USS Abraham Lincoln Return Marks End of Second High-Tempo Carrier Deployment in WESTPAC

ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OFF THE COAST OF HAWAII – When aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) pulls into Naval Air Station North Island on Thursday, it will cap off a busy deployment to the Western Pacific. Lincoln’s deployment saw the carrier largely operating in U.S. 7th Fleet, where it had the chance […]

An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Black Knights’ of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, flies over USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on July 30, 2022. US Navy Photo

ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OFF THE COAST OF HAWAII – When aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) pulls into Naval Air Station North Island on Thursday, it will cap off a busy deployment to the Western Pacific.

Lincoln’s deployment saw the carrier largely operating in U.S. 7th Fleet, where it had the chance to drill with both Japan and the Philippines ahead of the biennial Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise in Hawaii.

It’s the second consecutive high operational tempo aircraft carrier deployment to WESTPAC, as the U.S. Navy increases its emphasis on operating in the region to counter China.

“Our activities into the South China Sea as well as East China Sea were important to send a signal to China, North Korea, Russia of our commitment to the region, as well as our willingness to fly, sail, or operate wherever international law allows,” Rear Adm. J.T. Anderson, the commander of Carrier Strike Group Three, told USNI news in a recent interview.

While the carrier participated in a wide range of exercises, the deployment also marked the first U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadron deployment on an aircraft carrier and the second for the CMV-22B Osprey.

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, Lincoln’s commanding officer, told USNI News that the crew applied many of the takeaways from USS Carl Vinson‘s (CVN-70) recent deployment in the region to Lincoln’s time in WESTPAC.

“We took onboard a lot of their lessons about … where to base, and how to operate. We did build upon those lessons and learned a few of our own. We were fairly fortunate in that while we covered a vast amount of space in 7th fleet – some days it was a long flight for the CODSPREY – but we were able to remain mostly based out of one location for most of the deployment, which at least facilitated the flow of people and parts to one location,” Bauernschmidt said.

Dynamic Environment

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) sails in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

The early days of Lincoln’s deployment saw the carrier operating in the South China Sea – including amid People’s Liberation Army Air Force incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone – and the Philippine Sea.

Anderson echoed remarks Vinson crew members made to USNI News during a trip earlier this year to Vinson at the tail-end of its deployment, in which sailors described a more dynamic environment in U.S. 7th Fleet compared to deployments over the last two decades in U.S. Central Command.

“We spent a lot of time maneuvering around not only the Philippine Sea, but also in the South China Sea and well as the East China Sea. And the dynamic maneuver wasn’t just exclusively maneuvering around to avoid certain things, but it was also that that’s our best way of being able to compete in that space, as well as provide a strong presence throughout the region,” Anderson said.
“If we were to just simply maintain our location in one general location, I don’t think we were necessarily doing our job, right, in terms of providing a sustained presence throughout the region.”

Bauernschmidt acknowledged the difference between operations in U.S. 7th Fleet versus U.S. 5th Fleet.

“I would say a vast majority of folks that have deployed in the Navy got very comfortable and used to 5th Fleet operations and this is obviously not 5th Fleet operations. And so it is a much larger area than we would typically operate in and … it’s not just about one entity. It’s about China, Russia, [North] Korea. It’s about multiple different actors and being able to respond to any of those,” she told USNI News.
“Because it’s a large area of operations, being able to strategically place yourself to answer whatever mission we’re called upon is very important.”

Because of the size of the Indo-Pacific region, Bauernschmidt said she had to change how she thought about the carrier’s operations.

“I personally also had to think a little differently about each and every night what the sea space looked like, what we were being tasked with, what we were being asked to accomplish, or to just think ahead about where we may want to position ourselves in the event we were tasked with a different mission,” she said.
“Because unlike operations in the 5th Fleet that you can get where you needed to be in a half a day, in a fairly short amount of time, we have a lot more sea space to cover. And so being able to think strategically, position yourself where you need to be, understand the constraints and the restraints of ourselves, our aircraft, and other forces was important.” 

Lessons Learned from Vinson

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the ‘Tophatters’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14, prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on June 3, 2022. US Navy Photo

Lincoln’s deployment to the western Pacific followed a similar one last year by Vinson, which sent the first U.S. Navy F-35C squadron and CMV-22B Osprey squadron out to sea. Lincoln deployed with 10 Marine Corps F-35Cs that make up the “Black Knights” of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 314 out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

Ahead of the deployment, Bauernschmidt said Lincoln had the authority to install a double-decker mezzanine at the back of the hangar bay.

“What that allowed us to do was get some of the material that was normally in hangar bay 3 up into that mezzanine,” she said.

