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US Navy Woes

Oldgateboatdriver

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Quite true, FSTO.

And it extends to more than just training their BWK.

First, I have always been amazed that the USN, in today's world of highly complex shipboard machinery and weapons systems, still employs SWO's for engineering positions instead of actual engineering officers (as a trade and qualification: P Eng.).

Second, in copying the RCN/RN/RAN system, of sorts, you also must include consolidation training and specific duties training (what we call our D-Level, ORO course etc.).

Look at the author:  In his short five year career, he was first a communication's officer (assuming his first posting - he would have had to become a BWK during that tour) and then navigator of  a ship capable of 38 Kts and expected to go in coastal/inshore waters. He doesn't seem to get any specific training for these tasks, even though I know he gets assistance from trained personnel, even for navigation (Quartermaster rate).

Can anyone imagine we would let one of our officer into one of these position without specific training first (D-level), and in particular, can anyone imagine the 16 weeks (is FNO still 16 weeks?) of navigation hell we would put an officer through before he/she became the ship's navigation officer of a ship capable of 38 Kts.

So our system provides training in specific tasks at each steps of one's career before taking on the job. And, in many cases, especially after the original BWK training, provides a sea posting where the primary duty  of the officer is watch keeping only as consolidation training.
 

SeaKingTacco

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I am not happy about how we have watered down our own Naval Officer training and let standards slip. When I first started sailing as part of a HELAIRDET at the beginning of this century, it was not uncommon for most of the Director level officers in the Ops Room to be multi-tour or to hold multiple qualifications. The ship driving was really good with again, very experienced officers mentoring the new BWKs.

That all seems to have disappeared in rush to pump as many officers through their sea time as possible so they can all become flag/staff officers. The ships are seen as a waypoint, not a destination.

With all our current faults, we are still light years ahead of the US surface fleet in training and experience. The fix for them is fairly simple: institute formal courses instead of OJT. Remove most of the secondary duties that we would consider a career field in their own right and give them to specialist officers. Insist on professional standards.
 

dimsum

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SeaKingTacco said:
I am not happy about how we have watered down our own Naval Officer training and let standards slip. When I first started sailing as part of a HELAIRDET at the beginning of this century, it was not uncommon for most of the Director level officers in the Ops Room to be multi-tour or to hold multiple qualifications. The ship driving was really good with again, very experienced officers mentoring the new BWKs.

That all seems to have disappeared in rush to pump as many officers through their sea time as possible so they can all become flag/staff officers. The ships are seen as a waypoint, not a destination.

With all our current faults, we are still light years ahead of the US surface fleet in training and experience. The fix for them is fairly simple: institute formal courses instead of OJT. Remove most of the secondary duties that we would consider a career field in their own right and give them to specialist officers. Insist on professional standards.

Someone should collate these responses and send to the author of the article. 
 

MARS

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FSTO said:
During maneuvers I used the gyro repeat compass face for PPI Rel Vel. The looks from the OOD and the conning officer were ones of wonder. Same as finding the flying course to recover the helo, even though the Americans land differently than us, watching them figure out the wind wheel was painful.

My limited experience was similar.  I was LO for a visiting OHP in 1998.  They entered Halifax Harbour without the proper harbour charts.  They literally used this 1:40,000 chart:

http://www.gpsnauticalcharts.com/main/ca4237_1-approaches-to-approches-de-halifax-harbour-nautical-chart.html

So, after they arrived alongside I became their Navigation Advisor and was directed to give them my ship's charts for their exit 2 days later. (We weren't sailing for a few weeks so i had time to get my chart folio restocked by CHS)

To OGBD's point, when I went to speak with their Navigating Officer to help plan their exit, he told me we wold have to speak to his "navigation assistant" who was a petty officer who was the actual dude who did all the planning, like drawing the tracks and such  :eek:

During the departure, i actually did far simpler mental math than FSTO had to do.  I did the MOST basic of all radian rule calculations: 6 degrees at 1 NM.  It is literally THE starting point for radian rule instruction.  They looked at me like i had 2 heads as we waited for the petty officer to finish the calculation using the slide ruler.

Merely a single data point, but one that i still recall vividly 22 years later...
 

FSTO

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MARS said:
My limited experience was similar.  I was LO for a visiting OHP in 1998.  They entered Halifax Harbour without the proper harbour charts.  They literally used this 1:40,000 chart:

http://www.gpsnauticalcharts.com/main/ca4237_1-approaches-to-approches-de-halifax-harbour-nautical-chart.html

So, after they arrived alongside I became their Navigation Advisor and was directed to give them my ship's charts for their exit 2 days later. (We weren't sailing for a few weeks so i had time to get my chart folio restocked by CHS)

Wow, no wonder they run aground so much.

As others have stated above, there is a path for the SWO community to no longer be the red-headed stepchild of the USN. But they need to check their hubris and accept that their way is not the best way to train a mariner.

