CAVASSHIPS Podcast [May 28, ’22] Episode 50…”We Again Feel the Need for Speed”


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…it’s been a busy month of May in the naval world – from the lightning round of budget hearings on Capitol Hill to open controversy among senior active and retired Marines. And now of course, the need for speed is powering a dynamic Memorial Day weekend at the movies. We’ll move through all that and more.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

The US Navy’s command investigation into the October 2 underwater grounding of the attack submarine USS CONNECTICUT with a sea mount was released May 23. The heavily-redacted document shows widespread failures among the crew of the nuclear-powered sub, in some cases going back two years before the collision in the South China Sea, during which the submarine’s bow was heavily damaged. All the submarine’s top leadership command were subsequently removed for failures not just during the collision but for actions leading up to the event. The Navy has declined to provide details of damage to the submarine, but in releasing the report the service noted the CONNECTICUT will be unavailable for operations for an extended period of time due to damage sustained in the grounding. The CONNECTICUT is one of only three Seawolf-class submarines, which have twice the weapons-carrying capability of Virginia-class subs.

NATO’s annual BALTOPS naval exercises are set to begin June 5, notably hosted this year by Sweden – a partner nation but not a full NATO member. Up to 20 countries will take part in about 11 days of exercises in and around the Baltic Sea. The US Sixth Fleet flagship USS MOUNT WHITNEY is among about 50 ships taking part.

A total of six littoral combat ships are currently deployed, marking a high point for the US Navy’s LCS program even as service leaders attempt to scale back the number of LCSs in commission. The SIOUX CITY is at Souda Bay, Crete making the first LCS deployment to the Mediterranean, while Freedom-class sisterships WICHITA and BILLINGS are deployed in Central America with the US Fourth Fleet. And the JACKSON, TULSA and CHARLESTON of the Independence class remain deployed in the Western Pacific.

The assault ship TRIPOLI arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan on May 20 while on an independent deployment. At Iwakuni, the TRIPOLI took on board F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters of Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron 121 and was back at sea on May 23 operating with the JSFs, which are based at Iwakuni. TRIPOLI is expected operate as an “adjunct carrier” in a further demonstration of the Marine Corps’ Lightning Carrier concept during upcoming Valiant Shield joint exercises in early June in the Philippine Sea and Marianas. In late March and early April the TRIPOLI embarked up to 24 F-35Bs off Southern California in a Lightning Carrier demonstration of using the assault ships for dedicated fixed-wing aircraft operations,

Two British Navy submarines, HMS TALENT and HMS TRENCHANT, were decommissioned May 20 at Devonport naval base near Plymouth, England, leaving only one Trafalgar-class submarine in service, HMS TRIUMPH. TALENT and TRENCHANT each served a total of 32 years. The T-boats are being replaced by the Astute class, of which the fourth, HMS AUDACIOUS, achieved full operating capability in April. Three more Astute-class attack submarines are in various stages of construction.

The Italian destroyer CAIO DUILIO arrived at Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia May 23 to take part in the upcoming Composite Unit Training exercises, or COMPTUEX, with the GEORGE H W BUSH Carrier Strike Group, set to run throughout June. According the Italian Navy, the DUILIO spent four months preparing for the deployment with the US carrier group.

In new ship news, the Virginia-class attack submarine USS OREGON SSN793 will be commissioned May 28 in a ceremony at Submarine Base Groton, Connecticut. And the littoral combat ship AUGUSTA LCS34 was launched May 23 by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

Cavas Squawk:

Throughout this century we’ve been able to get up close and personal with just about anybody via social media, and as young people went off to war – especially after 911 – it was possible to get a glimpse into the lives of those who served and gave all, as well as witness the grief that surrounded their loss. Young people right out of high school joined up and eagerly posted pictures of themselves in uniform, smiling with their new comrades, thrilled to be a part of something larger than anything they’d ever known. Many were literally having the time of their lives.

And then they were gone. An IED, a sniper’s bullet, a helicopter crash. Smiles quickly turned to tears. All that talk about those who make the ultimate sacrifice turned out not to be just talk. And social media allowed those stories to be told in ways beyond those who had fallen in the pre-internet past.

But that’s why there is Memorial Day. It is important to remember those who gave all while serving their country in the United States Armed Forces. The vast majority were volunteers. A good number were draftees. It is safe to say all of them hoped to one day be a veteran, but instead they’re forever on active duty. It is important not to forget their sacrifices.

People have been dying for their country since before we were a country. That was what it took to build a nation and then to protect and defend it. It would be wonderful if that were not the case, but sadly there are bad people in the world who wish to do bad things, and somebody’s got to stop them. We’re seeing it again today – not in the U.S. but in Ukraine, where people who were completely normal civilians just six months ago today are in uniform and fighting and dying to defend their families and fellow citizens.

Standing up to bad people is what militaries do – at least, hopefully, the good ones. It’s why we need them. And it is always dangerous. This weekend we are profoundly grateful to all those who gave all they had to give.

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