Esquimalt-Based Submarine Back In Port
After Epic Journey
Richard Watts, Times
Colonist, March 21
Family, sailors, submariners and
commanding officers were on hand at CFB Esquimalt on Wednesday
to welcome home HMCS Chicoutimi after a record deployment.
HMCS Chicoutimi, a Victoria-class
submarine, and her 59-member crew were deployed in the Asia
Pacific region for 197 days, the longest Royal Canadian Navy
deployment ever for that class of sub. The previous record of
101 days was established by HMCS Windsor in 2015.
The deployment also marked the first
time a Canadian navy submarine has visited Japan in nearly 50
years. The last vessel to do so was HMCS Grisle in May 1968.
Rear Admiral Art McDonald, commander
of Canadian Maritime Forces Pacific, said the long voyage, the
exercises completed and the diplomatic goodwill established by
HMCS Chicoutimi are part of what is expected of all Canadian
“So this is like pay day … You can
see it in the smiles and the pride in the faces of every family
and sailor here today,” he said.
While on the deployment, HMCS
Chicoutimi also visited Guam and Hawaii and took part in
exercises with the U.S. and French navies and the Japan Maritime
Self Defence Force.
HMCS Chicoutimi is one of four
diesel-electric submarines of its class in the Canadian navy.
HMCS Victoria and HMCS Cornerbrook are also based out of CFB
Esquimalt, while HMCS Windsor is based out of CFB Halifax.
All the subs were built for the
British navy. They were purchased by Canada in 2000, and
underwent a lengthy refit.
Early on, the purchase appeared to be
ill-fated. Technical problems were ongoing, and in 2004 there
was a fire on HMCS Chicoutimi in which one person died and nine
But navy Capt. Chris Robinson,
commander Canadian Submarine Force, said Wednesday those
technical issues are well behind and the sub class can be
regarded as “steady state.”
Robinson said HMCS Chicoutimi’s
deployment came out of a decision to operate the submarines
around the world, part of a plan to project Canada’s naval
Robinson said it was a good
experience for the vessel and crew, as regions have different
ocean temperatures, marine traffic patterns and fishboat
“It’s good for the boat, good for the
crew,” Robinson said.
“It gives them all a chance to
operate in areas they don’t normally.
“And they all performed really well,”
“This is a great submarine crew, one
of my top submarines.”
Dockside greeters had little on their
mind save the return of loved ones.
Kyla O’Rourke, waiting for her
husband, P.O. Derek O’Rourke, said their youngest, two-year-old
Liam, has little awareness of what’s happening.
But six-year-old Michael is a
different story. Michael is looking forward to a promised
fishing trip with his father, perhaps as early as Friday. “He’s very aware of what is going on
and how much he has missed his dad,” O’Rourke said.^
Navy Officer Who Fled
Vietnam Returns On Board Carrier Vinson
Military.com 17 Mar 2018
By Richard Sisk
Navy Cmdr. Hien Trinh,
whose family fled Vietnam in an overcrowded fishing boat after
the fall of Saigon, came back last week on board the aircraft
carrier Carl Vinson in the ship's historic port call to Danang.
"A Navy ship picked us up, and that's one of the reasons why I'm
actually in the Navy," Trinh, a dentist in charge of the
Vinson's clinic, said in an interview this week.
Trinh's return to Vietnam as part of a historic port call
underscores how relations between the two countries have changed
in the four decades since the war ended. The visit comes as the
United States takes steps to strengthen relations with the
country amid rising tensions and hostilities in the region. For
Trinh, who had returned to Vietnam only once before, a decade
ago, to participate in dental clinic work with his wife, the
visit was a time for reflection and for pride.
Ashore in the land of his birth, Trinh said the bitter aftermath
of what the Vietnamese call the "American war" was subsumed in
efforts of the U.S. and Hanoi to forge a new relationship.
"The people there were incredibly friendly. We had a great
welcome from the people of Danang. They all knew that sailors
were in town," Trinh said. "They all greeted us with a nice
smile and tried to feed us way too much and feed us all kinds of
stuff we probably wouldn't have tried unless we were there."
After a four-day visit to Vietnam last week -- the first by a
U.S. carrier in the 43 years since the war ended -- the Vinson
and its strike group were back in the South China Sea. The
strike group was conducting exercises with the Japanese
helicopter destroyer Ise on Tuesday when Trinh spoke with
Military.com by phone.
Falling Commissary Sales Are Raising Risks to Shopping Benefit
By Tom Philpott |Military.com
Military Update: Sales at
on-base grocery stores have fallen six percent in the past year,
21.3 percent since 2012, putting the shopping benefit at greater
risk, say commissary executives.
The worry is that falling sales leave commissaries open to
criticism that they’re losing relevancy as a military perk, or
becoming too costly for taxpayers to support, given the fierce
competition for customers from commercial grocers.
The Defense Department’s
top two executives overseeing commissaries – one responsible for
all military resale policies and the other for day-to-day
operation of 237 commissaries worldwide – have conceded in
separate interviews that falling sales are alarming and must be
But both also said they are confident current actions to
transform commissaries into “business-like” operations can
succeed -- in preserving current patron savings, lowering
taxpayer support and improving shopper satisfaction.
The transformative steps
include: phasing in variable pricing to replace the tradition of
selling base groceries at cost-plus-a-five-percent surcharge;
offering commissary label goods to deepen discounts; and, in
time, adopting at least for new hires the more flexible wage
schedule used in military exchanges, which run on-base
department and convenience stores at a profit.
Leading commissary operations since November has been retired
Navy Rear Admiral Robert J. Bianchi. He is interim director of
the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) while remaining chief
executive officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command (NexCom).
“I have been charged with
instituting reforms and procedures [to] drive down expenses,
allow us to still offer the benefit at the prescribed level [of
savings] Congress is looking for and, hopefully, offset those
expenses by running the commissary more like a business,” said
The first obstacle in his way, he suggested in an hour-long
interview, is a
“significant” drop in commissary sales, from $6.1 billion in
fiscal 2012 to $4.8 billion in 2017. The sales slide has
continued into fiscal 2018 though at a slower rate.
Claims Its Nuclear Sub Went ‘Undetected’ On US
Staff, American Military News, March 19
Russia’s nuclear submarine went “undetected” on its approach to
the U.S. coastline during an exercise near American military
bases, a submarine squadron commander recently told Zveda,
Russia’s Defense Ministry’s official broadcaster, RT reported.
news of the nuclear submarine activity was made in a military
television series on Zveda. The episode’s focus was Akula-class
Shchuka-B nuclear-powered submarines.
“This mission has been accomplished, the submarines showed up in
the set location in the ocean and returned to base,” said
submarine squadron commander Sergey Starshinov.
Starshinov said the submarine went “undetected” upon close
approach to U.S. shores without violating maritime borders by
staying in international waters. The date and location of the
undetected activity was not been disclosed.
The U.S. Navy did not respond to a request for comment.
Russia’s submarine activity is at a post-Cold War high, Gen.
Curtis Scaparrotti – the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO
Allied Command Operations, said Thursday.
“They are deploying more and they are deploying at a higher
rate,” he said. “The forces they are deploying are being
modernized, particularly with their weapons systems.”
Scaparrotti told the House Armed Services Committee that the
U.S. needs to invest more to keep up with Russia’s naval
Scaparrotti said last week that the Russian military may surpass
U.S. military capability in Europe by 2025.
“Given their modernization, the pace that it’s on … We have to
maintain our modernization that we’ve set out so that we can
remain dominant in the areas that we are dominant today,”
Scaparrotti said. “If we were not to do that, I think that their
pace would put us certainly challenged in a military domain in
almost every perspective by, say, 2025.”
Scaparrotti also said Russia was doubling down on efforts to
control Arctic sea lanes. “They would have the capability in
some time, perhaps two or three years, to control the Northern
Sea route if they chose to do so,” he said, adding: “We’re not
Coast Guard Divers Recover Torpedoes in Freezing Arctic
COMSUBPAC Public Affairs, DVIDSHub.net, March 17
ICEX 2018 is a five-week biennial
exercise that allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness in
the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding
of the Arctic environment, and continue to develop relationships
with other services, allies and partner organizations.