“We also took a good look at all of the support equipment and really tried to optimize where maybe we had duplicates, or we had the ability to truly ensure that the support equipment for the aircraft that we had was the right quantity, the right number, and the right ability,” Bauernschmidt added.

Instead of basing out of the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, like Vinson’s CMV-22B Osprey detachment, Lincoln’s detachment was based out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. This helped with parts and maintenance because the U.S. Marine Corps’s MV-22B Ospreys were also at Futenma.

“It is always helpful when there’s extra bodies, extra parts. So there was a little bit easier flow because there was already an established flow for most of their parts,” Bauernschmidt said.

Cmdr. Daniel Hutton, an aircraft intermediate maintenance department officer aboard Lincoln, said the carrier’s crew used takeaways from the Vinson deployment to tweak what equipment Lincoln brought. This allowed the crew to make more space in the hangar bay and be more strategic with what equipment it needed or did not need. As a result, the crew placed more gear in hangar bay 3, which made for more space in the middle of the carrier and in the forward part of the ship.

“Being the second air wing ship team to go out to sea with that type of aircraft, there’s a constant learning process that takes place between the ship, the supporting entities ashore, and then being able to adjust and take into account what things break,” Hutton told USNI News.

Hutton said they will continue to make tweaks depending on what happens throughout the deployment.

Since Vinson‘s crew had the chance to test out the deck density aboard the carrier with the Navy F-35Cs and the CMV-22B Ospreys, Lincoln could take those lessons and alter what they brought to sea. As a result, Bauernschmidt said Lincoln decreased its deck density.

An CMV-22B Osprey, carrying the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Hon. Rahm Emanuel, Japan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hayashi Yoshima, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, Commander, Navy Region Japan/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan Rear Adm. Carl Lahti, lands on Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi following an official visit, to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on April 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

“Because we had a lot of Vinson’s lessons learned, we were able to sit down and take a very thoughtful look at how we were utilizing space in the hangar bay to try to ensure that we didn’t have anything we didn’t need, but we did have everything that we were going to need so that it opened up extra space for aircraft and a little bit of extra maneuver space to maneuver them around,” she said.
“And we got our deck density down quite a bit from where Vinson was and into a pretty good place. And then we were still able to provide a little bit more feedback for follow on carriers so that they can learn from what we kind of figured out as well.”

Bauernschmidt said she also took advice from Vinson‘s commanding officer about how to perform replenishments at sea to maximize the carrier’s ability to respond to missions if necessary.

“He talked about some of the pluses and minuses with different locations – impacts of sea space, or how flight operations worked. We try to ensure that we were postured very well to be able to react to anything that we needed to react, like we do every day,” Bauernschmidt said. “But when you’re alongside another ship, we were very careful about planning it so that we were – several times we launched aircraft while we were alongside replenishing to be able to respond as necessary and then we were able to continue about the mission.”

F-35C Operations

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Justin Mancha, from San Antonio, signals an F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Black Knights’ of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, as it takes off from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 on July 14, 2022. US Navy Photo

After employing the Navy and Marine Corps F-35Cs at sea, officials aboard both Vinson and Lincoln say they want more of the aircraft operating within a carrier strike group.

Anderson, when asked why he would like more F-35Cs, pointed to the fighter’s sensing capabilities. Both Bauernschmidt and Anderson described “seamless” integration of the F-35Cs into the carrier air wing.

“It’s the tremendous capability that the aircraft provides from an ability to generate information, the sensors that it has onboard, as well as its ability to distribute that information, not just to other aircraft but to the rest of the force,” Anderson told USNI News.
“It’s a testament to the platform and the folks that fly it too that it can integrate so well in with the rest of the air wing. We don’t have to do unique things with the schedule, the cycle lengths, etc. in order to accommodate it.”

Despite concerns ahead of the first F-35C deployments, Bauernschmidt said at-sea operations disproved some of those worries.

“I think like any new platform that’s introduced, there’s a little bit of angst about how it’s going to go. And I think what ended up happening when we got them was the realization that it was again a fairly seamless integration, regardless of whether it was Marine Corps or Navy,” she said.
“But I think in terms of the noise and some of the things they were concerned about from whether it was a deck density standpoint, or parts availability, or maintenance that they were going to be required to do, I think there were a lot more concerns that were fairly unfounded once, you know, now that we’ve gotten through this deployment [and] we’ve been able to see and operate with them.”

