Navy Recovers F/A-18E Super Hornet Blown off Deck of USS Harry S. Truman

The F/A-18E Super Hornet blown off the deck of an aircraft carrier was recovered 9,500 feet under the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. 6th Fleet announced on Monday. The single-seat Super Hornet assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) was knocked off the deck of the carrier in what the Navy at […]

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Zuani Batista, from the Dominican Republic, directs the pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34, on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), April 14, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

The F/A-18E Super Hornet blown off the deck of an aircraft carrier was recovered 9,500 feet under the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. 6th Fleet announced on Monday.

The single-seat Super Hornet assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) was knocked off the deck of the carrier in what the Navy at the time called “unexpected heavy weather” during the midst of an underway replenishment.

A “team from Task Force (CTF) 68, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), Harry S. Truman, Naval Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, and U.S. 6th Fleet embarked on the multi-purpose construction vessel MPV Everest,” oversaw the Aug. 3 recovery, according to the statement from 6th Fleet.
“The aircraft was recovered using a CURV-21 remotely operated vehicle to attach specialized rigging and lift lines to the aircraft. A lifting hook was attached to the rigging to raise the aircraft to the surface and hoist it aboard Everest.”

The recovery team included members from Phoenix International, the maritime salvage company that aided in the recovery of an F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter from the Pacific following a January crash aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). A similar team, including Navy salvage personnel, recovered the fighter from a depth of 12,500 feet using a CURV-21.

The Navy took the recovered Super Hornet to an unspecified military base in Europe and will eventually transport the jet to the U.S. While 6th Fleet did not provide details, Everest docked in Sicily, near Naval Air Station Sigonella, the day after the recovery in Augusta, according to ship tracking data.

The incident is still under investigation. The service has yet to identify the squadron to which the Super Hornet belonged.

Truman deployed from the East Coast in December and since then has been operating almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea. In a visit earlier this year, officials aboard Truman told USNI News the air wing was flying 60 to 90 sorties a day as part of ongoing deterrence missions along NATO’s eastern front.

11 Chinese Ballistic Missiles Fired Near Taiwan, U.S. Embarks USS America From Japan

The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has fired 11 ballistic missiles into waters surrounding Taiwan as part of a series of military exercises, the Ministry of Defense in Taipei said in a Thursday statement. According to the MoD, the PLARF fired 11 DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles into waters to the northeast and southwest of Taiwan. […]

PLA Rocket Force fires missiles on Aug. 4, 2022. CCTV Image

The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has fired 11 ballistic missiles into waters surrounding Taiwan as part of a series of military exercises, the Ministry of Defense in Taipei said in a Thursday statement.

According to the MoD, the PLARF fired 11 DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles into waters to the northeast and southwest of Taiwan.

The Taiwan military, “have monitored the situation with various means, while our defense systems have been activated. We condemn such irrational action that has jeopardized regional peace,” read a Thursday statement from the MoD.

Additionally, the Chinese claimed to have conducted live fire drills in the Taiwan Strait.

“Long-range armed live fire precision missile strikes were carried out on selected targets in the eastern area of the Taiwan Strait,” the PLA announced, according to The Associated Press.

“The expected outcome was achieved.”

The planned drills kicked off just after U.S. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan this week. The visit was part of a larger Congressional delegation visit to the Western Pacific.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan,”manic, irresponsible and irrational,” reported the BBC.

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B aircraft mechanic Lance Cpl. William Wiggins assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, currently attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), monitors an F-35B aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 18, 2021. US Marine Corps Photo

In addition, the PLA Navy has deployed both its aircraft carriers CNS Liaoning (16) and CNS Shandong (17) this week, USNI News reported.

For its part, the U.S. has positioned a carrier strike group and two big deck amphibious ships embarked with Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters are underway to the east of Taiwan, defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Thursday morning.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 5 and its escorts are underway in the Philippine Sea. USS Tripoli (LHA-7), which has embarked with up to 20 F-35Bs, is off Okinawa and USS America (LHA-6) has recently departed Sasebo, Japan, a defense official confirmed to USNI News on Thursday.