During the exercise, the Seawolf-class
fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and the Los
Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) each
fired several training torpedoes under the ice. Training torpedoes
have no warheads and carry minimal fuel.
"The primary objective of this
year's ICEX is to test new under-ice weapons systems and validate
tactics for weapon employment," said Ryan Dropek, Naval Undersea
Warfare Center Division Newport, RI Weapons Test Director. "Once the
divers recover these torpedoes, we can extract important data about
how they perform and react in these conditions."
After the submarines fire the
torpedoes, helicopters transport gear and personnel to the location
where the positively-buoyant torpedo is expected to run out of fuel.
Each torpedo has a location device in order to assist in the search.
Once found, a 3-4 person team will then drill a series of holes for
the divers to enter and exit, as well as one hole for the torpedo to
be lifted by helicopter.
"Once we know the location of the
torpedo and drill holes, our divers slip into the water to begin
placing weights on a line attached to the tail end of the torpedo,"
Chief Warrant Officer Michael Johnson, officer-in-charge of MDSU-2
divers, explained. "The weights help shift the torpedo from a state
of positive buoyancy to neutral buoyancy under the ice."
Once the torpedo is neutral, the
divers place brackets with cables to the top and bottom of the body
of the torpedo. A helicopter then connects to the torpedo before
lifting it vertically out of the hole.
The three dive teams completed
additional training in preparation for diving in the unique
environment of the Arctic Ocean.
"To prepare for ICEX, we completed
training at the Coast Guard's Cold Water Ice Diving (CWID) course
and earned our ordnance handling certification from the Naval
Undersea Warfare Center," said Johnson. "Additionally, each unit
completed MK48 Torpedo recovery training and Unit Level Training (ULT)
classroom training on hypothermia, frostbite, ice camp operations,
dry-suit, and cold-water ice diving."
The USCG CWID course is a two-week
course in Seattle, WA hosted by the USCG instructors at Naval Diving
and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) which focuses on the use of
equipment and diving operations in harsh Arctic waters. During the
course, divers complete a diving practical in Loc de Roc, British
Columbia at 5,000 ft. elevation to put environmental stresses on the
divers and equipment to acclimate to the cold and altitude.
"Our Underwater Construction Teams
have always had the ice-diving capabilities, so it was awesome to be
invited out to this exercise to make sure we're keeping up with
something that we say we can do," said Builder 1st Class Khiaro
Promise, assigned to Construction Dive Detachment Alfa.
During ICEX, the divers conducted
dives using two different types of diving methods. UCT-1 and the
USCG dove with SCUBA equipment, which provides divers with an air
supply contained in tanks strapped to the backs of the divers. The
divers equip themselves with a communication "smart rope" which is a
protected communication cable to the surface that acts as a tending
line so support personnel on the surface has positive control of the
divers and so they can quickly return to the dive hole.
MDSU-2 divers used the diving system
DP2 with configuration one, which provides voice communications and
an air supply provided by the surface. This configuration allows the
divers to swap the composite air bottles without the diver
resurfacing and without interrupting their air supply.
"We decided to use the DP2 system
because it performs in arctic conditions very well," said Navy Diver
1st Class Davin Jameson, lead diving supervisor for MDSU-2. "The
ability to change our air supply during the dive is critical and
allows us to stay under the water a lot longer."
Not only did the divers have an
essential role in torpedo recovery, they were also essential to camp
operations. "Prior to torpedo retrieval dives, all the divers on ice
helped set up the camp and in the building of two runways (one 1,300
and one 2,500-ft)," Senior Chief Navy Diver Michael McInroy, master
diver for MDSU-2. "In the camp, everyone has responsibilities to
keep operations on track. The divers worked hard to do their part in
and out of the water."
MDSU-2 is an expeditionary mobile
unit homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story (JEBLCFS)
in Norfolk, Va. The unit deploys in support of diving and salvage
operations and fleet exercises around the world. The primary mission
is to direct highly-mobile, fully-trained and equipped mobile diving
and salvage companies to perform combat harbor clearance, search and
expeditionary salvage operations including diving, salvage, repair,
assistance, and demolition in ports or harbors and at sea aboard
Navy, Military Sealift Command, or commercial vessels of opportunity
in wartime or peacetime.
UCT-1 is also homeported at JEBLCFS
and is worldwide deployable to conduct underwater construction,
inspection, repair and demolition operations. Seabees operated off
the coast of Alaska for the first time in 1942 when they began
building advanced bases on Adak, Amchitka and other principal
islands in the Aleutian chain.
ICEX divers and their support
elements are a proven and vital component to the success of this
five-week exercise. The partnership between the Navy and Coast Guard
builds on the foundation of increasing experience and operational
readiness even in the one of the harshest regions of the world.
"The brotherhood in diving means we
have a lot of trust in that other person when you go underwater, and
you get close to your coworkers, it's more of a family," Promise
China Wages a Drug War
By Captain Jim
Fanell, U.S. Navy (Retired) and William C. Triplett, II
documents published in December reveal that the United
States is now in a new hot war with the People’s Republic of
China (PRC). This
statement is based on the reality that, because of actions
by the PRC, Americans are dying at an annual rate that is
higher than during the entirety of the Vietnam War.
The first document that reveals that the
United States is in such a conflict is the President’s new National
Security Strategy (NSS), which boldly states “the
illicit opioid epidemic, fed by drug cartels as well as
Chinese fentanyl traffickers, kills tens of thousands of
Americans each year.” The second was theannouncement from
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), National Center
for Health Statistics (NCHS) that
for the calendar
year 2016 63,600 Americans died from drug overdose, nearly
three times the rate in 1999. According to the NHCS, “the
pattern of drugs involved in drug overdose deaths has
changed in recent years,” with the rate of death from
synthetic opiods other than methadone (such as fentanyl and
tramadol) having doubled from 2015 to 2016. According
to the CDCP, fentanyl is now “the leading cause of overdose
death in the U.S.,” accounting for more than 19,000 of the
63,400 fatalities last year. And by all appearances, the
numbers for 2017 (which will be published in early 2019) are
on track to be greater than in 2016.
While Beijing and apologists for the
Communist Party of China (CCP) seek to place the
responsibility for these deaths on the demand from an
immoral and decadent American population, the fact
remains Americans are being killed by a lethal drug that
is being manufactured in, and transported from, the PRC.
According to the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), China provides the
majority of all the illegal fentanyl that is shipped to
the United States. While most of the interdicted drugs
have been through the mail or within shipments of heroin
smuggled across the southern border, there is growing
evidence of just how much fentanyl is being shipped by
For instance, Anne Arundel County
Maryland reported nearly
200 people died in overdoses in 2017. Despite devoting
increased resources to fight this influx, the county
lost more lives to opioid overdoses than traffic
accidents, homicides, and suicides in all of 2016. Anne
Arundel County is not Appalachia; it is an upscale
country, home to the U.S. Naval Academy, the National
Security Agency (NSA), and lots of high
paying-government contracting jobs. Yet this county has
been inundated by a wave of fentanyl from China that
comes into the state through the Port of Baltimore. What
is of concern is how much is coming by sea and how to
deal with this influx, especially in view of the PRC’s
reluctance to support requests from the U.S. government
to crack down on production and shipping of this deadly
In October 2017, for instance, the U.S.
Department of Justice announced the first indictment of
two PRC nationals for illegally shipping fentanyl into
the United States. The PRC’s National Narcotics Control
Commission (NNCC), the equivalent to the U.S. DEA,
however, reported that the two individuals had not been
arrested because it was unclear if they had broken any
PRC laws and that the United States was at fault for
having state-level marijuana legalization laws that are
contributing to the increase in fentanyl abuse.
