Archive for March, 2009

As the resident (former) brown-shoe around these parts, one supposes it’s about time to elevate the discussion out of ground effect. Some few years ago I started a series over at the home-blog that sought, with apologies to Paul Harvey, to tell “the rest of the story” about Naval Aviation. Over the years we’ve shared the stories of some of the lesser known, but no less important planes, concepts, tactics and people who have made up the rich tapestry of NAVAIR. My plan is to share some of those stories here and in the process, draw parallels with some of the challenges we face in the here and now. Along the way we’ll see our share of things that worked and others that, well, it *seemed* like a good idea at the time…and the occasional flat-out folly. – SJS

Today’s story is one such example. As we struggle with what the future fleet will look like, being one of many iterations between “transformational” carriers, stealth destroyers or frigate-sized LCS’, we see another time when many streams of new technology converged, forcing a review and new direction in what we built and how we intended to operate and most importantly, fight with that item.

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Some articles and a few thoughts for the weekend …Release of the Annual DoD Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China

Though it doesn’t specifically mention the recent harassment of USNS Impeccable by Chinese ships in international waters, the new Department of Defense report, released on 25 March 2009, does provide some interesting insight on the Chinese armed forces, also known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). For example, the document acknowledges press reports of the new naval base under construction on Hainan Island, explaining …

“The base appears large enough to accommodate a mix of attack and ballistic missile submarines and advanced surface combatant ships. The port, which has underground facilities, would provide the PLA Navy with direct access to vital international sea lanes, and offers the potential for stealthy deployment of submarines into the deep waters of the South China Sea.”

On a broader scale, the report also urges China to increase transparency and suggests caution by stating that, “China continues to promulgate incomplete defense expenditure figures and engage in actions that appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies.”

Check out and comment on the full DoD report, available here:

And perhaps readers missed some other interesting news last week concerning the Russian military aircraft that flew within 500 feet of a U.S. aircraft carrier during military exercises …

This was actually reported more than a week ago, but it hasn’t gotten much traction. It’s been over a year since the Russians last did an over-flight like this, but it is worth noting that the aircraft were detected early and escorted by F/A-18s from 70 miles out. According to the article, two Russian IL-38s flew 500 feet over the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on 16 March, and then the following day two Bear bombers flew 2,000 feet over the command ship Blue Ridge (LCC 19). Both vessels were taking part in military exercises with South Korean forces.

And this week’s international navies photos is …

The aircraft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), background, joins a multinational battle group formation including the People’s Republic of China Navy multirole missile destroyer Guangzhou (DDG 168) and the Pakistan Navy frigate PNS Badr (D 184). Roosevelt, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), and the U.S. Coast Guard high-endurance cutter Boutwell (WHEC 719) are among ships from seven other countries participating in the multinational naval exercise AMAN, an Urdu word meaning peace. AMAN 09 is a Pakistan Navy-hosted multi-lateral maritime exercise designed to develop and improve response to tactics, techniques, and procedures with a focus on the global war on terrorism. Lake Champlain and Boutwell are deployed as part of the Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group supporting Maritime Security Operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/Released

Update: Listen to the WTOP radio interview with Eric: Danger on the High Seas

Heritage’s Mackenzie Eaglen and Eric Sayers recently wrote,

…the Coast Guard must procure a much larger and modern fleet of national security cutters (NSC) and move ahead with the development of the offshore patrol cutter (OPC). This would then allow one national security cutter to deploy with each carrier strike group and expeditionary strike group. This increase would satisfy the growing demand of Combatant Commanders for more Coast Guard assets in theater following recent deployments by the USCGC Dallas last year in support of Africa Partnership Station and relief efforts in Georgia.

I totally agree. What do you think? Going back to my days as a congressional defense staffer, I have long felt the Coast Guard’s modernization program reflects a pre-911 world. Moreover, increasing the number of cutter days in the various combatant commands would allow the Coast Guard to win more hearts and minds around the world.

In this era of bailouts and stimulus packages, spare me that our nation can’t afford to have one cutter with each and every carrier and expeditionary strike group. And yes, I know this would require an increase in Coast Guard end-strength.

To read the entire report, click here.

photo credit (me)

You know, CVN-77, the USS George H.W. Bush? How is it doing?

Didn’t you all tell Navy Times the ship would be done by now?

“Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding says the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier will be completed by mid-March, about two months after its commissioning.”

So what’s up? Builder’s trials were completed Feb 16, and we still don’t have a delivery trial yet?

Just to compare, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) completed builders sea trials on May 8, 2003 and began acceptance sea trials 19 days later, on May 27, 2003. And USS Harry Truman (CVN-75) completed her builders sea trials on June 11, 1998 and finished acceptance sea trials days later, on the June 25, 1998.

Here we are, day 37….

If the Navy is demanding Northrop Grumman deliver…a complete ship, then, well, Bravo.

From the AP this morning:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department is questioning how China intends to use its rapidly expanding military power, including what it calls some “disruptive military technologies.”

