CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Dec 16, ’22] Episode 78…2022 The Year in Review


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…2022, THE YEAR IN REVIEW. We’re joined by noted naval commentators Bryan Clark and Jerry Hendrix to take a look at what went well for the US Navy in 2022, what didn’t do as well, and what to look for in 2023. It’s a great discussion we hope you’ll enjoy.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

Nineteen people fell into the water December 13 when a utility boat being hoisted by crane aboard the US Navy hospital ship COMFORT tipped over while about 20 feet in the air. Two Navy sailors reportedly suffered minor injuries in the incident, which was captured by at least two video cameras. The COMFORT was at Jeremie, Haiti where its embarked medical personnel were providing care during the ship’s Continuing Promise deployment to the Caribbean and Central America region.

Chinese Navy ships continued this past week to pass through Japanese home island waterways and Russian military aircraft flew near Japan’s territorial airspace, the Japan’s Self-Defense Forces reported. Continuing provocations by China, Russia and North Korea are being cited as the basis for Japan’s drastic revisions in its national security strategy. The country announced December 16 it was increasing military spending to about two percent of its gross national product in response to China’s quote rising military aggression. Japan already is converting its two largest helicopter carriers into aircraft carriers able to operate F-35B Joint Strike Fighters.

A Lockheed Martin-owned F-35B Joint Strike Fighter crashed December 15 while attempting to touch down at the Fort Worth, Texas airfield shared by the company’s JSF production facility and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. The pilot, identified by the Pentagon only as a government employee, ejected during the incident. The aircraft’s intended customer was not publicly identified.

USNI News reported on December 16 that long-lead procurement orders for two new Virginia-class attack submarines are being held up due to a dispute between the Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat. At issue is a disagreement as to which organization should be financially responsible if an accident occurs involving Tomahawk cruise missiles, whether during construction or in operation. The issue stems from a 2018 Navy decision to lift its liability protections. The Navy also affects Lockheed Martin and production of the still-under-development Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic missile.

And late on December 15th Congress passed the 2023 Defense Authorization Act, which we discussed in some detail last week. The bill, which focuses on policies and programs and authorizes but does not actually provide funding, comes two and a half months after the expiration of fiscal 2022. Next up for the Hill is the defense appropriations act – the actual money for the Department of Defense. As of this recording it’s expected the approps act will be rolled into a huge omnibus bill to fund the US government through fiscal 2023. The last time your US Congress completed all its appropriations work on time was in 1996.

And in new ship news, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced December 13 that the next big amphibious assault ship would honor Marines who fought in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. The actions were considered the bloodiest engagements of the Iraq War. USS FALLUJAH LHA SIX will be an America-class assault ship built at Ingalls Shipbuilding. 

And the future USS JACK H LUCAS DDG125 got underway December 12 from Ingalls Shipbuilding to begin alpha builders’ trials. The first Flight III ship is fitted with the new SPY-6 phased array radar from Raytheon that replaces the SPY-3D array of previous Arleigh Burke class destroyers. LUCAS is expected to be delivered to the US Navy in 2023.

Servello Squawk:

Building on the comments in our last segment, as well as the submarine story out yesterday from USNI …I again find myself asking when is Congress, DoD and industry all going to stop squandering the most important resource in this great power competition…the resource of time?

Kudos to Congress for the work and resourcing that went into the National Defense Authorization Act in spite of the services not helping them help themselves. That said, preparing for potential conflict with China is about more than just mandating and funding proven technology. 

Members and their staff need to be willing to push the limits of what’s previously been fielded or what’s available through prime vendors. Every unnecessary study or test site wastes time we don’t have. 

Speaking of wasting time, there is a reason Congress authorizes long lead procurement, and when vendors and the services give away that time we are less prepared to compete with adversaries like China. Every current and former INDO-PACOM or Pacific Fleet Commander will tell you that we need more and better submarines in the Pacific yesterday…so the idea that we are losing time as we dicker around over indemnification seems foolish. 

We need to be doing everything in our power to build authorized and appropriated ships, aircraft and weapon systems as fast as possible. 

The days of rewickering mature designs, wasting resources on class wide ship or aircraft fixes because key components dont work has to be something of the past. 

Time is not our friend when it comes to staying ahead…or in some cases catching up to the Chinese.

As I think about what I want for Christmas this year…it’s not more DDG’s, F/-18s or end strength…although those would be nice. What I would like is for national security leaders to have a better appreciation of time. 

More money, greater authorities and new platforms are nice but unless they come at the right time and are put in the right place they are meaningless.


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