Neither the Chinese drills near Taiwan threatened the U.S. ships nor has the PLAN acted unprofessionally toward the deployed groups, a defense official told USNI News.

China Deploys Aircraft Carriers, Prepares Military Drills Near Taiwan Following Pelosi Visit

Beijing deployed its two aircraft carriers this week and plans to start a series of live-fire exercises following Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, Chinese state media reported. Carriers CNS Liaoning (16) and CNS Shandong (17) sortied from their homeports as part of the retaliatory measures China planned in reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taipei […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya, China. PLAN Photo

Beijing deployed its two aircraft carriers this week and plans to start a series of live-fire exercises following Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, Chinese state media reported.

Carriers CNS Liaoning (16) and CNS Shandong (17) sortied from their homeports as part of the retaliatory measures China planned in reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taipei as part of an expanded tour of the western pacific.

“The aircraft carrier Liaoning on Sunday embarked on a voyage from its homeport in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province and the aircraft carrier Shandong on Monday set out from its homeport in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, accompanied by a Type 075 amphibious assault ship,” according to state-controlled Global Times on Tuesday.

A defense official told USNI News, as of Wednesday morning, U.S. ships operating in the region have not had any unsafe or unprofessional encounters with People’s Liberation Army Navy forces.

The moves come in parallel to extensive live-fire exercise drills the PLA announced that will fire weapons within 10 miles of Taiwan’s coast. The drills would surround Taiwan, with some crossing into waters claimed by the island, according to a New York Times graphic. At least two cross into Taiwan’s marine border.

China has warned ships and aircraft to stay out of the area for 72 hours while the drills are conducted, but it is unclear if Taiwan and the United States will follow, according to The New York Times.

The current situation is reminiscent of the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, which saw the U.S. send two aircraft carriers groups to the area in response to China’s live fire drills. This time, the drills are closer to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the Reagan Carrier Strike Group and USS Tripoli (LHA-7) have been in the waters near Taiwan as of Monday, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.

The Ronald Reagan CSG and Tripoli were in the vicinity due to normal operations, a Pentagon spokesperson said Monday. However, a senior defense official told USNI News that the ships were there as part of a contingency plan if there was a military reaction from China to Pelosi’s visit.

Carrier USS Ronald Reagan, Two F-35B Big Decks Operating Near Taiwan as Pelosi Arrives in Singapore; China Renews Threats

Three U.S. capital ships and their escorts are operating in the Western Pacific near Taiwan, USNI News has learned. Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and big deck amphibious ships USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7), with Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters embarked, are operating in the vicinity of Taiwan, on the […]

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) conducts an archipelagic sea lane passage through the San Bernardino Strait, on July 30, 2022. US Navy Photo

Three U.S. capital ships and their escorts are operating in the Western Pacific near Taiwan, USNI News has learned.

Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and big deck amphibious ships USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7), with Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters embarked, are operating in the vicinity of Taiwan, on the edge of the South China Sea ahead of a Western Pacific visit from U.S. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to the region, according to the Aug. 1 edition of the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

A Pentagon spokesman told USNI News on Monday that the ships were operating normally in the region and would not detail force protection measures for the visit of the third highest-ranking U.S. official to the region.

However, a senior defense official told USNI News the ships, escorts and their air wings – already in the region – were prepared to linger as a contingency option. On Monday, Beijing implied there would be a military response if Pelosi traveled to Taiwan.

China has “serious concern over Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan and our firm opposition to the visit. We have been stressing that such a visit would lead to serious consequences,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday when asked about the trip.
“We want to once again make it clear to the US side that the Chinese side is fully prepared for any eventuality and that the People’s Liberation Army of China will never sit idly by, and we will make resolute response and take strong countermeasures to uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Capt. Joel Lang, commanding officer of amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) watches an F-35B Lightning II aircraft assigned to Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 121 prepare to launch from the flight deck on July 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and discourages governments from dealing with Taipei directly. Pelosi would be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

Pelosi arrived in Singapore on Monday as part of a congressional delegation to the region after a stop in Hawaii that included a brief with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, her office said in a statement.

“In Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, our delegation will hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further advance our shared interests and values, including peace and security, economic growth and trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights and democratic governance,” reads the statement.

