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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Small Ships for Littoral and Archipelago Operations: Turkish Kılıç Class

As we ponder the future of U.S. operations, it is a good idea to look to what other countries are doing.

For example, Turkey has the Kılıç (Sword) Class "corvettes" ("Assault Boats" seems to be the Turkish designation) which, ton for ton, are pretty well-armed, as set out here:
Type: FPB 57-052B
First of Class: Kilic
First Commissioning: 1998
Dimensions & Crew
Displacement: 554 t
Length: 62 m
Beam: 8.6 m
Draught: 2.6 m
Crew: 44 (+2 embarked)

Lürssen Defence photo
Thales Command and Control System
1 x MW08
Nav Radar


Maritime Patrol and Surveillance Operations
Confined and Shallow Water Operations

4 Diesel
Total Power: 16,184 kW
Propellers: 4 x FPP
Speed: 40 kts

1 x 76/62 Compact
1 x 40 mm double barrel
8 x RGM 84
These are a 20-year old design, but armed with uo to eight Harpoon missiles and operated as a squadron, can present a serious threat to other surface ships.

Designed by Lürssen which considers them "fast patrol boats."

For those obsessed with speed, 40 knots in a pinch, 3300 mile range at cruising speed of 16 knots, 1000 miles at 30 knots.

Nice post on this class at Naval Analyses:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

India Finally Acquits Private Security Contractors

Indian court acquits 35 from anti-piracy ship of weapons charges reports The Japan Times
Thirty-five men being held in India were on Monday acquitted of illegal possession of arms while they were on a U.S.-operated anti-piracy ship in 2013.

The six Britons, three Ukrainians, 14 Estonians and 12 Indians were
given five-year jail sentences by a lower court in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state in January last year.

The Indian coast guard intercepted the privately run MV Seaman Guard Ohio off the coast of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu in October 2013.

Semi-automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were found.

The crew members were charged with not having proper paperwork to carry weapons in Indian waters, but India has faced intense diplomatic pressure over the case ever since.

R. Subramaniya Adityan, a lawyer for 19 of the crew, said after Monday’s hearing at the Madras High Court that the men “will be released after the court order reaches the prison officials on Tuesday.”
One of the risks of private security company (PSC) anti-piracy units is having to deal with the laws of the various states through whose waters ships carrying the PSC must transit. Especially those states very sensitive about threats posed by units of armed, well-trained men.

That being said, four years is a long time to deal with what should have been a matter easily disposed of.

Background here

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017


In our hectic lives, is it not a good idea to have a day on which to be thankful for all the blessings you have and to wish for others to have their own good things?

No one is harmed when you are thankful for the new child or grandchild or for friends or the shelter above your head or for a year of life - or for the memories of those who may have left us - leaving us with those rememberances of smiles, words of wisdom and love.

Not only is no one harmed, but your own life is enriched by being thankful for such things.

In short, have a most Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Not So Far-Fetched - "Space Militias?"

Is the U.S. ready for China’s ‘space militias’? asks Adam Routh at SpaceNews:
NASA image of possible asteroid mining

Economic interests in space continue to rise. In 2016 the global space economy represented $329 billion, and 76 percent of the total was produced through commercial efforts. With some of the most lucrative endeavors like asteroid mining, space tourism, micro satellites, and space colonies still in the early stages of development and application, it’s no wonder economic projections estimate the space sector will grow to $2.7 trillion over the next three decades.

Nations’ militaries will continue to protect vital economic interests, and outer space will be no exception. But how will it happen? Will the United States see peer competitor militaries expand more aggressively into outer space? The answer lies in gray zone tactics and space militias.

The operational complexities of the space environment coupled with poorly defined international norms and laws will likely encourage U.S. adversaries to use gray zone tactics. Chinese maritime militias provide a likely model.
Space militias could operate much in the same way maritime militias act currently. Space militias will be commercial (or at least appear to be commercial) spacecraft supporting commercial activities but when directed by their government will quickly adjust and adopt a more military or law enforcement like role. The United States should expect these space militias to defend territory, provide situational awareness, and even attack other spacecraft through a variety of anti-satellite systems, but instead of people, these commercial spacecraft will rely on automation and artificial intelligence for basic operations. Without human life at stake risk tolerance will surely increas

Before the recent NavyCon at USNA, we discussed some of this on Midrats:

It was discussed at NavyCon, too.

