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 web site Naval News is one of the world’s premier sources for naval information around the world. Founder and editor Xavier Vavasseur is with us to talk about some of the latest trends he’s seen and reported on so far in a very busy 2023.
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This Week’s Naval Round Up:
A US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flew through the Taiwan Strait July 13 between mainland China and Taiwan. It’s the third time this year a P-8 has made the transit. China of course slammed the flight.
The Chinese naval task force visiting west Africa called at Libreville, Gabon on July 8 after visiting Nigeria. The three ships – a destroyer, a frigate and a supply ship – are the 43rd escort group, which previously had operated in the Gulf of Aden. And on July 11 two Russian frigates, the GROMKIY and SOVERSHENNYY, left Wusong, Shanghai, China after a week-long visit.
The BATAAN Amphibious Ready Group left Norfolk and Little Creek, Virginia, July 10 to deploy with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The amphibious ships BATAAN, CARTER HALL and MESA VERDE proceeded to Morehead City, North Carolina, where the 26th MEU embarked. The force is expected to operate in the European and Central Command theaters of operation.
Exercise UNITAS 64 began July 12 in the host nation of Colombia, involving 26 warships, three submarines, 25 aircraft and about 7,000 people from 20 nations. Among the US ships taking part are the submarine PASADENA, amphibious ship NEW YORK, littoral combat ship LITTLE ROCK and expeditionary fast transport BURLINGTON, the latter carrying several unmanned surface vessels and aircraft.
In the Adriatic Sea, NATO Exercise Neptune Strike was underway by July 11. Among ships taking part are the carrier USS GERALD R FORD strike group, the Italian carrier GIUSEPPE GARIBALDI, a French frigate and a Croatian missile boat.
Media in the US and Australia are speculating that Australian shipbuilders Austal, Limited might be for sale. Austal Limited is the parent company of Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, builders of littoral combat ships, expeditionary fast transports, salvage ships and surveillance ships for the US Navy and of offshore patrol cutters for the US Coast Guard. The Financial Review on July 10 reported the South Korean conglomerate Hanwha is considering buying Austal. Hanwha in May acquired a controlling stake in Daewoo Shipbuilding, one of South Korea’s largest shipbuilders, for about $1.5 billion. As they say, watch this space.
The submarine CONNECTICUT SSN22 finally entered drydock July 12 to carry out a major repair job – an “extended drydocking selected restricted availability” – following major damage to her bow after striking a submerged object at sea on October 2, 2021. The repair work is estimated to be completed no sooner than September 2025. The drydock is the No. 5 dock at Naval Shipyard Puget Sound, which recently underwent seismic mitigation efforts before it could be used again.
In new ship news, the new fleet oiler USNS HARVEY MILK, T-AO 206, was delivered to the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command July 11 from shipbuilders General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. The HARVEY MILK is the second of the new John Lewis-class. Seven more oilers are building or under contract at NASSCO, with a total of twenty ships planned.
And on July 14 Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced the new towing, salvage and rescue tug T-ATS 11 would bear the name of BILLY FRANK JR, a Marine Corps veteran and noted American Indian fishing rights activist.
And in historic ship news, the US Naval History and Heritage Command announced July 10 it has positively identified the wreck of the escort carrier USS OMMANEY BAY CVE-79, sunk by a Japanese kamikaze attack January 4, 1945 in the Sulu Sea. Ninety-five sailors were lost in the sinking. The wreck had been found in 2019 by the team from Vulcan LLC operating from the ship PETREL, but the Navy held off a positive identification until now.