Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Update

There have been a number of media reports today discussing the Navy’s role in providing support to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.  I wanted to take a minute to clean things up a bit. Right now, the only official tasking the Navy has received is to provide contract support in obtaining industrial size pumps for the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to dewater areas of New York City.
It is true that the Navy is moving ships to be closer to the areas affected by the hurricane; however these ships have not been officially tasked to provide support.
Yesterday, the helicopter carrier USS Wasp (LHD 1), which was already at sea riding out the storm, began to head north to be better positioned. And today the Fleet Commander ordered two other amphibious ships, USS San Antonio (LPD-17) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), to get underway and likewise head north.
These decisions provide national and local decision makers maximum flexibility and options should there be a need for Navy support.  Most importantly, this will allow our forces to be best postured to minimize the amount of time it will take these forces to get on station if tasked.
Any and all such support will be coordinated through U.S. Northern Command. While the military plays an important role in disaster response, all our efforts are in support of FEMA first and foremost.
The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), front, is underway during a training exercise. (U.S. Navy file photo)
USS San Antonio (LPD-17) gets underway in support of Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 (BA12). (U.S. Navy file photo)
An MH-53E Sea Dragon lands on the flight deck of USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) as the ship operates off the coast of Haiti. (U.S. Navy file photo)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

DOD Releases Military Intelligence Program Appropriated Top Line Budget for Fiscal 2012

            The Department of Defense released today the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) appropriated top line budget for fiscal 2012.  The total request, which includes both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, is $21.5 billion. 
            The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP.  No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Newport News Shipbuilding Christens 10th Virginia-Class Submarine

Minnesota Christening Bottle-Break
Ship's Sponsor Ellen Roughead performs the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine across the hull of the submarine Minnesota (SSN 783). Also pictured (left to right) are Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin and Cmdr. John Fancher, the ship's prospective commanding officer.

Minnesota Christening
About 1,800 people gathered for the christening celebration of Minnesota (SSN 783). The submarine is about 88 percent complete and is on track to complete in 62 months -- 11 months ahead of contract schedule.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Oct. 27, 2012 - Huntington Ingalls Industries today christened the 10th Virginia-class submarine, Minnesota (SSN 783), at the company's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division.
The ship's sponsor, Ellen Roughead, performed the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine across the submarine's hull. Roughead, a Minnesota native, is the wife of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead.
"Minnesota is the sum of all her parts," Mrs. Roughead said. "Everything and everyone who has contributed will be an ingredient in the spirit and the force that makes Minnesota. The great shipbuilders of Newport News Shipbuilding and the countless men and women across our country who had a hand in the millions of parts and components that have gone into the ship have given Minnesota her backbone, her muscle and her nerves."
Minnesota is the last of the block II Virginia-class submarines. The submarine is about 88 percent complete and is on track to complete in 62 months -- 11 months ahead of contract schedule. Construction began in February 2008, and the keel was authenticated in May 2011.
Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. "Time and time again, the shipbuilders of Electric Boat and Newport News and their supporting cast of contractors and vendors deliver early, under budget, and exceed expectations in building submarines better than anyone else in the world."
The sailors can be confident in their ship, said HII President and CEO Mike Petters, a former Navy officer and submariner. "During my time at sea, although I did sometimes worry about being ready for my duties, I never for one single, solitary moment ever questioned whether the ship I served on was ready. And more than a quarter century later, I stand here and pledge to you, the crew of Minnesota, neither should you."
As many as 1,000 shipbuilders worked on Minnesota. "Shipbuilders are the faces of American manufacturing, American quality and American pride," said NNS President Matt Mulherin. "They understand the important role they play in ensuring our freedom."
Other ceremony participants included U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), Robert Wittman (R-Va.), Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Robert C. Scott (D-Va.) and J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.); Cmdr. John Fancher,Minnesota's prospective commanding officer; the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy; Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, commander, Submarine Forces; and Kevin Poitras, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB). Guests included NNS and EB employees who are building Minnesota,and their families; family and friends of the Minnesota crew; U.S. Navy personnel; and other government officials.

