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Naval Air Systems Command has posted a video of the first catapult by an F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. Looks great. Enjoy.

Navy test pilot Lt. Christopher Tabert takes to the sky July 27 in an F-35C test aircraft launched by a steam catapult for the first time. CF-3 is the designated carrier suitability testing aircraft, and is in Lakehurst for catapult and jet blast deflector testing. The F-35C is the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants. It has larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for slower catapult launch and landing approach speeds and deck impacts associated with the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment. The F-35C is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River prior to eventual delivery to the fleet.

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy | 2 Comments

On April 2nd 1982, the Argentine military launched an amphibious landing on the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. In response, the United Kingdom flexed the last of its imperial might and deployed a task force to retake the islands by force. On May 21st, in a small bay, under heavy Argentine air attack, the British ships de-gorged themselves onto the beachheads, landing thousands of troops. For the next two weeks, Argentine and Britain would fight a brutal short campaign, availing themselves of all the benefits of modern conventional military technology.

However, even while British and Argentine infantry were engaging in some of the most ferocious close quarters battles in the 20th century at the Battle of Goose Green, sixty miles to the north British and Argentine military ships stationed themselves peacefully within view of each other and regularly communicating on good terms. What was this place? The Red Cross Box.

Before launching their attack on the Falklands, the British government suggested that both sides establish a neutral point on the high seas where hospitals ships from both sides could operate in safety. This areas, called the Red Cross Box was approximately twenty nautical miles in diameter and within its confines the peace reigned. Stationed within the box were four British and three Argentine hospital ships. Most of the vessels had only recently been converted to hospital ships, with two of the Argentine vessels being hastily converted icebreakers. The ships were periodically inspected by Red Cross officials to make sure they were abiding by the rules set forth in the Geneva Convention. Both sides were in regular radio contact to coordinate their movements and the movement of patients. The proximity between the two sets of medical units allowed for the easy exchange of wounded between the ships. One British hospital ship, the S.S. Uganda made four separate patient transfers to Argentine vessels. By the end of the war, the ships of the Red Cross Box treated hundreds of British and Argentine casualties. While a largely overlooked in histories of the conflict, the Red Cross Box should serve today as the epitome of the application of the Geneva Convention in modern warfare.

Over the course of two years, photographer Scott Haefner and friends repeated snuck on board the ships of National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) in Suisun Bay, California. The photographs from their (utterly illegal) trips offer an incredible inside-view of the state of the seventy-plus vessels in the bay, including the Sea Shadow. But definitely don’t try this at home:

We had to overcome numerous obstacles just to get to the ships without even addressing the issues involved in getting on them. To get across the channel, we acquired a small, inflatable raft that was just big enough for the three of us and our gear, along with a small motor powered by a car battery. A raft seemed ideal several reasons: 1. it was not possible to drive up to the drop-in point, so we needed something lightweight to carry across the marsh, along with our camera gear, food, water, and sleeping bags; 2. we needed a boat that we could maneuver through extremely shallow tidal flats near the shore; 3. The raft’s low profile and nearly silent motor would help us evade security patrols; 4. a raft would be the easiest type of vessel to pull aboard the ships once we found a way on, and we could then deflate it and stash it away from prying eyes.

For three years I commuted past Suisun Bay and watched the ships from the train’s window. To finally see them up close is incredible.

Interesting story by the Canadian Press on the French-American naval exchange program’s role in Libya:

U.S. Navy Lt. Patrick Salmon is getting ready for another day at work, strapping himself into the cockpit of his strike jet and roaring off this French aircraft carrier for his daily attack mission against Moammar Gadhafi’s ground forces.

He’ll be launched into action by Kyle A. Caldwell, another U.S. Navy lieutenant who operates the flattop’s catapult systems. When Salmon is ready to set his plane back on deck, yet a third U.S. Navy lieutenant, Philip Hoblet, will be standing by in a French rescue helicopter, hovering just off the ship’s bow in case any of the returning pilots are forced to ditch into the sea.

The United States, which originally led the Libya campaign, has been steadily reducing its role over the past two weeks. On March 31, it handed over command and control of the international campaign to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and shortly after that it ceased all attack missions over Libya — setting of a search by NATO for more planes capable of carrying out precision strikes against Gadhafi’s forces.