And a modest discussion of space exploration, asteroid mining and such stuff at Space Exploration: Inflatable Habitat Ready for Space Station Trip:
"It will," the old man promised. "Funny—not so long ago people thought that space ships would have to be really rigid—all metal. So how did they turn out? Made of stellene, mostly—an improved form of polyethylene—almost the same stuff as a weather balloon."

"A few millimeters thick, light, perfectly flexible when deflated," Nelsen added. "Cut out and cement your bubb together in any shape you choose. Fold it up firmly, like a parachute—it makes a small package that can be carried up into orbit in a blastoff rocket with the best efficiency. There, attached flasks of breathable atmosphere fill it out in a minute. Eight pounds pressure makes it fairly solid in a vacuum. So, behold—you've got breathing and living room, inside. There's nylon cording for increased strength—as in an automobile tire—though not nearly as much. There's a silicone gum between the thin double layers, to seal possible meteor punctures. A darkening lead-salt impregnation in the otherwise transparent stellene cuts radiation entry below the danger level, and filters the glare and the hard ultra-violet out of the sunshine. So there you are, all set up."

"Rig your hub and guy wires," old Paul carried on, cheerfully. "Attach your sun-powered ionic drive, set up your air-restorer, spin your vehicle for centrifuge-gravity, and you're ready to move—out of orbit."
The quote is from The Planet Strappers by Raymond Z. Gallun (1961). As I recall it featured some sort of space piratea. A more contempory cite might be The Expanse.

UPDATE: Jerry Hendrix notes his CNAS report From Blue to Black
Applying the Concepts of Sea Power to the Ocean of Space
written with Michelle Shevin-Coetzee:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - NavyCon Warmup " The Green Hills of Earth"

Hey, NavyCon starts at noon U.S. Eastern on 18 November 2017 so, in preparation, here's a classic about space travel which hits on many of the underlying themes I would expect from the presenters at NavyCon - space travel is the human future, space involves risks, including phsyical and those we are familiar with on earth - lines of commerce, sustainment of forces in remote areas, rogues, tramps and large doses of the unknown.

Heinleins' classic "The Green Hills of Earth" (1947) anticipates these things and posits humankind in space. This version is from X Minus One in 1955:

NavyCon is hosted by the US Naval Academy Museum and will, as noted below, will be streamed live:



18 November 2017, 1200-1700 EST
U.S. Naval Academy Museum


Opening Address (1200-1220)
Claude Berube, Director USNA Museum
• "The ‘Academy,’ Naval Heritage, and Star Trek"

Special Guest Speaker (1220-1240 plus 10 min Q&A)
CAPT Kay Hire (Ret), (USNA ’81), NASA astronaut STS-90 and STS-130
• "The NASA of Today and Tomorrow"

Panel 1 (1250-1330)
LT Matt Hipple, USN
• "Why the proposed Space Cadre Ought to be part of the Navy"
Tim Choi (PhD Candidate)
• "Maritime Security, Sea Lanes, Chokepoints and ‘Star Trek Deep Space Nine’"

Panel 2 (1330-1430)
Raymond Pritchett, “Galrahn” of
• "Naval Irregular Warfare and SciFi Videogames"
Jonathan Bratten
• “Non-State Actors: The Case of ‘Firefly’”
CDR BJ Armstrong
• "Bringing Balance to the Fleet Forces: Issues of Fleet Design in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Expanse.’" 

Break (1430-1445)


Panel 3 (1445-1530)
Jennifer Marland, National Museum of the U.S. Navy
• “Why Old Tech is sometimes the Right Answer: ‘Battlestar Galactica’”
David Larter, reporter Navy Times
• "Fleet Leadership in ‘Star Wars’"

Panel 4 (1530-1615)
CAPT Mark Vandroff (USNA ’89), former Program Manager of DDG-51 program
• "Acquisition Reform Implementation by the Galactic Empire in the Years Prior to the Battle of Yavin"
Dr. Jerry Hendrix, Center for a New American Security, (former Director of Naval History & Heritage Command)
• "Fleet Operations and Tactics in David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series"

Keynote Address (1615-1645):
Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), HASC Seapower Subcommittee, USMC/Iraq Vet
• “Service, Citizenship & ‘Starship Troopers’”

Concluding Address (1645-1715)
David Weber, science fiction author of best-selling Honor Harrington series

Friday, November 17, 2017

On Midrats 19 November 2017 - Episode 411: Making a Better War College

Please join us at 5pm EST on 19 Nov 2017 for Midrats Episode 411: Making a Better War College
What is the best way to hone the intellectual edge of the officers who will lead our Navy? How do we gather our best minds and ideas together to best prepare our Navy for the next war?

