CAVASSHIPS Podcast [May 26, ’23] Ep: 96 Civilian v. Military Jurisdiction


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…Civil jurisdiction already is replacing military jurisdiction in some cases. It’s a movement that has been taking hold not just in the United States, but in several other western and NATO countries, notably Norway, where a civil trial was just concluded in the matter of the 2018 loss of a frigate. What are some of the implications of the movement in the U.S.? We’ll talk with veteran attorney Rob Butch Bracknell for some insight.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

The long-running midlife RCOH Refueling and Complex Overhaul of the aircraft carrier USS GEORGE WASHINGTON CVN 73 was declared complete May 25 when the US Navy accepted redelivery of the ship after successful sea trials. GW entered Newport News Shipbuilding in mid-2017 to begin the overhaul, scheduled then to be completed in August 2021 at an overall cost of $4.6 billion. But the job was plagued by a series of funding issues, problems associated with the pandemic, and serious crew morale and quality of life issues. GW now will begin a series of training qualifications and transfer back to Japan in 2024, where she was the US Navy’s forward-deployed carrier from 2008 to 2015.

The aircraft carrier USS GERALD R FORD arrived at Oslo May 24, the first US carrier to visit the Norwegian capital in 65 years. Earlier at sea, the ship hosted a high-level Norwegian delegation. The visit drew the ire of Moscow, with the Russians calling the visit an illogical and harmful demonstration of power.

The Japan-based carrier USS RONALD REAGAN has begun her first western Pacific patrol of the year, and for the first time in some time, two US carriers are operating at the same time in the western Pacific. USS NIMITZ called at Sasebo, Japan during the G7 summit, and now is operating in the South China Sea.

The Russian intelligence ship IVAN KHURS reportedly was attacked by small unmanned surface vessels in the Black Sea about May 25. Social media posts show the ship returning to Sevastopol May 26 showing no noticeable signs of damage.

In Turkey, the HIZIR REIS, second of Turkey’s new Reis-class Type 214TN air-independent-propulsion #submarines, was launched May 25 at Golcuk Naval Shipyard. 1st-in-class PIRI REIS continues on sea trials. Four more subs are to come under a 2011 two-billion-euro agreement with Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

 In American new ship news, General Dynamics Electric Boat on May 23 was awarded a $1.076 billion contract for long-lead items for the yet-to-be-named Virginia-class submarines SSN 812 and SSN 813. Award of the SSN 812 contract had been held up by a legal dispute between the Navy and GDEB over an indemnification issue regarding the submarines. One of the two subs – the Navy has not said which one – will be a special mission submarine.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced in New York on May 25 that a future Virginia-class submarine will be named LONG ISLAND. The Secretary, however, did not reveal what the submarine’s hull number is.

General Dynamics NASSCO on May 19 received a $736 million contract modification to build the yet-to-be-named fleet oiler T-AO 213. The ship will be the ninth ship of the John Lewis class, all built by NASSCO in San Diego.

NAVAJO T-ATS 6, first of a new class of towing, salvage and rescue ships for the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command, was launched 24 May at Bollinger Shipyard in Houma, Louisiana. Bollinger is building four more, while Austal USA will also build five “Tats” ships.

 And, perhaps poignantly since this is Memorial Day, the US Navy confirmed on May 25 that the wreck of the destroyer MANNERT L ABLE DD 733 has been found in Japanese waters near Okinawa. The wreck, at a depth of 4500 feet, was located last December by the Lost 52 Project, an organization that searches for sunken US Navy submarines from World War Two. The ABELE was sunk April 12,1945 while on radar picket duty off Okinawa. She was struck by two Japanese kamikazes, the second one a piloted, rocket-powered Okha flying bomb. ABELE was sunk in about three minutes with the loss of 84 American sailors.

Servello Squawk:

My squawk this week builds on a Friday column in The Hill written by friend of pod and regular Defense & Aerospace contributor Dr Dov Zakheim…calling for the end to holds placed on military promotions by the junior senator from Alabama.

President Biden announced this week that he was indeed nominating Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This should be the start of a summer jobs rotations for joint and service leaders across the force except nomination holds have ground the entire process to a halt.

Brown’s nomination brings the number to 186 that have stalled in the Senate due to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s  blanket “hold” on military promotions. As many of our listeners know, the tradition of senatorial courtesy provides that any Senator can put a “hold” on confirmation of any executive branch nominee for any reason at all.

That said, Senators rarely put blanket holds on military promotions, which are routine, dealt with in packages and normally command the body’s unanimous consent. The Senate addresses individual promotions only when there are specific concerns about a particular nominee.

If press reports are true, Tuberville has little support among his Senate colleagues. Republican leader McConnell has made it clear that he does not support the hold. But thus far, the Senate has done nothing to break it, for fear that it would jeopardize a hallowed tradition.

These are serious times and they require serious actions on the part of our national leaders. One Senator’s crippling of the military promotion system should not be allowed to stand simply because of tradition. It used to be tradition that members did what’s best for the county and kept politics out of national security issues. Obviously that is no longer the case.

Senators of both parties can no longer sit by as promotions and rotations are held hostage by one man. Our nation faces a growing Chinese threat and Russian aggression in Europe. The majority and minority leaders must step in and end Tuberville’s hold. The ridiculousness has gone on long enough.

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