commander Tremel identified a Syrian SU-22 FITTER closing quickly on the coalition ground force. He executed three warning passes with flares, but the FITTER disregarded the warnings and delivered ordnance on the coalition ground force," the award citation states. "Lieutenant Commander Tremel immediately fired two air-to-air missiles that destroyed the FITTER and protected the coalition force from further threat."


"The aircraft will pitch right and down and pilot will jump out and left in his ejection seat," Tremel said.


Careful to avoid falling debris, Tremel watched the pilot pass in his ejection seat.


The whole thing was over in about eight minutes, according to a Navy news release. Tremel and Krueger flew back to the carrier as the other pilots continued on with the original close-air support mission.


It had marked the Navy's first air-to-air kill since the fall of the Soviet Union.


"I couldn't have done it without the guy sitting next to me, 'Jo Jo,' and the other guys that were airborne," Tremel said. "It was an absolute team effort, to include all the coordination that went on with the Air Force." ^


Two "Mighty Mos": Submarine USS Missouri Meets Its Battleship Namesake In Hawaii

Tyler Rogoway |
















It was a unique moment in American naval history on January 26th, 2018 when the Virginia class fast attack nuclear submarine USS Missouri (SSN-780) arrived in its new homeport of Pearl Harbor, making its way past the famed, albeit retired USS Missouri (BB-63) battleship of the same name.


The battleship USS Missouri and the nuclear submarine USS Missouri couldn't be more different when it comes to warfighting vessels, but the rich heritage and lore that surrounds the name binds the two vessels together, in addition to their now common home. Just four American Navy vessels have been named after the 24th state, with a short-lived side-wheel frigate having been commissioned in 1842 and a Maine class battleship (BB-11) being commissioned in 1903 under the same moniker.

The Iowa class Battleship USS Missouri is by far the most famous of the lot, having participated in WWII, the Korean War, and the Gulf War. It also starred in the 1990s Steven Seagal action blockbuster Under Siege. Yet the vessel is probably best known for Japan's signing of the official instrument of surrender on its teak deck, a moment that marked the end of horrific World War II.

One thing the battleship and its nuclear submarine counterpart have in common is weaponry. The submarine USS Missouri's primary land attack weapon is the RGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile. The battleship Missouri received Tomahawk capability during her final refit in the 1980s via the installation of armored box launchers on her deck. At 01:40 am on January 17th, 1991 the ship fired its first Tomahawk in anger at Iraqi targets, followed by 27 additional missiles over the next five days. Desert Storm would also see the Missouri and her sister-ship the Wisconsin pull off the largest naval feint in decades with their mighty 16 inch gunsRead all with great pictures ^


Top                                                                                     Archives                                                                                   Front Page

Published for American Submariners by USSVI Bremerton Base -Webmaster Don "Red" Bassler