How is our constellation of war colleges structured, how did it get to where it is today, and how do we modernize it to meet todays challenges?

We've put together a small panel for today's show to address this and related issues with returning guests Dr. James Holmes and Dr. John Kuehn.

Dr. Holmes is a professor of strategy and former visiting professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. A former U.S. Navy surface-warfare officer and combat veteran of the first Gulf War, he served as a weapons and engineering officer in the battleship Wisconsin, engineering and firefighting instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command, and military professor of strategy at the Naval War College. He was the last gunnery officer to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger.

Dr. Kuehn is the General William Stofft Chair for Historical Research at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He retired from the U.S. Navy 2004 at the rank of commander after 23 years of service as a naval flight officer in EP-3s and ES-3s. He authored Agents of Innovation (2008) and co-authored Eyewitness Pacific Theater (2008) with D.M. Giangreco, as well as numerous articles and editorials and was awarded a Moncado Prize from the Society for Military History in 2011.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Friday Films: Merchant Marine in WWII "Men and the Sea" (1943) and "Seaman Tarfu" an Army Joke

Training of men for service in the Merchant Marine during WWII: "This is war of cargo ships"

A lttle humor:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 9 October - 8 November 2017 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 2 - 8 November 2017

U.S.Military Power "Overstretched" - We Need More Ships!

Interesting assessment by Peter Apps at Reuters Commentary: The truth behind the U.S. show of force in Asia
The ever-increasing demand for military resources in a growing number of places is causing increased concern in the U.S. military. In June, a report by the U.S. Army War College described America’s military clout as “fraying” and bluntly concluded that the era of U.S. global military primacy that followed the fall of the Berlin wall was over. America’s armed forces have a variety of strategies to tackle that decline but the truth is that coming wars will look very different from the sort of military deployments taken for granted in the recent past.
Much of the burden of U.S. operations in the last 15 years has fallen on a handful of special operations units, whose budgets, personnel numbers and deployments have all risen dramatically. They are now dangerously overstretched, and the U.S. Army is now looking to create more mainstream units to take on unconventional deployments.
The Pentagon budget – $825 billion this fiscal year – is rising, and continues to dwarf that of any other nation. But it is also spread much more widely. China and Russia – spending $146 billion and 70 billion respectively – lack America’s global reach, but are more aggressively focused on their own immediate neighborhoods. Both have aggressively plowed resources into techniques and tactics such as cyber warfare and missiles that U.S. tacticians worry might give them the edge in any local war.
Not news to those who follow such things, but a reminder that being the "world's guardian" requires a commitment to man, equip and train our forces to do their work.

U.S. made "Ambassador" class from VT Halter
If you believe this is an argument that the U.S. Navy needs more ships, you are correct. They do not all need to be "super carriers," however. What we need is a presence. One ship can only cover so much ocean, but many smaller ships, costing far less than a DDG can provide presence with a call forward support force of big gray hulls.