Whether or not this response is
indicative of a purposeful PRC strategy to erode U.S.
national health and security, illegal opioids from China
are killing U.S. citizens.
What can be done? Well, short of
stopping and searching all container ships coming from
the PRC, the U.S. Sea Services can do a few things
If there ever
was a time for military leaders to get closer to their
young service members, it is now. In addition to
drug testing, the more important effective course of
action will be for leaders to personally educate their
people about the exceptionally lethal nature of opioids
like fentanyl. For instance, a
recent bust in New York in December 2017 took in 196
pounds of this synthetic drug, enough to kill every
person in New York City…eleven times over. It is so
deadly, the CBP agents wear latex gloves and masks
because ingesting just a few milligrams of this drug
could kill them. The risk of death from opioid overdose
is not like taking one too many drinks at the club or
smoking marijuana and getting behind the wheel of your
car (both of which are illegal). Service members need to
know how lethally volatile it is and that even just one
trial use could end their lives.
about National Security . While we certainly owe it
to our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Coast
Guardsmen, and their families to warn them about this
plight, we need our senior leaders to take a stand and
call attention to this issue in our multitude of
mil-to-mil engagement activities. While it has been
standard protocol for U.S. military leaders not to
engage in contentious political issues when conducting
international engagement events, the fact that the
Commander-in-Chief has stated that this is a national
security issue should impact how U.S. military leaders
engage with their Chinese counterparts. Considerations
should be made to introduce this issue as a talking
point during future high-level dialogues. To the extent
that there is no reduction in the inbound flow of
Chinese fentanyl to our shores, then further actions
like deferring the PRC’s participation in events like
the Rim of the Pacific exercise should be considered.
Seasoned experts have recommended that
the ultimate solution for fighting the drug wars,
especially this opioid crisis, is curbing demand. While
limiting demand will continue to be a focus of effort
for many, the message for the U.S. military is that we
are now engaged in a drug war with China. It is a war we
must fight to protect U.S. national security and our
most precious resource—our people.
Captain Fanell served
as a career naval intelligence officer whose positions
included the senior intelligence officer for China at
the Office of Naval Intelligence and the chief of
intelligence for CTF-70, 7th Fleet, and the U.S. Pacific
Fleet. He retired from the Navy in 2015 and currently is
a government fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security
William Triplett was
a former chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations
Dead Date for
Ordering Engraved Bricks for Deterrent Park Semi-Annual Installation
Posted March 18,
New engraved bricks are
installed semi-annually in the missile deck of the full scale top
side model of the USS Woodrow Willson (SSBN 624) at
Deterrent Park on the
NBK, Bangor. Newly ordered bricks are
installed in May and November.
Since day one, over 2400 engraved
bricks have been installed.
In less than two months, the
drop dead date for
bricks for May 27th installation
May 10th, 2018.
The price per brick is $40.
Half of that goes for bricks & engraving, while the other half goes
into the base treasury tagged for charitable functions such as
scholarships for Subvets children and grandchildren.
more info about Deterrent Park.^
A Comparison of U.S. Navy and Royal Navy
Proceedings Magazine - March 2018 144/3/1,381 By Dr. Anthony Wells
a former Royal Navy officer who had the pleasure of serving with the
U.S. Navy at sea, I have perhaps unique insights into the
differences between how the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy train their
junior officers. The
differences between the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) at
Dartmouth and the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) have been significant
since the beginning of both institutions.
Dartmouth is not a degree-awarding institution like USNA. It solely
is dedicated to the mission of training young naval officers for sea
duty. BRNC concentrates on hands-on seamanship training and
leadership, including all the necessary professional skill sets
needed on board modern warships—from navigation, shiphandling, and
nuclear/biological/chemical defense, to marine and electrical
engineering, leadership skills; how to be a good junior divisional
officer; dealing with unstructured challenging situations; and being
toughened in rigorous physical environments for the challenges of
fighting at sea.
training—and the resultant environment of a college campus—is not
the mantra at BRNC, except insofar as naval history, engineering,
and subjects like celestial navigation, international rules of the
road, and communications directly impinge on professional duties.
In the 1960s, graduate intakes were just becoming the norm at BRNC.
Today, Dartmouth has a 30 weeks basic training course followed by
intensive professional training at sea and specialist shore training
establishments. This 21st century program recruits directly from
universities, with young acting sub-lieutenants having acquired
their degree and, in some cases, having been members of their
universities’ officer training corps. At sea in the English Channel
and on the river Dart, hands-on seamanship training always has been
paramount at BRNC, with divisional yachts providing ocean sailing
alongside at Sandquay a myriad of small power and sailboats. Small
boat training and sailing are mandatory at BRNC from day one and
occupy a key part of the daily routine training. Parade training is
intense. Officer trainees are taught how to handle a variety of
small arms and, for those inclined to aviation, fly small aircraft
trainers out of nearby Roborough Field.
By contrast, USNA is a
four-year degree-oriented program with academics as a high priority.
Annapolis strives for high rankings among U.S. universities, and its
students can choose from a wide variety of academic majors.
There is, therefore, a strong academic emphasis to the four-year
program from day one, sustained by an academic faculty that is both
professionally strong and seeking the same academic recognition as
in any other U.S. university.
I keep an ocean-going sailboat close to the Naval Academy in
Annapolis and have observed for years what goes on from USNA in the
Chesapeake Bay. It bears little resemblance to BRNC with, by
comparison, minimal seamanship training. Sailing seems to be a sport
for some midshipmen rather than a major professional focus for the
brigade, despite the large array of sailboats alongside the Academy
walls. One of my own crew, a retired U.S. Army colonel, has
participated in USNA’s sail-training program in a leadership
capacity. He has completed several major sails and is disappointed
at the small number of participants in the program.
The Chesapeake Bay is alive with large merchantmen transiting to and
from Baltimore. The channel is well marked. I talk continuously on
VHF to large cargo ships and oilers as my sailboat transits to and
from the Atlantic. I enjoy routine chit-chats with merchant ships,
starting typically after a mariner’s greeting with, “What are your
intentions?” After a short exchange on the radio, both vessels know
exactly what we intend and how we will pass or overtake. Every day
on the Chesapeake there is enormous opportunity for USNA midshipmen
to become conversant and confident talking to merchant ships and
figuring out how to avoid any possibility of a collision. My crewman
assures me that USNA yachts from time to time sail the Delmarva—a
circumnavigation of the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and the
coastal Atlantic Ocean, typically up to 50 nautical miles offshore.
However, these training voyages involve a small minority of
I fear the U.S. Naval Academy sets a trend that may pervade the U.S.
Navy. It is possible that a
USNA graduate may not be a hands-on seaman upon graduation, and may
not be ready to be a junior officer of the watch or divisional
In the 1970s, I first served at sea on exchange from the Royal Navy
with the U.S. Third Fleet. Prior to my appointment with the U.S.
Navy I had taught as a lieutenant commander at the Royal Naval
College Greenwich, including the Lieutenants’ Greenwich Course (LGC).
Later, I was responsible at sea in the Dartmouth training ship for
the planning of all Royal Navy, Commonwealth, and other foreign
navies’ junior officers’ sea training from midshipmen to sub
lieutenants, as well as being a senior instructor. In 1977, I was
standing on the bridge wing of a U.S. Navy surface ship with Vice
Admiral Samuel Gravely, Commander of the U.S. Third Fleet—the first
African-American to gain three stars and fleet command and a
distinguished World War II veteran. The commanding officer and his
crew were being put through various drills, under the watchful eye
of the admiral. At one key point, Admiral Gravely turned to me and
asked what I thought of a developing situation. I responded that the
ship should alter speed and course immediately, and take evasive and
emergency action. The admiral was displeased with the commanding
officer’s poor seamanship.
A few days later, during the exercise, the admiral summoned me to
his cabin. He asked me to be frank about my observations of this
ship. This was a delicate conversation, and in hindsight it seems
relevant 40 years later. My
chief observation was that there seemed to be insufficient
connection between the officers and the enlisted crew members.