Defence Secretary announces further £350m for Successor submarines

The Defence Secretary has today announced an additional £350m worth of funding for the next stage of design work for Successor, the future generation of UK nuclear-armed submarines.
HMS Vigilant fires an unarmed Trident II ballistic missile
HMS Vigilant fires an unarmed Trident II ballistic missile, during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean last week
[Picture: Lockheed Martin]
The investment will sustain 1,200 UK jobs and makes clear the Government's firm commitment to maintaining continuous at sea deterrence for future decades. The funding follows the initial £350m of design work announced earlier this year.This announcement comes as Philip Hammond visited the home of the UK's nuclear deterrent at Faslane on the Clyde and follows the successful firing of an unarmed Trident ballistic missile by HMS Vigilant during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean last week.
HMS Vigilant is one of four Vanguard Class submarines which maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent and this firing, the first in three years, confirms the credibility of the deterrent.
The Vanguard submarines will be replaced from 2028 by the Successor which is currently being designed by British companies. As a result of today's announcement, BAE Systems will proceed with an additional £315m worth of work, with a further £38m at Babcock.
Royal Navy officer checks the target range
A Royal Navy officer checks the target range from HMS Vigilant's deck [Picture: Petty Officer Airman (Photographer) Simmo Simpson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
"Our continuous submarine-based nuclear deterrent is the ultimate safeguard of our national security and the Government is committed to maintaining it, both now and in the future. The test firing and further investment in replacing the deterrent demonstrates that commitment. This latest expenditure for the next generation of nuclear-armed submarines is an investment in UK security and the British economy, sustaining high-quality jobs and vital skills."
Commenting on the ongoing debate over Scottish independence, Mr Hammond said:
"We are confident that the Scottish people will choose to remain part of the United Kingdom. The Faslane complex is the largest employment site in Scotland with over 6,500 jobs underpinning the local economy. We have no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from the Clyde. On the contrary, we intend to move the Astute and Trafalgar Class attack submarines to Faslane, creating a further 1,500 jobs. The Scottish Government needs to explain how their policy would benefit Scotland's economy and safeguard Scottish jobs."
HMS Vigilant
HMS Vigilant preparing to fire an unarmed Trident II ballistic missile, during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean last week [Picture: Petty Officer Airman (Photographer) Gaz Armes, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, said:
"The Royal Navy has for over 43 years continuously operated the UK's nuclear deterrent to stringent safety standards and HMS Vigilant's latest test firing before she returns to the patrol cycle reflects that successful deterrence is based upon strong determination.
"One of the core roles of the Royal Navy, the Continuous At Sea Deterrent remains an enduring strategic capability, underpinning our nation's commitment to the preservation of peace in our uncertain world."
All Royal Navy submarines will be based at Faslane by 2017, including the Astute and Trafalgar class attack submarines, which - along with the Sandown Class mine countermeasure vessels - will increase the workforce at the site to over 8,000 by 2022.

Enterprise Completes Final Ammunition Offload Before Inactivation

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dragon Whales of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 picks up ammunition from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during the carrier's last ammunition offload.
121025-N-ZZ999-131 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 25, 2012) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dragon Whales of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 picks up ammunition from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during the carrier's last ammunition offload. Enterprise is completing its final deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. The U.S. Navy is reliable, flexible, and ready to respond worldwide on, above, and below the sea. Join the conversation on social media using #warfighting. (U.S. Navy photo by Information Systems Technician 1st Class Stephen Wolff/Released)

USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Weapons Department completed the historic carrier's final ammunition offload Oct. 24-26. 

During the offload, 3,348,000 pounds of ordnance and ammunition were transferred from Enterprise to Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ships USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) and USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2).

Because Enterprise is scheduled to be inactivated later this year, all ammunition and ordnance - other than small arms used for security purposes - had to be transferred off of the ship. 

"The planning was a major challenge," said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas L. Hinnant, the ordnance handling officer aboard Enterprise. "We have been talking to the Sacagawea for about a year. There are so many entities involved in an evolution of this size that it takes a lot of coordination."

