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Author: Subject: U.S.Navy, 2017 onwards

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[*] posted on 28-3-2020 at 02:49 PM

Boeing stays focused on basics to keep unmanned tanker on track

By Garrett Reim

28 March 2020

By keeping its eye on two goals - refuelling fighters and operating from a carrier - the MQ-25A Stingray development team expects its unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) by 2024; other functions can come later

The Boeing MQ-25A Stingray in-flight refuelling tanker is on track to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) by 2024. That is thanks to a narrow set of development goals, close integration with Naval Air Systems Command personnel and the early test use of a flyable prototype, says Boeing.

The manufacturer adds that the core of its MQ-25A development strategy is waving off distractions in order to deliver on just two goals: building an aircraft that can fly from an aircraft carrier deck and can refuel fighters. “If we focus on what’s in front of us and do it well, we are sure it opens doors,” says Dave Bujold, director of the MQ-25A programme. “If we don’t focus on what is in front of us and don’t do it well, we are sure it closes doors.”

Source: Boeing

Developing a UAV to refuel combat aircraft is a high priority for the US Navy (USN) because the range of its fighters, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35C and Boeing F/A-18E/F, is too short. That forces aircraft carriers to sail dangerously close to the shores of adversaries, such as China, which possess long-range anti-ship missiles. Currently, to extend the range of those aircraft, the USN uses the F/A-18E/F as a stand-in tanker, a role that removes the Super Hornet from its core job as a combat aircraft.

The MQ-25A has also been floated by the USN and others as having multiple future roles, including as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform, but Boeing says it doesn’t plan to expand the UAV’s capabilities, noting the service’s tanking priority.

In June 2019, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced its intention to award a sole-source contract to Boeing Phantom Works to study the capabilities of the company’s Multi-Mission Pod on the MQ-25A. Bujold reiterates the USN focus is on aerial refuelling, but points out the aircraft has some limited ISR capabilities now.

“It’s not doing anything crazy or exotic that would capture anybody’s imagination,” he says. “But it certainly is going out of line-of-sight communications with the carrier. So therefore it’s an interesting player in the carrier air wing for potential ISR use.”

Boeing is under contract to produce four engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) MQ-25A tankers for the USN under an $805 million contract awarded in 2018. The service wants the MQ-25A to achieve IOC by sooner than 2024 if the results of flight testing allow. Boeing plans to start delivering EMD aircraft in 2021.

The USN will decide how many examples of the MQ-25A to buy after IOC. The Congressional Budget Office projects the service could buy as many as 75 aircraft.

Source: Boeing

In order to get ahead, Boeing and the USN have collocated their development teams in St. Louis, Missouri. “It’s really oriented towards speed of decision,” says Bujold. “It’s not sending things over in an email and waiting 10 days for an answer. We’ve got empowered [USN] people right here. They’re in our reviews.

They know what’s going on.”

The team is also performing flight tests on a Boeing-owned MQ-25A prototype, called the T-1. The T-1 has amassed near 30 flight hours since its maiden sortie in September 2019.

The T-1 is a “high-fidelity” prototype, with a design that closely represents the aeronautical performance and software code of the forthcoming EMD aircraft. That closeness has allowed the manufacturer to get an early start on testing that is usually reserved for later aircraft examples.

“By the time you start that classic developmental flight test, we’ll already have retired some test points having used our T-1 asset,” says Bujold. “A good example is later this year when we put the air refuelling store on T-1. We’ll be exercising all the software it takes to control that store from the control station. And of course, that reduces all of the risk and increases our knowledge as we go.”

Because air refuelling store testing was originally planned to be done later on the EMD aircraft, Boeing plans to beef up the left wing of T-1 to hold the fuel pod. Tests will look at deploying and retracting the hose-and-drogue system, watching how it behaves in the air stream.

In 2020, the Boeing-USN team also aims to install the Raytheon Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS), which will automatically guide the MQ-25A to the deck of an aircraft carrier.

As part of a separate initiative, manufacturer Raytheon is demonstrating an expeditionary JPALS variant that could one day guide the MQ-25A onto remote island landing strips, a capability that could allow the UAV to set up forward aerial refuelling points for fighter aircraft of the USN, as well as the US Marine Corps and US Air Force. Bujold declines to comment on the potential of the MQ-25A in expeditionary warfare, noting that the focus on carrier operations is the priority.

Ultimately, Bujold says that pragmatism, including a hand-in-glove relationship with the USN, helps the MQ-25A team work more efficiently.

“A significant number of my design team supports T-1 testing directly,” he says. “I think that really makes them better designers.”

Source: US Navy
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[*] posted on 28-3-2020 at 02:56 PM

How MQ-8C is overcoming deficiencies to improve US Navy’s surveillance capability

By Garrett Reim

28 March 2020

After a scathing report from the Pentagon’s top weapons tester that called the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout “not operationally effective, not operationally suitable, and not cyber survivable,” the US Navy says “many” of the unmanned helicopter’s deficiencies are now on track to be resolved before its scheduled deployment in late 2021.

The MQ-8C is to be deployed aboard the service’s Littoral Combat Ship, a new class of do-it-all vessels that are designed to patrol shallow coastal waters; clearing sea mines, stopping piracy, hunting small diesel submarines and launching special forces on land assaults. The unmanned helicopter is to serve as the ship’s roving intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting aircraft.

Source: US Navy

As a sign of how much the helicopter has improved in the past 12 months, manufacturer Northrop Grumman points to the MQ-8C achieving initial operational capability in June 2019. And, the company notes that the Department of Defense’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s (DOT&E) report was issued confidentially in March 2019, before a public version of the assessment was released in December 2019.

“The information that was released by [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] is really kind of outdated, information that doesn’t reflect where the programme is today,” says Melissa Packwood, Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8C programme director.

In particular, the DOT&E had taken issue with the “image quality and system performance” of the MQ-8C’s Flir Brite Star II electro-optical infrared system, the “poor reliability and inconsistency” of the Tactical Common Data Link and the cyber survivability of the overall aircraft.

Northrop Grumman says it expects the forthcoming addition of the Leonardo Osprey 30 radar to shore up problems with the Brite Star II electro-optical infrared system by providing operators with a second set of information. It says the Tactical Common Data Link issue is really a problem the Littoral Combat Ship, not the helicopter. The company declines to comment on cybersecurity issues.

The USN, for its part, says most of the discrepancies noted in the report “were independent of the airframe”.

In fact, the USN is looking beyond the current set of capabilities on the MQ-8C.

In the near term, the service is working on adding the Osprey 30 radar. Manufacturer Leonardo claims the Active Electronically Scanned Array radar has a maximum range of 200nm (370km), a reach which would greatly extend the visibility of the Littoral Combat Ship.

Source: US Navy

The service also intends in 2021 to start adding Link 16 communications terminals to its fleet of unmanned helicopters. Linked 16 is an encrypted, jam-resistant radio for transmitting voice and data between aircraft and ships.

