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…our guest this week is Emma Salisbury, a British PHD Candidate who argues in a recent War on the Rocks piece that when looking at how naval planning fits with future requirements, it is important to think about two key concepts: the military-industrial complex and innovation.
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This Week’s Naval Round Up:
Austal USA garnered the biggest US government shipbuilding contract up for bid this year when on June 30 it was awarded a US Coast Guard contract to build up to 11 Offshore Patrol Cutters. The deal is worth up to $3.3 billion for the Mobile, Alabama-based shipyard, which is transitioning from building all-aluminum Independence-class littoral combat ships and expeditionary fast transports to steel production. Austal beat out competitors Huntington Ingalls, Bollinger and Eastern Shipbuilding Group for the OPC contract, known as Stage 2 of the Offshore Patrol Cutter program. Eastern Shipbuilding is building the first four cutters under a contract awarded in 2016, but numerous issues have stymied construction, including the impact of a major hurricane in 2018 that devastated Eastern’s shipyards in Panama City, Florida. Eastern received a $325 million contract in April to build the fourth cutter, but the OPC, ARGUS WMSM 915, is not expected to be launched until late this year or early in 2023. Altogether, the Coast Guard plans to buy a total of 25 of the 360-foot-long cutters.
In war news, Russia on June 29 withdrew its forces from Snake Island off the Ukrainian coast, calling it a “gesture of goodwill.” Russia took the tiny but strategic island shortly after invading Ukraine on February 24, in a famous incident where Ukrainian defenders told the Russians what they could do with themselves. But since occupying the island the Russians have been under near-constant attack and suffered many losses, including that of their Black Sea flagship, the missile cruiser MOSKVA. The Russian withdrawal does not affect the ongoing blockade of civilian and commercial shipping in and out of Ukraine, which continues unabated.
NATO on June 30 wrapped up its two-day summit meeting in Madrid, Spain of member nations with results that NATO Secretary General Jens Soltenberg called “truly transformational.” Members approved the applications of Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, dramatically altering the strategic scene in the Baltic Sea. NATO is also deepening relationships with partners nations in the Indo-Pacific region and addressed challenges in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel region of Africa. President Joe Biden attended the conference and announced that two additional destroyers will be based at Rota, Spain, where four US destroyers already are forward-deployed. And under NATO’s new force model, Britain is making available armed forces that include its aircraft carriers and F-35B Joint Strike Fighters to NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, as well as to the new Allied Reaction Force.
A Chinese three-ship surface group circumnavigated Japan for two weeks, ending June 30 – the latest in a series of provocative military moves by the Chinese navy and air force. The Chinese warships, led by the big Type 055 destroyer LHASA, were closely monitored throughout the demonstration by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
The George H W BUSH Carrier Strike Group certified to deploy on June 30 after a month-long pre-deployment exercise. The composite training unit exercise, or COMPTUEX, involved the carrier, cruiser LEYTE GULF, destroyers NITZE, FARRAGUT, TRUXTUN and DELBERT D. BLACK, Carrier Air Wing Seven, the Italian frigate CAIO DUILIO and submarines from Brazil and Columbia. The Bush’s Carrier Strike Group Ten is expected to relieve the HARRY S TRUMAN Carrier Strike Group on station in the Mediterranean Sea.
On behalf of Chris and the CavasShips Podcast, let me be one of the first to wish you a Happy Fourth of July!