"The evolution was extremely difficult because we faced so many challenges planning for such an event," said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Steven J. Black, the leading chief petty officer of Enterprise's aviation ordnance control center. "As in any situation, plans change and the Weapons department had to be flexible and adapt to whatever changes were thrown at us. Once we finally got the go ahead, we were ready and our people pulled it off flawlessly."

The process of dismantling over 1,600 tons of ordnance was undoubtedly a daunting one. The process began one month ago, shortly after Enterprise flew its final sortie in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soon thereafter, the ship's Weapons department began dismantling and repacking all of the ship's ordnance. Once the ammunition was dismantled and repacked, Sailors in the Weapons department began staging the ordnance so that it would be ready to be removed from the ship. 

"This was a big undertaking," said Hinnant. "The staging process on this ship is more challenging than any other ship in the Navy."

After the ordnance was staged in Enterprise's hangar bay and on the flight deck, a task accomplished with the help of the "Big E's" Air department, the Weapons department relied on the Dragonslayers of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 11 to transport much of the ordnance from Enterprise to Sacagawea via vertical replenishment. 

"Our job was to assist Enterprise and Sacagawea with the vertical replenishment," said Lt. Marcus A. Torres, a pilot with HS-11 who assisted with the vertical replenishment. "Our main focus was to effectively [and safely] assist both ships with the ammo offload to help facilitate an expeditious return home."

However, what may sound like a routine vertical replenishment was no easy task. Enterprise, Sacagawea and HS-11 faced rough seas and inauspicious weather conditions, which played a major role in making this vertical replenishment more difficult than it may have been under normal conditions. 

"This was definitely one of the more challenging vertical replenishments," said Torres, "especially when you take into account the sea state and the wind conditions, but we pulled it off without any major issues."

During the offload, the Weapons department also worked closely with Enterprise's Deck department to successfully transport the ammunition that was staged in the hangar bay.

"The main priority of the Deck department was to move the barrels of ammunition from the hangar bay to the Sacagawea using the sliding pad-eye from stations 5 and 13," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Timothy W. Lumpkin, the leading petty officer of Deck department's 2nd division. 

Much like HS-11, the Sailors of the Deck department faced the challenges of the elements. 

"The heavy seas and high winds were definitely a challenge for us," said Lumpkin. "The heavy seas caused the ships to surge - causing the ships to come closer together, rather than further apart - while we were moving ammo. After doing this for three days, fatigue was also an issue. But we weathered the storm and completed the job as we always do."

After nearly three days of intense coordination and hard work of Enterprise's entire crew, all of "Big E's" ammunition and ordnance was successfully removed from the ship without any major issues. During the evolution, the crew conducted 314 connected replenishment lifts and 946 vertical replenishment lifts, for a total of 1,260 lifts. 

While the Big E may have offloaded the last piece of ordnance it will ever hold in its weapons magazines, the ammunition will be used elsewhere. 

"All of the ordnance had to be offloaded as part of our [inactivation] process," said Black. "But, the assets will be distributed as needed throughout the Fleet to support the Navy's mission."

As the ship finishes the last leg of its 25th and final deployment, the Weapons department aboard Enterprise can breathe a brief sigh of relief knowing that such a massive undertaking is behind them. 

"I could not have asked for a better group of people to have the privilege of being their ordnance handling officer," said Hinnant. "They have done an amazing job the last three years of keeping us above board on all ordnance matters."

Many of the Sailors who make up the ranks of the ship's Weapons department used the evolution as an opportunity to show that hard work is what they do best. 

"It is a great feeling to be a part of such a great team," said Black. "There were many times throughout the offload when I would look around and see junior Sailors pulling double shifts, working the extra hours, doing whatever was necessary to get this job done. These guys knew it was their time to shine; they rose to the occasion and knocked it out of the park."

