Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A Pacific [Baby] Step in the Right Direction

In 2011, then President Obama announced the Pacific Pivot to address the growing Chinese threat.  This led to … well … almost nothing.  Instead, the US watched as the Chinese continued to expand their holdings and influence, annexing the entire East and South China Seas, and making inroads on various Pacific countries and island nations. 
Notably, China established military agreements with Solomons Islands and others.  This was not particularly surprising as the US had made very little effort to confront China diplomatically.  The Solomons agreement seemed to finally awaken the US and spur at least some effort, minimal as it’s been.
Now, however, there are some small but potentially positive developments for, and by, the US. 
The United States signed a new agreement with Palau that gives American ships the authorization to unilaterally enforce maritime regulations in the tiny Pacific island nation's exclusive economic zone, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday.[1] 
It is unclear whether this is an extension of the previous Compact of Free Association or whether it is an entirely new agreement. 
In the agreement, concluded a week ago, U.S. Coast Guard ships can enforce regulations inside Palau's exclusive economic zone on behalf of the nation without a Palauan officer present … [1] 
This would appear to give the US the right (and responsibility?) to confront China when it violates Palau territorial waters and economic zones.
In other developments, 
The U.S. has countered with diplomatic moves of its own, including opening an embassy in the Solomon Islands.
The agreement with Palau is similar to one concluded with the Federated States of Micronesia at the end of 2022, following which the U.S. Coast Guard has conducted boardings for the Pacific nation.
The U.S. also signed a bilateral defense agreement in May with Papua New Guinea, which will allow the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct boardings alongside its local counterparts in Papua New Guinea's exclusive economic zone for the first time later this year.[1] 
These recent agreements could be good, however, it depends on whether we’re willing to actually take action.  Will we forcibly remove Chinese ships that are violating protected waters or will we just stand by and do nothing as we’re doing in the Middle East where we just stand by and watch the Iranians attack and seize merchant ships?  Will this be another red line in the sand which, when crossed, we do nothing about?  Agreements mean nothing without force and action backing them up.  This is an opportunity for us to begin standing up to China with concrete, meaningful actions (unlike the worse-than-useless Freedom of Navigation exercises).
This is potentially a good step but I’m highly dubious that we’ll use the ability effectively.  This is most likely a tool that will remain in the toolbox, unused, as so many of our tools do.
[1]Newsmax website, “US Given OK to Enforce Maritime Law Around Palau”, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press, 29-Aug-2023,

Saturday, August 26, 2023

A Prototype, Subsidized, Convertible, Merchant Ship

Logistics will be a major issue in a war with China.  Of course, logistics are a major issue in any war so that wasn’t exactly the world’s most earth-shaking statement, was it?  Nevertheless, it’s true.  Now, what does the Navy/nation lack in regards to China war logistics?
Well, we lack a large, ready merchant fleet to carry supplies to Guam, Taiwan, Japan, etc.
Moving on to a seemingly unrelated topic (which you know we’re going to directly relate to shortly!), we’ve discussed ship prototypes and the Navy’s near total unwillingness to explore ship designs, tactics, and CONOPS via the use of prototypes (see, “Prototypes”).
So, to summarize … we lack a merchant logistics fleet and we don’t make use of prototypes.  Could those two things be related?  Of course they are!
One major advantage China has over us is that all their merchant ships are constructed with military adaptations built in.  In a war, China will have an easily convertible merchant fleet available for military use.
Here’s thought … why don’t we copy China for once and build a military-convertible merchant fleet?
Let’s start with a single prototype, funded by the government.  It would be a merchant ship that has military adaptations and ‘convertibility’ built in.  We could try it out by practicing rapidly converting it to military use (troop transport, military supply transport, military vehicle transport, oiler, or whatever other use we might need). 
Once we debug and prove out the concept, we can embark on a production program in which the government subsidizes (or totally pays to build) a convertible merchant ship and then loans/leases it to commercial shipping companies with the agreement that they maintain it to acceptable standards.  If war arises and we need it, we have a well maintained, readily convertible, military logistics fleet and if war does not occur during the ship’s lifespan, the commercial shipping company gets a nearly free ship to use.  Win, win.
Logistics Fleet in Waiting?