As for our Navy, I agree with Sea King Tacco that our system is setting itself up for failure if we don't relook at our system. In this drive to be "Leading Change" we got rid of the second sea tour Lt's who along with the Navo (who was usually a swept up D level) were the daily mentors to the new BWKs.
 

dimsum

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FSTO said:
As others have stated above, there is a path for the SWO community to no longer be the red-headed stepchild of the USN. But they need to check their hubris and accept that their way is not the best way to train a mariner.

Is it just me, or is the fact that surface fleet sailors in a *navy* being red-headed stepchildren completely backwards? 
 

FSTO

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Dimsum said:
Is it just me, or is the fact that surface fleet sailors in a *navy* being red-headed stepchildren completely backwards?

Naval Aviator - TOP GUN!
Submariner - HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
SEAL - Navy SEALS (Charlie Sheen - its a hoot)
SWO - ???? Cain Mutiny?
 

Lumber

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FSTO said:
Naval Aviator - TOP GUN!
Submariner - HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
SEAL - Navy SEALS (Charlie Sheen - its a hoot)
SWO - ???? Cain Mutiny?

SWO - Master and Commander (ideally) / Battleship (unfortunately)
 

FSTO

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Lumber said:
SWO - Master and Commander (ideally) / Battleship (unfortunately)

Well Master and Commander is our (read Commonwealth) ancestry not the USN's.
 

NavyShooter

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Victims of the concept of:  "Train in the fleet" rather than "Train FOR the fleet."

Our own W Eng Tech trade followed that path, with a focus on OJT and a significant shift towards Computer Based Training for qualification on certain equipment.  It's a path I could no longer support.  I'm now a CSM at an Infantry Reserve unit.

 

dimsum

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FSTO said:
Naval Aviator - TOP GUN!
Submariner - HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
SEAL - Navy SEALS (Charlie Sheen - its a hoot)
SWO - ???? Cain Mutiny?  Greyhound

 

CBH99

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In regards to what Weinie said about the PLA(N) not lasting 72 hours against the USN, I'm pretty confident the USN has a plan to neutralize the PLA(N) within the first 72hrs of open conflict.

This was after some 'casual conversations' during RIMPAC 2014.  Obviously nothing concrete said, as those plans would be extremely secret - but after some of the briefings and conversations had, I'm confident the USN has planned prudently for open hostilities.




That being said, even the best laid out plans don't always come to fruition in open conflict.  As I have no doubt the Chinese have also made substantial plans on how best to survive & succeed in their objectives in an open conflict with the USN.


China has several advantages, most notably

a) concentration of their navy, air, and missile forces close to their own borders, whereas the USN and USAF have to operate on the other side of the world

b) a shipbuilding industry that is producing warships substantially faster than the US is

c) strategically speaking, we are doomed to fail in any conflict with the SCS.  The best we can hope for is a serious whopping of the PLAAF and PLA(N) in the hopes that whoever succeeds Xi as President, will try to influence China's interests by winning countries over rather than subversion and force


Hypothetically speaking, let's we dominated the conflict in the SCS against China.  All that does it set them back a decade or so.  They will continue to produce ships and planes, and be right back to where they are now within a decade or so.


**Also, my comment about being in the Army perhaps being the safest service to be in against a peer-peer conflict against China is in regards to that any conflict in the SCS will predominantly be a naval & air fight, with the USMC providing flexible ground-based support.  I doubt the US Army would have much involvement beyond perhaps MRLS, Patriot, helicopters, etc.**  :2c:
 

tomahawk6

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The US enjoys worldwide basing at 80 locations which could be targeted by China, but that mean WW3.
 

MarkOttawa

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US Navy turning to surface drones to help with its increasingly dicey position in Western Pacific (Russia also a consideration):

Navy Awards Study Contracts On Large Unmanned Ship – As Congress Watches Closely
Today's deals for designs -- Large Unmanned Surface Vessels displacing 2-3,000 tons -- reflect the 'take it slow' approach being forced on the service.

The Navy took another step toward building a fleet of robotic ships today, awarding several shipbuilders contracts worth a cumulative $41 million to begin developing requirements and potential designs for a new class of Large Unmanned Surface Vessels.

The LUSV has been the object of sustained interest from members of Congress wary of the Navy’s spotty track record of building first-in class ships, who’ve demanded the service take it slow and get its requirements in order before bending steel.

The ship is being envisioned as a critical part of a radically modernized fleet that will rely heavily on unmanned ships to scout ahead of manned vessels, conduct electronic jamming and deception, launch long-range missiles at targets found by other forces, and act as a picket line to keep Chinese and Russian ships and submarines away from American aircraft carriers, and far-flung bases [emphasis added].

