CAVASSHIPS Podcast [May 19, ’23] Ep: 95 Review of GW Investigation w/ Sam Lagrone


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 Navy’s investigation report into the command climate and quality of life aboard the aircraft carrier GEORGE WASHINGTON – prompted by a spate of suicides among the ship’s junior sailors – was made public this week, and the story is not pretty. Sam Lagrone of USNI News will join us again to talk through the report and the issues that sooner or later affect every ship in the Navy.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

The Iranian Navy light frigate DENA and base ship MAKRAN returned to Bandar Abbas, Iran on May 20, completing an eastward round-the-world cruise that began last September. It was a notable achievement for Iran’s small Navy, which is not designed to operate far from home but nevertheless has been demonstrating a capability to cruise beyond the Persian Gulf region. The ships passed through the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of South America in early January, called at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Cape Town, South Africa. Iran said after the ships returned that a goal of the cruise was to see how the DENA, built in Iran, performed in Antarctic waters – even though the passage at South America’s tip took place in the middle of the southern hemisphere’s summer.

 The watch officer of Norwegian frigate HELGE INGSTAD, in an unusual civil trial, received a 60-day suspended jail sentence for negligence in the Nov 2018 collision resulting in the ship’s loss. The Norwegian Navy is unhappy with the decision to try the case in a civil court – a rarity among nations and only a recent procedural change in Norway. The watch officer was a junior member of the ship’s wardroom, and while several officers were initially charged, he was the only officer actually put on trial. Norwegian Chief of Navy Admiral Rune Andersen expressed deep dissatisfaction with the trial and the outcome and questioned whether the Navy would be so cooperative in the future. “When the trial is over,” Andersen said, “we have to ask ourselves whether in the future we can be so open and self-examining if it ends with punishment.”

There were a number of US Navy new-ship developments over the past week:

 The JACK H LUCAS DDG125, the first Arleigh Burke-class Flight III destroyer, successfully completed acceptance trials 18 May, NAVSEA announced. Formal delivery and acceptance by the Navy comes next. The ship was built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi.

 A keel ceremony was held May 16 for the new destroyer LOUIS H WILSON JR DDG126 General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine. The ship, the first Flight III destroyer to be built at Bath, honors the former Marine Corps Commandant who was awarded the Medal of Honor in World War Two for his actions on Guam in July 1944.

A $526 million contract for the yet-to-be-named FFG 65, the fourth Constellation-class frigate was awarded May 18 to Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, builder of the new ships.

Also on May 18, the Navy announced that Austal USA had won a two-shipyard competition to build up to seven new Ocean Surveillance Ships for the US Navy. The ships are key to persistent underwater surveillance and all five ships now in service routinely operate forward-deployed outside the United States. The initial $114 million contract is for Austal to provide a detail design for the new ships – if all options are exercised, the contract is worth up to $3.2 billion for the Alabama shipyard. Austal reportedly won over a competing bid from Bollinger Shipyards. 

The littoral combat ship CANBERRA, also built by Austal, will be commissioned July 22 in Sydney, Australia, the US Navy announced May 18. The ship bears the Australian capital’s name but is the 2nd US Navy ship honoring heavy cruiser HMAS CANBERRA, sunk in 1942 fighting alongside US Navy ships. CANBERRA was delivered in December 2021 but has officially been in an In Service status since then.

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