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

A new Pentagon report also says Beijing continues to develop weapons that threaten Taiwan, even though tensions between the two have been reduced significantly.

The assessment comes in the latest in a series of annual assessments for Congress of China’s military power.

The Associated Press obtained a summary of the report, due to be released later Wednesday.

It says China needs to be more open about its military modernization; otherwise it risks creating uncertainty and the potential for misunderstandings and miscalculations by other nations.


There are a considerable number of learned people who believe that Taiwan is no longer the primary, but Indonesia and the southern archipelagoes are China’s main focus, and that the technology being developed is with an eye specifically toward the United States Navy. China’s ability to deny access to this vital area of the world by the US has potentially massive strategic implications for ourselves and our allies.

This interview with a Cold War submariner from 2001 reveals a little about what fast attack boats did during the Cold War. It was done in conjunction with a Smithsonian exhibit that had missile hatches and a declassified maneuvering room and some very interesting related displays.

PHILLIPS: Why don’t we begin, Admiral, with you. Take us back to March 17th, 1978 and set the scene for us.

EVANS: Batfish had gotten underway from our home port of Charleston, South Carolina on the 2nd of March, proceeded up north to the upper end of the Norwegian Sea about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where we established a patrol zone and searched to look for the next Soviet ballistic missile submarine deploying from the Barent Sea (ph).

On March the 17th in the afternoon we got our initial contact on the Yankee class ballistic missile submarine and then proceeded to track and follow that submarine south through the Iceland Farrow Strait (ph) into the North Atlantic and down toward the east coast of the United States and then followed her through her entire patrol and back up into the Norwegian Sea as she headed back home into the Barents.

This could have been your view throughout the entire deployment:

Posted by Chap in History, Navy | 3 Comments

Earlier this month, USNI Guest blogger and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen delivered his 2009 State of the Coast Guard Address. The Q &A that followed his remarks was expanded to include questions submitted on-line via ICommandant. I submitted the following question regarding the Coast Guard’s history program:

Q13. What is the state of the Coast Guard’s historical program?

A13. The Historian’s office interfaces with every program in the Service. It has direct contact with the Commandant and nearly all the flag officers and directly communicates with politicians on their behest. The office works directly with hundreds of museums, academics, veteran groups, the retired Coast Guard community and all components of the public. The Museum Program has currently loaned-out thousands of artifacts to over 100 museums nationwide, and tracks and oversees about 20,000 artifacts. The loan program gives the Coast Guard exposure throughout the country and in many different venues.
Provided below is an overview of what resources are available to the Historian’s office, their key tasks, and major undertakings.


CG Headquarters office, 2 Area offices, CG Museum at the CG Academy, and the Exhibit Center in Forestville, MD.


1) The office regularly interacts with the media and participates in documentary interviews.

2) Public speaking is performed periodically but is restricted by staffing and budgetary limitations.

3) Part of the office mission is archiving historical material not destined for the National Archives. The Historian’s Office has an archive of nearly 2,300 liner feet of documents. This includes books, manuals, and photos. These collections are available to the Service and the public.

4) Historical website development is a major component of the business of the office. The website gets over 100,000 visits a year.

5) The office collects a limited number of oral histories each year.

6) The Historian’s Office is responsible for the preservation and management of the Service’s 20,000 artifacts.

7) The office is also responsible for the Coast Guard Museum and the promotion of the Service’s history through loans to other museums.

8) The office answers over 7,000 inquiries a year which requires 40% of the staff’s time.

Major Projects

1) The National Coast Guard Museum initiative could have the greatest impact on the program. The historian’s office is currently working on a system to provide creative and curatorial input into the design and construction process.

2) Another current issue that the office is involved with is creating the historical record of the Service’s transition to the OPCOM and FORCECOM organization.

3) The office is currently working with the Commandant to preserve his legacy and to document his tenure. The office has gathered hundreds of documents and collected many hours of oral history interviews.
4) The addition of the Area Historians has allowed the office to collect more oral histories and have a presence in the field.

5) The on-going development of the internet site allows the office’s information and collections to be viewed by members of the Service and the public. This helps with the overall promotion and dissemination of Coast Guard History.

Many thanks to Admiral Allen and his staff for expanding the Q&A session to include questions from the blogosphere and for the update on the CG’s history program. To view the rest of the Q & A session, click here.

With scrambling for Federal $$$ more important than ever before given today’s economy, I recently e-interviewed Bill C. Giallourakis, author of Contracting With Uncle Sam: The Essential Guide for Federal Buyers and Sellers.

What inspired you to write Contracting With Uncle Sam?

Trying to fill a need of Engineers; Procurement Specialists, Logistics Planners; and Program Managers to have a reference which explains the Federal Procurement System in simple terms, explaining the Federal acquisition process and related procedures before they log onto the plethora of websites to face the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs).