This potentially solves multiple problems. 
  • We establish a well maintained, readily convertible logistics fleet.
  • We strengthen our commercial shipping industry.
  • We increase demand for new merchant ships and encourage the growth of our shipbuilding industry while possibly gaining new shipyards to meet the increased construction.
  • The Navy/government gets a fleet of ready logistics ships while off-loading the yearly operating costs to the shipping industry.
Note:  I have no idea what the exact degree of subsidies or specific loan arrangements would be.  That would require an economic analysis that I lack the data to conduct.  Someone would have to work that through to see what makes sense.
Thus, for a minimal initial outlay (subsidy or total construction cost), the Navy gets a modern, ready, reserve fleet of logistic ships and our shipping and shipbuilding industries get a much needed boost.  Ideally, we’d simultaneously revamp our shipping-related laws and regulations to further encourage domestic shipping but that’s another topic.
Here’s some example merchant ship construction costs in FY22 dollars.
Dry bulk                        $49.6 million
General cargo               $17 million
Container                      $68.2 million
As you can see, these are almost free relative to typical Navy ship costs!  We could buy 71 container ships at $70M apiece for the cost of a single $4B Zumwalt.
The key to this concept is to build a single prototype and use it to learn how to best design a ship for rapid wartime conversion.  With that knowledge in hand we can then begin a production program that benefits both the military and the shipping industry.  That’s a lot of benefit for very little money!
Of course, none of this addresses the issue of manning those ships during war but, again, that’s a different topic.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Vice CNO Franchetti - Another Failed CNO in the Making

Vice CNO Franchetti, in her position as acting CNO, just issued her first message to the fleet.  Any incredibly faint hope I held that she might be an improvement over the recent string of inept, failed CNOs has been dashed.  Her message was a vague collection of buzzword garbage that contained only one worthwhile piece of information and that was that all previous policies would remain in effect.  Thus, she apparently sees all the problems and is content with the status quo.  Very disappointing.
To be fair, she’s only acting CNO pending Congressional approval so maybe she’ll change once approved but I think that’s highly unlikely.  She’s showing her colors right now.

Another Failed CNO?

Monday, August 21, 2023

Why the Last Post?

Some of the comments from the last post, “Defending Taiwan”, led me to believe that not everyone grasped the purpose of the post.  To be fair, I didn’t spell out the purpose although it’s been ‘spelled out’ throughout the blog.
The purpose of the post was not to provide a scenario that people could jump on and criticize (though that’s a favorite sport among readers of any blog!).  The purpose was to offer a likely scenario (Chinese invasion of Taiwan and US defense against the invasion) and a means (a strategy) of addressing that scenario (carriers, subs, locations, strategy, etc.) with the objective of examining the operational, tactical, and asset requirements to execute the scenario strategy.
The scenario gives us the specific requirements that should be driving our strategy, military force structure, doctrine, tactics, and procurement.
This is analogous to my constant harping on CONOPS, CONOPS, CONOPS which should drive ship design.
In this case, it’s OPERATIONS, OPERATIONS, OPERATIONS which should drive force structure and capabilities.
OPERATIONS, of course, are derived from STRATEGY, STRATEGY, STRATEGY.
Isn’t it neat how, if you do this correctly, each step flows logically from the preceding one?  But, I digress …
With a specific scenario and strategy defined, we can now proceed to examine force structure by examining the required operations.  For example, 
  • How many subs do we need?  Operations will tell us that.
  • What kind of aircraft do we need?  Operations will tell us that.
  • How big an air wing do we need?  Operations will tell us that.
  • What kind of ASW effort do we need?  Operations will tell us that.
  • How many carriers do we need to defend Taiwan?  Operations will tell us that.
  • How do we logistically support a Taiwan defense fleet?  Operations will tell us that.
And so on.
The Navy’s approach is to build something … anything … and then try to get it into the hands of the sailors so that they can tell leadership what the ship can do.  This, of course, is a heaping pile of stupid on a plate.  CONOPS tells you what to design and then you tell the sailors how to use it, not the other way around.  Similarly, Operations tells us what kind of force structure and capabilities we need.
Thus, scenarios like this give us the basis for intelligent discussion of force structure.  That was the purpose of the post.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Defending Taiwan

Let’s assume China makes an invasion of Taiwan part of whatever war they initiate.  In fact, this is an absolute certainty since they can’t allow an enemy base of operations to exist just a hundred miles off their mainland.  Let’s further assume that the US opts to defend Taiwan (by no means a certainty).  How would the defense play out from a US Navy perspective?