Singapore Arrests Ten Over Illegal Bunker Fuel Sales

Police in Singapore have arrested ten people suspected of illegal bunker fuel sales. Officers from the Police Coast Guard made the arrests on August 4 during a joint operation with…

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Navy Rolls Out Retention Programs for Submarine Commanders, Senior Enlisted Sailors

A new Navy program will offer $20,000 per year to members of the submarine community in a bid to increase retention. Submarine commanding officers with no less than 19 years but no more than 25 years of service are eligible to receive annual payments of $20,000 if they stay in the Navy for another three […]

Tugboats guide USS Minnesota (SSN-783) to the pier as the Virginia-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine returns to Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., in 2021. US Navy Photo

A new Navy program will offer $20,000 per year to members of the submarine community in a bid to increase retention.

Submarine commanding officers with no less than 19 years but no more than 25 years of service are eligible to receive annual payments of $20,000 if they stay in the Navy for another three to five years, according to NAVADMIN 177, released Aug. 5.

Officers who apply for the retention bonus must be active duty, be serving in a commanding officer special mission billet and be at a O-5 or O-6 paygrade, according to the NAVADMIN.

Being promoted to an O-7 pay grade will make an officer ineligible and will result in unearned portions of the bonus being recouped by the Navy.

Qualifying officers must also have the 1120 designator and have nuclear training. The 1120 designator is “Unrestricted Line Officer billet requiring Submarine Warfare qualification or afloat billets leading to such qualification,” according to Navy HR.

Those who have a continuation bonus already under the nuclear officer incentive pay are not eligible.

If accepted for the retention bonus, officers will be given a service obligation between three to five years, according to the NAVADMIN. The bonus will be distributed yearly, with no option for a lump sum.

The new retaining bonus could be evidence of the Navy’s focus on retention as it faces a challenging recruiting environment. Already, the Navy has offered recruiting bonuses, with up to $50,000 for certain billets.

The Navy has been successful in meeting its retention goals, although they focus on sailors with up to 14 years of service, whereas the new program targets those with at least 19 years.

For nuclear submarine platforms, the Navy is aiming to keep 67 percent of sailors with up to six years, 77 for those with six to 10 years and 87 percent of those with 10 to 14 years, according to a NAVADMIN from January.

The Navy was on target to meet its goals and had already exceeded them for the sailors with up to six years, USNI News previously reported.

However, the Navy is also aiming to target specific billets, introducing the DMAP system to keep sailors at sea longer, USNI News previously reported. The Navy launched the pilot in March with four billets: aviation boatswain’s mate fuel, aviation boatswain’s mate – aircraft handling, gas turbine system technician – mechanical and culinary specialist.

Now the Navy is targeting senior enlisted positions with a new pilot program, according to NAVADMIN 178 published Friday.

Under the pilot program, the Navy is aiming to fill senior leadership sea billets. It will start with positions available in the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and on USS George Washington (CVN-73).

George Washington is currently in maintenance and experienced a string of deaths by suicide, prompting the Navy to investigate manning, USNI News previously reported.

In May, the ship was 80 percent crewed, with 60 percent of its chief petty officers and 95 percent of junior sailors assigned to the ship on duty.

The SEA2P pilot program is available to eligible active-duty sailors who are not in the nuclear or special warfare communities. The pilot is limited to E8 or E9 billets considered critical, according to the NAVADMIN.

The sailors selected for the program will serve 36 months in the SEA2P billet.

The Navy is accepting sailors in two waves. The deadline for the first is Aug. 31, with sailors finding out if they will be part of the program between Sept. 26-30.

The deadline for the second wave is Oct. 17 with results released Nov. 14-18.

A list of the SEA2P billets is available on the MyNavyHR website.

LA-LB truckers add to push for FMC action on empty box returns

The Harbor Trucking Association says it will provide evidence to the FMC about the burdens that West Coast drayage carriers face in returning empties to Los Angeles–Long Beach marine terminals.

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High demand keeps lid on truck capacity: experts

Strong trucking demand beyond the truckload spot market is keep pressure on truck pricing, and will do so into 2023, speakers at a JOC webcast said Wednesday.

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U.N. Expects ‘Big Uptick’ in the Supply of Ships for Ukraine Grain

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS, Aug 10 (Reuters) – The United Nations expects a “big uptick” in ships wanting to export Ukraine grain through the Black Sea after transit procedures were agreed…

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Supply Chain Stakeholders Begin Data Sharing with New National Freight Data Platform

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George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group Deploys, Set to Relieve Harry S. Truman Strike Group in Europe

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Wednesday afternoon and likely headed to Europe as part of the ongoing presence operations as the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches its six-month. The strike group consists of aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and destroyers USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), USS Truxtun […]

Sailor kisses loved one at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., as USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) departs on Aug. 10, 2022. US Navy Photo

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Wednesday afternoon and likely headed to Europe as part of the ongoing presence operations as the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches its six-month.