Unlike the Royal Navy, the social environment on board seemed
sterile, without the level of camaraderie that I had enjoyed in Her
Majesty’s ships. As a
result, I assessed that the ship was lacking spirit and the
atmosphere was mechanical, with the crewmembers doing their jobs
without an “all-of-one-company” attitude. I had spent more
time with lookouts, for example, than many of the officers onboard.
I had given them instruction, conversed with them regularly, so I
got to know them as people. The wardroom atmosphere was routine,
with people appearing for meals and disappearing.
I explained that in a Royal Navy ship, the social levels in the
wardroom, chief petty officers’ and petty officers’ messes, were
dramatically different—true social entities with great camaraderie,
which I believe is reflected in performance.
Career General List British naval officers (equivalent to career
unrestricted line officers in the U.S. Navy) all are trained as
“Seaman Officers,” so that they are all “SWOs” irrespective of later
specialization. Submariners and aviators will revert back to the
surface navy typically after a command as a commander.
Does all this result in seamanship performance differences between
the Royal and U.S. navies? One indicator comes from U.S. Navy
officers who have served at sea in Royal Navy ships.
In 2009, U.S. Navy
Lieutenant Mitch McGuffie wrote in Proceedings that his exchange
tour with the Royal Navy showed him how much he did not know about
seamanship and navigation. My recommendation is for the two navies
to learn from each other.
The U.S. Navy has an impeccable warfighting tradition, yet its
incidents at sea in 2017 signal underlying problems. As one who
graduated from and later served at the BRNC, I know the benefits of
its singular focus on seamanship. The U.S. Navy may wish to consider
and analyze options for change at USNA and its other officer
accession programs, perhaps refocusing the curriculum and training
objectives to seamanship training and all the arts and sciences that
accompany these key skill sets. In addition, USNA may want to look
at its recruitment strategy, with alternatives for recruiting and
training graduates as seaman officers first before any
specialization, and creating more flexible career paths that permit
a wider range of attendees at USNA other than mainly high-school
graduates. USNA may wish to
review its academic emphasis and the curriculum structure, and even
reduce the course length if the emphasis shifts to professional sea
and officer warfighting training. If a degree is mandatory, then
perhaps the focus should be programs concentrating on professional
naval engineering and operations.
Dr. Wells is the author of
the recent U.S. Naval Institute Press book, A Tale of Two Navies:
Geopolitics, Technology, and Strategy in the United States Navy and
the Royal Navy, 1960-2015 .
He has served at sea and ashore with the Royal Navy and the U.S.
Navy, and is believed to be the only living person to have worked
for British intelligence as a British citizen and U.S. intelligence
as a U.S. citizen.
Proving Ground for Submarine Arctic Operability and Warfighting|
Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 is
underway in the Arctic Ocean.
The five-week biennial exercise allows us to assess our operational
readiness in the Arctic, increase experience there, advance
understanding of the Arctic environment and continue to develop
relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations.
Two U.S. fast-attack
submarines that have the Nutmeg State to thank for their
names are working together near the top of the world.
Los Angeles-class fast
attack sub USS Hartford and Seawolf-class fast attack sub
USS Connecticut both surfaced through the ice in the Arctic
Circle on Friday, according to the Department of Defense.
The submarines are
taking part in a five-week maritime Ice Exercise (ICEX)
along with the United Kingdom Royal Navy submarine HMS
Trenchant in the Arctic Circle north of Alaska.
The exercise is a way
to train crews and test the capabilities of the submarines
in extreme cold-water conditions, according to the Pentagon.
“From a military,
geographic, and scientific perspective, the Arctic Ocean is
truly unique, and remains one of the most challenging ocean
environments on earth,” said Rear Admiral James Pitts,
Commodore, Undersea Warfighting Development Center.
Good show with videos
Connecticut journeys to the Arctic
Julianne Stanford, firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished
10:00 a.m. PT March 11, 2018
The crew of the
Bremerton-based USS Connecticut will spend the next few weeks
navigating the sea-ice-covered waterways of the Arctic Ocean as
participants in a biennial Navy exercise that will culminate with
surfacing at the North Pole.
fast-attack submarine, based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, is
joined by the USS Hartford from Groton, Connecticut, and the U.K.
Royal Navy's Trafalgar-class submarine HMS Trenchant.
For five weeks, the three submarines will work together as
participants in Ice Exercise 2018, shortened to ICEX.
During the exercise, the submarines will practice navigating through
Arctic waterways, participate in training exercises, test launch
torpedoes without attached warheads, surface through the ice and
collect scientific data.
The exercise aims to test the Navy's operational readiness in the
Arctic's frigid temperatures and water conditions as well as
demonstrate international cooperation in the region.
"With every ICEX we are able to build upon our existing experience
and continue to learn the best way to operate in this unique and
harsh environment," said Rear Adm. James Pitts, commander of
Undersea Warfare Development Center in Newport, Rhode Island.
Hector Castillo watches daily operations while communicating
with the command hut at the Applied Physics Lab Ice Station
as the Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut
prepares to submerge under the ice during ICEX 2011.
(Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin O'Brien)
Typically, crews can check for
ships or small boats above them with their periscopes before
surfacing. Breaking through the Arctic's ice floes presents
additional challenges, said ICEX spokeswoman Lt. Courtney Callaghan.
"During normal submerged operations in most waters around the world,
the crew needs to know what is below them and what is in front of
them," Callaghan said. "In the unique Arctic environment, the crew
must also know what is above them. This includes knowing if there is
ice or low-hanging ice keels above them, which may pose a hazard to
The potentially dangerous ice aren't just stationary chunks of
frozen water sitting in the water that can be easily navigated
"The ice floes are constantly
moving, many times at relatively noticeable speeds," Callaghan said.
"Before the submarines can surface, they must consider the thickness
and match the speed of the ice flows."
While training in the area, submarine crews will collect data on
their surroundings, such as the water temperature at various depths
of the ocean, water salinity and seafloor surroundings for depth.
The collected data will be unclassified and provided to various
organizations for research, Callaghan said.
About a year before the start of the exercise, the Navy's San
Diego-based Arctic Submarine Laboratory started preparations to
establish a temporary base camp on top of a sheet of ice alongside
partners from the Undersea Warfighting Development Center Arctic
Submarine Laboratory, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and
Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC) Science
Alaska Native Corporation/ed).
Navies in Review
Proceedings Magazine - March 2018
144/3/1,381 By Eric Wertheim
The proliferation of
sophisticated naval weapons and technology has reached fever pitch
during the past few years. Sales of advanced submarines, long-range
antiship weapons, and cutting-edge surface-to-air missiles (SAMs)
have provided asymmetric capabilities to all interested parties.
Modern navies must now come to grips with these challenges, and they
must be prepared to face even the most advanced military threats
anywhere and everywhere they operate.
This review of the world’s navies presents a snapshot of activities
and developments during the past year. It is arranged by region,
with nations discussed alphabetically under each subheading
Australia’s first new 7,000-ton Aegis-equipped guided-missile
destroyer (DDG), HMAS Hobart, was commissioned into service in
September 2017. Two others, the Brisbane and Sydney, are planned for
service by 2020.
As the Hobart-class DDGs join the fleet, they are replacing upgraded
Adelaide-class frigates, including HMAS Darwin, which was
decommissioned in December 2017. The Australian Navy has been
working to upgrade all eight of its Anzac-class frigates with active
phased-array radars and other improvements. The Anzac class
eventually will be replaced by nine future frigates beginning in the
mid-2020s. The German OPV-80 design has been selected for
Australia’s 12 new 1,760-ton offshore patrol vessels, with
construction set to begin on the new OPVs in late 2018.
In 2017, the first steel was cut for Australia’s Pacific patrol boat
replacement (PPB-R) vessels. Nineteen will be delivered between 2018
and 2023 for donation to 12 Pacific island nations. Australia also
is enhancing its own coastal security and in 2017 commissioned two
Cape-class 190-foot patrol boats under a lease agreement.