The need was defined as I taught students from industry and government that came to my contracts classes sponsored by AFCEA in the Washington area. The staff at AFCEA were part of my support for the new book. The big push to actually write the manuscript came from my main cheer leader, my wife, Antonia, who encouraged me to write even as I waited outside the patient and intensive care rooms of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York as she fought with cancer in the years before she succumbed. I could not let her down!

What are some of the key topics you cover in Contracting With Uncle Sam?

(a) Conduct of market searches for multiple sources in order to conduct the requisite full and open competition;
(b) The dissection of federal solicitations in preparation of submitting a responsive proposal;
(c) The anatomy of each principal type of contract used by the Government to purchase equipment, supplies and services;
(d) The methods available and their related criteria for use in the process of selection of a seller of required goods and services by the federal contracting officer;
(e) Cost estimating and cost accounting principals as related to preparation and analysis of cost and pricing data in a vendor’s cost proposal;
(f) Protection of seller’s intellectual property with focus on technical data for reprocurement;
(g) Use of the federal procurement system to implement National socio-economic policies to provide preferences for selected groups(disabled veterans, small business, women owned small business,;
(h) Tools for contract admininistration; and
(i) Procurement intregrity, ethics v. fraud and abuse.

Who should read Contracting With Uncle Sam?

Procurement officials at all levels in industry and government; engineers; quality control officials; logistics officers, contingency planners, project managers,

Moreover in today’s extended recession, Contracting with Uncle Sam is an excellent primer for any business (new, small ,or large) needing a customer to survive — one that has requirements and money to spend– That customer is the United States of America, represented by its contracting officers. What better client could one find!

How did you make a complex subject interesting and current since it is not a dry restatement of federal regulations and statutes?

Use of lots of diagrams; incorporation of personal procurement experiences from the field, and use of internet websites to insure that the text would remain current based on the fact that government websites are periodically updated by their respective sponsors. Without reference to the internet websites, the text book would have been over 500 pages and would become outdated in less than a year.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It was my honor to have been published by USNI in such a critical economic time. Contracting with Uncle Sam is timely, current and an excellent tool in assisting firms to weather the tough economic times that lie ahead. It was just fortuitous that the text was published at this time.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Books | 5 Comments

In response to a question I asked during a recent DOD Bloggers Roundtable regarding lessons learned, Captain Cynthia Thebaud, USN, Commodore for Destroyer Squadron 60 aboard the USS Nashville told USNI Blog that the lessons learned so far during their deployment included:

the involvement of partner nations in the planning process;

the importance of the partnership and cooperative dialogue in developing the deployment itself: where we are going, the duration of the visits, what will be done in each visit and also the importance of the multinational aspect of the staff and also our embarked training program;

the benefit afforded for the various participants: the opportunity to come and work in a collaborative and cooperative environment with members of other west and central African navies.

My second questioned of Captain Thebaud pertained to an update on the community relations projects that have occurred on this deployment. According to the Commodore,

We have continued to work very, very closely with Project Handclasp on donated materials and goods. We’ve deployed, it’s about 240 pallets, roughly, of a variety of donated goods, particularly in the education and health areas.

One of the things that we have been able to do is work closely with our consulates and embassies and USAID and identifying in advance projects in areas in need of assistance that we can provide both engineering and assistance to, whether in terms of renovation and rebuilding of the facility and sprucing up of facilities, as well as areas that are in need of either health supplies, educational supplies, childcare supplies, the types of things that the Navy traditionally has been involved with.

On our civil affairs team, we have a couple of our partner nation personnel instrumentally involved in that in working with local communities and when we were in Sekondi, in Ghana, the Navy there, the base, in fact, the Navy has a very strong outreach program already in existence, and through coordination with them and our embassy in Accra we were able to identify a number of medical sites, an orphanage and schools to work with, both in terms of material donations and then there were a couple of renovation projects. One of them was in a combined civil-military hospital in the Sekondi region that has had a wing that they have wanted to get refurbished and be able to use as an ICU facility for that clinic.

And so in cooperation with military craftsmen from the naval bases — (inaudible) — the Seabees onboard the ship, as well as a number of volunteers from ship’s company and the APS staff, did considerable work on renovating the wing of that facility so that they can start making it ready for use as an ICU facility. It’s very much needed in that locale.

One of the other things that worked particularly well in Sekondi is that most of the things they were doing had a direct impact on the local fishing villages, and were seen by local people as relevant to their lives, and helped reconfirm the fact that we were indeed there with an interest in helping to build safety, security and the prospect of achieving upper economic prosperity development in the region, particularly for the fishing villages along the coast.

Full transcript of the roundtable can be found here.

The following images were released by the Navy today. Between these three one can see just about everything there is to see regarding the USS Hartford (SSN 768) damage.

Click each image to see the higher resolution photography at Looks like it was a hard enough collision for the sail to get knocked to the starboard pretty good.

No sailors were killed, and all sailors who were injured returned to duty.

Posted by galrahn in Navy | 86 Comments
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