Today’s contracts are a mix of requirements analysis and alternative design approaches that will help the Navy figure out exactly what it wants, and avoid the ire of skeptical lawmakers who are watching the program closely. 

Huntington Ingalls; Lockheed Martin; Bollinger Shipyards; Marinette Marine; Gibbs & Cox Inc.; and Austal USA were each awarded $7 million contracts for the LUSV studies. Each contract includes an option for engineering support, that if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to to $59 million.

The bipartisan consensus is aimed at putting pressure on the Pentagon to deliver long-delayed shipbuilding and modernization plans, and reflects a wider uneasiness on Capitol Hill over the Navy’s ability to build first-in-class ships on time and on budget.

The awards today are part of the effort to take a relatively slow approach to buy the new ships, which are envisioned as coming in about 200 feet to 300 feet in length and having full load displacements of 1,000 to 2,000 tons. The idea is to use existing commercial ship designs to build low-cost, high-endurance, reconfigurable ships capable of carrying a variety of anti-ship and land-attack missiles [emphasis added].

But in the 2020 budget, Congress mandated that the Navy wait on designing the vertical launch tubes until the basic design of the ship was finished, and they were briefed by the Navy’s top acquisition official.

The Navy is using a mix of land-based prototyping and at-sea experimentation to build requirements for the LUSV, something it failed to do on the USS Gerald Ford, the first of the new Ford-class of aircraft carriers. That $13 billion ship has already gone over budget, and is years behind schedule, due to the lack of land-based testing for critical new technologies.

Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez told me today the service “is pursuing this balanced approach in consultation with Congress and in part in response to Congressional concerns [emphasis added].”

The LUSV is following on the heels of the Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel program, which saw a $34.9 million contract award in July to L3 Technologies Inc. for a prototype for what could be as many as 40 ships. The contract included an option for up to eight additional ships, making the contract potentially worth $281 million through June 202...

As of right now, the Navy isn’t prepared to deploy or sustain a new fleet of unmanned vessels, Capt. Pete Small, program manager for unmanned maritime systems said in May. “Our infrastructure right now is optimized around manned warships,” Small said. “We’re gonna have to shift that infrastructure for how we prepare, deploy, and transit” over large bodies of water before the navy begins churning out unmanned ships in greater numbers, he added.

Sea-Hunter.jpg

The experimental unmanned Sea Hunter is the forerunner of the Navy’s proposed fleet of robotic warships.
https://breakingdefense.com/2020/09/navy-awards-study-contracts-on-large-unmanned-ship-as-congress-watches-closely/

More:

US Navy awards contract for studies of a Large Unmanned Surface Vessel
...
US_Navy_awards_contract_for_studies_of_a_Large_Unmanned_Surface_Vessel_925_001.jpg

...
https://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2020/september/8939-us-navy-awards-contract-for-studies-of-a-large-unmanned-surface-vessel.html

Mark
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MarkOttawa

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And on the crewed large surface vessel front, note hypersonics:

The US Navy’s Next Large Surface Combatant
Recent reporting suggests the Navy is going back to basics in designing its next cruiser and destroyer hull.
By Robert Farley

…According to David Larter, the Navy is now looking at entirely new hull that would represent a step beyond the DDG-51 in terms of size and capability. It is quite likely that the new ships will be equipped to carry and launch hypersonic weapons from construction.

The Navy’s future cruiser project also remains up in the air, but the ships will also require a larger hull. It is not inconceivable that the Navy could use the same hull for both the future cruisers and destroyers, with different constellations of systems to fulfill the missions specific to each type. The Ticonderoga class cruisers, after all, were based on the hull of the Spruance class destroyers. Larter’s reporting suggests that the Navy is focusing on a hull that can accommodate a set of already-developed technologies better than the existing DDG-51, which does not allow much room for growth. New technologies could then be incorporated into destroyers and cruisers as they develop into maturity.

…in the wake of the recent news that the USN hopes to retrofit its existing DDG-51 class destroyers to carry hypersonic missiles, it is uncertain how the Navy will find the resources to build larger ships in significant quantities. It is also unclear how the new large surface combatant will fit into the vision of a 500 ship Navy, which largely relies on substantial increases in smaller, cheaper vessels and unmanned ships.