You might recall this piece from The National Interest. Trump's Gunboats:
M-80 Stiletto (USN Photo PHAN Damien Horvath)
Instead of continuing to use the wrong tool for the job, it is logical to develop a diverse force of smaller naval ships to handle numerous, smaller missions, leaving the blue water navy to pursue the larger, vital warfighting role that it was designed to do. Smaller navy vessels working in squadrons may be more cost-effective in responding to global maritime incidents, patrolling coasts, and deterring similar forces. While the threat of Somali piracy has diminished the destabilization of other economies and nations could cause new threats to shipping to emerge as off Venezuela. Larger threats continue to loom as small Iranian boats swarm U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz and China’s maritime militia in the South China Sea have harassed ships in the past. Rather than offering larger, single targets of opportunity, dispersed squadrons of smaller vessels provide greater opportunities to counter asymmetric operations.
In his July 2012 USNI Proceedings article “Payloads over Platforms: Charting a New
Ambassador II fro VT Halter
Course,” then Chief of Naval Operation Admiral Greenert wrote, “We need to move from ‘luxury-car’ platforms—with their built-in capabilities—toward dependable ‘trucks’ that can handle a changing payload selection. “Sea trucks” is the perfect way in which to picture arming the smaller ship force. There already exist large numbers of “bolt on” modular weapons systems and sensor packages that could allow a squadron of such ships to present a challenge to any potential foe, ranging from anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to various form of autonomous vehicles with many mission capabilities. The addition of helicopters to the mix adds both a counter-surface and ASW capability; the same is true for drones. A lightweight modular force means that a small squadron could form a formidable presence at a relatively low cost.

The United State must have the available number of assets for regional presence or surge operations. In major operations and power projection this means strike groups of major combatants. But the navy also needs smaller, more affordable vessels for low-intensity operations. These smaller ships can be built early in the new administration to meet that maritime security gap. Immediate construction on low-end vessels would also provide a gateway to training a broader, skilled workforce when contracts are in place for eventual larger combatants.

Update: Build a bunch of "hulls" then add on gear to meet missions. Here's a good starter hull from Damen Shipyards in their Fast Crew Supplier 5009 Patrol:

51 Meters, 26 knots. Steel hull. From the Damen website:

Catch that part about:
The huge clutter-free aft deck can be fitted with all equipment necessary for patrol tasks, e.g. daughter craft – from RIBs to Interceptors. Besides, ballistic protected safe zones can be created in the superstructure.
But it's time to get started!

Monday, November 13, 2017

In Memoriam Captain Thomas Hudner, Navy Pilot, Medal of Honor Recipient

Sad new that one of out heroes has died -  Flyer who tried to save Navy’s first black combat pilot dies
A former U.S. Navy captain and pilot who received the Medal of Honor for his heroics during the Korean War has died. Thomas Hudner Jr. was 93.

Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Urena announced Hudner’s death Monday. Hudner was the former commissioner of the department.

Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War in 1950 after his plane came under enemy fire and he crash-landed in an unsuccessful effort to save the life of his wingman and friend, Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first black combat pilot.
You might be interested in the interview we had with Captain Hudner a few years back on Midrats:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Empire Builders "Armistice Day Reunion"

Before it was Veterans Day in the U.S it was Armistice Day. Today Armistice Day in some countries is more like the U.S. Memorial Day combined with Veterans Day.

Background here:
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

In any event, here's a show about an "Armistice Day Reunion" -

Empire Builders was on the air from 1929 to 1931. Nice blog about the show here.

Veterans Day 2017 - "The Courage to Serve" U.S. Navy Honors Veterans

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Never Too Old to Learn Something New: Currently Reading

Here are some of the open books I have on my Kindle (why yes, they are Kindle books!).

First, a couple of Naval gems I missed during my misspent youth studying the Law and other things:

Yangtze Patrol: The U.S. Navy in China by RADM Kemp Tolley, USNI description:
The U.S. Navy's patrol of the Yangtze River began in 1854 when the USS Susquehanna was sent to China to safeguard increasing American commerce in the region. As Kemp Tolley explains in this entertaining history of the patrol in which he was to later serve, the presence of gunboats along the river greatly benefited the integrity of the shoreline factories. Tolley was a young naval officer in the 1930s when assigned gunboat duty, first in the Mindanao, then in the Tutuila, and finally the Wake in August 1941. His colorful description of life as a "river rat" is filled with anecdotes about the resourceful and high-spirited sailors who manned the old riverboats in that distant land.
History, politics, and a sympathetic eye for the plight of the Chinese people - well written and an interesting read.

Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology by Norman Friedman , USNI description:
While the overriding image of the First World War is of the bloody stalemate on the
Western Front, the overall shape of the war arose out of its maritime character. It was essentially a struggle about access to worldwide resources, most clearly seen in Germany’s desperate attempts to counter the American industrial threat, which ultimately drew the United States into the war. This radical new book concentrates on the way in which each side tried to use or deny the sea to the other, and in so doing describes rapid wartime changes not only in ship and weapons technology but also in the way naval warfare was envisaged and fought. Melding strategic, technical, and tactical aspects, Friedman approaches the First World War from a fresh perspective and demonstrates how its perceived lessons dominated the way navies prepared for the Second World War.