Carrier Activity
The main function of a carrier group would be to provide air cover for Taiwan.  Basically, this becomes a large scale battle for air superiority to relieve Taiwan’s forces from the threat of aerial bombardment and missile attack … an ambitious and exceedingly challenging effort!
The main invasion effort will likely be along the southern beaches due to Taiwan’s geography.  That dictates our carrier defensive location.  With aircraft only having, at best, a two hundred mile or so combat radius (remember, you have to include sufficient loiter/combat time!), our carriers will have to operate within two hundred miles or so  radius of the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait at the southern end of the strait.
Unfortunately, this ‘anchors’ the carrier group to a fairly fixed location.  Yes, the group would sail back and forth a bit but the necessities and constraints of aircraft range and endurance (loitering and combat time) dictate that the carrier remain in a very limited and predictable location.  A carrier constrained to a limited and predictable location is a good way to get a sunk carrier due to cruise/ballistic missiles and enemy subs.
The scale of air superiority action would demand all the carrier’s aircraft to operate in the air-to-air role.  There would be few, if any, available for ground support.
Surface Ship Activity
Aegis ships will be quite active – and one hopes successful – providing an anti-air ‘umbrella’ over the strait.  Standard SM-2/6 missiles are credited with ranges of 150-200 miles which, unfortunately, would suffice to cover, if barely, the strait from the eastern (seaward) side of Taiwan.  In conjunction with carrier aircraft, this would help establish local air superiority.
One should also note that the mountainous geography poses radar problems for ships operating on the eastern side of Taiwan and trying to exert anti-air influence over the strait and the western side of the island.
Submarine Activity
Offense – Our subs will attempt to attack Chinese naval forces at the northern and, most especially, the southern end of the Taiwan Strait.  Unfortunately, the strait is only a hundred miles wide or so which greatly restricts the submarine operations.  Only a single sub can operate at each end at a time without risking blue-on-blue engagement.  Thus, our large submarine force will be limited by geography to a minimal combat presence. 
Defense – As noted above, our carrier groups will be tied to a fairly fixed location and this will attract enemy subs.  Thus, one of the main functions of our submarine force will be to act as distant screens for the carrier group to intercept Chinese subs/ships approaching from around the southern tip of Taiwan or north from Philippines.  Again, though, only a relative few subs can operate in the area at a time before the crowding of subs becomes counterproductive.
It is obvious that the blue-on-blue concern will be a huge factor.  As described, that concern will severely limit the number of subs we can effectively employ in the fairly restricted Taiwan operating area.  We could have a thousand subs but if we can only safely and effectively employ four in the operating area, the remaining 996 are useless except as attrition replacements.  We need to begin addressing ways to safely and effectively operate more subs in the restricted area.  I cannot offer any specific thoughts on how to do that but I can and do raise the issue.  To be fair, this is an issue dating back to WWI and no one has satisfactorily solved it.
The importance of the Philippines cannot be overstated.  For the Chinese, control of the Philippines provides protection for the southern invasion force.  For the US, the Philippines provides the approach from which a counterattack can be staged and launched against the southern invasion force.  The key question, therefore, is which side will seize and control Luzon and surrounding air and seas?
Amphibious Landing
While not an opposed landing, per se, landing troop reinforcements from the eastern side of the island would be a likely scenario.  This would require Aegis ships to move very close to shore to provide anti-air protection for amphibious ships during the landing/unloading process.
We can’t even begin to successfully defend Taiwan without a functional Guam so defending Guam is part of the Taiwan defense.  Guam’s defense is, however, a separate topic so I’ll leave it at that.  Just be aware of the vital role Guam will play in terms of logistics, basing, staging, repair, etc.
ASW - Chinese subs will be a major threat and we lack effective ASW.  Large, slow, non-stealthy, defenseless, fixed wing P-8 ASW aircraft will be unable to survivably operate in the area.  Helos will be unable to operate at any great distance from their host ships due to survivability concerns.  Possibly, Burke/helo hunter-killer units could be effective, however, that places a multi-billion dollar, high value, Aegis vessel squarely in the enemy submarine operating area.  We lack a dedicated, expendable (cheap) ASW ship.
Aircraft – We have no useful airbases near Taiwan unless Japanese bases are viable.  This would require Japan to enter the war, offer the use of their bases, and be able to defend those bases well enough to keep them effectively operating – no sure thing!  This leaves only carriers as a source of aircraft.  Unfortunately, our carrier fleet is shrinking in numbers and our air wings are half the size they once were.
Further, the F-18 is not a state of the art fighter and will be hard pressed to hold its own.
Ground Support – We will have few, if any, carrier aircraft available for ground support.  The Air Force won’t have any bases within useful distance to provide support.  We might be able to base Air Force aircraft on Taiwan bases but the likelihood of Taiwan bases remaining operational is not good.
This might be a scenario where big deck amphibious ships, configured for pure ground support (maximize the F-35Bs), could be effective assuming we can establish local air superiority. I assume attack helos would be non-survivable due to Chinese anti-air weapons and contested skies.

