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…Admiral Lisa Franchetti is the US Navy’s top uniformed officer but – for now – she cannot be confirmed as the next Chief of Naval Operations. So, as acting CNO, where should she focus her efforts? Naval analyst Bryan Clark zeroes in on what can be done in the short term, where she might have a more immediate impact. We’ll dive into the specifics right after taking a look at this week’s naval news.
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This Week’s Naval Round Up:
The US Navy’s command ship USS MOUNT WHITNEY, with commander Sixth Fleet Vice Admiral Thomas Ishee embarked, arrived at Istanbul, Turkey on August 18 for a port call. It was the closest the flagship has come to the Black Sea since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. A few days later, Turkey’s new assault ship ANADOLU with three frigates exercised with the carrier USS GERALD R FORD, cruiser USS NORMANDY and the Greek frigate ELLI in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, underscoring US-Turkish naval cooperation.
The assault ship USS BATAAN with destroyer THOMAS HUDNER passed through the Strait of Hormuz on August 17 to enter the Persian Gulf. Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ships and aircraft, including unmanned aircraft, closely monitored the passage but while Iranian media claimed that US helicopters were driven away from the Iranian ships, the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet played down the events, saying the interactions were, quote, “safe and professional.”
Canadian and Japanese naval forces joined with the US Navy in mid-August for Exercise Noble Chinook, held in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean beginning August 22. The exercise, part of the world-wide Large Scale Exercise 2023 held by the US Navy and Marine Corps, included the Japanese destroyer HYUGA, Canadian frigates VANCOUVER and OTTAWA and support ship ASTERIX, and the US destroyer BENFOLD.
The destroyer USS ZUMWALT DDG 1000 arrived at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi on August 19 for a major two-year modernization that will see large launch tubes for hypersonic Conventional Prompt Strike missiles replace the ship’s two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems. ZUMWALT joins sistership LYNDON B JOHNSON DDG 1002 at the shipyard. LBJ has yet to enter active service, and will follow ZUMWALT in undergoing the modifications to field Conventional Prompt Strike. USS MICHAEL MONSOOR DDG 1001, the third ship in the class, remains in active service at San Diego and will be the last of the three to undergo the modernization.
In new ship news, the towing, salvage and rescue vessel NAVAJO T-ATS 6 was christened August 26 in a ceremony at Bollinger Shipyards in Houma, Louisiana. Launched on May 24th, the NAVAJO is the first of up to ten new ships being built by Bollinger in Louisiana and at Austal USA in Alabama.
In old ship news, the cruiser USS MOBILE CG 53 was officially decommissioned and stricken on August 18 and immediately began a tow from San Diego to the inactive fleet at Bremerton, Washington. Two more cruisers are set to hold decommissioning ceremonies in September – the USS LAKE ERIE CG 70 on September 1 at San Diego, and the USS SAN JACINTO CG 56 on September 15 in Norfolk.
The littoral combat ship USS SIOUX CITY LCS 11 was decommissioned and stricken on August 14 at Mayport, Florida, not even five years since being commissioned in November 2018 – one of the shortest service lives for any US Navy ship built since World War II. The SIOUX CITY carried out four deployments during her career – three to the US Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean and Central America, and in 2022 she made the first LCS deployment to the Sixth Fleet in Europe and the Fifth Fleet in the Mideast.
And one of the most distinctive vessels ever built by the US Navy has ended its operational life. The Floating Instrument Platform – or FLIP – was built in 1962 as a unique research platform able to pivot 90 degrees from floating on the water like any vessel, to a vertical spar buoy with most of its 355-foot-length below the water’s surface. The one-of-a-kind vessel was built to help study long-range sound propagation for submarine warfare, but the platform supported research in geophysics, meteorology, physical oceanography, and other scientific fields. FLIP was based in San Diego and operated for most of its career by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. FLIP was towed out from San Diego August 8 to be broken up for scrap.