Her official itinerary did not include Taiwan, however, officials in Washington and Taipei said a visit is expected, according to CNN.

As of Monday, Japan-based Reagan is in the Philippine Sea after transiting the San Bernadino Strait on Saturday following a port visit to Singapore and operating in the South China Sea.
Japan-based America is in the East China Sea and California-based Tripoli is in just south of Okinawa. Tripoli has been embarked with up to 20 F-35Bs, while America routinely deploys with Marine F-35Bs. Marine officials told USNI News on Friday that its F-35Bs were not grounded as part of the ongoing ejection seat problems.

Specific lots of ejection seats across the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — including F-35s — were found to have defective components. The services are in the process of clearing the seats for service with repairs.

“Currently, Marine Corps F-35Bs are not grounded, and over 90 percent of the inspections on Marine Corps ejection seat cartridge actuating devices are now complete,” Marine Maj. Jay Hernandez told USNI News on Friday.

VIDEO: Navy Commissions Amphibious Warship USS Fort Lauderdale

The 12th San Antonio-class amphibious warship formally entered service on Saturday in a ceremony in Florida. USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) is the first LPD-17 commissioned beyond the original 11 LPD-17s originally envisioned for the class. serves as the bridge between the current class and the Flight II San Antonios that will replace the Whidbey Island […]

USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) currently moored in Port Everglades, in its namesake city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

The 12th San Antonio-class amphibious warship formally entered service on Saturday in a ceremony in Florida.

USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) is the first LPD-17 commissioned beyond the original 11 LPD-17s originally envisioned for the class. serves as the bridge between the current class and the Flight II San Antonios that will replace the Whidbey Island and Harpers Ferry amphibious warships (LSD-41/49).

Fort Lauderdale delivered to the Navy in March from HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding, according to the service. The ship’s sponsor is Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment Meredith Berger. Fort Lauderdale will be homeported in Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Marine assistant commandant Gen. Eric Smith referenced the ongoing push from the service to acquire more of the San Antonios. The Marines have made a public call for a minimum of 31 amphibious warships in the Navy inventory – 10 big-deck amphibious warships and a combination of 21 San Antonios and Whidbey Island ships in parallel for the service’s new Force Design 2030 battle plan.

“We fight so hard for these ships, because we have to fight from these ships,” he said in his speech.
“When [Fort Lauderdale is] fully ready to go, you’ll see attack helicopters, you’ll see assault support helicopters, you’ll see landing craft air cushion, you’ll see landing craft utility, High Mobility Artillery Rocket systems, you’ll see intelligence operators, you’ll see the ability to do everything that this ship needs to do. It is the Swiss Army knife of the fleet. It’s highly sought after it is a national strategic asset that will be on the water for 40 years. It’s a Navy and Marine Corps asset… it’s a national asset.”

In his speech, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro highlighted the European deployment of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit as examples of the amphibious force in action.

“Our amphibious platforms, these ships, indeed send a strong message to our friends and our potential adversaries, that we are prepared to always maintain the peace and respond with forest from the sea when needed,” he said.
“The performance of the Kearsarge, [USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44)] in the Baltic, operating with our allies is one force spoke louder than ever regarding our commitment to NATO, and our partner nations in Europe and elsewhere.”

“In addition to LPD-28, HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding Division is currently in production on the future USS Richard S. McCool (LPD-29) and the future USS Harrisburg (LPD-30), with start of fabrication for future USS Pittsburgh (LPD-31) planned for later this spring,” the Navy said in a statement.

Fort Lauderdale will be the first San Antonio without the distinctive composite mast of the previous 11 ships. The masts, along with the deck houses for the first two Zumwalt-class, were built at HII’s composite facility in Gulfport, Miss., which closed in 2014.

Senate FY 2023 Appropriations Bill Adds $4B to Navy Shipbuilding, Money for New Amphibs

The Senate Appropriations Committee included advanced procurement dollars for two new amphibious warships as part of a $32 billion shipbuilding budget, according to the defense subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill released on Thursday. The FY 2023 bill shipbuilding and conversion portion appropriates $250 million in advanced procurement for a new San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious […]

The future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) departed Huntington Ingalls Shipyard to conduct Acceptance Trials in the Gulf of Mexico. US Navy Photo

The Senate Appropriations Committee included advanced procurement dollars for two new amphibious warships as part of a $32 billion shipbuilding budget, according to the defense subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill released on Thursday.