“Link 16 will enable the MQ-8C to share information collected by its automatic identification system, radar and electro-optical and infrared sensors to help detect, classify and track surface ships,” says Captain Eric Soderberg, multi-mission tactical UAS programme manager with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

In particular, Link 16 would allow the MQ-8C and Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk to share information directly, instead of having to relay communications via a littoral combat ship.

The USN also revealed in a sole source award notice in November 2019 that it is prototyping a post-production retrofit for the UAV to accommodate potential weapon stores, such as precision guided weapons. The service says it has not yet determined what specific weapons would be suitable for the helicopter, however.

The MQ-8C is to be stored inside Littoral Combat Ships alongside the Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk, a submarine and ship-hunting manned helicopter which carries torpedoes, Hellfire missiles and Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) rockets. The USN has previously spoken about adding the APKWS to the MQ-8C.

The UAV is based on the single-engined civil Bell 407 and has a payload capacity of more than 318kg (700lb). That payload capacity means the helicopter could host a number of new sensors or communication kits, says Packwood of Northrop Grumman.

“We have the opportunity to explore things such as passive targeting and beyond line of sight [communications],” she says.

Beyond-range-of-sight communications could enable the MQ-8C to be controlled by another aircraft, such as the MH-60, though Northrop Grumman has no immediate plans to add the so-called manned-unmanned teaming capability.

Source: US Navy

“We have already demonstrated the ability to hand off the aircraft command and control from one ship to another ground station,” says Packwood.

What’s more, a beyond-visual-range-of-site communications system could greatly increase the MQ-8C’s combat radius, which is limited to 150nm – within sight of its littoral combat ship host. The unmanned helicopter, which has a cruise speed of 115kt, has a massive fuel tank which allows for 12h of continuous flight.

“Additionally, the larger payload capacity of the MQ-8C will allow for future additions of networking and communications payloads that the smaller MQ-8B cannot accommodate,” says Soderberg of NAVAIR. “Passive targeting, mine countermeasures, and weapons are future capability enhancements currently being explored as potential opportunities for use with the MQ-8C.”

The “B” variant of the Fire Scout is based on the Schweizer 333 light helicopter and has a substantially shorter flight endurance as well as smaller payload capacity. It is currently deployed aboard Littoral Combat Ships, but the USN plans to replace and retire the UAV as the larger MQ-8C enters service.

In 2018, Northrop Grumman demonstrated the MQ-8C coordinating minesweeping working with a small robotic surface ship and unmanned submersible. The Fire Scout served as a communications relay and situational awareness platform for the surface ship and submersible, which were hunting and relaying information about the locations of sea mines.

The USN says it is also looking to expand the MQ-8C’s operational concept to include flying off the deck of Expeditionary Sea Base class ships. Expeditionary Sea Base ships are retrofitted double-hulled Alaska class crude oil carriers that are used by US Special Operations forces as a floating staging area. The USN also flies helicopters off the ships to conduct airborne mine countermeasure missions.

“MQ-8 Fire Scout will conduct dynamic interface testing aboard the United States Naval Ship the Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams this year,” says Soderberg.

The MQ-8C could conceivably land on any ship with a helipad, though the USN has no plans to expand the helicopters capabilities beyond Littoral Combat Ships and Expeditionary Sea Base ships, he adds. Dynamic interface testing will establish flight envelopes for landing the helicopter in various different cross wind and sea state conditions.

Packwood notes one of the helicopters strength’s is its automatic landing system. “It is significantly more accurate than a manned aircraft, just because it’s done automatically,” she says. “It is done by software and it consistently lands in exactly the same spot on a deck.”

Northrop Grumman has delivered 32 examples of the MQ-8C to the USN. The company plans to deliver one aircraft in 2020 and then the final five aircraft in 2021. The service’s programme of record is 38 aircraft.
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[*] posted on 28-3-2020 at 08:11 PM

3D Printing Forges Transition from Traditional Casting to Additive Manufacturing

(Source: US Naval Sea Systems Command; issued March 26, 2020)

PORT HUENEME, Calif. --- Imagine being able to create a tool from scratch or replace an integral piece of machinery in a few hours while also reducing production cost and material waste.

That’s possible now, thanks to NSWC PHD’s In-Service Engineering Agent of the Future (ISEAotF) team and Office of Technology (00T).

ISEAotF community members learned how NSWC PHD Additive Manufacturing (AM) experts are advancing the process during an AM Deep Dive within an ISEAotF training held recently.

Command AM Lead Armen Kvryan led the presentation and explained the disadvantages of traditional manufacturing.

“Traditional manufacturing is subtractive, requiring different tools to obtain a final product and resulting in excess waste materials,” he told the audience.

In comparison, additive manufacturing, Kvryan argues, allows for rapid concept development while resulting in less waste material and a decreased logistics footprint.

However, he explained, AM should be used selectively.

“You need to understand what you should and shouldn’t 3D print,” Kvryan said. “Don’t print inexpensive and readily available materials, such as a screw or a simple thin rod.”

AM’s other advantages are that it allows for more complex geometrics and design optimization and iteration. In addition, the metallic powder used in 3D metal printing is highly recyclable.

“The most important thing from a designer’s perspective is build size and layer height,” Kvryan said. “Going smaller in size increases production time but also increases the quality of the build.”

The biggest “material” problem currently facing 3D printing metals is fatigue strength, he said. More importantly, with metal 3D printing, the cost is the biggest hurdle. Typically speaking, metal 3D printing is best suited for small batch prototypes or legacy components where production of those parts would be difficult and/or expensive. He mentioned that as the technology increases, both the material cost and print time will go down, making it a more viable option for more components.

“3D printing is much faster but results in less structural durability than traditionally manufactured parts,” Kvryan said. “So, you have to design objects with this in mind, which might entail a re-design of the component.”

Because certain parts need these additional support structures, hollow sections are not commonly used in 3D metal printing as the support structures cannot be easily removed, he said. Instead, parts can be formed with skins and cores.

“These parts are so thin, they act hollow but you get the same properties (as a traditional hollow section),” Kvryan said. “Although, this introduces new problems as it creates more cavities for corrosion.”

PHD is acquiring a new dual-laser 3D printer, the Concept Laser M2, which will form more customized parts and print at a higher resolution.

“Faster production equals less resolution and quality,” Kvryan said. “For now, slower is better.”

While fatigue strength and corrosion issues aren’t as prevalent with 3D printed plastics, according to Kvryan, designers may have to contend with another issue that can affect the end product, known as warping—which occurs during the printing process when the edges of a plastic part lift and curve upward like the worn pages of a book.

“We have to be careful with warping, and the biggest reason is cooling rates,” he said. “On ships, the atmosphere is continuously changing which can cause warping.”

Kvryan said the goal is to give Sailors deployed at sea the same ability to 3D print as engineers have in labs on shore.

“There’s always a way to manipulate tools to work; that’s what materials science is,” Kvryan said. “Theoretically, anything that can be melted and cooled again into a solid can be 3D printed.”