After completing its final deployment, Enterprise is scheduled to be inactivated Dec. 1, in a ceremony to be held at Naval Station Norfolk, bringing to a close more than 51 years of distinguished service. The inactivation ceremony will be the last official public event for the ship and will serve as a celebration of life for the ship and the more than 100,000 Sailors who have served aboard.

Friday, October 26, 2012

US Fleet Forces Sets Sortie Condition Alpha, Ships Getting Underway

A GOES-13 infrared satellite image of Hurricane Sandy.

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) ordered all U.S. Navy ships in the Hampton Roads, Va., area to set Sortie Condition Alpha Oct. 26 in preparation for an upcoming sortie as Hurricane Sandy travels up the East Coast. 

Adm. Bill Gortney, USFF commander, has directed ships to sortie between this afternoon and early tomorrow morning.

USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) will sortie from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va. 

The following ships will sortie from Naval Station Norfolk: USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), USS Monterey (CG 61), USS Anzio (CG 68), USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Gonzales (DDG 66), USS Mahan (DDG 72), USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Gravely (DDG 107), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Nicholas (FFG 47), USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201), USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), USNS William McClean (T-AKE 12). 

USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Taylor (FFG 50) and USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) are already underway in the USFF Area of Responsibility. 

"Based on the current track of the storm, we made the decision to begin to sortie the fleet," said Gortney. "The current timeline allows them enough time to transit safely out of the path of the storm." 

The Navy orders a sortie during potentially extreme weather conditions to reduce the risk of significant damage to ships and piers during high winds and seas.

Some ships will not get underway, due to various maintenance availabilities, and are taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage. Commanding officers have a number of options when staying in port, depending on the severity of the weather. Some of these options include adding additional mooring and storm lines, dropping the anchor, and disconnecting shore power cables. 

As a precautionary measure, Commander Navy Installations Command ordered all installations in the Hampton Roads area to set Tropical Cyclone Condition Three as Hurricane Sandy is forecast to bring high winds and rain to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Tropical Cyclone Condition Three means destructive winds of greater than 50 knots associated with a tropical system, are expected within 48 hours. 

A variety of information is available in support of family readiness during hurricane 
season including:

- Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System,, which provides a standardized method for the Navy to account, manage and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected and/or scattered by a wide-spread catastrophic event. 

-U.S. Fleet Forces planning preparedness Web site to help families with hurricane and destructive weather planning,

- State of Virginia Emergency Management,, which has many resources for planning and preparing emergency kits, developing evacuation plans and addressing specific special needs for children, the elderly and others.

- Virginia Department of Transportation Hurricane Evacuation Guide,, which provides more detailed information for preparing for a hurricane, hurricane evacuation and public shelters in Virginia.

Russian Navy News


Admiralteyskie Verfi to Launch Rescue Ship Igor Belousov on Oct 3010.25.2012Admiralteyskie Verfi to Launch Rescue Ship Igor Belousov on Oct 30
Admiralteyskie Verfi to Launch Rescue Ship Igor Belousov on Oct 30

Spanish Avante-Class Patrol Craft to Receive Russian Arms 10.25.2012Spanish Avante-Class Patrol Craft to Receive Russian Arms
Spanish Avante-Class Patrol Craft to Receive Russian Arms

Russia May Cooperate with South Africa in Military Areas  10.25.2012Russia May Cooperate with South Africa in Military Areas
Russia May Cooperate with South Africa in Military Areas

Russian Frigates to Arm with BrahMos Missiles10.25.2012Russian Frigates to Arm with BrahMos Missiles
Russian Frigates to Arm with BrahMos Missiles

Landing Ship Novocherkassk Called at Piraeus, Greece10.25.2012Landing Ship Novocherkassk Called at Piraeus, Greece
Landing Ship Novocherkassk Called at Piraeus, Greece

Reason for Russian Ship's Arrest in Nigeria Takes Wind10.25.2012Reason for Russian Ship's Arrest in Nigeria Takes Wind
Reason for Russian Ship's Arrest in Nigeria Takes Wind