The strike group consists of aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and destroyers USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), USS Truxtun (DDG-103) and USS Farragut (DDG-99). Delbert D. BlackTruxton and Farragut are part of Destroyer Squadron 26 and homeported at Naval Station Mayport, according to the service.

Leyte Gulf‘s homeport is Naval Station Norfolk.

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 is embarked on Bush and includes:

  • The “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Knighthawks” of VFA-136 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Patriots” of VAQ-140 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bluetails” of VAW-121 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Nightdippers” of HSC-5 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Grandmasters” of HSM-46 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

“We bring the full-range of U.S. and allied maritime power in support of national security and defense objectives wherever we sail,” Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 10, said in the release. “Throughout our deployment we will continue to operate with and reassure our allies, maintain open sea lanes for trade and increased prosperity, and deter – or if necessary – destroy our adversaries.”

George H.W. Bush completed its graduation exercise last month that included transferring command from U.S. 2nd Fleet to Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) out of Portugal. The carrier completed an extended 30-month maintenance period last year.

The Bush Carrier Strike Group is likely heading to the Mediterranean Sea where it will relieve the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, which has been in the area since December, USNI News previously reported. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin extended the Harry S. Truman CSG as part of the United States’ response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

During its time in the Mediterranean, Harry S. Truman went under NATO control twice, the first ship to do so since the Cold War. The embarked Carrier Air Wing 1 flew 60 to 90 daily sorties along NATO’s eastern front, USNI News reported following a visit to the carrier in March.

Delbert D. Black already departed Mayport, Fla., for its maiden deployment, USNI News previously reported. The destroyer, named after the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, commissioned in 2020.

HMM cautious in short term despite Q2 profit long jump

South Korean ocean carrier HMM expects “downward pressure” on demand growth in the second half of 2022.

HMM reported Wednesday its operating profit shot up by 153% year over year, but the South Korean ocean carrier isn’t counting on revenue figures to be quite as impressive in the second half of 2022.

Seoul-headquartered HMM said the operating profit for the first half of 2022 was KRW 6.08 trillion ($4.68 billion), up from KRW 2.4 trillion ($1.8 billion) in the first six months of 2021. 

First-half revenue leapt by 87% year over year from KRW 5.33 trillion ($4.1 billion) to KRW 9.95 trillion ($7.66 billion). 

HMM provided year-over-year comparisons between the first six months of 2022 and 2021.

Net profit was the most impressive figure of all — up 1,560% from KRW 365 billion ($281 million) in 2021 to KRW 6.06 trillion ($4.65 billion) this year.

HMM significantly improved earnings in H1 2022, mainly led by high freight rates and efficient fleet operations,” the company said in an earnings statement. “The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) in H1 2022 was 4,504 points, up 49% from 3,029 points in H1 2021.” 

Second-quarter earnings also significantly improved year over year. Revenue was up 73% from KRW 2.9 trillion ($2.23 billion) to KRW 5.03 trillion ($3.85 billion). Operating profit increased 111% from KRW 1.38 trillion ($1.06 billion) in Q2 2021 to KRW 2.937 trillion ($2.264 billion) this year. Net profit leapt 1,290% from KRW 211 billion ($162 million) to KRW 2.933 trillion ($2.261 billion).

HMM said it was able to attain record results despite fuel costs rising 35% from the first to the second quarter of this year. 

HMM said its second-quarter net profit skyrocketed by 1,290% year over year. (Chart: HMM)

“The financial structure has remained strong,” it added. “HMM’s debt-to-equity ratio has improved to 46% in June 2022 from 73% in December 2021.” 

HMM provided only three points in the “outlook and plans” section of its earnings release, which hint that results for the second half of 2022 might not be as astounding as those for the first six months of the year.

“Demand growth is expected to be under downward pressure due to considerable uncertainties mainly related to widespread inflation, rising oil prices and [a] recurrent coronavirus situation, in addition to geopolitical tensions,” HMM said. 

It added that the “global supply chain is forecast to remain strained in the coming months” and port congestion at locations around the world is “still pervasive.”

HMM said it unveiled a mid- to long-term strategy in July and “will spearhead an effort to address the full range of future challenges and lay a solid foundation for sustainable growth.” 

HMM will spend more than $11.3 billion as part of the growth strategy that includes expanding its container ship fleet from 820,000 twenty-foot equivalent units to 1.2 million TEUs by 2026. 

HMM growing container ship fleet as part of $11B investment

HMM making change at helm

12 HMM container ships’ sticker price $1.57 billion

Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Tanker Rates from U.S. Gulf to Europe Returning to Early Pandemic Highs

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