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[*] posted on 28-3-2020 at 09:05 PM

Nearly 4 years after commissioning, the US Navy is about to get a fully working stealth destroyer

By: David B. Larter   15 hours ago

The destroyer Zumwalt was underway in Maine heading for builder trials. The U.S. Navy will finally get its ship fully operational in the coming days. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s first stealth destroyer, the Zumwalt, is on track to have its combat system installation completed and delivered within days, a source with knowledge of the program told Defense News.

It’s the end of a long journey for the ship that was commissioned in 2016 without a working combat system but is finally preparing to fully enter service. The ship was slated to have its installation completed in March, and the service is still on track to deliver on time, the source said.

In November 2016, BAE Systems was awarded a $192 million contract to deliver the combat system for Zumwalt and its sister ship the Michael Monsoor.

The DDG-1000 program has been beleaguered by cost overruns and changes over the years. The ship’s original raison d'être, the Advanced Gun System, has been all but abandoned by the Navy as it has changed from a naval gunfire support platform for landing Marines to now a surface strike platform.

As the Navy truncated the buy of Zumwalt-class destroyers from 28 ships, to seven, and finally to three, the rounds for the guns became steadily more expensive, making the projectile — Long Range Land Attack Projectile — too valuable to fire. The Navy has yet to identify a replacement.

Instead, the ship has been predesignated a ship killer, with Maritime Strike Tomahawk and SM-6 integrated into its combat system.

The Navy has stood up the Surface Development Squadron to help it integrate new technologies into the fleet, such as unmanned surface vessels and the DDG-1000.

The Michael Monsoor should have its combat system activation done by the second quarter of 2020, according to a Naval Sea Systems Command program brief from January. The third and final ship of the class, the Lyndon B. Johnson, is still under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine and should be delivered by December 2020.

The ship will then transit to San Diego, California, and have its combat system installed like its sister ships.
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[*] posted on 28-3-2020 at 09:37 PM

Posted here for convenience...………

Viewpoint: Jones Act Crucial to Ensuring American Maritime Security


By Jennifer Carpenter

Navy photo by Lt. Izaac Hite

Many Americans don’t regularly encounter a tugboat, towboat or barge in their daily lives. But these vessels quietly navigate America’s rivers, coasts and Great Lakes, safely and efficiently moving over 760 million tons of commodities every year that drive our nation’s economy.

In the process, they support over 300,000 jobs — nearly half of the 650,000 jobs supported by the U.S. maritime industry as a whole.

Even less well-known is the extent to which these vessels that deliver fuel for our homes and cars, building materials for our towns and roads and food for our tables, are also critical to keeping our nation safe.

The tugboat, towboat and barge industry regularly supports Defense Department logistics needs, moving cargo to support military readiness including ground vehicles, bulk jet fuel and marine diesel fuel. The Navy’s larger ships, while formidable in battle, are not designed to turn on a dime or maneuver through busy ports on their own — they require tugboats to perform ship-assist maneuvers to help push, pull and guide them into port safely.

And, as the recent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments study, “Strengthening the U.S. Defense Maritime Industrial Base,” notes, the domestic commercial vessel fleet serves as the largest source of mariners for U.S. surge sealift operations. None of this critical logistical support should be outsourced to foreign entities.

The crews operating domestic commercial vessels are also proven, reliable partners in support of the U.S. Coast Guard’s homeland security mission. These mariners are deeply familiar with their operating environments and the Coast Guard counts on them to serve as “eyes and ears” and report suspicious activity on the waterways. In addition to seeing something and saying something, these mariners also act to save lives — from rescuing passengers and crews from vessels in distress to helping evacuate 500,000 people from Manhattan in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the largest maritime evacuation since Dunkirk.

The tugboat, towboat and barge industry is able to make these contributions because of the Jones Act, the law requiring that cargo shipped between U.S. ports be transported on vessels that are American-built, American-owned and American-crewed. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Jones Act in its modern form. Similar policies have existed since our nation’s founding.

Yet a few vocal critics of this commonsense law seek to make this the year that it is weakened or repealed to open domestic routes to foreign vessels and crews. To heed their calls would undermine not only American prosperity, but U.S. national security as well.

Without the Jones Act to keep this vital domestic maritime sector under American control, there would be serious vulnerabilities in our national security landscape.

The Coast Guard’s already challenging, high-stakes mission of securing the nation’s waterways would be vastly more difficult if not for the Jones Act. By preventing foreign vessels and crews from sailing domestic routes, in close proximity to critical infrastructure like locks, dams, utilities and refineries, the law sharply reduces the presence of potentially high-risk vessels navigating our waters.

There would also be geostrategic consequences to abandoning the Jones Act. The 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline and 25,000 miles of navigable waterways are a key reason for the nation’s superpower status. Adversaries and strategic competitors know this and would eagerly seize the opportunity to establish a foothold in the U.S. maritime industry if we were shortsighted enough to allow it.

As the CSBA report notes: “Without the Jones Act’s requirements, foreign companies could buy domestic carriers that operate smaller vessels and barges that ply U.S. rivers and intercoastal waterways.”

What kind of challenge could that pose for the United States? Consider China, a major player in global maritime and a formidable strategic competitor. According to the CSBA report, China’s “government and corporations own the world’s largest commercial shipping fleet. … Through the [Belt and Road Initiative], the Chinese government has also slowly but systematically gained port access around the world for commerce, logistics and naval operations.” Notably, this activity has caught the attention of Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, who recently testified in Congress in reference to China’s growing influence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I look around the region and I see China working on multiple port deals, IT infrastructure, dams, mining, logging, fishing. … And I look at the port access that they’re pursuing in El Salvador, Jamaica, Bahamas. I ask myself the question, ‘Why would China want to buy an island and lock up a 99-year lease for most of the coast of El Salvador, right here within a two-hour flight of the continental United States?’ They’re trying to achieve positional advantage right here in our neighborhood. And that’s alarming and concerning to me. And it drives the sense of urgency with which I look at this competition,” Faller said.

Why would the United States ever want to create a pathway for a foreign power to establish a presence in the U.S. domestic maritime industry that positions it to disrupt critical commerce or military readiness?

The U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry is indispensable to safeguarding our security in today’s complex and rapidly changing world. To give up the Jones Act would be to weaken a significant line of defense on which the nation’s prosperity and security rely.

Jennifer Carpenter is president and CEO of The American Waterways Operators, the national trade association representing the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry.
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[*] posted on 31-3-2020 at 09:28 PM

31 March 2020 News

US Navy launches San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship

Fort Lauderdale's sister ships USS San Antonio and USS New York. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Edwin F. Bryan.

The US Navy has announced the launch of USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship.

The 12th vessel of its class, USS Fort Lauderdale was built at the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls Division shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

The ship was moved from the land level facility to the dry dock earlier this month for its launch.