Why is it important to understand how a Taiwan conflict will play out?  It’s because that will determine what capabilities and, therefore, what platforms and weapons we need.  Currently, the Navy designs ships in a complete vacuum with no consideration for strategic and operational requirements (CONOPS).  We need to stop this ‘blind’ design practice and begin designing to our specific needs. 
Consider the Navy’s obsession with unmanned assets.  Do we need unmanned assets?  Well, it all depends on how we intend to fight a war with China.  Unmanned assets may be useful or they may not.  We don’t know because we don’t have a war plan.
I’m offering this brief outline of how a defense of Taiwan will play out.  You can agree or disagree with my vision but it offers a concrete set of operational requirements which, in turn, allows us to design assets that will directly and effectively support the plan instead of designing assets that we just cross our fingers and hope can somehow prove useful but we’re not sure.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Ukraine-Russia Naval War

As I keep saying, we can’t draw any conclusions from the Ukraine-Russia war    and yet military observers continue to try to do so.  The latest batch of supposed lessons involves a burst of ‘naval war’ analyses following recent claims of a successful suicide attack by a Ukrainian unmanned surface vessel against a Russian Ropucha I LST landing ship.[1]
Previous reports claimed successful attacks on 29-Oct-2022 by USVs (and possibly UAVs) against a Russian Admiral Grigorovich class frigate and a mine countermeasure (MCM) ship.  It is also possible that the sinking of the missile cruiser Moskva was due to a USV as the apparent damage would be consistent with a waterline explosion caused by a USV.  There is also the 24-Mar-2022 sinking of a Russian Alligator class amphibious landing ship while docked in Berdyansk (see, “Port Seizure Example”).  The method of attack was never identified and a USV strike would fit the facts as well or better than artillery or missile strikes.
In addition to the successful attacks, there have been multiple reports of failed attacks.
From this, observers have concluded that the Ukraine-Russia naval war – to the extent there actually is one – is an asymmetric conflict between Ukrainian unmanned assets and conventional Russian ships.  Observers believe that the Ukrainians have demonstrated that the future of naval warfare involves small, unmanned assets and that large ships are no longer viable.  This is utterly incorrect but that’s not really the point of this post.
While we cannot draw any definitive conclusions from the Ukraine-Russia conflict, we can discuss certain aspects that have become apparent. 
Lethality/Effectiveness – One of the common misunderstandings is that unmanned assets are incredibly effective.  That is false or, at best, only semi-true. 
The actual sink rate for Ukrainian USVs against Russian ships is zero, as far as I know (excepting the possibility that Moskva and Alligator were sunk by a USV).  A few ships have, apparently, been damaged with the extent of damage unknown.
So, while the reported attacks have caused damage they have not been fatal (unless the Moskva or Alligator was a USV attack).  Thus, a single drone strike appears insufficient to sink a ship.  This is analogous to missile attacks which are not, generally, instantly fatal from a single hit.
The apparent effectiveness of the USVs (they have hit multiple ships) seems equally due to the appalling lack of awareness and tactical ineptitude of the Russians as to whatever effectiveness the Ukrainian USVs might have.  The Russians seem oblivious to, or incapable of, detecting USVs and seem to lack any organized defensive effort.
USV Detection
Why have Russian sensors failed to detect the USVs in time for effective countermeasures?  We claim to be able to detect periscopes at hundreds of miles.  This may reinforce one of ComNavOps recurring themes that all manufacturer’s/Navy claims are vastly overblown.  Unless one believes that Russian sensors are vastly inferior to those of the US, it would seem that sensors cannot reliably detect even speedboat size objects on the water.  Of course, it may well be that Russian sensors are vastly inferior or that Russian operators are insufficiently trained to use their sensors effectively.
Proximity – The attacks all seem to have occurred in port or very close to land which is understandable given the short legs and limited seaworthiness of an unmanned speedboat.  There are reports of some USVs attacking the Crimea bridge from a significant distance.  Of course, since we have no confirmed USV launch points, it’s impossible to say what the various attack distances were.  Regardless, relative to open ocean distances in, say, the Pacific theater, the attacks are limited to near land.  This suggests that USV speedboat type attacks are not a threat to ships operating in the open ocean.
There have been reports of successful defenses by the Russians against the USV drones.  This suggests that individual USVs are easily defeated – not surprising since they have no defensive weapons, whatsoever.  Reports also suggest that the drones have been used in bunches – a ‘swarm’ of sorts – which would increase the chances of one/some getting through the defenses.  Bear in mind that the defense has to be 100% effective whereas the USVs, due to their cheapness - only need an occasional success to be effective.
This suggests that effective defenses must be numerous, lethal, and rapidly responsive.  Small missiles, guided rockets, or CIWS-type weapons would be appropriate.  It also suggests that the defensive weapons ought to be harbor-based, controlled, and operated by a central harbor defense rather than depending on the individual ships to provide their own defense.  In other words, once a ship enters a port, the defense should be the responsibility of the port forces instead of the ship.  Ships come and go from a port but the port’s defenses ought to be consistent and on-going.  This provides continuity and consistency of defense regardless of the comings and goings of individual ships.  Sensors and weapons ought to be sited at the various approaches to the port and ought to be layered with multiple sensing and engagement zones.
There is no escaping the fact that the Russians appear utterly incapable or inept (or both) of detecting and defending against USVs.  They seem to lack any tactical doctrine for defense.  Given that, it is worse than pointless to draw conclusions.  This conflict seems almost totally inapplicable to a China-US war.  There is no more reason to believe that the naval aspects of this war offer valid lessons than do the ground combat aspects.
[1]The War Zone, ”Ukrainian Drone Boat Scores Direct Hit On Russian Warship”, Thomas Newdick, 4-Aug-2023,