The FY 2023 bill shipbuilding and conversion portion appropriates $250 million in advanced procurement for a new San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious transport dock and $289 million more than the Navy’s initial $1.08 billion requested funds for the next America-class big-deck amphibious warship, LHA-10, according to the bill’s explanatory statement.

The advanced procurement for what would be LPD-33 extends the San Antonio line beyond where the Navy sought to end the class at LPD-32. In his unfunded request to Congress for the Marine Corps budget, Commandant Gen. David Berger asked for the advanced procurement for LPD-33 as his number one priority.

In line with the Senate and House authorization bills released, the bill puts $6.9 billion toward the purchase of three Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers (DDG-51), $4.5 billion for two Virginia-class nuclear attack boats (SSN-774), $1.13 billion for a Constellation-class frigate (FFG-62) and $1.6 billion for a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock. The bill also added $645 million for two ambulance variants of the Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport ship and funds for three additional Ship-to-Shore Connectors over the Navy’s request for one, for a total of $264 million.

The committee also directed the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report on Fiscal Year 2024 domestic shipbuilder suppliers, “identifying critical components that are available from only one or a few suppliers in the United States; and, providing recommendations to expand productive capacity in the United States,” reads the explanatory language with the bill.

The committee’s bill also appropriates $1.96 billion for 16 carrier-capable F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters for the Navy and Marines – three more than the Navy requested. The bill added funds for 18 F-35Bs for the Marine Corps – three more than the Marines requested. The bill also added five V-22s for $619 million and no money for additional F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. The Navy did not ask for any Super Hornets in the budget request because the service wants to end the line.

The topline for the total bill was $792.1 billion – a$32 billion increase in the topline as part of the FY 2023 request.

10 Navy Helicopters Suffer Major Damage, Several Blown Over in Sudden Norfolk Storm

At least 10 Navy helicopters were damaged in a sudden storm that blew through Norfolk Naval Station, Va., Tuesday afternoon, USNI News has learned. According to a Navy initial assessment reviewed by USNI News, the storm resulted in 10 Class A ground mishaps – mishaps that result in more than $2.5 million in damage or […]

Navy helicopters damaged by a sudden thunderstorm on July 26, 2022, at Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

At least 10 Navy helicopters were damaged in a sudden storm that blew through Norfolk Naval Station, Va., Tuesday afternoon, USNI News has learned.

According to a Navy initial assessment reviewed by USNI News, the storm resulted in 10 Class A ground mishaps – mishaps that result in more than $2.5 million in damage or the total loss of the aircraft.

“The Navy is continuing to assess the full extent of the damages to each airframe, but there are no impacts to operational forces as a result of this incident,” Cmdr. Rob Myers with Naval Air Forces Atlantic told USNI News in a statement.
“Known damages to the aircraft span from broken tail and rotor blades to structural dents and punctures in the airframes. No personnel were injured during the storm.”

The helicopters damaged were five MH-60S Knight Hawks, one MH-60R Sea Hawk and four MH-53E Sea Dragon mine countermeasures helicopters, according to the assessment.

The Navy has about 30 of the mine hunting Sea Dragons in its inventory, according to the most recent data from Naval Air Systems Command. The service has delayed retiring aging helicopters as the Navy has been slow to develop a new airborne mine-hunting platform.

At least four of the multi-million-dollar helicopters – one MH-53E and three MH-60s – were blown over by the wind, according to images of the damage circulating on social media.

Wind velocity in Norfolk, Va., around 3:30 p.m., on July 26, 2022. National Weather Service Image

The swift-moving storm traveling toward the Atlantic hugged the southern end of the James River and blew strong, high-speed winds across Norfolk’s Chambers Field, Jeff Orrock, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service Wakefield, Va., office, told USNI News on Wednesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, the NWS issued a severe thunderstorm alert at 3:30 p.m., with a warning of winds more than 60 miles per hour. According to the damage assessment, the high winds hit Chambers Field at 3:42 p.m. – 12 minutes after the initial warning.