Two new replenishment vessels are planned for the near future, both
of which will be built in Spain and based on the Cantabria class.
These new oilers, to be named the Supply and Stalwart, are expected
for delivery in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Australia plans to acquire 12 new 4,500-ton French-designed
submarines to replace the six existing Collins-class boats. These 12
diesel submarines are expected in service from the early 2030s.
Two 27,000-ton Canberra-class amphibious assault ships recently
entered service. They suffered some early propulsion difficulties,
but the problems appear to have been corrected by late 2017.
Australian defense forces reportedly are considering acquisition of
AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and UH-1N utility helicopters for use
on the Canberra class in the future.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) also is increasing in the
fleet, and some warships are deploying with new unmanned Scan Eagles
as well as manned MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. Australia has begun
receiving its first Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft,
and 12 P-8As currently are planned for delivery through 2020.
Additional P-8As are expected to be ordered in the future. A total
of 7 MQ-4C long- range Triton UAVs also are planned for service
beginning in the early 2020s.
Bangladesh became a full-fledged submarine operator in 2017 with the
transfer of two aging Ming-class (Project 035) diesel-powered boats
from China. China also delivered two newly constructed 211-foot
guided-missile patrol craft that are based on its own Type 056
corvette. Bangladesh has ordered two additional Dornier Do-228NG
aircraft to boost maritime patrol and surveillance capabilities.
Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning was operational with the
People's Liberation Army Navy in 2017. More and larger
aircraft carriers are in development
China’s naval forces continue
to make great strides, rapidly eroding Western technological
advantages. As its power projection capabilities continue to grow,
naval assets reach further into the Indian Ocean region as well as
the South and East China seas. China’s first aircraft carrier, the
55,000-ton Liaoning, now is operational, and speculation has shifted
to future carrier designs. Current plans include two domestically
designed and built non-nuclear carriers known as the Project 001 and
Project 002. The Project 001 was launched in the first half of 2017
and is expected to enter service in the early 2020s. Similar in
appearance to the Liaoning, the Project 001 will be larger and
faster and is expected to carry roughly 40 percent more aircraft
than the Liaoning. The Project 002 aircraft carrier currently is in
the final stages of development and will be bigger than its two
predecessors, displacing 85,000 tons. The Project 002 is expected to
be fitted with a new Chinese version of the electromagnetic aircraft
launch system rather than a ski-jump.
This past year China opened its first overseas military base—in
Djibouti—and is expected to increase use of the Chinese-funded port
at Gwadar, Pakistan. China reportedly has doubled the size of the
People’s Liberation Army Marine Corps from 10,000 to 20,000 troops,
and long-term plans call for an increase to 100,000 marine
personnel. China launched its fifth Yuzhao-class/Project 071
17,000-ton amphibious transport dock, which is expected to
commission this year.
Construction of a new 35,000-ton big-deck amphibious ship (Project
075) is reportedly under way. The Project 075 is expected to have
well decks to operate the new Yuyi-class (Project 726) air-cushioned
landing craft under construction.
China’s surface combatant fleet has been expanding. Its first new,
10,000-ton Renhai-class (Project 055) guided-missile cruiser
(sometimes classified as a destroyer) was launched in summer 2017.
Project 055 armament is thought to include at least 112 vertical
launch system cells, advanced SAMs, land-attack cruise missiles, and
the 290-nautical-mile range CH-SS-NX-13/YJ-18 antiship missile. Two
Project 055s are reported to be under construction, and it appears
at least four are planned. China’s sixth Luyang III–class (Project
052D) destroyer was commissioned this past July, and the 13th unit
of the class was launched that same month. The People’s Liberation
Army Navy’s 26th 4,000-ton Jiangkai II-class (Project 054A)
guided-missile frigate entered service in January, and its 37th
Jiangdao-class (Project 056) 1,500-ton missile corvette also joined
New auxiliary vessels are supporting these increased operations. The
first of a new 41,000-ton class of Project 901 replenishment ships
entered service, while a second unit of the class is planned for
delivery later this year. A sixth 6,000-ton Project 815 intelligence
collection ship entered service in January 2017, with an additional
unit launched during the summer; more are expected. A large
50,000-ton dual-use, civil-military heavy-lift ship also became
operational early in 2017 and is able to transport up to 10,000 tons
of outsized cargo.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, China has completed six
of the Shang I/II-class Project 093/093A nuclear-powered attack
submarines (SSNs), and a new variant—the Project 093B—is thought to
be under development. Up to 14 next-generation Project 095 SSNs may
also be planned for the future. Four Jin-class (Project 094)
nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs), armed with
JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) have been
completed, and a fifth is thought to be under construction.
Development is also under way on the Project 096 SSBN that should
begin construction in the early 2020s and be armed with the new JL-3
SLBM. A sub-launched variant of the 290-nm range YJ-18 antiship
missile is under development to arm the Shang-class (Project 093),
Song-class (Project 039), and Yuan-class (Project 041) submarines.
Production of the Yuan-class is reported to have restarted after a
pause of several years; at least three new boats were seen fitting
out in early 2017.
Trump Pardons Navy Man Who Took Illegal Submarine
The Associated Press |9 Mar
2018 |By Ken Thomas
— The White House announced Friday that President Donald Trump has
pardoned a Navy sailor who took photos of classified areas inside a
submarine and served a year in federal prison.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Kristian
Saucier was pardoned by Trump and the president was
"appreciative" of his service to the nation. "He has been recognized
by his fellow service members for his dedication skill and patriotic
spirit," Sanders said.
Trump has referenced Saucier's case often when criticizing
Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email
server. In a January tweet, he referred to the "Deep State Justice
Dept" and criticized the agency for jailing a sailor instead of a
top Clinton aide.
It was Trump's second pardon as president. He pardoned Joe Arpaio, a
former six-term sheriff of metro Phoenix, in August.
Saucier's attorney, Ronald Daigle Jr., said his client was
"ecstatic. He's so grateful that the president saw there was an
injustice in this matter and he took action on it."
Saucier pleaded guilty in
2016 to unauthorized detention of defense information for taking
photos inside the USS Alexandria while it was stationed in Groton,
Connecticut, in 2009.
Saucier had said previously that he had only wanted service
mementos. But federal prosecutors argued he was a disgruntled sailor
who had put national security at risk by taking photos showing the
submarine's propulsion system and reactor compartment and then
obstructed justice by destroying a laptop and camera. Saucier
claimed his prosecution was driven by sensitivity about classified
information amid the scandal involving Clinton's emails.
Saucier, of Arlington, Vermont, was a 22-year-old machinist mate on
the nuclear-powered attack submarine when he took the photos. His
lawyers said he knew the photos would be classified but he wanted to
show his family what he did in the Navy. He denied sharing the
photos with any unauthorized recipient.
After Trump won election, Daigle discussed the case at Trump Tower
with Michael Flynn, the president's former national security
adviser, who encouraged a formal pardon request. Trump was later
asked about the case during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity
and said it was "very unfair."
If Not Razor Blades,then What?|
sticking with US
submarines at same rate as men|
By JENNIFER McDERMOTT
| Associated Press
When the U.S. Navy
sought the first female sailors to serve on submarines, Suraya
Mattocks (USSVI Bremerton Base Member/ed)
hand because she had always thought it would be a cool job, not
because she wanted to blaze a trail. She did anyway.
It has been eight years
since the Navy lifted its ban on women in submarines. The chaos and
disruption some predicted largely haven't materialized. Women like
Mattocks are focused on doing their jobs well. Their retention rates
are, to some surprise to the Navy, on par with those of men,
according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
And they want to be seen
simply as "submariners," not "female submariners."
"That'll be a great day
when it's not so new that everyone wants to talk about it," Mattocks
told the AP in a rare interview. "Females on my crew, they really
and truly just want to be seen as submariners. That's it."
The Navy began bringing
female officers on board submarines in 2010; enlisted female sailors
followed five years later.