Here's one that helps me look at our current culture(s) and crowd psychology:
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds. Wikipedia description:
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is an early study of crowd psychology by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841. The book chronicles its subjects in three parts: "National Delusions", "Peculiar Follies", and "Philosophical Delusions". MacKay was an accomplished teller of stories, though he wrote in a journalistic and somewhat sensational style.

The subjects of Mackay's debunking include alchemy, crusades, duels, economic bubbles, fortune-telling, haunted houses, the Drummer of Tedworth, the influence of politics and religion on the shapes of beards and hair, magnetisers (influence of imagination in curing disease), murder through poisoning, prophecies, popular admiration of great thieves, popular follies of great cities, and relics. Present-day writers on economics, such as Michael Lewis and Andrew Tobias, laud the three chapters on economic bubbles.[2] Scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan mentioned the book in his own discussion about pseudoscience, popular delusions, and hoaxes.
Yes, it's an "early study," but it's a good one.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

History Rhymes: U.S. Navy Ship Collides With Merchant Vessel in Tokyo Bay

Just a reminder that going to sea in ships is an inherently dangerous business, often made more so by human error. Thus, the tale of USS Oneida, one of fleet of ships involved in clearing the Mississippi River during the U.S. Civil War and eventually finding its way to the U.S. Asiatic Squadron
USS Oneida
. . .Recommissioned in May 1867, she was attached to the Asiatic Squadron and continued in that capacity until January 1870.

Sailing out from Yokohama, Japan on 24 January 1870, Oneida was struck by the British Peninsula & Oriental steamer City of Bombay, at 6:30 pm near Saratoga Spit. The starboard quarter was cut off Oneida and she was left to sink, as the City of Bombay steamed on without rendering assistance. Oneida sank at 6:45 pin in 20 fathoms of water with the loss of 125 men, 61 Sailors being saved in two Japanese fishing boats. . .
More at Forgotten Stories which begins this part of the Oneida tale with a report of the ship's Captain, Wiliams< being under a doctor's care as the ship was getting underway to proceed back to the U.S.
From Library of Congress Oneida Sinking
Captain Williams conducted a brief inspection of the ship before {Dr}Suddards sent him below decks to the cabin the Captain shared with his clerk, William Crowninshield. Williams barely managed to light a candle before sinking down into a sleeping chair. Stewart ordered sails set, arranged lookouts, and set the course south by east, one quarter east. Secured for sea, he turned the deck over to Master Isaac Yates.
Yates disturbed the ship’s officers at dinner to ask Lt. Commander Muldaur, the navigation officer, to verify Oneida’s course. Muldaur’s lone concern was the Saratoga Spit, a small piece of land jutting into Yokohama Bay from the East. If she kept to her present course, Oneida would be safe. Off to West, the distant lights of an approaching ship glimmered on the water, but Muldaur saw no need to worry. “That steamer will pass to the starboard of us,” he told Yates then headed back down to dinner.

Yet, with each passing minute, the steamer drew closer. Her green starboard light could be seen clearly now, and in an profusion of caution, Yates ordered Oneida’s helm to starboard; turning the ship to port. He again called for Mulduar, who insisted Saratoga Spit posed a threat, not the approaching steamer. The bay was three and a half miles wide, more than enough room for both ships. Besides, Naval Rule 14 stated that if two ships saw each others’ green starboard lights, they were to remain well clear of each other by helming to starboard. Oneida already had helmed to starboard as far as was safe, were the distant steamer to do the same, all would be well. Muldaur ordered the course resumed, and joined Frothingham, Copp and the rest at dinner.

Bombay drew closer. Inexplicably, she seemed to be recklessly attempting to round Oneida and get on her port side, in between Oneida and the western shore. With only a few feet between the ships, Yates ordered helm hard starboard. For the briefest of moments, it seemed the steamer would go around Oneida’s stern. It was not to be. On January 23, 1870, at 6:50 PM, the Peninsular and Orient steamship Bombay collided with the USS Oneida.

