CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Sep 09, ’23] Ep: 110 Review of Headlines w/ Bryan McGrath


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…Is the US Navy focused on its mission? Is it doing what it should to prepare to keep the peace and to be ready to fight if need be? A recent piece in the New York Times raised those questions. Navalist Bryan McGrath joins us to break down some of those issues.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

 North Korea on September 6 re-launched a submarine fitted with ten launch tubes that could carry ballistic missiles. The submarine, named HERO KIM GUN-OK, is a rebuilt Romeo-class diesel submarine dating from the 1970s. It is not yet clear what missiles are to be carried by the submarine as North Korea has been test-launching several different missiles from submarines. Photographs indicate the submarine has a new bow section that may not be fitted with torpedo tubes. If completed, this would be the first missile-carrying submarine to enter service with the North Korean Navy.

At least two Chinese destroyers closely shadowed a combined US-Japanese-Canadian warship group in the East China Sea during early September. A CBC News video team aboard the Canadian frigate OTTAWA showed the Chinese destroyer HOHHOT maneuvering close to the warships, even moving in during a photo exercise. The US destroyer RALPH JOHNSON and three Japanese warships – the helicopter carrier HYUGA, destroyer SAMIDARE and a submarine – have been operating for several days in the East China Sea’s international waters between Japan and China.

The cruiser USS SHILOH left Yokosuka on September 5 after 17 years being based in Japan. SHILOH will switch to Pearl Harbor where the cruiser is scheduled to be decommissioned during 2024. SHILOH’s place with the US Seventh Fleet in Japan has been filled by an additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The destroyer USS RAFAEL PERALTA in August completed the first-ever reload of live missiles in Australia, refilling its vertical launch systems with Standard SM-2 missiles. The ordnance onload took place on August 22 at Port Eden in southeast Australia, but was not announced until September 7. The rearming of the PERALTA is a further example of increased US military cooperation with Australia.

And the destroyer USS RALPH JOHNSON carried out maneuvers with the Filipino frigate JOSE RIZAL in the South China Sea on September 4th, a demonstration of cooperation in the face of increased Chinese territorial claims in the region.

The decommissioning ceremony for the littoral combat ship USS MILWAUKEE, LCS 5, was held September 8th at Mayport, Florida. The MILWAUKEE’s service life lasted under eight years, having been commissioned in November 2015. MILWAUKEE never deployed beyond the US Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean and Central America.  

And the long-running process to decide how to dispose of the famous aircraft carrier ex-USS ENTERPRISE CVN65 inched forward with a US Navy decision announced September 5th to contract with commercial industry to dismantle the ship and its radiological waste. Ruled out were alternatives including breaking the ship at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where all previous US Navy nuclear ships have ended their days. The Navy has identified potential commercial ship breakers at Hampton Roads, Virginia; Brownsville, Texas and Mobile Alabama, and a bidding procress is next. The Big E remains stored in Virginia at Newport News Shipbuilding, where she has been since mid-2013 and where she was built in 1957-61

Servello Squawk:

This past week noted singer, songwriter, lead parrot head and maritime enthusiast Jimmy Buffett lost his battle with cancer.

I loved seeing on social media the tributes to Jimmy, many of which included pictures of his numerous visits to ships, squadrons and bases. For many of us who served in uniform it wasn’t just that we lost a great musician…it was that we lost a family member. 

Reading from the Superior Public Service Award presented by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer to Buffett in 2018 – the son of a son of a Sailor was an “Unwavering supporter of the men, women, and families of the Navy and Marine Corps. His dedicated service to our sailors, Marines, wounded warriors, and civilians ensured that they were provided highly visible support and gratitude that greatly enhanced morale and welfare across the Department.”

 Greatly enhanced morale and welfare he certainly did. If US Navy Sailors are forged by the sea then their souls are soothed by the music of Jimmy Buffett.

   Jimmy was born on Christmas Day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi. His grandfather made his living as a captain on a steamship and his father was in the Army Corps of Engineers, traveling to India and Africa before settling his family in Mobile, Alabama. Jimmy grew up on the Gulf, listening to the stories of his grandfather that inspired many of his greatest hits. 

   He knew firsthand the joy and excitement that time on and around the water could inspire. He understood the work hard play hard lifestyle many in uniform embrace as a way of maintaining sanity. 

 His songs captured why many of us love nothing more than to get underway, but equally love the sprint down the gang plank for a needed boat drink as soon as liberty is called away.

   Thank you Jimmy for writing and singing the music that captured our feelings and imagination so vividly.  Fair winds and following seas—you will be missed.

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