CAVASSHIPS Podcast [May 05, ’23] Ep: 93 A Look at Our Friends to the North


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…The small but efficient Royal Canadian Navy is in the midst of its biggest-ever peacetime naval recapitalization effort. Canada has a storied naval history that is honored each May with an observance of the Canadian Navy’s contributions to the Battle of the Atlantic. Naval historian and author Roger Litwiller will be here to dive deeper into Canada’s rich naval lore.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

The Russian Navy intelligence ship YURI IVANOV passed westbound through the Strait of Gibraltar May 5, continuing a steady exodus of Russian warships leaving the Mediterranean Sea. According to several unofficial tallies, the four ships remaining in the Med – a frigate, a corvette, a minesweeper and a diesel-powered submarine – mark the lowest level of Russian Naval activity in the Mediterranean since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The Russian Black Sea Fleet, however, remains in force.

The carrier USS GERALD R FORD got underway from Norfolk May 2 to begin its first-ever fully operational deployment. With Carrier Air Wing Eight embarked, the FORD with cruiser NORMANDY and three destroyers is expected to spend most of the deployment in the European Theater, including an exercise off Norway followed by operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

The US Navy on April 28 announced the carrier USS GEORGE WASHINGTON will return to Japan and relieve USS RONALD REAGAN as the Navy’s forward-based carrier in the western Pacific. GEORGE WASHINGTON is nearing completion of a protracted reactor refueling overhaul that began in 2017 and was originally to have been completed in May 2020. GW will head to Japan in 2024, where she was based at Yokosuka from 2008 to 2015. REAGAN will return to the United States in 2024 and enter Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a major overhaul.

Exercise Formidable Shield 2023 kicks off May 8 in the North Atlantic and High North and will run through May 26. The bi-annual exercise is led by the US Sixth Fleet and NATO’s Naval Striking and Support Forces. 13 NATO and partner nations, more than 20 warships, 35 aircraft and eight ground units will take part, led by the USS GERALD R FORD carrier strike group.

The US Navy research vessel PETREL, which fell over in high winds March 22 while in drydock at Leith, Scotland, has been righted and was refloated on May 2, according to social media posts. The ship, formerly used by the Paul Allen-funded company Vulcan to locate more World War Two shipwrecks than any other vessel, was purchased by the US Navy in September and was being refitted in Scotland. The Navy has not revealed the extent of the damage to the ship from the drydock incident.

In new ship news, the littoral combat ship USS COOPERSTOWN LCS 23 will be commissioned Saturday May 6 in New York City. The Freedom-class LCS is based at Mayport, Florida. Also on May 6 the Virginia-class submarine MASSACHUSETTS SSN798 will be christened at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

Servello Squawk:

By now many have heard that President Biden intends to nominate Air Force General CQ Brown to succeed Gen Mark Milley as the next Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Since leaving uniform and coming to work on the Defense & Aerospace Report Team, I have had the privilege to meet General Brown on numerous occasions as he often interviewed with our colleague Vago Muradian. Brown is a thoughtful, experienced and articulate leader who brings the right temperament and world view to a position critical to ensuring the joint force is ready to fight and our civilian leaders fully understand the military options at their disposal.

As Chief of Staff of the Air Force Brown is well respected in the Pentagon and across the force. He has served in leadership positions in the Middle East and Indo-Pacom…working closely with his Navy and Marine counterparts in both theaters.

I commend the Biden Administration on making this selection and I wish General Brown all the best as he works through the confirmation process and God-willing, becomes the next Chairmen. The men and women of the armed forces will benefit from his leadership and many other talents.

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