Program Executive Office (PEO), Ships LPD 17 class programme manager captain Scot Searles said: “I am thrilled to get Fort Lauderdale in the water, so we can begin final outfitting and eventually take the ship out to sea for trials.

“The San Antonio class has proven essential to expeditionary warfighters, and we are eager to deliver another ship to the fleet.”

Construction of the LPD 28 began in 2017. The 208.5m-long ship is equipped with missile launchers, as well as 30mm and .50 calibre machine guns.

It can carry a detachment of up to 800 personnel. USS Fort Lauderdale is expected to be commissioned in 2022.

The San Antonio-class ships are used to transport marines, as well as landing craft or air cushion vehicles. These ships are designed to carry out amphibious assault, special operations, and expeditionary warfare missions independently or in a group.

These vessels also feature a flight deck and hangar to accommodate CH 46 Sea Knight helicopters and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22).

Ingalls Shipbuilding is also currently building the future USS Richard M McCool (LPD 29) and Harrisburg (LPD 30).

Once complete, LPD 28 and LPD 29 will serve as transition ships to LPD 30.
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[*] posted on 1-4-2020 at 04:43 PM

Pacific Fleet Commander outlines plans for containing outbreak on carrier Roosevelt

By: David B. Larter   5 hours ago

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group transits the Pacific Ocean in formation on Jan. 25, 2020. Roosevelt is in port in Guam attempting to stem an outbreak of COVID-19 on the ship. (MC2 Anthony Rivera/Navy)

Hours after a leaked letter from the Commanding Officer of the embattled carrier Theodore Roosevelt pleading for more support from the Navy leaked to the public, the head of U.S. Pacific Fleet told reporters he is working as fast as he can to get a plan in place to rotate sailors off the ship.

In the letter, Capt. Brett Crozier said he needed to get the bulk of the crew off the ship and into quarantine on Guam, where the carrier pulled this weekend, arguing that it would be impossible to contain the spread otherwise.

“Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote in the letter. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

But in remarks Tuesday evening Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino told reporters on a conference call that he has to balance the security and safety of the carrier with measures to protect the crew.

“Some people want to compare a cruise liner to a ship, let me tell you there are no comparisons,” Aquilino said, making reference to the Diamond Princess cruise liner outbreak, an incident cited by Crozier in his letter. “There are requirements that I have to protect that ship. I need to be able to run the reactors, fight fires, do damage control, feed the crew that’s aboard: All those things are a requirement. And the team that’s aboard is working through how to do that while at the same time executing our approach to delivering fully healthy and COVID-free sailors.”

As for Crozier’s request to pull the bulk of the crew off the ship, Aquilino said the Navy is working the request, and is in contact with Guam’s local government to secure hotel rooms for sailors.

“We understand the request,” Aquilino said. "We’ve been working it in advance, we continue to work it, and I’m optimistic that the additional quarantine and isolation capacity being discussed will be delivered shortly.

“But there has never been an intent to take all the sailors off of that ship. If that ship needed to respond to a crisis today, it would respond.”

Of Crozier’s letter, Aquilino said he understood the CO’s concern “is associated with the pace that we get sailors off, not that we’re not going to get sailors off.”

The plan is to rotate sailors into quarantine facilities for 14 days with the aim of getting them back on the ship after they’ve tested virus free, he said.

“That is the best way, the most accurate way, to validate that a sailor does not have the disease," Aquilino said. "The flow plan allows us to take some number of sailors off – so I can get to some number that I would be comfortable with to do all the missions the ship needs – work the remaining sailors through this quarantine/isolation/test model, then clean the ship and put only healthy sailors back on.”

Of the sailors who have tested positive, they continue to exhibit only mild symptoms, Aquilino said.

“I have no sailors hospitalized, I have no sailors on ventilators, I have no sailors in critical condition, no sailors in an [intensive care unit] status on Theodore Roosevelt,” he said.
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[*] posted on 2-4-2020 at 07:48 PM

Navy Rushes Shipbuilding Deals To Keep Yards Going In Pandemic

“We're gonna have to brave the storm together, especially some of the smaller suppliers,” said Lucas Hicks, vice president of new construction aircraft carrier programs.

By Paul McLeary

on April 01, 2020 at 3:40 PM

USS San Antonio (LPD-17), the lead ship of her class of amphibious transport dock ships.

WASHINGTON: The Navy is rushing to award several major shipbuilding contracts several months early to keep shipbuilders on the job and save smaller suppliers in danger of going out of business amid the wider manufacturing halt cause by the coronavirus crisis.

The biggest is a contract to build the next San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, (LPD 31) which serves as a jumping-off point for Marines heading ashore.

The push to accelerate work is part of a wide-ranging effort to buttress the shipbuilding industry and the thousands of small suppliers that make parts for the Navy. The Navy’s top acquisition official, James Geurts, told reporters Wednesday morning the Navy is worried about the effect the state and local shutdowns could have on its shipbuilding and repair efforts. “It’s a national emergency and this is critical national infrastructure,” so the issue is, “how do we orient quickly to get at this aggressively and try not to be reactive in nature.”

Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi is currently building the USS Richard M. McCool (LPD 29) and Harrisburg (LPD 30), and would be in line to start work on the next ship in the class. The Navy is also pushing to move forward the award for a landing craft program that was slated to kick off later this year. Funding for the new LPD was approved in the 2020 NDAA defense policy bill which authorized $525 million for the LPD Flight II program.

Any breaks in the build and repair schedule would throw the Navy’s planned deployments out of whack but also could be devastating to the thousands of small businesses across the country that literally provide the nuts and bolts that make the complex machinery that powers the fleet.

“Nobody right now is in the position to float gaps,” Geurts said. His staff has done a detailed analysis of the Navy’s industrial base. They are looking for ways to help the smaller companies not only through moving forward orders, but also finding money for research and development that would help small, innovative companies.

“I hear stories of second-, third- and fourth-tier suppliers that were worried about going out of business, worried about how they would keep paying their salaries, and our ability to move and accelerate work into the defense base and then have that be pushed out to the suppliers is absolutely critical, because if they’re not there it won’t matter when we’re ready to recover,” Geurts said.

Geurts is gathering all of the large shipbuilders and shipyard owners several times a week to check on the status of the workforce and what problems they see coming if the current crisis continues.

At the center of these worries is the nation’s largest shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls, which is the only company that builds both Nimitz and Ford-class aircraft carriers, in addition to sharing work on Virginia-class submarines with Electric Boat.

The company has taken steps to attempt to apply social distancing at its shipyards, and has staggered shifts to accommodate workers who might now need to work different hours, company officials say.

In an interview earlier this week, several Huntington executives told me they’ve reached out to over 2,000 suppliers in 48 of the 50 US states, and are working to speed up and push contracts as far down the supply chain as possible to keep these small businesses running.

“We’re gonna have to brave the storm together and especially some of the smaller suppliers,” said Lucas Hicks, vice president of new construction aircraft carrier programs.