The construction of China’s Type 055 destroyer, a third again as large as the DDG-51, has made it apparent that navies can start thinking seriously about large surface combatants again. An evolutionary development of the Type 052D, the Type 055 has a conventional design that nonetheless enables it to comfortably carry an array of modern weapons and sensors. That the USN has decided to take the same path, rather than investing heavily in radical, innovative new designs such as the Zumwalt or the stillborn CGN(X) large surface combatant suggests not only a certain degree of modesty, but also a growing concern about the Navy’s ability to match technologies to hulls.”
https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/the-us-navys-next-large-surface-combatant/

Mark
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MarkOttawa

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Now this, current National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien, seem to be dreaming blue ocean technicolor:

As its term winds down, Trump’s White House plots a major naval expansion


…officials who spoke to Defense News said O’Brien’s trips were more than just electioneering: They’re part of a high-level push inside the Trump administration to prepare for a major expansion of the U.S. fleet, beginning in earnest with the rollout of the 2022 budget and into a potential second Trump term. A major buildup could deepen the naval arms race in the Western Pacific and potentially reorder the Defense Department’s budget for years to come…

In interviews, more than half a dozen senior White House officials and aides described to Defense News an emerging maritime strategy that combines pulling back from long conflicts on land with growing the fleet. The new direction is viewed as a way to directly counter Chinese expansion while adding more industrial jobs to the economy. But analysts, who see little potential for defense spending increases in the wake of a staggering coronavirus-relief spending binge, say such a plan would cost tens of billions of dollars and could necessitate big cuts to other armed services.

To the president’s national security adviser, however, continuing to spend money on long-running counterterrorism conflicts in the face of a rising Chinese maritime threat is foolhardy…

A potentially fatal flaw in any naval buildup is its massive expense. In a speech this week, O’Brien called for as many as four of the Navy’s new Constellation-class frigates in development to be built per year, which should cost anywhere from $900 million to $1.2 billion per ship.

Furthermore, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said it is urgent for the Navy to begin building three Virginia-class submarines per year.

A buying profile that included nothing but four frigates and three Virginia-class attack submarines, in addition to a Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, which the Navy plans to buy at a rate of one per year starting in 2026, would run the Navy’s shipbuilding budget to no less than $21 billion per year. For context, the Navy requested $19.9 billion for this fiscal year’s shipbuilding budget.

But that plan would not include any of the support ships, unmanned surface and subsurface vessels, destroyers and new classes of amphibious ships the Defense Department says it needs to challenge China’s massive naval expansion.

Budget experts have called into question whether such an expansion would be possible without either large budget increases or slashing the budgets of other services. And with most experts predicting flat defense budgets for the foreseeable future, the only real option would be to cut one, two or all three of the other service’s budgets…

Any plans the Trump administration has for a large naval buildup beyond the 2022 budget submission would be contingent upon winning the presidential race next week. Biden has not called for major cuts to the Defense Department, but neither has he indicated he’s inclined toward a pivot to a maritime-dominated strategy.

What he has discussed is investments in unmanned technology and communications advantages that underpin Esper’s Battle Force 2045 approach for the Navy, which the White House has yet to embrace. Esper called for a major expansion of the fleet to more than 500 vessels that is weighted heavily toward smaller ships, fewer aircraft carriers, more logistics, and lots of unmanned surface and subsurface vessels.

The idea behind such a fleet is to match China’s expansion without substantially increasing the ownership cost of the fleet — a prospect that some experts question.

In a 2017 analysis, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that about 25 percent of the total cost of owning a ship comes from procurement. This means that for every $1 spent on shipbuilding, $3 is spent on operations and sustainment over the ship’s hull life.

What appears to be coming together with a potential Biden victory is a compromise on defense where there isn’t a major boost to the budget, but it remains flat or flat-plus-inflation, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and senior fellow at The Hudson Institute. He led one of the studies that fed into Esper’s Battle Force 2045 fleet.

That probably means that unless a future Biden administration sees the need for a maritime strategy, the overall shipbuilding budget increase to the 12-13 percent of the Navy’s budget that Esper projected it would need to add dozens of new hulls, Clark said. The reason? Operations and maintenance costs will eat the budget alive — costs that only grow as you add ships.

“Ensuring that we can pay for the operation and support of the fleet means we’re going to have to constrain shipbuilding and other procurement to what’s reasonable, and also avoid building a fleet we can’t afford in the future. So I think shipbuilding staying at about where it is, growing with inflation, that is what we should be looking for,” Clark said…
https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/10/30/as-its-term-winds-down-trumps-white-house-plots-a-major-naval-expansion/

Mark 
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Cloud Cover

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For the destroyer design, at least, that seems to be coming from the CNO himself: https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/10/13/the-us-navy-is-eyeing-a-next-generation-destroyer-from-a-new-design/

"The idea, colloquially referred to in-house as DDG Next, is to build a new hull smaller than the nearly 16,000-ton Zumwalt-class destroyer but still big enough to accommodate a larger missile magazine, Adm. Michael Gilday told a virtual audience at Defense One’s State of the Navy event.

“I don’t want to build a monstrosity. But I need deeper magazines on ships than I have right now,” the chief of naval operations said. “I’m limited with respect to DDG Flight IIIs in terms of what additional stuff we could put on those ships. … So the idea is to come up with the next destroyer, and that would be a new hull. The idea would be to put existing technologies on that hull and update and modernize those capabilities over time.
 
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