Russian Military Import Remains Same, $100-150 mln10.24.2012Russian Military Import Remains Same, $100-150 mln
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Stealth Corvette Volgodonsk Debuted in Caspian Sea10.24.2012Stealth Corvette Volgodonsk Debuted in Caspian Sea
Stealth Corvette Volgodonsk Debuted in Caspian Sea

Rosoboronexport: Russia to Enlarge Export of Non-Nuclear Subs10.24.2012Rosoboronexport: Russia to Enlarge Export of Non-Nuclear Subs
Rosoboronexport: Russia to Enlarge Export of Non-Nuclear Subs

French Defense Minister Visited Russian Booth at Euronaval-2012 10.24.2012French Defense Minister Visited Russian Booth at Euronaval-2012
French Defense Minister Visited Russian Booth at Euronaval-2012

First Submarine-Launched BrahMos Missile to Fly This Year10.23.2012First Submarine-Launched BrahMos Missile to Fly This Year
First Submarine-Launched BrahMos Missile to Fly This Year

Media: Russian-Italian Submarine Project Gets Rolling10.23.2012Media: Russian-Italian Submarine Project Gets Rolling
Media: Russian-Italian Submarine Project Gets Rolling

Northern Fleet Ships Visited Foreign Ports 20 Times in 201210.23.2012Northern Fleet Ships Visited Foreign Ports 20 Times in 2012
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France to Launch First Mistral Ship for Russia in Sept 201310.23.2012France to Launch First Mistral Ship for Russia in Sept 2013
France to Launch First Mistral Ship for Russia in Sept 2013

Media: Black Sea Fleet Flagship Downgraded10.22.2012Media: Black Sea Fleet Flagship Downgraded
Media: Black Sea Fleet Flagship Downgraded

SSGN Severodvinsk Completed Sea Trials Round10.22.2012SSGN Severodvinsk Completed Sea Trials Round
SSGN Severodvinsk Completed Sea Trials Round

Black Sea Fleet Floating Workshop Heads for Tartus10.22.2012Black Sea Fleet Floating Workshop Heads for Tartus
Black Sea Fleet Floating Workshop Heads for Tartus

Russian Defense Ministry Defers Commissioning of SSBN Yury Dolgoruky10.22.2012Russian Defense Ministry Defers Commissioning of SSBN Yury Dolgoruky
Russian Defense Ministry Defers Commissioning of SSBN Yury Dolgoruky

This Week From NOAA

  • 10/25/12 — NOAA announces $5.5 million to support watershed education projects for K-12 students around the country
  • 10/24/12 — NOAA, NASA: Antarctic ozone hole second smallest in 20 years
  • 10/24/12 — NOAA, National Archives team up with citizen-scientists to reconstruct historical climate of the Arctic

This Week From NAVSEA

October 25, 2012
  • Navy Accepts Delivery of USNS Cesar ChavezNavy Accepts Delivery of USNS Cesar Chavez
  • Navy to Release Draft SSDS RFPNavy to Release Draft SSDS RFP
  • NAVSEA Eliminates Obsolete Overhaul Requirement NAVSEA Eliminates Obsolete Overhaul Requirement
  • NAVSEA Partners with Charlotte Bridge Home for Vet Support
  • This Week From NAVAIR

    NAVAIR lieutenant commander presented with French medal

    ‎Wednesday, ‎October ‎24, ‎2012, ‏‎1:00:00 PM

    Command honors leadership development program graduates

    ‎Tuesday, ‎October ‎23, ‎2012, ‏‎1:00:00 PM

    Photo: A generation of naval aviation The F-35B Lightning II with the NU-1B Otter

    ‎Tuesday, ‎October ‎23, ‎2012, ‏‎1:00:00 PM

    Efficiency, cultural change improves energy security

    ‎Monday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2012, ‏‎1:00:00 PM

    NAWCWD engineers get Beacon Award

    ‎Monday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2012, ‏‎1:00:00 PM

    VX-31 fighter jet displayed at Miramar Air Show

    ‎Monday, ‎October ‎22, ‎2012, ‏‎1:00:00 PM

    NAWS China Lake new photovoltaic plant

    ‎Sunday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2012, ‏‎1:00:00 PM

    Major Anglo-French Exercise Gets Underway in the Mediterranean

    26 Oct 12 - The Defence Secretary and his French counterpart today witnessed first hand a major naval exercise in the Mediterranean aimed at further developing the joint capability of the UK and French forces.

