CAPITOL HILL: Sometimes $800 million is not enough. Congress really, really wants the Navy to buy a 12th San Antonio-class amphibious warship. The Marine Corps really, really wants the ship, which would be designated LPD-28. And of course shipbuilder Huntington-Ingalls really, really wants the contract, which would help fill a multi-year gap in amphib construction.… Keep reading →
After five years in the shipyard, the first of a new class of Navy amphibious warship set sail today from its Pascagoula, Miss. birthsite for San Francisco, headed for the fleet. LHA-6 will be commissioned as the USS America this October. America has been controversial in the military and on this website. I’ve argued the LHA-6… Keep reading →
[UPDATED with comment from Seapower Chairman Randy Forbes] “This is not a slam dunk. This is really the first step.” That’s the cautiously optimistic word from retired Navy captain Brian Schires, chairman of the recently formed Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition (AWIBC), on the $800 million the House Armed Services Committee just authorized towards the… Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: It’s been a rough 48 hours for the US Navy. Yesterday, the Littoral Combat Ship was battered by House appropriators and questioned by a leaked report. Today it was the Senate Armed Service seapower subcommittee’s turn to grill the Navy about its aircraft carrier and submarine programs. While the automatic 10-year budget cuts known as sequestration played a major role… Keep reading →
With all the services reining in spending to cope with the current budget crisis, the second and third-order effects of cutbacks will ripple through the force for years. While the Army “has it worst” by the Pentagon comptroller’s own assessment, the most complicated impacts are on the Navy, whose carefully planned maintenance schedule is falling apart. The fleet has already had to halve its aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf, but delayed and cancelled overhauls will ultimately mean fewer ships in service in the years to come.
Ships require a lot of maintenance to work to stay ready for action, and none more than nuclear aircraft carriers. In addition to the regular pierside pitstops every type of vessel has to make, Nimitz-class carriers need their reactors refueled and thoroughly overhauled halfway through their 50-year service life. This massive “Refueling and Complex Overhaul” (RCOH) can only be performed at one shipyard in the nation, Huntington Ingalls Newport News yard in Virginia, so the next carrier has to come in as soon as the previous one is done. But last month the Navy delayed the USS Abraham Lincoln‘s overhaul indefinitely for lack of funds. That will in turn delay the next carrier on the schedule, the George Washington, and so on down the line. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: In a telling sign of the uncertain economic and spending climate in the defense world – faced with sequestration and the possibility of a year-long Continuing Resolution — at least three defense conferences have been cancelled in the last two months and defense companies continue to pare their participation in even the biggest shows, the air show in Paris and Farnborough.
Cancelation of the Military Health System Conference, set for Feb. 11-14, was announced in a memo signed by Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and the three service surgeon generals. In past years, the conference has attracted 3,000 attendees and exhibitors. Keep reading →
With the the world’s first nuclear aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, set to retire tomorrow after 50 straight years of Navy service, Huntington-Ingalls Industries — which owns the Newport News Shipyard where all Navy carriers are built — has put together an eye-catching graphic that sums up the big ship’s size and history (click here for the humongous full-size version).
The strategic downside of this stirring saga is that the Enterprise‘s high-tech replacement, the USS Gerald Ford, won’t be finished until 2015. That means the Navy will be short a carrier even as tensions rise simultaneously in the Gulf, with Iran, and in the Western Pacific, with China, spreading the fleet thin. Enterprise, we’re really going to miss you. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: This Saturday the Navy will christen its newest nuclear-powered submarine, the $2.6 billion USS Minnesota at the Newport News shipyard in Virginia. Countless movies have cemented the popular image of subs as stealthy underwater killers, stalking hapless surface vessels with periscope and torpedo. But today’s Navy is experimenting with launching robotic mini-subs and even unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Virginia-class attack subs like the Minnesota.
In Navy tests of a mini-UAV called Switchblade, “you can launch it, you can control it, you can get video feed back to the submarine,” said Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, chief of the undersea warfare section (N97) on the Navy staff, at the recent Naval Submarine League symposium in suburban Washington. Future subs could also launch unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to scout ahead stealthily beneath the surface. “It sure beats the heck out of looking out of a periscope at a range of maybe 10,000 to 15,000 yards on a good day,” Bruner said. “Now you’re talking 20 to 40 miles.” Keep reading →