By now, the first 19
female officers have decided whether to sign a contract to go back
to sea as a department head, which keeps them on the career path for
a submarine officer, or have chosen a different path. Five women
signed. Fourteen women have either left the military, will soon
leave or are serving elsewhere in the Navy, according to records
requested by the AP.
That's a retention rate
of 26 percent for the first female officers, just shy of the roughly
27 percent of male officers selected for submarine service in 2010
who signed a department head contract. The Navy had been looking for
at least 15 percent for women.
Nine more female
officers were picked for submarine service in 2010, but with the
intention they would return to jobs in the supply departments on
surface ships or ashore — a normal career path.
"You always want higher"
numbers, said Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations,
but he is encouraged by the initial results and the growing number
of female officer candidates who want to be submariners.
"I think if there was a
sense it was not doing well, we wouldn't have those types of
numbers," he said.
Richardson led the
submarine force at the beginning of the integration, from late 2010
to 2012. At that time, some submarine veterans, wives of submariners
and active-duty members were calling the change a mistake. The
living quarters were too tight, there was little privacy and
romantic relationships could develop, they feared.
Many now say that the
transition went smoothly, with one major exception. Male sailors
were prosecuted in 2015 for secretly videotaping female officers and
trainees as they undressed on the USS Wyoming.
"They did court-martial
the perpetrators. It wasn't laughed off, and that's a good thing,"
said retired Navy Capt. Lory Manning, director of government
relations for the Service Women's Action Network. "I don't think, in
general, it dampens the effort."
To address privacy, the
Navy is retrofitting subs with extra doors and designated washrooms.
Future subs will be built with the height, reach and strength of
women in mind.
Mattocks is on the USS
Michigan, a sub that splits its time between Washington state and
Guam. Sailors have in some cases organically changed their behavior
to accommodate changing times.
Some accustomed to
sleeping in their underwear now don a robe or sweats to go to the
bathroom, for instance, in case they encounter another gender in the
"That goes for both
sides. It's not that all females have to wear this and males can do
whatever they want," Mattocks said. "It's just little things like
that, having both genders in a small space. You figure out things
you never would've thought of before."
One-fifth of submarine
crews are integrated. It will take until about 2026 before a woman
could be in command of a U.S. Navy submarine.
Lt. Marquette Leveque,
29, is finishing her assignment this summer as the women in
submarines coordinator, in which she manages the integration,
advises Navy leaders and helps mentor future applicants. She is
proud of her service as one of the first female officers on the USS
Wyoming, she told the AP.
Among her peers, one was
selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate, others joined the
corporate world or moved to different Navy jobs. Some are new
Mattocks, a 34-year-old
yeoman first class from Dover, New Hampshire, will soon retire from
the Navy. She said she probably would have chosen to stay in the
submarine force if it weren't so late in her naval career. She
joined the Navy after graduating from high school and plans to
retire when she hits 20 years of service.
"I found something I
love, something new in the Navy that I love," she said. "I wouldn't
have gotten bored with it."
Megan Stevenson, 25,
trained at the Naval Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut, this
spring before heading to the USS Louisiana in Bangor, Washington.
Stevenson said she would sometimes get double takes.
"The way I look at
kind of like
an astronaut," said Stevenson, of Raymond, Maine. "It's a unique
experience that so few people have done; I want to experience that."
Trust at Sea through Unmanned Autonomy
By Commander Chris Rawley, U.S.
The prevalence of unmanned systems operating below, on, and above
the oceans over the next few decades will inevitably influence the
Navy’s culture and approach to operational art at sea. Today most of
these vehicles are controlled remotely, with a human operator
directing the platforms, monitoring their systems, and re-tasking
them as the weather deteriorates, operational priorities shift, or
mechanical problems occur. In the near future, however, changes in
technology and threats will drive unmanned naval systems away from
remote operation and toward autonomy.
Technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence have already
developed autonomous behavior in some systems. For example, the
Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Carrier Air System Demonstration program
validated autonomous functions across the aircraft’s flight profile,
including takeoff, landing, and even aerial refueling. This
innovation also produces cost savings and efficiency. Existing
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are generally each flown by a single
pilot. Improved autonomy will allow a single operator to pilot
several vehicles, which will reduce the most expensive component of
these systems— people.
The Need for More Independence
More than any other factor, though, platforms operating in contested
electromagnetic environments will require higher levels of
independence. Unmanned systems will increasingly operate beyond the
line of sight of their controllers and in areas prone to GPS or
other electronic jamming, spoofing, and interference by adversary
forces. Counterterrorism intelligence gathering and strike missions
currently flown by UAVs in low-threat environments allow for
constant data links and telemetry; a challenged electronic spectrum
will require UAVs to make their own decisions.
Environmental factors also necessitate autonomy. Unmanned underwater
vehicles (UUVs) need automation for the reasons mentioned above plus
the simple fact that normal methods of navigation such as GPS do not
work due to the limitations of electromagnetic propagation under
Someday, autonomy will allow dynamic re-missioning of unmanned naval
platforms without human intervention, improving their effectiveness
in battle. As noted in the U.S. Air Force’s Technology Horizons: A
Vision for Air Force Science and Technology, 2010-30, autonomous
vehicles will enable “operational advantages over adversaries who
are limited to human planning and decision speeds.” One of the first
tests of this sort of autonomy will occur in a Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency program called the Anti-Submarine Warfare
Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV). This detects and tracks
quiet diesel electric submarines across thousands of miles of ocean
for several months at a time. In order to perform this mission,
ACTUV will need to demonstrate several facets of advanced autonomous
operation. The most fundamental is navigation. The ability to safely
negotiate long transits in open water while following the rules of
the road, avoiding collision, grounding, and counter-detection is
not a trivial task. Whereas UAVs can operate safely in a “stack”
separated from manned aircraft by altitude, the ACTUV and other
autonomous surface vehicles will avoid collision through reliance on
advanced sensors and artificial intelligence in place of the
seaman’s eye. The ACTUV’s other more tactical operations may require
a degree of autonomy, such as the decision to deploy or direct
various sensors in response to radar or sonar contacts.
The upper end of the decision-making continuum for unmanned systems
is combat. It is not a stretch to assume that one day smarter, more
discriminating sensors will allow unmanned platforms to make their
own attack decisions in certain combat environments. Contemporary
discussions on the ethics of unmanned platforms gloss over the fact
that legacy weapons such as land and sea mines kill much more
indiscriminately than weapons enabled with smarter software
algorithms. Tomahawk missiles can be sent on a one-way trip to a
certain geographic location; “fire and forget” anti-ship missiles
may be shot along a bearing toward a radar target dozens of miles
away. Though precisely targeted and accurately guided, there is no
guarantee that these weapons will hit their target at a time and
place that minimizes harm to non-combatants. Despite ever-higher
aversions to collateral damage in modern warfare, it is still
assumed to be culturally acceptable for these relatively dumb
weapons to be used in high-end naval combat.
The People Factor
Advances in sensor technology will allow mission planners to direct
unmanned vehicles to automatically execute a general task, for
example “find and destroy the enemy submarine matching a signature”
that adheres to criteria such as specific electronic emissions or
sonar characteristics. Note that regardless of the autonomy inherent
in future unmanned systems, the development of rules of engagement
and the initial decision to kill will remain with a human commander,
just as they are today. If anything, unmanned maritime systems will
be more discriminating than contemporary weapons and subject to
self-recall or mission abort if targeting criteria are not met.
Unmanned systems will enhance the distribution and number of naval
platforms. Whereas in the past an individual ship or submarine might
have been put on station to collect intelligence, tomorrow that same
vessel may act as a mother ship for dozens of unmanned “drones”
operating independently and scouting an area of interest. So while a
shrinking Navy may result in fewer ships on station in a given area,
the actual units of action at sea will be higher in number and
require delegated operations.