Bombay’s iron hull sliced off the entire rear quarter of Oneida just aft of her mizzen chains.
A Board of Inquiry found Oneida to be at fault in the collision, though the Captain of the Bombay seems to have been punished, too.

So, if recent events seem unique, they are not.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - You Were There "The Defeat of the Spanish Armada" (1948)

Queen Elizabeth’s decisive defeat of the Invincible Armada made England a world-class
power and introduced effective long-range weapons into naval warfare for the first time, ending the era of boarding and close-quarter fighting.
Or, as one site puts it,
The defeat of the Spanish Armada did not automatically make England the dominant power of the western world. Spain would remain a great force in European affairs for years to come and would be able to continue its war against England into the next century. Nevertheless, changes were afoot:

Spain was weakened by the defeat. The cost of preparing the Armada had been tremendous and left the country with a depleted treasury at the same time that New World riches were beginning to dry up. Further, following 1588 Spain was no longer the dominant naval power in the Atlantic.

In England, the victory inspired a new wave of self-confidence and nationalism. The navy had emerged as a potent force in international affairs and as the prime defender of the homeland. The English also felt emboldened to begin colonization efforts in North America.

Sea Power. It's a Thing.

Friday, November 03, 2017

On Midrats 5 November 2017 - Episode 409: USS FITZGERALD & MCCAIN Collisions; Observations with Bryan McGrath

Please join us at 5pm EST (don't forget to set your clock back) on 5 Nov 2017 for Midrats Episode 409: USS FITZGERALD & MCCAIN Collisions; Observations with Bryan McGrath

This week saw the release of the reports on the collision reports and Comprehensive Review of the incidents this summer between merchant ships in WESTPAC and the destroyers USS FITZGERALD and USS MCCAIN.

The totally avoidable collisions resulted in the death of 17 Sailors and removal from our most important theater two of our most critical assets.

Our guest for the full hour will be Bryan McGrath, CDR, USN (Ret.).

Bryan grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1987. He was commissioned upon graduation in the United States Navy, and served as a Surface Warfare Officer until his retirement in 2008. At sea, he served primarily in cruisers and destroyers, rising to command of the Destroyer USS BULKELEY (DDG 84).

During his command tour, he won the Surface Navy Association’s Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Award for Inspirational Leadership, and the BULKELEY was awarded the USS ARIZONA Memorial Trophy signifying the fleet’s most combat ready unit. Ashore, Bryan enjoyed four tours in Washington DC, including his final tour in which he acted as Team Leader and primary author of our nation’s 2007 maritime strategy entitled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.”

Since retirement, Bryan has become active in presidential politics, serving first as the Navy Policy Team lead for the Romney Campaign in 2012, and then as the Navy and Marine Corps Policy lead for the Rubio Campaign in 2016.

He is the Assistant Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, and he is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, a small defense consulting firm.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Friday Film: Collision at Sea - Evans-Melbourne Incident "I Relieve You, Sir" (1975)

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Military Lessons to Be (Re-) Learned from the Astros World Series Win

Let's begin with the Astros plan - About That Prediction ... How the Astros Went From Baseball's Cellar to the 2017 World Series
“When you’re in 2017, you don’t really care that much about whether you lost 98 or 107 in 2012,” Luhnow said back then. “You care about how close we are to winning a championship in 2017.” In other words, they were entirely focused on several years down the line, which meant shedding every one of their expensive assets and starting from scratch. People hated it.
The most remarkable thing of all about the Astros is this: they told everyone exactly what they were going to do—and then they did it.

So, as the old diving saying goes, "Plan your dive, dive your plan" - making a plan forces you to think of the long view, while giving you the flexibility to assess short term issues that may arise while the plan is being played out. As President Eisenhower once quoted,
I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of "emergency" is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.

So, the first thing you do is to take all the plans off the top shelf and throw them out the window and start once more. But if you haven't been planning you can't start to work, intelligently at least.

That is the reason it is so important to plan, to keep yourselves steeped in the character of the problem that you may one day be called upon to solve--or to help to solve.
War in the Pacific beginning in 1941? War Plan Orange:
[RADM] Rodgers' concept was little different from the one ultimately used in the Pacific War: a "leapfrog" campaign to conquer the Marshalls and Carolines (held by Japan before the war); liberation of the Philippines; and blockade.[3] Absent was the "decisive battle" of Mahan, and of Japanese planning.