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Whale

The Douglas A-3 (originally, A3D) Skywarrior, known as the Whale, offers several insights to modern carrier and aircraft (in particular, a large, long range air superiority fighter) design.
To briefly review, the Whale was the largest aircraft to routinely operate from a carrier (the E-2 Hawkeye comes close depending on what parameter one looks at).  With a crew of 3-7, depending on the variant, it filled the roles of strike, nuclear strike, electronic warfare (EW), tanker, recon, and bomb damage assessment.  The ample room in the aircraft afforded great flexibility in design of the many variants.  The aircraft served from the 1950’s to 1991.
A-3 Skywarrior

Interestingly, the A-3 had the most capacity of any Navy tanker, delivering 29,000 lb of fuel at 460 miles (see, “Navy Aerial Refueling”).  The Navy is currently struggling to develop a tanker with half that capacity (stated goal of 15,000 lb at 500 miles).


What lessons does the A-3 Skywarrior/Whale offer for today’s ship and aircraft designs?
Aircraft Weight – A constant claim, today, is that we can’t operate large tankers, large air superiority fighters, or any large aircraft because we can’t launch/recover heavy aircraft.  This is patently false as the Whale demonstrated.  We not only routinely operated the Whale from carriers but we did so from post-WWII Essex and Midway class carriers![1]  The steam catapults of the day were sufficient to launch the 40,000-80,000 lb Whale which leads one to wonder why we felt we needed EMALS.  We could launch and recover heavy aircraft before.  We didn’t need EMALS and certainly didn’t need it until it was fully debugged and ready.
Aircraft weight, at least up to that of the Whale, is not a constraint on modern carrier or aircraft design.
Aircraft Size - There is a common misbelief that we can’t operate aircraft much larger than a Hornet from a carrier deck.  For example, this fallacy is used to argue against large air superiority fighters.  However, we see from the Whale’s operational history that this is not true.  The A-3 was 72 ft long with a 76 ft wingspan and we managed to operate them from post-WWII Essex and Midway class carriers up through the supercarriers of the Nimitz class.  This doesn’t mean we can have an air wing of 90+ Whale size aircraft but it means we can certainly operate larger aircraft than we have now (the Hornet).  Our carrier decks are barely half-full.  We can easily operate many more large aircraft.
Payload – Weapons were carried in an internal bomb bay which demonstrates that large amounts of weapons can be carried internally on a large fighter – how large, of course, is the question.  An AMRAAM is around 360 lbs so, in theory, a Skywarrior could have carried 33 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles (ignoring actual launch mechanisms and dimensional constraints).
Carrier Design – The A-3 initially operated from post-WWII Essex and Midway carriers thus demonstrating that the massive deck of the Nimitz/Ford is not a requirement to operate large aircraft.  We don’t have to constantly design larger and larger carriers.  We simply have to remember how to operate large air wings on moderate sized carrier decks.  Our current air wings are steadily shrinking while the carriers are steadily increasing in size.  What’s wrong with this picture?
Air Superiority Fighter
Let’s look at the specific case of the air superiority fighter.  As you know, ComNavOps has proposed a very long range, air superiority fighter and, due to existing paradigms among commenters, arguments have claimed that it’s not possible to design a suitably long range fighter and that, if it were possible, the aircraft would be:
-too large to operate from a carrier
-too heavy to operate from a carrier
-unable to carry enough weapons
and, finally, that if such an aircraft could be built, there’s no room on a carrier for such an aircraft.
As the Whale routinely demonstrated, we can, and did, operate large, heavy aircraft from a carrier – larger and heavier than anything we operate currently.  Combined with the nearly half-size air wings, we have lots of room for large aircraft such as a long range, air superiority fighter.
We’ve forgotten what we were once had and what we were once capable of doing and now believe those things to be impossible.  The only impossibility seems to be remembering what we once had.
Routine operation of large, heavy aircraft was long ago proven.  This invalidates the argument that we can’t operate a large air superiority fighter from a carrier.