“We need their products today, but we also need them in 90 days, so we want to help them brave the storm,” he added.

“We’ve actually changed some payment terms on some of our supplier contracts to try to make sure that we can front them what they need to stay afloat. We’re doing some creative stuff to try and help them be able to weather the storm.”

The company hasn’t seen any reduction in parts received yet, but acknowledges that the situation changes on a daily basis, as different parts of the country feel the pain of local shutdowns in different ways.

Lucas said Huntington does not anticipate it will stop work, but is allowing employees the option of working from home and providing liberal leave to others.

Eventually all of this “will have an impact,” especially if the shutdowns are prolonged. “At some point, if it extends for months and months at the rate we’re on, it would have an impact but it’s too early to tell.”

Geurts appears to see things the same way. The crisis and its downstream effects is “going to have both a time dimension and geography dimension, and so it will remain a fluid situation,” when it comes to how much the defense industry, and the navy, are affected, Geurts said.
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[*] posted on 3-4-2020 at 04:14 PM

US Navy awards Boeing $84.7m for three more MQ-25A unmanned refuelling tankers

By Garrett Reim

3 April 2020

The US Navy (USN) has awarded Boeing $84.7 million for three additional MQ-25A Stingray unmanned in-flight refuelling tankers.

The unmanned air vehicles (UAV) are expected to be complete by August 2024, says the Department of Defense in a notice online on 2 April.

Source: Boeing
Boeing MQ-25A

The three additional “demonstration test articles” bring the total number of aircraft Boeing is manufacturing in the MQ-25A programme to seven. The award was an option on the original four-aircraft contract, worth $805 million, which was awarded to Boeing in August 2018.

“This order establishes uninterrupted production of the first MQ-25 aircraft and lines up with the Navy’s MQ-25 test and training plans for fleet introduction,” says Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 programme director.

Boeing owns the first example of the MQ-25A, called T1. The UAV first flew in September 2019 and has since accumulated 30h in flight time.

Flight testing is paused on the MQ-25A at the moment as Boeing installs an aerial refueling store under the left wing of the T1 UAV. The company is doing tests on its own aircraft in order to gather data faster and prepare the aircraft to move quickly towards production. It has said it plans to start delivering engineering, manufacturing and development examples of the aircraft to the USN in 2021.
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[*] posted on 3-4-2020 at 08:43 PM

Pentagon Contract Announcement

(Source: US Department of Defense; issued April 01, 2020)

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Aerospace Systems, Melbourne, Florida, is awarded $404,000,638 for a modification (P00013) to previously awarded, fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract N00019-18-C-1037.

Work will be performed in St. Augustine, Florida (22%); Liverpool, New York (18%); Melbourne, Florida (15%); Indianapolis, Indiana (6%); Menlo Park, California (4%); El Segundo, California (3%); Aire-sur-l’Adour, France (3%); Rolling Meadows, Illinois (2%); Greenlawn, New York (2%); Woodland Hills, California (1%); Edgewood, New York (1%); Owego, New York (1%); Falls Church, Virginia (1%); Marlboro, Massachusetts (1%); Beavercreek, Ohio (1%); Windsor Locks, Connecticut (1%); Independence, Ohio (1%); and various locations within the continental U.S. (17%).

This modification exercises contract options for non-recurring engineering and software support activities as well as product support for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) full rate production (FRP).

In addition, this modification procures two E-2D AHE aircraft, one each in FRP Lots 8 and 9.

Work is expected to be complete by March 2025. Fiscal 2019 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $22,925,831; and fiscal 2020 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $381,074,807 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

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[*] posted on 3-4-2020 at 10:29 PM

Covid-19: US Navy relieves carrier Theodore Roosevelt commanding officer

Michael Fabey, Washington, DC - Jane's Defence Weekly

02 April 2020

The US Navy (USN) abruptly relieved Captain Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), on 2 April for failing to properly follow the chain of command in voicing his concerns about the US Navy’s speed in addressing the Covid-19 infection spreading throughout his ship, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters during a hastily called Pentagon press conference about the situation.

Capt Crozier was right to voice concerns about the health of his crew and the potential effects of the virus on those aboard his ship, Modly told reporters, but said that the captain went outside the chain of command with those concerns.

(135 of 1390 words)
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[*] posted on 4-4-2020 at 03:52 PM

HASC Leadership Joint Statement on the Dismissal of U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Captain

(Source: House Armed Services Committee; issued April 2, 2020)

WASHINGTON, D.C. --– House Armed Services Committee leadership – including Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Subcommittee Chairs Joe Courtney (D-CT), John Garamendi (D-CA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) – today issued the following statement after Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced that Captain Brett E. Crozier will be relieved of his post as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier that has been grappling with the spread of COVID-19 cases among its Sailors:

“While Captain Crozier clearly went outside the chain of command, his dismissal at this critical moment – as the Sailors aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt are confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic – is a destabilizing move that will likely put our service members at greater risk and jeopardize our fleet’s readiness.

“The COVID pandemic presents a set of new challenges and there is much we still do not know. Captain Crozier was justifiably concerned about the health and safety of his crew, but he did not handle the immense pressure appropriately. However, relieving him of his command is an overreaction.

“Throwing the commanding officer overboard without a thorough investigation is not going to solve the growing crisis aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. What’s more, we are very concerned about the chilling effect this dismissal will have on commanders throughout the Department of Defense. Dismissing a commanding officer for speaking out on issues critical to the safety of those under their command discourages others from raising similar concerns.

“We are also concerned about the lack of guidance from Department of Defense leadership. Secretary Esper continues to say that commanders and non-commissioned officers should be calling the shots, forcing them to make decisions on matters outside of their expertise while under immense pressure.

“As the crew continues to grapple with this health crisis, the Navy should be focused first and foremost on the safety of our service members. Once they are secured, there will be ample time to identify what went wrong and who is to blame.”


Statement from SECNAV on Relief of CO Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)

(Source: US Navy; issued April 2, 2020)

WASHINGTON --- Statement from the Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly, regarding the relief of the Commanding Officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt.


Good afternoon. Thank you again for your diligence and courage in keeping the American people informed as we all deal with the profound ramifications, and rapid developments, associated with this crisis.

I am here today to inform you that today at my direction, the Commanding Officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Crozier, was relieved of command by the Carrier Strike Group Commander, Rear Admiral Stuart Baker.

The Executive Officer, Captain Dan Keeler, has assumed command temporarily until such time as Rear Admiral Select Carlos Sardiello arrives in Guam to assume command. Rear Admiral Select Sardiello is the former commanding officer of the Theodore Roosevelt so he is extremely well-acquainted with the ship, many members of its crew and the operations and capabilities of the ship itself. He is the best person in the Navy right now to take command under these circumstances.