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy | 6 Comments

Austal USA announced today that Craig Hooper, a frequent contributor to Proceeding and an alumni of the USNI Blog, is their new Vice-President of Sales, Marketing and External Affairs:

I am ecstatic that Austal values the public discussion of naval affairs and national security strategy afforded by outlets like Over the coming weeks and months, I look forward to re-engaging the public (and the naval blogosphere) in new ways while helping Austal grow to become one of the best, most innovative naval shipbuilders in the business.

Huge congratulations to Craig on the new gig!

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy | 4 Comments
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What happens when you are fighting an open desert campaign, have in your possession huge stocks of rocket pods, but no aircraft? Bolt those suckers onto a pick-up truck, of course! New photos and video from the New York Times’ CJ Chivers and Al Jazeera’s Evan Hill show the rebels using these MacGyver artillery pieces. However, while technologically innovative, I seriously doubt you can hit anything with accuracy. Someone also posted a video of their motor pool constructing the devices.

New Delhi has approved the firing of an Indian Navy Commodore who was part of the $2.33 billion purchase of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Groshkov. Why? He was allegedly being ‘honeytrapped’:

Singh’s photographs with the Russian woman had surfaced in April 2010 soon after India finally agreed to pay Russia $2.33 billion for the 44,570-tonne carrier’s refit, instead of the $974 million earmarked for it in the original contract inked in January 2004.

Singh, an engineer, was posted as the Indian warship production superintendent overseeing Gorshkov’s refit in Russia from 2005 to 2007. Even after returning to India, he continued to remain deeply connected with the programme as the principal director (aircraft carrier project) at Navy HQ till at least mid-2009. Last year, after the BoI indicted him, Singh was “relieved” of his posting in MoD’s directorate-general of quality assurance wing.

Insert sexual innuendo in the comments below.

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy | 4 Comments

A few days ago I received an email from James Knochel at I had never heard of the group before. Their goal is to save the USS Enterprise from the scrapyard by converting it into a dedicated disaster response ship:

The Navy is planning to send the Enterprise on two 6-month cruises before throwing it away. They’ll have to cut it up to extract the nuclear reactors, so there’s no prospect for turning it into a museum. The Enterprise’s replacement, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is specifically designed to reduce operating costs. The Enterprise is just too expensive for the Navy to keep as an active warship.

Instead of throwing away a perfectly functional ship, we propose that the Enterprise be dedicated to disaster response.

This is a horrible idea. Enterprise is too big, too deep, too costly, and too old to be a viable dedicated humanitarian and disaster relief ship. The fundamental problem with Knochel’s idea is that it seems primarily interesting in finding a mission for the ship, rather than finding the right ship for the mission. In other words, it is about saving Enterprise, not saving people. If you are really interested in providing effective humanitarian relief, loading disaster response modules onto many ships would be a better choice.

However, given that it is clearly an original idea, I thought I would throw it out there to readers and see what your thoughts are.

Update: Here is a response from Knochel

“The genesis for my “Send the Enterprise” idea was in thinking about
ways to mitigate the environmental impact of BP’s Deepwater Horizon

Oil seeps into the world’s oceans every day. Bacteria in the ocean
waters use oxygen to eat this oil. But due to the massive amounts of
oil and natural gas that were being released from the blowout, all
available oxygen in the waters around the Macondo Prospect site was
quickly consumed.

My idea called for using “bubble fences” to get extra oxygen into the
water, thereby feeding the oil-consuming bacteria. This would require
a lot of energy, and I thought the U.S. Navy’s “portable” nuclear
reactors would be the ideal way to power this sort of infrastructure.

One of my early readers suggested that it’d be easier to pump warm,
oxygenated water to the depths required than air, which I eventually
realized was a good insight.

It’s not enough to have a good idea, they have to be properly marketed
too. In hindsight, Kevin Costner’s centrifuge was rather mediocre at
actually collecting oil, but his celebrity status got him attention
and million-dollar contracts.

I have neither celebrity nor attention, and good ideas don’t sell
themselves. To help with marketing, I titled my piece to piggyback on
to the mystique and legend of the Navy’s oldest nuclear powered ship:
Save the Gulf, Send the Enterprise

In the process of researching that article, I learned about many of
the disasters that the Navy has responded to in recent years. After
BP’s well was finally plugged, my thoughts shifted towards future
disasters: the possibility of another offshore blowout, and the
certainty of future volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis
anywhere in the world.