The Whale proved that we don’t need EMALS or Advanced Arresting Gear to operate large, heavy aircraft.  The ancient steam catapult and landing gear were perfectly adequate.  We could revert to the Kitty Hawk carrier design and be perfectly capable of operating many large air superiority fighters. 
So says the Whale!

Monday, August 7, 2023

FY2022 INSURV Report

The FY2022 INSURV report has some interesting tidbits.  The report lacks any specifics but does offer a nice view of general trends.
Among other types of inspections, INSURV conducts various types of trials as listed below:[1,p.5] 
  • Acceptance Trials (AT) - verify the readiness of ships, craft, and submarines for preliminary acceptance by the Navy
  • Combined Trials (CT) - verify the readiness of ships, craft, and submarines for preliminary acceptance by the Navy
  • Integrated Trials (IT) - verify the readiness of ships, craft, and submarines for preliminary acceptance by the Navy
  • Final Contract Trials (FCT) - for surface ships to determine if additional deficiencies have developed since AT, to validate correction of significant AT “stared” deficiencies, and to provide an assessment of readiness for “Fleet Introduction”
  • Guarantee Material Inspections (GMI) - for submarines to determine if additional deficiencies have developed since AT, to validate correction of significant AT “stared” deficiencies, and to provide an assessmentof readiness for “Fleet Introduction”
  • Special Trials (ST) - when significant ship systems or capabilities remain incomplete until after Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA)
  • Retrials (RT) - address specific deficiencies for previous unsuccessful trial events
In 2022, INSURV conducted 23 trials: 12 ATs, 2 CTs, 3 FCTs, 1 GMI, 3 RTs, and 2 STs.  The trials involved 9 surface ships, 2 submarines, 2 combatant craft, and 5 service craft. 
Here are some specific trial results:
USS Ford
USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) completed AT [acceptance trial] in May 2017. The ship was unfinished and had significant deficiencies affecting many mission-critical systems.[1, p.9]
The Type Commander presented the ship for a comprehensive ST [special trial] in June 2022. The ship's material readiness was poor with one unsatisfactory and 13 degraded scores among 18 functional areas. There were one unsatisfactory and three degraded scores among the eight major demonstrations. Seven starred deficiencies that were CNO-waived for delivery were either uncorrected or not assessed during the ST.[1, p.10]
We see from this report that waivers were used in order to authorize a flawed and inappropriate delivery and were never corrected!  The Navy is knowingly and voluntarily accepting incomplete and damaged ships and it is the CNO who is personally responsible for this. 
Independence LCS
INSURV conducted two acceptance trials (LCS-30, LCS-32).  According to the INSURV report, “both ships had starred deficiencies and below-average IFOM scores”.[1]
JOHN LEWIS Fleet Replenishment Oiler (T-AO) Program
INSURV conducted an acceptance trial on John Lewis (T-AO 205), the class lead ship.  According to the INSURV report, “The lead ship has four starred deficiencies, a number of other significant deficiencies, and a relatively low IFOM score.”[1]
The INSURV report also presented inspection results of functional areas for various types of ships.  The FY2022 results were compared to the 6-year average score to determine whether overall ship readiness was increasing or decreasing.
Surface ships had 21 functional areas evaluated and in 2022, 11 areas were worse, 3 were unchanged, and 7 were improved.
This demonstrates that the condition of our fleet is steadily declining.
Of special note is the fact that no ship deliveries were rejected by the Navy despite many serious problems being noted and many ships were accepted with known deficiencies and incomplete work!  What is the point of conducting trials and inspections if we’ll never reject a ship, no matter how incomplete or damaged it is?  We could simply eliminate the entire INSURV function, save the money, and achieve the exact same result of accepting everything!
Waivers are one of the root causes of the fleet’s problems.  The existence, and use, of waivers has made it easier to skip over problems than to do the hard work of producing acceptable products.  Waivers are destroying the fleet.
The common saying is that the rot starts at the top, right?  Well, this is absolutely the case, here.  The CNO is personally authorizing waivers in order to accept flawed ships.  He, and he alone, is damaging the Navy and costing taxpayers money.  This is dereliction of duty and he should be court-martialed.
[1]INSURV Annual Report, 1-Mar-2023