When given enough warning, aircraft in the path of bad weather are taken into their hangars or tied down. However, the storm came at a time when aviation maintainers are usually in the midst of a shift change. It’s likely that most of the personnel were indoors and would have limited time to bring the aircraft in the hangars, USNI News understands.

MH-53E Sea Dragon blown over by a sudden thunderstorm on July 26, 2022, at Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

The Tuesday damage to helicopters is under investigation, Navy officials told USNI News.

The incident at Chambers Field comes after a sudden storm in the Mediterranean Sea blew a F/A-18 Super Hornet off the deck off USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on July 8. The loss of the fighter is still under investigation.

CNO: Missile Attack on Russian Warship Moskva Moved Navy to Speed Up Laser Defense for Ships

The April sinking of Russian cruiser RTS Moskva (121) in the Black Sea by the Ukrainian Navy is prompting the United States Navy to push hard for directed energy defenses on its warships, the service’s top officer told reporters on Tuesday. Moskva was monitoring the air war above Ukraine when two Neptune anti-ship missiles struck and […]

USS Portland (LPD-27) conducts a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration on a static surface training target on Dec. 14, 2021 while sailing in the Gulf of Aden. US Marine Corps Photo

The April sinking of Russian cruiser RTS Moskva (121) in the Black Sea by the Ukrainian Navy is prompting the United States Navy to push hard for directed energy defenses on its warships, the service’s top officer told reporters on Tuesday.

Moskva was monitoring the air war above Ukraine when two Neptune anti-ship missiles struck and sank the ship. The Russian ship’s point defense systems – missile and gun systems designed to stop missile threats on their final approach to the warship – failed to thwart the Neptunes, USNI News reported.

When asked about what new developments the Navy is pursuing as a result of a more dangerous security environment, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday told reporters that lasers on ships was high on his list.

“One example I would give you is terminal defense and the heat we’re putting on that. So if I take a look at what happened with Moskva in the Black Sea, that underscored the need for us to put more resources against defense of the fleet,” he said.
“That next generation is definitely going to be defined by directed energy and high-powered microwaves.”

RTS Moskva (121) following an April 13, 2022 strike from Ukrainian missiles. Russian MoD

Contemporary U.S. point defense systems rely on downing air threats with missiles like the Standard Missile family or Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles. As a last-ditch effort, U.S. warships would use a wall of 20mm bullets from a Mk 15 Close-in Weapon System to try and stop an incoming missile.

The systems have been key features of modern surface warships for decades, but are not often used. In 2016, USS Mason (DDG-87) fought off several cruise missile attacks from Houthi rebels using SM-2s and ESSMs to protect U.S. ships in the Red Sea, USNI News reported at the time.

While the defense proved effective, Mason was limited to the high-price missiles in its magazines to protect the destroyer and the rest of its group.

Defense officials have told USNI News over the last several years that the ideal setup for surface ships in the future would be to keep the missile space aboard ships for offense and use lasers, electronic warfare and other directed energy weapons to ward off missile threats.

For example, a key feature in the emerging next-generation destroyer design will be the inclusion of the integrated power system introduced aboard the Zumwalt-class of guided-missile destroyers that provide the warships with the electrical power of a small town, in large part to power directed energy weapons.

The desire for laser-laden ships is not new. The Navy has identified the high-cost of missiles and a near-infinite ammo as a reason to pursue directed energy to protect ships from missile and air threats over the last decade.

In 2014 the service put an operational laser weapon aboard USS Ponce (ASB(-) 15). At the time the Navy said the cost would be a “dollar a shot,” compared to missiles like the SM-2 which can run into the millions.

Artist’s concept of a HELIOS laser system aboard a U.S. destroyer. Lockheed Martin Image

Since then, the Navy has deployed operational lasers on USS Portland (LPD-27) and the High-Energy Laser with Integrated Optical Dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) laser weapon system aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG-88) this year, reported Seapower Magazine in March. Other surface ships have man-portable anti-drone weapons, USNI News reported in September aboard USS Kansas City (LSC-22).

Marines aboard USS Boxer (LHD-4) in 2019 downed the first known hostile drone at sea using a Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) of directed energy weapons, USNI News reported at the time.