As Secretary of the Navy, I could not be more proud of our men and women serving as part of the Navy and Marine Corps team. I can assure you that no one cares more than I do about their safety and welfare. I myself have a son in uniform, who is currently serving right now on active duty in Korea—one of the first nations in the world to have a significant spike in Coronavirus cases. I understand, both as a parent and a veteran, how critical our support lines are for the health and well-being of our people, especially now in the midst of a global pandemic.

But there is a larger strategic context, one full of national security imperatives, of which all our commanders must all be aware today. While we may not be at war in a traditional sense, neither are we truly at peace. Authoritarian regimes are on the rise. Many nations are reaching, in many ways, to reduce our capacity to accomplish our national goals. This is actively happening every day. It has been a long time since the Navy and Marine Corps team has faced this broad array of capable global strategic challengers. A more agile and resilient mentality is necessary, up and down the chain of command.

Perhaps more so than in the recent past, we require commanders with the judgment, maturity, and leadership composure under pressure to understand the ramifications of their actions within that larger dynamic strategic context. We all understand and cherish our responsibilities, and frankly our love, for all of our people in uniform, but to allow those emotions to color our judgment when communicating the current operational picture can, at best, create unnecessary confusion, and at worst, provide an incomplete picture of American combat readiness to our adversaries.

When the Commanding Officer of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT decided to write his letter of 30 March 2020 that outlined his concerns for his crew in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of the Navy had already mobilized significant resources for days in response to his previous requests. On the same date marked on his letter, my Chief of Staff had called the CO directly, at my request, to ensure he had all the resources necessary for the health and safety of his crew.

The CO told my Chief of Staff that he was receiving those resources, and was fully aware of the Navy’s response, only asking that the he wished the crew could be evacuated faster. My Chief of Staff ensured that the CO knew that he had an open line to me to use at any time. He even called the CO again a day later to follow up. At no time did the CO relay the various levels of alarm that I, along with the rest of the world, learned from his letter when it was published two days later.

Once I read the letter, I immediately called the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Gilday, and the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, ADM Aquilino. ADM Gilday had just read the letter that morning as well, and ADM Aquilino had it the day before. We had a teleconference within minutes of my reading of that article, including the Commander, SEVENTH Fleet, VADM William Merz, ADM Aquilino, ADM Gilday, the Department of the Navy’s Surgeon General, RADM Bruce Gillingham, and others. That evening, we held another teleconference with the entire chain of command.

The next day, I spoke with the CO of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT myself, and this morning, I have spoken to the TR’s Carrier Strike Group Commander, RDML Stuart Baker. RDML Baker did not know about the letter before it was sent to him via email by the CO. It is important to understand that the Strike Group Commander, the CO’s immediate boss, is embarked on the Theodore Roosevelt, right down the passageway from him. The letter was sent over non- secure, unclassified email even though that ship possesses some of the most sophisticated communications and encryption equipment in the Fleet.

It was sent outside the chain of command, at the same time the rest of the Navy was fully responding. Worse, the Captain’s actions made his Sailors, their families, and many in the public believe that his letter was the only reason help from our larger Navy family was forthcoming, which was hardly the case.

Command is a sacred trust that must be continually earned, both from the Sailors and Marines one leads, and from the institution which grants that special, honored privilege.

As I learned more about the events of the past week on board USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71), including my personal conversations with the Strike Group Commander, Commander, SEVENTH Fleet, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Chief of Naval Operations, and CAPT Crozier himself, I could reach no other conclusion than that Captain Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was what was needed most. We do, and we should, expect more from the Commanding Officers of our aircraft carriers.

I did not come to this decision lightly. I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interests of the safety and well-being of his crew. Unfortunately, it did the opposite. It unnecessarily raised alarms with the families of our Sailors and Marines with no plan to address those concerns. It raised concerns about the operational capabilities and operational security of the ship that could have emboldened our adversaries to seek advantage, and it undermined the chain of command who had been moving and adjusting as rapidly as possible to get him the help he needed.

For these reasons, I lost confidence in his ability to lead that warship as it continues to fight through this virus, get the crew healthy, so that it can continue to meet its national security requirements. In my judgement relieving him of command was in the best interests of the United States Navy and the nation in this time when the nation needs the Navy to be strong and confident in the face of adversity. The responsibility for this decision rests with me. I expect no congratulations for it, and it gives me no pleasure in making it. CAPT Crozier is an honorable man, who despite this uncharacteristic lapse of judgment has dedicated himself throughout a lifetime of incredible service to our nation.

Pursuant to this action, and with my full support, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gilday has directed the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Robert Burke, to conduct an investigation into the circumstances and climate of the entire Pacific Fleet to help determine what may have contributed to this breakdown in the chain of command. We must ensure we can count on the right judgment, professionalism, composure, and leadership from our Commanding Officers everywhere on our Navy and Marine Corps team, but especially in the Western Pacific. I have no indication that there is a broader problem in this regard, but we have obligation to calmly and evenly investigate that nonetheless.

To our Commanding Officers, it would be a mistake to view this decision as somehow not supportive of your duty to report problems, request help, protect your crews, and challenge assumptions as you see fit.

This decision is not one of retribution. It is about confidence. It is not an indictment of character, but rather of judgement. While I do take issue with thevalidity of some of the points in Captain Crozier’s letter, he was absolutely correct in raising them.

It was the way in which he did this, by not working through and with his Strike Group Commander to develop a strategy to resolve the problems he raised, by not sending the letter to and through his chain of command, by not protecting the sensitive nature of the information contained within the letter appropriately, and lastly by not reaching out to me directly to voice is concerns, after that avenue had been provided to him through my team, that was unacceptable.

Let me be clear, you all have a duty to be transparent with your respective chains of command, even if you fear they might disagree with you. This duty requires courage, but it also requires respect for that chain of command, and for the sensitivity of the information you decide to share and the manner you choose to share it.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I would like to send a message to the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt and their families back here at home. I am entirely convinced that your Commanding Officer loves you, and that he had you at the center of his heart and mind in every decision that he has made. I also know that you have great affection, and love, for him as well. But it is my responsibility to ensure that his love and concern for you is matched, if not exceeded by, his sober and professional judgement under pressure.

You deserve that throughout all the dangerous activities for which you train so diligently, but most importantly, for those situations which are unpredictable and are hard to plan for. It’s important because you are the TR, you are the Big Stick, and what happens onboard the TR matters far beyond the physical limits of your hull. Your shipmates across the fleet need for you to be strong and ready—and most especially right now they need you to be courageous in the face of adversity.

The nation needs to know that the Big Stick is undaunted, unstoppable —and that you will stay that way as we as a Navy help you through this COVID-19 challenge. Our adversaries need to know this as well. They respect and fear the Big Stick, and they should. We will not allow anything to diminish that respect and fear as you, and the rest of our nation, fights through this virus. As I stated, we are not at war by traditional measures, but neither are we at peace. The nation you defend is in a fight right now for our economic, personal and political security, and you are on the front lines of this fight in many ways.