“When Disaster Strikes, Send the Enterprise” gets a lot more attention
than “wouldn’t it be cool if the U.S. Navy had some ships that were
dedicated to disaster response?”

Perhaps you all are correct that amphibious ships are more appropriate
for HA/DR than retired aircraft carriers. Whatever the case, I’m
hoping that the Congress will appropriate some money to fully study
the prospect of dedicating ships to these purposes.

If this idea takes off, and you see the media talking about “sending
the Enterprise”, please remember it’s more a marketing strategy than
an effort to “save” a specific ship.

Thanks for all the feedback & ideas.


James Knochel”

On Monday on I argued that the United States should assist rebel groups in Libya by sending food aid. This option would allow the U.S. to provide much needed supplies to the rebels while avoiding direct military involvement in the conflict. Interestingly, yesterday The Washington Post reported that Europe and the United Sates were considering some very similar to my proposal. Now my ego would like to believe I played some role that (rumored) plan, but we all know governments do not move that fast.

If true — and at this point that is a big if — the next question is how can the US and other states deliver the aid. Luckily, the provisional capitol of the rebels, Benghazi, has decent port facilities. Last week HMS Cumberland and a World Food Program ship both used the port, although the latter aborted a previous attempt due to reports of air strikes in the area.

The question I pose to USNI readers is this: If the US Navy was called upon to delivery food and other aid to rebel controlled areas in Libya, what would be the best way to go about it?

Ten days after democratic protests erupted in Libya, the country has spiraled into a civil war between the Gaddafi Regime and revolutionaries. The speed of the state’s collapse left many governments unprepared to evacuate their citizens trapped in the country. In addition to numerous private ferries, by my count no less than eight navies have deployed or are prepared to deploy to the Libyan coast. Here is a running tally:

United Kingdom

Cameron, speaking after chairing a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council on the crisis, said six flights had left Libya in the past 24 hours carrying Britons, and a Navy frigate, HMS Cumberland, had evacuated Britons and other foreigners from the port of Benghazi.

Cameron said he had also asked a Navy destroyer, HMS York, “to go into the area to help out as necessary.” He strongly urged Britons still in Libya to leave immediately. [Source]


Three German navy ships were making their way to Libya on Thursday to stand by to evacuate German nationals if needed.


The vessels, which have 600 sailors on board, comprises two frigates and a supply ship, the spokesman said. [Source]


The HNLMS Tromp was on its way to Somalia to take part in NATO’s anti-piracy operation there, but is now expected to arrive off the coast of Libya on Friday. The air defence and command vessel – which left the Dutch navy base at Den Helder just two weeks ago – will now leave the Red Sea and pass through the Suez Canal once again over the next few days as it heads north.

A KDC-10 transport plane of the Royal Dutch Air Force is now due to fly out today to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to evacuate Dutch citizens. [Source]

United States

The U.S. military is moving ships closer to Libya, a Pentagon official said on Monday, as the Obama administration stepped up calls for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down.

“We are moving ships closer to Libya in case they are needed,” said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman [Source]

South Korea

Korea urgently dispatched the 4,500-ton Choi Young KDX-II destroyer, which is carrying out anti-piracy duties in the Gulf of Aden, to waters off Libya to support the evacuation of Koreans in the turbulent country, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday. [Source]


Sure enough, last week brought the news that China has dispatched the frigate Xuzhou from off the coast of Somalia to steam to the Libyan coast to help evacuate members of the roughly thirty thousand Chinese citizens in Libya. The move has attracted widespread attention because it was a dramatic demonstration of how the Chinese government intends to use its expanding naval power around the world. [Source]


India is sending three Naval ships to evacuate its citizens from Libya. 18,000 Indians are currently based in Libya, many of them work for construction companies.

Government sources say two destroyers and INS Jalashawa (USS Trenton) will be dispatched from Mumbai in the next few hours. They will take 12 days to reach Libya. [Source]


The Russian Emergencies Ministry plans to engage a Turkish naval ship to provide security for Russians and citizens of other countries who will be evacuated by Saint Stefan ferry from the Libyan port of Ras Lanuf. [Source]

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