Gilday was clear that Moskva’s sinking reinforced his desire to get lasers to the fleet.

“Our investment in next-generation technology with respect to whether it’s directed energy, or in other words laser weapons, or high-powered microwave, what happened in the Black Sea has informed my thinking on that particular line of effort and the resources we’re putting against it,” Gilday said.

Moving ahead, the Navy is developing several laser systems according to the Congressional Research Service.

 

Navy’s Force Design 2045 Plans for 373 Ship Fleet, 150 Unmanned Vessels

The latest plan to design a future force calls for a fleet of 373 manned ships, buttressed by about 150 unmanned surface and underwater vehicles by 2045, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday’s update to his Navigation Plan for the Navy. “In the 2040s and beyond, we envision this hybrid fleet to […]

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) sails alongside amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) during a photo exercise for Valiant Shield 2022 on June 12, 2022. US Navy Photo

The latest plan to design a future force calls for a fleet of 373 manned ships, buttressed by about 150 unmanned surface and underwater vehicles by 2045, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday’s update to his Navigation Plan for the Navy.

“In the 2040s and beyond, we envision this hybrid fleet to require more than 350 manned ships, about 150 large unmanned surface and subsurface platforms, and approximately 3,000 aircraft,” reads the NAVPLAN obtained by USNI News.
“Strategic competition with China is both a current and long-term challenge. Focusing our force design on 2045 will inform the most consequential decisions and investments the Navy needs to make in the critical decade ahead.”

Last week, USNI News reported the service had delivered a classified force structure assessment to Congress that factored in the combatant commander requirements and a more detailed threat assessment – particularly in the Western Pacific. The NAVPLAN factors in the latest National Defense Strategy idea of “integrated deterrence,” partnering the Defense Department with other government agencies to compete with China and keep a military advantage over Russia as well as the emerging Joint Warfare Concept linking the services together in a conflict.

The NAVPLAN defines the overarching threats as the declining value of military deterrence, aggressive actions from the Chinese and Russians in contrast to international law and the speed of technological change.

Under that thought process, the 2045 fleet promotes ships with the flexibility to host higher-power weapon systems and sensors that can be quickly upgraded as technology changes.

“We will build future platforms with modernization in mind—hardware upgradeable and software updateable at the speed of innovation,” reads the report.
“We must build adequate space, weight, and power into our large long-life capital investments to support evolving sensors and weapons systems.”

The notional 2045 Navy calls for:

  • 12 Columbia-class ballistic missile nuclear submarines
  • 12 Aircraft carriers
  • 66 Submarines split between fast attack and large diameter payload boats
  • 96 Large surface combatants like the Arleigh Burke class destroyer and the emerging DDG(X) next-generation destroyer
  • 56 Constellation-class guided-missile frigates
  • 31 Large amphibious ships
  • 18 Light amphibious warships to support to Marine Littoral Regiments
  • 82 Combat logistics ships and auxiliaries
  • 150 large surface and subsurface unmanned vessels that will act as sensors and as auxiliary magazines to the manned fleet

USS Spruance (DDG-111) arrives at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) for a scheduled port visit as part of the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group on May 21, 2022. US Navy Photo

In aviation, the plan calls for a mix of 1,300 5th generation carrier aircraft with a family of Next Generation Air Dominance fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles, 900 “anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, to include helicopters and maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft” and 750 support aircraft.

The totals are a further tweak to the roughly 500-ship total Gilday said the service needed to meet its requirements during remarks at the WEST 2022 conference, co-hosted by AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute earlier this year. The round number is also largely in line with the Trump administration’s fleet plan then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued late in 2020.

In line with a larger Defense Department drive, the Navy is crafting a concept of operations to conquer the vast distances in the Western Pacific with a network of sensors and shooters to find and attack targets. The Navy’s emerging Distributed Maritime Operations concept was refined last year during the Large Scale Exercise 2021. The idea for DMO is to have a fleet commander with direct operational control over several formations like a carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups to mass their power together over thousands of miles.