You can offer comfort to your fellow citizens who are struggling and fearful here at home by standing the watch, and working your way through this pandemic with courage and optimism and set the example for the nation. We have an obligation to ensure you have everything you need as fast as we can get it there, and you have my commitment that we will not let you down. The nation you have sworn to defend is in a fight, and the nations and bad actors around the world who wish us harm should understand that the Big Stick is in the neighborhood and that her crew is standing the watch.

Thank you, and I am ready to answer any questions you may have.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: What comes to mind after reading the above justification for relieving the C.O. of USS Roosevelt is that the Acting Secretary of the Navy “doth protest too much, methinks.”)

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[*] posted on 7-4-2020 at 04:11 PM

U.S. Navy Attack Submarine USS Delaware Joins the Fleet

(Source: US Navy; issued April 4, 2020)

The US Navy has commissioned the nuclear attack submarine USS Delaware (SSN 791) into the fleet; it is the final Virginia-class Block III boat, seen here during its sea trials in August 2019. No ceremony was held because of the Covid-19 pandemic. (USN photo)

The U.S. Navy commissioned USS Delaware (SSN 791), the 18th Virginia-class attack submarine, today, April 4, 2020.

Although the traditional public commissioning ceremony was cancelled due to public health safety and restrictions of large public gatherings, the Navy commissioned USS Delaware administratively and transitioned the ship to normal operations. Meanwhile, the Navy is looking at a future opportunity to commemorate the special event with the ship’s sponsor, crew and commissioning committee.

“This Virginia-class fast-attack submarine will continue the proud naval legacy of the state of Delaware and the ships that have borne her name,” said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. "I am confident that the crew of this cutting edge platform will carry on this tradition, confronting the many challenges of today's complex world with the professionalism and agility the American people depend on from the warriors of the silent service.”

Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, Submarine Forces, said he is pleased to welcome the ship to the U.S. submarine fleet and contribute to its unmatched undersea warfighting superiority.

“The U.S. Navy values the support of all those who contributed to today’s momentous milestone and will look for a future opportunity to commemorate this special event,” Caudle said. “The sailors of USS Delaware hail from every corner of the nation and from every walk of life. This crew, and the crews who follow, will rise to every challenge with unmatched bravery and perseverance to ensure the U.S. Submarine Force remains the best in the world.”

The ship’s sponsor, Dr. Jill Biden, offered congratulations to everyone who played a role in delivering USS Delaware to service.

“I know this submarine and her crew of courageous sailors will carry the steadfast strength of my home state wherever they go,” she said. “The sailors who fill this ship are the very best of the Navy, and as you embark on your many journeys, please know that you and those whom you love are in my thoughts.”

Delaware’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Matthew Horton, said today marks the culmination of six years of hard work by the men and women who constructed the submarine and are preparing her to become a warship. He said he is especially thankful to the crew and their families, Dr. Biden, the USS Delaware Commissioning Committee and the Navy League of Hampton Roads for all their hard work and support.

“As we do our part to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the future, today marks a milestone for the sailors who serve aboard USS Delaware. Whether they have been here for her initial manning three years ago, or have just reported, they all are strong, capable submariners ready to sail the nation’s newest warship into harm’s way,” Horton said. “I am equally proud of the families who have stood by through the long hours of shift work, testing, and sea trials and supported our mission with patriotism and devotion.”

This is the first time in nearly 100 years the name “Delaware” has been used for a U.S. Navy vessel. It is the seventh U.S. Navy ship, and first submarine, to bear the name of the state of Delaware. Delaware is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.

The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling. Delaware’s keel was laid April 30, 2016, and was christened during a ceremony Oct. 20, 2018. It is the final Block III Virginia-class submarine, before the next wave of Block IV deliveries.

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[*] posted on 7-4-2020 at 04:13 PM

U.S. Navy Awards $200 Million Contract to Upgrade USS Boxer

(Source: BAE Systems; issued April 03, 2020)

SAN DIEGO, California --- BAE Systems has received a $200.3 million contract from the U.S. Navy to drydock and perform nearly 18 months of maintenance and modernization work aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The drydocking of USS Boxer will be the first time the company’s San Diego shipyard will use its 950-foot-long Pride of California drydock to service a large-deck warship. The shipyard is currently nearing completion of another major milestone for the drydock: the first simultaneous docking of two guided-missile destroyers on the West Coast.

BAE Systems’ San Diego shipyard will begin working aboard the 843-foot-long USS Boxer in June 2020. Under the awarded contract, BAE Systems will upgrade the ship to support and operate Joint Strike Fighters on-board; perform hull, tank and mechanical work; and make other shipboard improvements. The shipyard is expected to complete its work aboard the 25-year-old ship in December 2021. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to $207.48 million.

Last October, BAE Systems simultaneously docked the USS Stethem (DDG 63) and USS Decatur (DDG 73). The guided-missile destroyers are scheduled to be re-floated together from the Pride of California drydock later this spring. The Pride of California, the largest drydock in California, is capable of lifting more than 55,000 tons.

BAE Systems is a leading provider of ship repair, maintenance, modernization, conversion, and overhaul services for the Navy, other government agencies, and select commercial customers. The company operates four full-service shipyards in California, Florida, Hawaii, and Virginia, and offers a highly skilled, experienced workforce, eight dry docks and railways, and significant pier space and ship support services.

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[*] posted on 7-4-2020 at 04:36 PM

Navy Defends Cutting 36 Super Hornets from Budget Amid Strike Fighter

An F/A-18 Super Hornet taxis the runway at Naval Air Station (NAS) Joint Reserve Base (JRB) Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 25, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo/Nolan Pennington)

11 Mar 2020 | By Matthew Cox

A top U.S. Navy modernization official on Tuesday had to justify to lawmakers the service's decision to kill plans to build 36 new F/A-18 Super Hornets in the midst of a strike fighter shortage.

Modernization officials from the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army testified at a hearing Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee's Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee on aircraft and helicopter programs in the proposed fiscal 2021 defense budget.

The subcommittee's ranking member, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, questioned the Navy's elimination of 36 Super Hornet new builds when the service is already short 49 strike fighters.

"That's one carrier wing," Hartzler said. "I feel like this is too much operational risk."

The planned cut to Super Hornets would free up $4.5 billion to fund the accelerated development of the next-generation, carrier-based fighter program over the five-year, Future Years Defense Plan, according to a Feb. 10 U.S. Naval Institute story.

The Navy's fiscal 2021 budget "fully funds" the production of 24 new F/A-18 aircraft, said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition.

The service also plans to upgrade 40 older aircraft in its service life extension program (SLEP), he said.

"As we [bring] the mission-capable rate of aircraft up across the Department of the Navy, that gives us additional up-aircraft to help balance that shortfall," Geurts said.

It currently takes 18 months to upgrade aircraft in the SLEP, but the Navy has set a goal to complete the process in 12 months, he added.

But Hartzler wasn't satisfied.

"So, if you add all those up, this is a severe shortage that we are experiencing, and if you don't account for the attrition rate actually in combat, we would have a very large gap there potentially," she said.