    Lieutenant Rebecca Martin and Philip Hammond
    HMS Montrose Flight Commander, Lieutenant Rebecca Martin, escorts Defence Secretary Philip Hammond as he arrives onboard HMS Bulwark in a Royal Navy Lynx Helicopter [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Joel Rouse, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

    Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian witnessed the combined operations as part of Exercise Corsican Lion.
    The aim is to further develop the maritime and land components of the newly formed UK/France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force - a ready-made task group of military hardware and personnel configured to react at short notice to world events.
    As part of the 2010 French Defence Cooperation Treaty, the UK and French armed forces will continue to build a joint capability, due to be fully operational in 2016.
    The exercise involves British ships and assets from the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) - a rapid reaction force that can be deployed to deal with unexpected world events such as Libya last year.
    Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
    "The UK’s Response Task Force Group is a major, high-readiness force created to ensure that the Royal Navy can respond to, and deal with, emerging events around the world.
    "Exercise Corsican Lion is an impressive example of the joint operational capability we are building with our French allies in both our interests. This package of six British ships, and a Commando Force, gives the UK added global reach.
    Philip Hammond being interviewed by the media
    Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is interviewed by the media on the Bridge Wing of HMS Bulwark [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Joel Rouse, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

    "Working with our international partners is more important than ever before and forms a vital part of our operations, whether countering piracy in the Indian Ocean, protecting trade routes in the Gulf or providing contingent capabilities."
    Mr Hammond and Monsieur Le Drian spent a day on board both Royal Navy Fleet Flagship HMS Bulwark and the French flagship, FS Charles De Gaulle. The week-long exercise is testing the British and French marines’ amphibious beach assault skills, with the carrier strike group in place to protect and support them from the air and sea.
    The exercise also allows the two countries to integrate their carrier operations ahead of the introduction of the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers into the Royal Navy’s Fleet - the first of which is due to commence sea trials in 2017, followed by Lightning II flight trials off her deck in 2018.
    Corsican Lion is part of a longer two-month deployment of the RFTG called Cougar 12 which involves more than 3000 sailors, marines and airmen, four Royal navy warships and one Fleet Auxiliary ship.
    Cougar 12 aims to test the capability of the RFTG, Brigadier Martin Smith, Commander 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, said:
    "Exercise Corsican Lion has provided an excellent opportunity to develop and test our joint land and sea capabilities with our French counterparts against many of the challenges associated with contemporary operations.
    "Integration of the combined force was achieved rapidly and seamlessly delivering a highly flexible and potent force which we very much look forward to developing further in the future."