To keep the pace and cost of new ships to the fleet, the report doubles down on the Fiscal Year 2023 budget goals of cutting existing ships in the fleet, including aging Ticonderoga -class cruisers and relatively young Littoral Combat Ships. Removing both classes of ships from the fleet have been contentious in Congress, with legislators form both parties seeking to block the early retirements.

“The Navy must set a sustainable trajectory now to ensure we remain the combat-credible maritime force our nation needs in the future,” reads the report.
“Retiring legacy platforms that cannot stay relevant in contested seas—and investing in the capabilities we need for the future—is essential for our national security.”

Senate, Navy Pushing for Bath Iron Works, Ingalls DDG(X) Destroyer Team Up

The push to develop the Navy’s next-generation destroyer will be a team effort between General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding if the Navy and the Senate Armed Services Committee have their way. Instead of competing for the primary contract to build DDG(X), the service wants the two yards to take a page from […]

Notional Navy DDG(X) hull design. PEO Ships Image

The push to develop the Navy’s next-generation destroyer will be a team effort between General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding if the Navy and the Senate Armed Services Committee have their way.

Instead of competing for the primary contract to build DDG(X), the service wants the two yards to take a page from the teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding to design and construct the Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile, several legislative and service officials told USNI News this week.

On Monday, the Senate Armed Services released its Fiscal Year 2023 authorization bill, which includes language that directs the Navy to pursue the teaming agreement for DDG(X) without naming Ingalls and Bath. But the Navy wants the arrangement for those two shipyards, USNI News understands.

Citing a string of problems with the Navy’s surface ship programs over the last 20 years, the bill’s report language directs the Navy to adopt a similar teaming plan to the submarine yards.

“The committee notes that many recent Navy shipbuilding programs, including the DDG-1000 and Littoral Combat Ship programs, experienced significant cost increases, program delays, and reliability issues due to flaws in the earliest acquisition strategies,” according to the report language paired with the bill that was filed on Monday.

“Accordingly, the committee believes it is critical that the Navy work closely with industry to ensure appropriate design and technical maturity in developing lead ship acquisition strategies. The committee further believes that the DDG(X) acquisition strategy should be modeled on and leverage the best practices of the Columbia-class Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD) contract, with integrated lines of effort in design, technology maturation, and construction.”

For Columbia, the IPPD construct centers on a digital design tool that allows both yards and the Navy to work from the same set of plans simultaneously to increase the design efficiency and identify production problems ahead of fabrication. While in the submarine teaming agreement Newport News and Electric Boat build different sections of the same boat, in the DDG(X) arrangement, each yard would build a complete warship, USNI News understands.

The advantage would alleviate the growing pains of bringing a second yard in to build the same design after an original award, since all the yards would craft their fabrication plans at the same time. However, the arrangement would limit the work to the two yards and prevent a wider competition for other shipyards beyond Ingalls and Bath, USNI News understands. Some legislators are skeptical of the lack of a wider contest, Hill sources have told USNI News.

The House did not include a similar provision in its version of the NDAA that was approved earlier this month.

The next-generation destroyer is set to follow the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, an effort the Navy has attempted since the 2000s.

At the time, the Burkes and Ticos were going to be superseded by the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer and a massive 20,000-ton next-generation cruiser called CG(X). CG(X) was canceled for cost and the Zumwalts were trimmed to just three as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 defense budget.

Since then, the Navy has restarted the Burke line between Ingalls and Bath and adapted the hull to accommodate what would become the AN/SPY-6 air and missile radar in the Flight III configuration. Cementing a strategy for a Burke successor has been elusive.

The most recent strategy, unveiled in January, would take the combat system from the Flight III and the integrated propulsion system from the Zumwalts to create a combination that would be designed to field hypersonic missiles and high-powered directed energy weapons, Navy officials said at the time.

“When we upgraded the Flight III … we took up all of the service life allowance on that platform. All of the space, weight and power has all been allocated. There is not enough room on that ship to put a new combat capability that takes more power or a larger footprint within the ship,” deputy DDG(X) program manager Katherine Connelly said at the time.

“The first ship will focus on a new hull form and a new integrated power system. We will use the proven combat system from the Flight III ship so we are designing the ship with the flexibility and the margins to accommodate the future of the Navy and the needs for where we’re going.”