NAVSEA

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NATIONAL HARBOR: It’s easy to call for innovation. It’s hard to do. At this week’s Sea-Air-Space conference here, just 10 miles down the Potomac from the Pentagon, admirals and junior officers alike wrestled with the right balance between speed and safety, between it taking hours to 3-D print a new design and many months to certify… Keep reading →

USS Coronado Littoral Combat Ship LCS sea trials

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has told the Navy in no uncertain terms that he wants a second opinion on the controversial Littoral Combat Ship. Perhaps that’s why the newly formed “Small Surface Combatant Task Force” won’t be led by a sailor or even a Navy civilian. Instead, the “SSCTF” chairman will be Marine Corps Systems… Keep reading →

Submariner William H. Hilarides (bio @ http://bit.ly/XzHgCv ) promoted to Vice Admiral, will head NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command) @SydneyFreedberg

CRYSTAL CITY: From standardizing paint schemes to buying fewer types of valves, the Navy is going all-out to save money as budgets tighten. This new emphasis on affordability goes beyond the usual mundane economies to a sea change in how the service develops new vessels and technologies, with the much-criticized Littoral Combat Ship as the high-stakes pilot project.

“You can’t just do some really effective system anymore; it’s got to be effective and highly affordable,” declared Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, who heads the Office of Naval Research. ONR is normally associated not with cost-cutting but with high-tech, high-cost innovations such as railguns. But at last week’s Surface Navy Association conference in Crystal City, just south of the Pentagon, Klunder framed even the case for railguns in economic terms, arguing they would let the Navy shoot down incoming threats much more cheaply than firing interceptor missiles. Keep reading →


Anyone who has spent much time around either submarines or the Bahamas is likely to have heard of something called AUTEC. Not many people know much about it since it involves submarines and testing to ensure the subs and their weapons work well. AUTEC’s main base is on Andros Island, a short flight from Nassau. A key part of AUTEC is its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Naval Forces Sensor and Weapons Accuracy Check Sites (FORACS), known as NFA. AUTEC was picked for its access to the Tongue of the Ocean, a remarkable site protected from the open Atlantic so ambient noise is at a minimum. Here’s the surprisingly readable and detailed entry on it from Wikipedia:

“Chosen because of its ideal natural characteristics, and its climate which permits year-round operations, the TOTO is a U-shaped, relatively flat-bottomed trench approximately 20 miles (32 km) wide by 150 miles (240 km) long with a depth which varies gradually from 3,600 feet (1,100 m) in the south to 6,600 feet (2,000 m) in the north. Its only exposure to the open ocean is at the northern end, and except for this ocean opening, the TOTO is surrounded by numerous islands, reefs, and shoals which make a peripheral shelter isolating it from ocean disturbances, particularly high ambient noise which degrades undersea tests and evaluations.” Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: It’s not a Nobel Prize, but the Packard Award matters in the big-dollar world of defense procurement. Last week, utterly overshadowed by elections, the Department of Defense awarded the Packard to the Navy’s DDG-51 destroyer, the sleek grey mainstay of the fleet.

With 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers already in service, four under construction, and at least nine more in the Navy’s latest five-year plan, getting the DDG-51 right — at the right price — is critical to the Navy. The Packard Award recognized an innovative approach that saved an estimated $300 million over the three most recent ships — and which might help the Navy afford the next, far more challenging phase of the destroyer’s evolution. Keep reading →

The first of the Navy’s new catamaran transports, the Joint High Speed Vessel Spearhead, has completed its acceptance trials, builder Austal and the Naval Sea Systems Command announced last week.

Derived from an Australian-built commercial ferry that the US leased to experiment with, the twin-hulled JHSV is a smaller, cheaper, unarmed sibling of the triple-hulled General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship design, also built in the Austal yards in Mobile, Ala.; Austal is an Australian company. (There is also a very different LCS variant built by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine in Wisconsin). The unusual catamaran-like design of both ships is intended to reduce drag by giving them the narrowest possible cross-section in the water, yet without reducing stability. Keep reading →

$450 million to repair fire-damaged USS Miami, says new Navy estimate today @ http://1.usa.gov/NlegdR. Read more @ http://breakingdefense.com/tag/USS Miami/ SydneyFreedberg

This is going to hurt. That’s the grim message to defense contractors and federal workers alike from top acquisitions brass in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard who convened at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference this morning to discuss the new “era of austerity.” Pressure to cut costs coming from the highest levels, as with the Administration’s recent cancellation of the Block 30 Global Hawk. As that pain rolls downhill from the service secretaries, the flag officers who run the acquisitions commands are going to tighten centralized control over both industry and their own subordinates in order to double-check every penny. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship is now in the irregular warfare business, the top service official in charge of the program said today.

Naval Sea Systems Command is developing a new LCS mission package focusing on irregular warfare operations. Those capabilities will fall more toward the humanitarian and disaster relief-types of missions under the IW banner, LCS Program Executive Officer Rear Adm. James Murdoch, said during a speech at the Surface Warfare Association’s annual conference.The IW package will bring aboard additional medical and other support capabilities to care for victims of a natural disaster, Murdoch said. Once complete, the new IW package will be the fourth one designed for the LCS. The current ship modules cover surface warfare, counter-mine and anti-submarine operations. Along with the IW mission package, program officials are also developing a fifth mission package designed for maritime security operations, a NAVSEA official added. Keep reading →

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