Unmanned-system swarming is another concept challenging the status
quo of operational art. John Arguilla and David Ronfelt describe
this tactic for modern warfare as a seemingly amorphous, but
deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to strike from
all directions at a particular point or points, by means of a
sustainable pulsing of force and/or are, close-in as well as from
stand-off positions . . . Swarming will work best—perhaps it will
only work—if it is designed mainly around the deployment of myriad,
small, dispersed, networked maneuver units. Swarming occurs when the
dispersed units of a network of small (and perhaps some large)
forces converge on a target from multiple directions. The overall
aim is sustainable pulsing—swarm networks must be able to coalesce
rapidly and stealthily on a target, then dissever and redisperse,
immediately ready to re-combine for a new pulse.1
The advent of lower-cost, more capable unmanned systems brings
Arguilla and Ronfelt’s vision closer to reality. Swarming as an
asymmetric tactic will be applied across all domains of naval
warfare. In May 2013, researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School
flew ten UAVs simultaneously to test swarming behaviors including
target engagement, defense, search, and survey. The aircraft were
remotely controlled, but in the future autonomous swarms will be
possible, mimicking the biological behavior of insects or schooling
fish operating in concert with one another. Other ongoing
experiments with swarming UUVs will enhance the speed and efficiency
of underwater survey work and mine countermeasures.
Command and Over-Control
Ironically, as we become more comfortable with machines making their
own decisions, the opposite situation has emerged with human
operators. Vast ocean distances meant the Navy traditionally prided
itself as the service in which commanders operated remotely and
independently from higher authority. Because of this, for hundreds
of years commanders relied on succinct guidance usually relayed by
various minimalistic forms of transmission such as signal flags,
flashing light, or teletype. Higher-echelon commanders’ guidance
delivered prior to battle required independent execution by Fleet
units in the event those arcane communication methods were not
available. From Lord Horatio Nelson’s simple battle orders that “no
captain can do wrong if he puts his ship alongside the nearest
enemy” to Vice Admiral “Bull” Halsey’s terse direction to task-force
commanders prior to Santa Cruz: “Attack—Repeat—Attack,” naval
commanders aggressively interpreting orders have produced success in
sea combat. These orders were issued on the assumption that the flag
officers’ subordinate commanders were competent and would make solid
decisions in the heat of combat.
Fast-forward to the past 30 years, when the introduction of
high-bandwidth satellite communications, always-on email, and
computer chat have changed the way the Navy commands and administers
the Fleet. Unfortunately, the quantity of required reports and data
has also increased to fill these new forms of communication. The
concise and even pithy operational guidance in World War II has
given way to minutely detailed operational tasks for each warfare
area, with concomitant real-time oversight during mission execution.
Bandwidth-hogging quad charts, multi-slide concepts of operations,
innumerable and often redundant electronic reports for operational
units at sea have become so burdensome that the Navy recently
introduced a crowd-sourced effort to reduce administrative
distractions in the Fleet.
Additionally, rightly or wrongly, Fleet-level maritime operations
centers (MOCs) are now making decisions that once were made by local
task-force or unit commanders. Even video teleconferences to afloat
units are commonplace. The necessity of seeking permission to
conduct activities that previously fell under the authority of
seagoing commanders slows down the decision-making process. In
peacetime these delays are a nuisance, eroding the authority and
trust placed in commanding officers. But in combat they will be
This constant stream of communications is not all bad. Timely email
to sailors’ loved ones and the opportunity to watch the Super Bowl
live at sea are certainly morale builders. More important, the
capability for ships to have access to the same intelligence and
high-resolution imagery that are normally only available at the
Fleet level is an operational benefit.
In the other direction, real-time video gives distant Fleet and
higher-level commanders a better perspective on the battle
situation. The now-famous photo of the National Command Authority in
the White House situation room watching live UAV video feeds during
the raid that killed Osama bin Laden demonstrates improved
situational awareness without the accompanying micromanagement that
is a risk with this technology. Regardless of these positives, the
net result of these technologies in the Navy has been a slow
cultural shift undermining the confidence in our frontline
Return to Past Practices
The same operational and environmental factors impacting unmanned
systems will disrupt the links between ships and their higher
headquarters ashore, meaning that a return to past practices is
clearly necessary. Even with modern encryption, data links and
communications pathways can be jammed or otherwise disrupted.
Networked weapon systems and perhaps engineering controls of future
combatants might be vulnerable to hacking or takeover. When fighting
in a so-called anti-access/area-denial environment, emission control
will once again become paramount for U.S. Navy platforms, as it was
during the Cold War.
Might these threats become the impetus to transition the Navy back
toward our more traditional roots of command by negation? And will
scores of unmanned systems operating dispersed across the sea spur a
return to decentralized command and control in naval warfare?
Interestingly, the normally big formation-fixated conventional Army,
recognizing that future battlefields will be more distributed with
smaller ground units of action maneuvering alone, has turned to a
concept called mission command. According to joint doctrine, this
“is the conduct of military operations through decentralized
execution based upon mission-type orders.” Sound familiar?
Even with autonomy, tracking and controlling distributed unmanned
systems will be a challenge for future naval platforms. Trying to
control them all centrally from an MOC or higher headquarters will
be virtually impossible, in terms of both data bandwidth and span of
control. As ships delegate decisions to smarter and more autonomous
off-board systems, the ships themselves will need freedom to
improvise in war and peace without the constant supervision enabled
by higher levels of data transmission.
Technological improvements and their accompanying cultural shifts
are a recurring theme in naval warfare. From sail to steam,
battleships to carriers, and guns to missiles, newfound confidence
in technology has driven wholesale changes in the philosophy of
command and control. It appears inevitable that we’ll have no choice
but to empower unmanned systems with the ability to make certain
operational decisions. Will we again do the same for our human
operators? Historically, trust and confidence in subordinate
commanders has led to innovation, an imperative in wartime
leadership.2 A shift in culture to accommodate the
multitudes of naval drones in tomorrow’s Fleet can also help reverse
the erosion in trust of our combat leaders.
1.John Arguilla and David
Ronfelt, Swarming and the Future of Conflict (RAND National Defense
Research Institute, 2000).
2.B. J. Armstrong, “Long Nights and Book Strewn Desks: Trust and
Innovation,” Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, 12-14 October 2013,
Commander Rawley is a surface warfare officer serving as the
deputy commander of a joint special-operations element in the Horn
Navy to Send
More Unmanned Systems to Sea
Jon Harper, National Defense
Magazine, March 5
The Navy is moving ahead with unmanned surface and undersea vehicle
development, and pursuing enabling technologies that will make the
platforms operationally effective.
A wide range of USVs and UUVs are in the works, littoral combat ship
program executive officer Rear Adm. John Neagley said during a
presentation at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems
International conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
“Those capabilities will be delivered over the next couple years and
start to get into our procurements in ‘18 and ‘19 and really start
hitting the fleet,” he said.
Neagley’s portfolio includes the unmanned maritime systems program
office, PMS 406.
“LCS was built from the ground up to really leverage and take
advantage of unmanned systems,” he said. “It’s a modular ship …
[with] a lot of reconfigurable space.” It has a built-in capability
for launching and recovering UUVs and USVs, he noted.
Unmanned vessels can range in size from small man-portable devices
to extra-large platforms that are more than 50 meters in length.
They allow the U.S. military to take warfighters out of harm’s way
and perform certain missions more effectively and efficiently, he
Surface vehicles that are in the works include the unmanned
influence sweep system minesweeper (UISS); the mine countermeasures
USV (MCM USV); and the Sea Hunter medium displacement UUV, an
anti-submarine warfare continuous train unmanned vessel.
Operational evaluation of the UISS is slated for spring 2018, and
Milestone C is expected in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year,
according to Neagley.
Construction and payload integration for the MCM USV is underway
with initial operator testing in fiscal year 2019.
The Sea Hunter recently transitioned from the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency to the Office of Naval Research, where
development and testing will continue.
Submariners are a rare breed; it
is an assignment requiring a special set of skills and a special
kind of both physical and mental toughness.