Geurts admitted that the Navy is taking a risk with this plan until the late 2020s.

"I think 2029 is when we will get to the full fighter inventory, so we have had to take some risks as we balance that," he said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at
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[*] posted on 8-4-2020 at 02:41 PM

Navy Secretary officially resigns, capping bizarre 24-hour Theodore Roosevelt fiasco

J.D. Simkins

8 hours ago

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday. (MC2 Jason Isaacs/Navy)

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has officially resigned, capping perhaps the most tumultuous 24-hour public relations fiasco the sea service has ever encountered.

Modly notified Secretary of Defense Mark Esper of his resignation Tuesday following a meeting between the two. Esper subsequently confirmed Modly’s resignation in an official statement.

“He resigned on his own accord, putting the Navy and the Sailors above self so that the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy as an institution, can move forward,” Esper said in an official statement.

“His care for the Sailors was genuine. Secretary Modly served the nation for many years, both in and out of uniform. I have the deepest respect for anyone who serves our country, and who places the greater good above all else. ... I wish him all the best.”

Esper has appointed Acting United States Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson as the new acting secretary of the Navy. McPherson was confirmed as the Army’s number two official just 15 days ago. He becomes the third Army official tapped by Esper in recent months to fill top roles.

Modly’s resignation comes less than 24 hours after numerous Democratic members of Congress called for his firing over his handling of the dismissal of Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, who penned a leaked letter pleading for U.S. intervention to stifle a COVID-19 outbreak on the 4,800-person ship.

On Monday, Modly kicked off a whirlwind of events when he boarded a flight destined for Guam, where, upon arrival, he addressed Theodore Roosevelt sailors in a speech that immediately raised eyebrows throughout the fleet and in Washington.

Over the ship’s 1MC intercom — the audio of the speech was obtained by Military Times — Modly told Roosevelt sailors that their commanding officer was either “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this.”

After learning that his speech had gone public, Modly released an official statement in which he doubled down, saying, “I stand by every word I said.”

Shortly before news of his resignation became public, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., slammed Modly’s comments to the crew as “highly inappropriate” and said he needed to be removed from his post.

“Acting Secretary Modly’s actions and words demonstrate his failure to prioritize the force protection of our troops,” she said in a statement. “He showed a serious lack of the sound judgement and strong leadership needed at this time.”

Similarly, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., accused Modly of taking a “tone-deaf approach more focused on personal ego.”

“I disagree strongly with the manner in which acting Secretary of the Navy Modly has handled the COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt,” Smith said.

“His decision to relieve Captain Crozier was at best an overreaction to the extraordinary steps the Captain took to protect his crew. Acting Secretary Modly’s decision to address the sailors on the Roosevelt and personally attack Captain Crozier shows a tone-deaf approach more focused on personal ego than one of the calm, steady leadership we so desperately need in this crisis.”

With tensions escalating, President Donald Trump announced he would be stepping in to play the role of mediator in an effort to quell the intensifying vitriol on both sides.

“You know what, you have two good people and they’re arguing,” Trump said. “And I’m good, believe it or not, at settling arguments.”

Modly then reversed course, apologizing for the contents of his speech to Roosevelt sailors.

“I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve nor stupid,” Modly said. “Captain Crozier is smart and passionate. ... I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship.”

Amid the bureaucratic pandemonium, Modly managed to pen a 745-word opinion piece responding to a letter published days earlier in the New York Times by Theodore Roosevelt’s great grandson, Tweed Roosevelt, in which the 26th president’s relative drew parallels between the actions of Crozier and those taken by his great-grandfather during a yellow fever and malaria outbreak in 1898.

“I have the utmost respect for Mr. Roosevelt and his family’s immense heritage of service to the nation. In the case of Captain Crozier, however, he is wrong,” Modly responded via the Navy Live blog, which was deleted shortly after its publication.

Modly’s response, which was archived prior to its deletion, detailed the Navy’s reasons for dismissing Crozier before concluding with, “After all, Mr. Roosevelt, Captain Crozier was the Commanding Officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and I am relatively certain your great grandfather would have demanded much more under pressure.”

The bizarre 24-hour period came to its conclusion Tuesday with Modly’s resignation letter, in which he referred to his time as acting Navy secretary as “the honor of my life.”

“I owe every member of the Navy and Marine Corps team a lifetime of gratitude for the opportunity to serve for them, and with them, once again,” Modly wrote.

“The men and women of the Department of the Navy deserve a continuity of civilian leadership befitting our great Republic, and the decisive naval force that secures our way of life. I will be forever grateful for my opportunity, and the blessing, to be part of it.”

Military Times reporter Leo Shane contributed to this piece.
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[*] posted on 9-4-2020 at 03:22 PM

Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectiles

(Source: Congressional Research Service; issued April 2, 2020)

Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).

The Navy has been developing SSLs for several years, and in 2014 installed on a Navy ship its first prototype SSL capable of countering surface craft and UAVs. The Navy since then has been developing and installing additional SSL prototypes with improved capability for countering surface craft and UAVs. Higher-power SSLs being developed by the Navy are to have a capability for countering ASCMs.

Current Navy efforts to develop SSLs include:

-- the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
-- the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
-- the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the high-energy laser, with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS); and
-- the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).

The first three efforts above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy Laser Family of Systems (NFLoS) effort. NFLOS and HELCAP, along with technologies developed by other parts of DOD, are to support the development of future, more capable shipboard lasers.

The Navy has been developing EMRG for several years. It was originally conceived as a naval surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for supporting Marines and other friendly forces ashore. Subsequently, it was determined that ERGM could also be used for air and missile defense, which strengthened Navy interest in ERGM development. The Navy is continuing development work on ERGM, but it is unclear when production-model ERGMs will be installed on Navy ships.

As the Navy was developing EMRG, it realized that the guided projectile being developed for EMRG could also be fired from powder guns, including 5-inch guns on Navy cruisers and destroyers and 155 mm artillery guns operated by the Army and Marine Corps. When fired from powder guns, the projectile does not fly as quickly as it does when fired from an ERGM, but it still flies quickly enough to be of use as an air-defense weapon. The concept of firing the projectile from powder guns is referred to as GLGP and HVP. One potential advantage of HVP/GLGP is that, once developed, it can be rapidly deployed on Navy cruisers and destroyers and in Army and Marine Corps artillery units, because the powder guns in question already exist.

In addition to the question of whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2021 funding requests for SSLs, ERGM, and HVP/GLGP, issues for Congress include the following:

-- whether the Navy is moving too quickly, too slowly, or at about the right speed in its efforts to develop these weapons;
-- the Navy’s plans for transitioning these weapons from development to procurement and fielding of production models aboard Navy ships; and
-- whether Navy the Navy’s shipbuilding plans include ships with appropriate amounts of space, weight, electrical power, and cooling capacity to accommodate these weapons.

Click here for the full report (44 PDF pages), on the CRS website.

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