American war planners failed to appreciate that technological advances in submarines and naval aviation had made Mahan's doctrine obsolete. In particular, they did not understand that aircraft could effectively sink battleships, nor that Japan might put the U.S. battleship force (the Battle Line) out of action at a stroke—as in fact happened during Pearl Harbor.

American plans changed after this attack. Even after major Japanese defeats like Midway, the U.S. favored a methodical "island-hopping" advance, never going far beyond land-based air cover.[7] Meanwhile, blockade was imposed from the very beginning of the war, with the first American submarine, USS Gudgeon, arriving off Japan on about 31 December 1941.[8]

A number of requirements grew out of Orange, including the specification for a fleet submarine with high speed, long range, and heavy torpedo armament.[9] These coalesced in the submarine Dolphin[10] in 1932 (only to be rejected and returned to with the Gato class in around August 1941).[11] The demand for submarines of this size also drove the development of the notorious Mark XIV torpedo (and its equally notorious Mark VI exploder), under the guidance of Commander[12] Ralph W. Christie.[13] The Navy also spent "several hundred thousand dollars" to develop powerful, compact diesel engines, among them the troublesome Hooven-Owens-Rentschler (HOR), which proved useful for railroads.
The plan is dead? Long live the plan!

Today the U.S. Navy is short of ships, the smaller fleet we have to meet too many commitments seems to have been "ridden hard and put away wet", in the classic meaning of that phrase. For the surface Navy, maintenance has suffered and it's blindingly obvious that training has suffered.
With regard to procedures, no one on the Bridge watch team, to include the commanding officer and executive officer, were properly trained on how to correctly operate the ship control console during a steering casualty.
I'm sure that firing people and many a "long green table" will be joining those already in progress.

However, what is really needed is a plan - a long-term plan to re-invigorate the Surface Warfare Community - which includes both more ships that can fight and more quality in the training of those who will fight them.

What should come first? I say more ships - and in a hurry - so that maintenance schedules for existing ships can be established while commitments can still be met.

Secondly, and the Navy is beginning to address this, better training for the surface warfare community. I assert that all non-warfare training be conducted before any sailor or officer hits the fleet. All the time wasted on non-warfare concerns eats into the time to be spent on basic shiphandling, emergency procedures and (although the crews in recent incidents have performed well in this area) damage control. If after all the "social" training has been entered into a sailor's record there is a violation of those rules, then punishment should be both swift and severe enough to warn all the others. Is being an alert watchstander so complicated that only geniuses can perform the task? Not in my experience. What is needed is the understanding that the watch team - consisting of the bridge team (OOD, JOOD, lookouts, Quartermasters, helm and after steering), the engineering watch, and those watch standers in CIC needs to know it job completely and to also needs to know when to call for help.

The Navy can rightly point to Congressional budget games for some of the issues it faces. On the other hand, it can also point to its own willingness to report "Can Do" when it should have been screaming "Can't Do" as factors in the need  to develop a new plan that matches the reality of the current fleet.

And the need to develop a long-term plan to restore the Navy to its preeminate position in the world.

An "Astros" plan.

(update - edited next to last paragraph for clarity.) (update 2 - edited again for clarity and to add that part about the watch team that I accidently left out in the original.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

"Navy crews at fault in fatal collisions, investigations find" - Defense News Reports

David Larter at Defense News reports Navy crews at fault in fatal collisions, investigations find
Two accidents that claimed the lives of 17 sailors and wounded dozens more resulted from complete breakdowns in standard Navy procedures and poor decision making by officers and sailors on the bridge of the two warships, according to a Navy report obtained by Defense News.

The Navy plans to release on Wednesday its first official report on the specific causes of the two unrelated collisions this summer when both the destroyers Fitzgerald and John S. McCain struck commercial vessels in crowded sea lanes in the Pacific.

The report reveals that both collisions came after critical failures of officers and sailors on the bridge and raise troubling questions about the basic proficiency of the Japan-based 7th Fleet and the surface Navy as a whole.
Read the article to catch the mulitple failures.

Update: USNI News has the