    This Week From Tim Colton

    What Next for NASSCO?
    NASSCO delivered the last T-AKE on Wednesday. Read their announcement here. That leaves them with just the relatively simple Mobile Landing Platforms, (MLP), to build, of which there are only three, although the third is apparently going to be redesigned into something larger and more complex. Don't hold your breath waiting for the conditional contract for two more product carriers for American Petroleum Tankers, (APT), to firm up. It's dependent on MARAD agreeing to Title XI financing and that's not going to happen. MARAD thinks NASSCO is the Navy's problem and they don't see the need for two more product carriers either - neither do I - especially with OSG about to founder. The Navy could do something, like double-hulling some Kaiser-class T-AOs while they accelerate the T-AO(X) program, but even that would take some time. Of course GD could build some containerships for their own account and charter them to Horizon and/or Matson, but I doubt this type of venture would meet their corporate investment requirements. I'm afraid that there is no easy solution to NASSCO's problems, so we must expect them to continue to decline. October 25, 2012.
    Horses and Bayonets, Part III
    I can't leave this alone. The whole horses-and-bayonets thing is irrelevant and distracting. It doesn't matter how big or how effective the U.S. Navy was in 1916: that was then and this is now. In addition, the number of ships in the fleet is not a meaningful measure of the Navy's effectiveness, because, obviously, each new design of a particular type of ship is more effective than its predecessor, so it should, in theory, take fewer ships to do the same job. In some cases, however, we still need the same number of ships of a type - CVNs for example - for strategic reasons. So counting numbers of hulls is meaningless and misleading. We should forget about numbers of ships altogether and concentrate on making sure that the desired force structure not only makes sense but doesn't need to be changed every year to suit the whim of Admiral this or Congressman that. How do we do that? Is it even possible to do that? Probably not. The reality is that we have to trust the Navy's leadership to propose a force structure that makes sense and meets the Administration's goals, and we have to trust the Congress not to mess around with it too much. I'm reasonably comfortable with the first half of that, but I would also like to see a much more convincing justification for the current plan than the Navy's leadership has come up with so far, especially with regard to submarines and amphibs. And I have no confidence that the Congressional committees won't screw the whole plan up, on an annual basis, which gets me back to one of my recurring themes - members of the congressional authorization and appropriations committees should be required to recuse themselves from participation in any hearings or votes involving contractors in their districts. Yeah, that's going to happen. October 24, 2012.
    Horses and Bayonets, Part II
    October 24, 2012.
    There's a very interesting post on this subject on the Monkey Cage blog, which addresses the apples-and-oranges aspects of the problem and is followed by a discussion that's much better than you usually get. Go to:
    Horses and Bayonets
    Governor Romney's assertion that today's Navy is smaller than at any time since 1916 is incorrect. Today's Navy is larger, at 285 ships, than it was at any time during the second Bush/Cheney Administration. Over the eight years of Bush/Cheney, in fact, the Navy declined from 318 ships in 2000 to 282 in 2008, with a low point of 278 in 2007. Under Obama, it's grown, albeit very slowly, from 282 to 285. To see the structure of the U.S. Navy over the years, as documented by the Historian of the Navy, click here. The 245-ship Navy of 1916 was, indeed, the previous low point, but note that that force consisted of 36 battleships, 3 coastal monitors, 30 cruisers, 61 destroyers, 18 torpedo boats, 28 gunboats, 44 submarines and 25 auxiliaries. Naval warfare was somewhat different in those days. October 23, 2012. (This memo has been revised and corrected since it was first published, earlier today: I must have been still half asleep when I wrote the first version.)
    The Challenge for Canada
    Whatever reservations one might have about the wisdom of Canada's National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, (NSPS), you've got to wish them well and Seaspan's $200-million plan for upgrading Vancouver Shipyards looks like a good start. It is, however, just a start. A modern facility does not, on its own, guarantee success. There's also the not-so-small matter of productivity, which requires skilled, experienced workers and competent, experienced management. I don't doubt that there are lots of skilled workers in the Vancouver area, but there aren't so many with experience in building complex vessels like Coast Guard ships. Until the CCGS Private Robertson VC was delivered by Halifax Shipyards earlier this year, no Canadian shipyard had built any Coast Guard vessel longer than 100 feet in the past 20 years. And the availability of skilled workers is only one part of the challenge. It doesn't matter how skilled your workforce is if the management's incompetent, and competent, experienced shipyard managers, production supervisors, planners, engineers, designers, etc., are not only very, very hard to find but cannot be trained overnight. Vancouver Shipyards had better be preparing for a long learning curve. October 22, 2012.
    What Did I Do?
    I was wondering if I might be in trouble. There's a Defender-class RB(S) sitting out there opposite the Colton Group headquarters, a long way from its home base, and it's been there for two days now. I go out on the balcony and discover that there are guys with guns on the roof of the building across Atlantic Avenue. Oh, okay, I get it. Whatsisname is holed up there practicing for tomorrow's debate. And I check the local news and find that the other guy is holding a post-debate rally here on Tuesday, in the Tennis Stadium. Oh, the joy of living in a swing state and not only that but in the county that brought you the hanging chad. Trafalgar Day, 2012.