Friday, August 4, 2023

Self-Imposed Resource Vulnerability

We’ve discussed strategic raw material resource vulnerabilities, such as rare earths.  Here’s another self-inflicted vulnerability … oil in our strategic reserve.  Our strategic oil reserve was reduced for political purposes rather than strategic needs, as was its intended purpose. 
The strategic reserve is at 346,758 barrels, its lowest level in 40 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association.[1]
The Biden administration has reportedly canceled plans to purchase 6 million barrels of oil to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve because the prices of oil are expected to keep rising following a cut in output by Saudi Arabia.[1]
The Department of Energy announced its intention to purchase the oil on July 7 to replenish the strategic reserve after the Biden administration released 180 million barrels last year to ease prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.[1]
In total, Biden has released around 260M barrels of oil from the reserve.  Therefore, the proposed purchase of 6M barrels would have replenished only 2% of the oil drained from the reserve.
Note:  The strategic oil reserve has a capacity of 714M barrels.  The current level is around 340M barrels.
[1]Newsmax website, “Admin Ditches Plan to Buy 6M Barrels of Oil for Reserve”, Michael Katz, 2-Aug-2023,

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

The New CNO’s To-Do List

Here’s a to-do list for the new CNO, Adm. Lisa Franchetti.  I’ve broken it into two lists:  the ideal list that she ought to do but, realistically, wouldn’t even consider and the more realistic list of limited, but useful, items.
Ideal List 
  • Eliminate NavSea.  They’re not performing their function and appear to be staffed by total incompetents.
  • Reconstitute the General Board and BuShips.
  • Terminate the Navy’s involvement with, and purchase of, the F-35 and accelerate the next generation fighter.
  • Refocus the carrier role on long range air superiority instead of strike.
  • Eliminate the demon-spawned concept of ‘strike-fighter’ and return to separate, optimized aircraft for each role.
  • Retire the entire LCS class and eliminate that black hole of operating costs for a vessel with very little combat capability.
  • Eliminate deployments, institute home-porting and missions.
  • Cut 80% of Flag positions
  • End the Ford class debacle (cost and performance) and return to conventional Kitty Hawk type carriers.
Realistic List 
  • Stop issuing ship trial waivers.  All ship trial waivers must be personally approved by the CNO.  Simply stop doing that.  Make every ship meet all its trial requirements.
  • Forbid the use of waivers, in general
  • Stop all early retirements of ships (except the LCS!).
  • Reinstitute scheduled maintenance and do not deviate from it.
  • Abandon any form of reduced manning.
  • Eliminate 10% of the Navy’s shore personnel jobs and transfer the people to sea billets.