CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Dec 11, 21] Episode 27…Supply Chain Woes & Strategic Lift


Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello…a weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world.
This Week…We’re all familiar with the supply chain issues affecting much of our daily lives – from the grocery store to electronics to trying to buy a new car. In terms of being a customer relying on those same domestic and international supply chains, the US Military is no different, with needs ranging from a vast array of spare parts to high-performance computers. We talk with Dr. Sal Mercogliano, a leading expert on how these issues could affect the defense establishment and what risks may lie ahead.

In this Week’s Squawk Chris Servello discusses the need to get serious about strategic sealift.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH returned to her homeport of Portsmouth, England on December 9 to end Britain’s most ambitious naval deployment in decades. The ship was the centerpiece of the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 21 which deployed in May from Portsmouth. The group operated across the Mediterranean Sea, in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and into the western Pacific, where QUEEN LIZ visited Japan and Guam. The deployment had a distinct multi-national flavor, with a US destroyer and Dutch frigate integrated into the strike group along with a US Marine squadron as one of the two F-35B Joint Strike Fighter squadrons on board the carrier.

Meanwhile, the British F-35B joint strike fighter that crashed into the sea November 17 while trying to take off from the QUEEN ELIZABETH has been recovered from the Eastern Mediterranean by a combined British-US-Italian salvage effort. Multiple media also reported that a crew member of the QUEEN ELIZABETH has been arrested for leaking video of the crash on social media.

The commanding officer of Navy SEAL Team 8 died December 7 in Norfolk from injuries sustained during a training accident in Virginia Beach, Virginia on December 4. Commander Brian Bourgeois was 43 and a 20-year veteran of Navy and Special Warfare service. The Navy provided few details of the fatal incident, citing an ongoing investigation, but did say that the tragedy occurred during a fast-rope training evolution.

Out in Hawaii, the new destroyer USS DANIEL INOUYE was formally commissioned into service on December 8 at Pearl Harbor. The ship’s name honors the late senator, a World War Two hero who received the Medal of Honor and who, during more than a half century in Washington, was a tireless advocate for Hawaii and for the Navy and US military in Hawaii.

At the other end of the cycle of life for ships, the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS PROVIDENCE was placed In Commission, In Reserve on Dec. 2 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, a move which will lead to the ship’s full decommission and scrapping. The PROVIDENCE was commissioned in 1985 and served for 36 years.

On December 10 the amphibious assault ship USS IWO JIMA left Mayport Naval Station in Florida to shift homeport to Norfolk. The move reverses a decision made over a decade ago to shift two large amphibious ships from Norfolk to Florida. In November 2020 the amphibious ship NEW YORK shifted back to Norfolk. In exchange, several Norfolk-based and newly-commissioned destroyers have shifted homeport to Mayport.

SQUAWK BOX Servello:

When contemplating competition or conflict with China…most navalists worry about high end capability. They fret over technology, numbers and range. All of that makes sense…but its not what keeps me up at night. 

What causes me sleepless nights and added gray hair is the topic we just discussed with Dr Mercogliano…our lack of lift and ability to carry out effective pre and post conflict logistics. 

I’m worried we dont have the right number of merchant vessels, the right type of coordination and the political will to quickly grow both.

The covid era problems we have seen over the last two years should be a reminder that unless we address supply chain and logistics shortcomings now…we will be in real trouble when the balloon goes up.

We need to have serious conversations about major port capacities, better teaming between military and commercial logistics efforts, Jones Act restrictions and the role of our maritime administrator…just to name a few.

Lets not miss this moment…mine the covid lessons so we are ready for potential conflict with the Chinese.

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