norman polmar

The two Littoral Combat Ship variants, LCS-1 Freedom (far) and LCS-2 Independence (near).

CRYSTAL CITY: The Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to be one of the fastest things in the fleet, but it seems like the skeptics – and the sequester – have caught up with it. The question is, what’s next? After a Pentagon memo  recommended slashing the program by more than a third — from 52 ships to… Keep reading →

131028-O-ZZ999-102

WASHINGTON: To boldly go in a revolutionary ship where no one has commanded before. Why the clumsy Star Trek reference? Because the Navy’s newest, stealthy, most radical ship, the USS Zumwalt, will be commanded by the fabulously named Capt. James A. Kirk. The Navy couldn’t make something like this up, could they? The Zumwalt, launched… Keep reading →

chinaj31stealth-1362603329

Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted. WASHINGTON: Because China believes it is much weaker than the United States, they are more likely to launch… Keep reading →

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seen here at a military parade, will meet with President Obama on Friday.

WASHINGTON: When Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh meets with President Obama at the White House this Friday, the rise of China may not be on the official agenda, but it will be on everybody’s mind – and Beijing will be watching warily. Friday’s meeting will be just the latest in a series of summits that… Keep reading →

The two Littoral Combat Ship variants, LCS-1 Freedom (far) and LCS-2 Independence (near).

WASHINGTON: Talk about timing. As Congress gears up to grill Navy officials on the much-criticized Littoral Combat Ship program, the fleet’s first LCS suffered yet another power outage that “briefly” shut down its engines near Singapore, where the USS Freedom recently deployed for its first foreign tour. [Click here for the Navy’s detailed official explanations].… 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 →

Tomorrow morning, at Manhattan’s Pier 88, the Navy will commission its newest destroyer, DDG-112. The USS Michael Murphy‘s namesake was uncompromisingly heroic, a Navy SEAL who died earning the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan. The ship itself, however, embodies a series of cost-conscious compromises that will keep the Navy sailing a 1980s design — albeit much upgraded –until at least 2072.

These destroyers are and will long remain the Navy’s mainstay. The Arleigh Burke class to which the Murphy belongs is built to carry the Aegis anti-aircraft system that defends the entire fleet, including the prized aircraft carriers. The Chief of Naval Operations himself, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, has explicitly said that the Navy is building the smaller, cheaper Littoral Combat Ships to take on supporting missions, so the fleet can free up destroyers to face the most dangerous and high-tech foes: submarines, long-range missiles, jet fighter-bombers, and more, all integrated into “anti-access” networks like those being developed by the Chinese. Updating the Arleigh Burkes to keep up with the threat will be a heroic effort. Keep reading →

The Navy’s jet-powered P-8 Poseidon patrol plane boasts plenty of advances over the P-3 Orion turboprops it will replace, but for the sensor operators the favorite feature will be very basic: They won’t throw up as much.

The P-3′s notoriously rough ride at low altitudes and the gunpowder-like stench from the launch tube shooting sonar buoys out the back meant that, “typically, every mission or two you’d have somebody get sick [and] start throwing up into their air sickness bag,” said Navy Captain Aaron Rondeau, a P-3 veteran who now runs the P-8 program. “We haven’t seen that much with the P-8.” Keep reading →