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…What goes into developing the Naval Mind? That’s the topic of a new book by Benjamin F. Armstrong and John Freymann that looks into the multi-faceted process of producing a naval professional. We’ll dive into that fascinating subject with co-author B. J. Armstrong.
In this Week’s Squawk Chris Servello discusses leadership, learning, culture and the Navy.
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This Week’s Naval Round Up:
On January 3 the aircraft carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN deployed from San Diego with Carrier Air Wing 9. Included in the air wing is the second squadron to deploy with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter – Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, also the first Marine squadron to deploy with the carrier variant of the JSF. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 147 is currently deployed aboard the carrier CARL VINSON, now on the back end of her western Pacific deployment. Rounding out the LINCOLN’s strike group are the cruiser MOBILE BAY and destroyers FITZGERALD, GRIDLEY, SAMPSON and SPRUANCE. It’s the first deployment for the FITZGERALD since returning to the fleet from repairs after the June 2017 collision with a merchant ship off Japan that killed seven sailors.
As 2021 closed out there was an interesting development in the Philippine Sea south of Japan, where the Japanese carrier IZUMO maneuvered into a Chinese Navy task force centered on the aircraft carrier LIAONING. As seen in a photograph released by China, the IZUMO, trailed closely by a Chinese frigate, came within just over a mile of the LIAONING while the Chinese ship conducted air operations. It was possibly the most brazen situation seen yet where a Chinese or Japanese aircraft carrier maneuvered so close to the other navy’s ships.
The US Coast Guard on December 29 awarded a $553 million contract to VT Halter Marine to build the second polar security cutter at Halter’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Halter already is working on the first polar security cutter – a large, heavy ice breaker based on a German design under a contract awarded in 2019. A third ship is also planned.
In personnel news…the Navy has begun out- processing Sailors who refused to be vaccinated against CoVID-19. The first group of 20 sailors were all newly-enlisted personnel who were within 180 days of having entered the service. On the leadership front, in separate unrelated incidences over the last three weeks, the Navy has relieved the commander of the Naval Reserve Center in Toledo, Ohio; the commanding officer and executive officer of the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery Blue Crew, and the Commanding Officer of the destroyer USS Paul Ignatius, all for lack of confidence in their abilities to command.
SQUAWK BOX Servello:
We noted in the news items that the commanding officer of the USS Paul Ignatius was relieved of command. That officer was not just a brother naval officer, he was my brother. I have something of a personal bias here.
In our last segment BJ Armstrong thoughtfully discussed the need for the Navy to be a learning organization. Over the next several months we will continue this theme as we discuss initiatives and opportunities for the service to improve education and training.
These types of efforts are helpful and will undoubtedly make the Navy a stronger and more serious service.
All of that said…my twenty plus years in uniform taught me that the ideal learning opportunity comes in how you treat your people outside of the classroom.
Learning organizations allow people to make mistakes in the training environment, they encourage people to share their hiccups across the waterfront, they treat people with dignity and respect …even if they goon things up, they don’t hide behind phrases like due process or other legal mumbo jumbo and finally they don’t escort them out if their workspace without allowing them to pack their belongs or say goodbye to their team when the tough decision to relieve them has been made.
Operating at sea is cruel and unforgiving…but should the Navy’s leadership be the same? I’m not so sure.
If our Navy is going to get better, stay better and perform better than the competition, COs shouldn’t be more afraid of making mistakes… then they are of encountering the enemy.