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 view from the top: Former chief of naval operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert shares his views on Russia’s war on Ukraine, the situation in the Pacific and the rise of the Chinese Navy and – as a former submariner – his thoughts on the recent loss of the submersible TITAN.
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This Week’s Naval Round Up:
The three-ship 43rd Escort Group of the Chinese Navy arrived at Temma Port in Accra, Ghana on June 27 for a four-day visit, just after a similar visit to Cote D’Ivoire. The group deployed from China in early January and patrolled the Gulf of Aden, where it was relieved earlier in June by the 44th Escort Group before heading to West Africa.
Carrier Air Wing Seventeen, the cruiser BUNKER HILL, and destroyer DECATUR returned to their bases and homeport of San Diego on June 28, wrapping up a seven-month Western Pacific deployment aboard the carrier NIMITZ. NIMITZ herself also put into San Diego, ahead of returning to her homeport of Bremerton, Washington.
Meanwhile in the western Pacific, the carrier RONALD REAGAN is again underway after a four-day visit to Danang, South Vietnam. The Japan-based ship is about a month in to her summer deployment in the Indo-Pacific region.
In the Atlantic, three carriers were underway at the same time off the US east coast. The DWIGHT D EISENHOWER Carrier Strike Group is carrying out her major pre-deployment composite unit exercise. GEORGE H W BUSH is underway providing aviator carrier qualifications, and the GEORGE WASHINGTON is underway carrying out a myriad of certifications following the conclusion of her long-running reactor refueling overhaul. And in the Mediterranean theatre the deployed GERALD R FORD arrived at Split, Croatia on June 26 for a port call.
At San Diego, an electrical fire in an emergency generator compartment aboard the carrier ABRAHAM LINCOLN on June 28 was extinguished by the ship’s in-port emergency team while the carrier was undergoing a pierside availability at NAS North Island; the fire was put out after about ten minutes. There were no injuries and the Navy has not announced the extent of the damage.
As has been widely reported, pieces of the imploded submersible TITAN have been recovered from the ocean floor near the wreck of the TITANIC. The US Coast Guard reported that the vessel HORIZON ARCTIC arrived in Saint John’s, Newfoundland on June 28 bearing the debris, which will be analyzed and tested by the TITAN Submersible Marine Board of Investigation. The Board was convened on June 23, five days after the TITAN was first reported missing and later determined to have imploded.
In new ship news, the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer JACK H LUCAS DDG 125 was delivered to the Navy June 27 from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The JACK H LUCAS is the first ship delivered with the SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar, or AMDR, paired with the Aegis combat system. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned October 7 at the Port of Tampa Bay, Florida before heading to her home port of San Diego.
Ingalls Shipbuilding announced June 30 the successful completion of builder’s sea trials for the National Security Cutter CALHOUN WMSL759, the tenth of eleven cutters that are the US Coast Guard’s biggest patrol ships. Only one more, FRIEDMAN WMSL760, is being built as the production line, humming along since 2004, faces its conclusion.
For the fourth time, a US Navy warship will bear the name of the Marquis de Lafayette. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced June 29 in Paris that the fourth Constellation class frigate will become USS LAFAYETTE, FFG 65. Previous ships bearing the name were a Civil War ironclad, the ill-fated French liner NORMANDIE in World War Two, and the Cold War Polaris submarine SSBN 616.
That was a great conversation with Admiral Greenert…particularly his insights on his Chinese counterpart and on what capabilities are needed to keep the Chinese on their heels.
As CNO, Greenert and his team spearheaded new concepts for undersea, electromagnetic maneuver and cyber warfare to build on longstanding strengths of the Navy while expanding the use of unmanned systems in all domains. Propelling these concepts forward, he deployed laser technology afloat for the first time, pushed the electromagnetic railgun for at-sea testing and transition, and watched the first carrier-landing of an unmanned system. Sadly many of these concepts have languished in the years since his departure.
The Greenert team looked at every legacy platform as an opportunity to add new technology both to force the Fleet to learn, but more importantly to keep our competitors off balance.
As we prepare for a new Marine Corps Commandant and a new CNO I strongly suggest that these new staffs look back to the Greenert days and learn from his creativity.
Let’s find ways to deploy Marines on non-traditional platforms like the littoral combat ship, destroyers and carriers. Let’s put new and different weapons on Amphibious ships or deploy unique surface action groups and amphibious ready groups to explore new capabilities and give the Chinese fits.
Despite the lamentations of many navalists, the Navy and Marine Corps will likely prepare for and fight the next conflict with the technology and force structure we have today. So let’s learn from folks like Admiral Greenert and find new and unique ways to position today’s capability to max out lethality and keep the bad guys in the dark.