“You take a little steel tube,
pack a nuclear reactor and high power steam propulsion plant with
high pressure and temperature steam. You also use the steam power
plant to produce high voltage un-grounded electricity which you
route throughout the boat in exposed cable bundles. You pack in 24
intercontinental ballistic missiles and the rockets that propel them
out of the submarine (just 1 stage of 1 of these rockets is enough
to liquify the submarine internals) that can each potentially be
armed with up to 8 ballistic nuclear re-entry bodies that each by
themselves can potentially be 20 times as powerful as those dropped
on Japan in WW2. You route high-pressure air and hydraulics
throughout this tube to operate all this large machinery required to
move the tube around. You pack in up to 40 ADCAP Mk 48 torpedoes who
have an auto-catalytic fuel that could utterly destroy your tube
(see Russian submarine Kursk) and pack it full of high explosives.
You pack all of these extremely dangerous things into that small
metal tube, climb inside it with 120 people you love to hate (the
feeling is mutual too), seal it up, drive it out thousands of miles
into the middle of the ocean, and sink it.
If a fire burns for longer than
15 seconds without an extinguisher on it, it begins to grow rapidly
and in as little as 2 minutes can render the entire space untenable.
The loss of any 1 space on a submarine is likely a loss of the ship.
There are a lot of things on a submarine that wants to burn or start
a fire. And a lot of things on a submarine will explode when exposed
to high heat. As such, every single person on a submarine has to
know how to combat a fire by himself and call for assistance. On no
other platform in the military is the success and survival of the
whole ship dependent on the individual performance of each sailor as
it is on a submarine.
This is all backdrop to some of
the nation’s most vital clandestine operations (just 1 of the large
number of missions a submarine can perform) which you never read
about due to the nature of the missions. The stakes are high, and
there is no room for error. It is a lot of stress. It is also a lot
Other than Seals, no other
community asks more of its men and women than the submarine service.
And as such, being a submariner is a certain badge of honor that is
respected by the other communities and services. It is an arduous,
thankless, and dangerous job.
So, what would attract one to
this assignment? It is far and away the people. The shared
responsibility for each other and the shared experience forges an
extremely tight bond between the crew of a submarine, one that can
only be rivaled by marine/army combat units, and even then it is
still a different type of bond as each man is just as important as
the one next to him. It is less steeped in the rigid structure of
the rest of the military, and lines of rank are blurred more in
submarines than anywhere else. This appeals to certain types of
people and not to others.
So when you ask a submariner what
it is he misses about submarining once he’s gone, he will always
respond “I miss the people.^
Submarine Captain Who Had Finger On Nuclear Button Reveals Chilling
Cold War Secrets
Stephen Stewart, Daily Record, March 5
He had his finger on the nuclear button, ready to unleash World War
former Faslane Commodore Eric Thompson – who commanded five
nuclear submarines during his career – has lifted the lid on the
chilling secrets of the Cold War.
Eric revealed that the frontline subs were issued with a secret
letter from the prime minister to be opened in the event of nuclear
The note – which was kept in a safe on board – would tell the crew
to either retaliate by launching a cataclysmic nuclear strike or
Thankfully, Eric never had to
open his letter.
Eric, who was born in Coatbridge, won a scholarship to Britannia
Royal Naval College Dartmouth at 16. He served as an engineer
officer before going on to submarines.
Nearly 40 years later, he retired as Commodore of Faslane, Britain’s
principal nuclear submarine base.
Among the dangers of the Cold War, Eric also shares some funnier
He said: “Britain’s nuclear deterrent Polaris submarines were
continuously at 15 minutes’ notice to launch a nuclear
counter-strike on Russia in response to any Soviet nuclear strike
against the UK.
“As I served in Polaris submarines during this period, I can testify
to our readiness being a grim but effective reality. On taking
office, every prime minister selects three nuclear ¬deputies from
his or her ministers.
“They are appointed to take over the firing decision should the
prime minister be killed.
“If London had been reduced to rubble, there was a risk the prime
minister’s firing order could not be sent.
"To deal with this possibility, every new prime minister writes a
personal sealed letter addressed to the Polaris submarine commanding
officers and it is carried on board the submarines on patrol.
“In these letters, the prime minister gives instructions to the
commanding officers on what to do if all normal communications are
lost – ‘lost’ being taken as four hours with nothing heard.
“This is called the letter of last resort and, ¬sometimes, the
letter from the grave. It is kept in a safe within a safe in the
submarine control room. One such letter was held in my submarine,
“As far as I know, no prime minister’s letter has ever been opened,
nor have the contents of any ever been disclosed but the possible
options are obvious – retaliate, do not retaliate, seek refuge in a
friendly country, or ‘you decide’.
"These letters are destroyed without being opened every time the
prime minister changes.”
Eric served in five submarines, two squadrons, the staff of
Submarine HQ and the Ministry of Defence. His MBE was awarded for
leadership during a submarine emergency on patrol.
He would often have to go on
a 10-week nuclear deterrence patrol on a sub with no contact from
the outside world. In his new book, he argues that nuclear weapons
were directly responsible for the avoidance of World War III.
He said: “Perhaps we should indeed thank God for the 73 years we
have enjoyed without a Third World War.
“Kim Jong-un could fill the streets of Pyongyang with nuclear
weapons but all he would achieve is the economic ruin of his
country. We’ve been here before – that’s what finally cracked the
Soviet regime. If Jong-un was to use his nuclear weapons, his regime
would be wiped out. He knows that.”
Eric stokes controversy in his book by claiming Labour leader Jeremy
Corbyn could leave Britain’s defences vulnerable.
He wrote: “In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong nuclear activist and
one-time vice chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,
became leader of the Labour Party.
"Were he to be elected as prime minister, he could, hypothetically,
select the ‘do not retaliate’ option. If a potential aggressor were
to be aware of this, our independent nuclear deterrent would have
lost all credibility.
“From a national security point of view, the content of the letter
of last resort must never be revealed. Potential enemies must always
believe that intolerable nuclear retaliation will be the inevitable
consequence of their own first strike.”
Eric, who was widowed in 2005, has two adult sons and lives near
Helensburgh. He said one of the greatest vices of his career was
He said: “I had brought some exploding cigar tips for insertion in
the wardroom panatelas that were passed round after mess dinners.
"One night, I snuck the wardroom cigar box into my cabin, removed
two panatelas from their tubes, unwrapped their cellophane, inserted
the explosive tips and returned the box to its cupboard.
“The trick worked to perfection. At the Trafalgar Night dinner,
there was a small explosion as the end of the executive officer’s
cigar blew off in mid-puff, leaving him sucking on a tattered stump.
“The other spiked cigar was either not smoked or failed to explode.
I had not considered that at the end of our patrol, we would be
handing the boat over to the other crew, including the cigar box.
“A tradition of the deterrent programme is that a VIP meets every
returning nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine in the Clyde
estuary and rides it back to Faslane.
“VIPs range from the prime minister down to senior admirals. Another
tradition is that after lunch, the VIP is invited into the captain’s
tiny cabin for coffee and a cigar.
“Four months later, the captain of the other crew was entertaining
his VIP guest, the commander-in-chief, in the privacy of his cabin
when the end of the great man’s cigar exploded.
“Until writing this book, the perpetrator of that joke has never
been identified. In military speak, it’s called, ‘Third party
Deterrent Park Volunteer, but.....
(Posted February 28 , 2018)
Recently you may have
seen my plea on this site and in the base
newsletter, Puget Soundings, for a a relief to take
over the administration of the engraved brick
ordering, engraving and installation at Deterrent
Park, NBK, Bangor.
Right away, the
main installer, Ron Lewis, that enjoys doing
the "grunt" work, as he calls it, called and said he
would gladly continue on in that capacity, but could
not handle the administration. THANK YOU
So I still do not have
a relief on the Admin side.
Please consider this
"light duty". Please call me at 360-602-0250,
or 360-509-0250 or
e-mail to give you more information. V/R Don
Bassler, Webmaster. ^