People’s Liberation Army Navy Ships Complete Circle Around Japan

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface group entered the East China Sea on Wednesday, according to a Thursday Japan Defense Ministry release. The surface group completed a near circuit of Japan since they were sighted in the Tsushima Strait on June 12. On Wednesday at 11 p.m., three PLAN ships were sighted sailing northwest […]

Chinese ships operating near Japan on June 24, 2022. Japanese MoD Image

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface group entered the East China Sea on Wednesday, according to a Thursday Japan Defense Ministry release. The surface group completed a near circuit of Japan since they were sighted in the Tsushima Strait on June 12.

On Wednesday at 11 p.m., three PLAN ships were sighted sailing northwest in an area 130 kilometers northeast of Miyako Island, according to the release. Hull numbers and images provided identified the ships as destroyers CNS Lhasa (102) and CNS Chengdu (120) and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902).

The ships subsequently sailed through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Setogiri (DD-156) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN ships, the release noted.

The Joint Staff Office release also included a map showing the movements of the three ships with a Dongdiao-class surveillance ship with hull number 794, which was sighted with them in the Tsushima Strait on June 12.

Dongpinghu and Dongdiao 794 sailed east into the Pacific Ocean via the Tsugaru Strait on June 16, while the two destroyers sailed through La Pérouse Strait heading east from June 16 through 17. Lhasa, Chengdu and Dongpinghu were subsequently sighted sailing together on June 19, and the three ships have been sailing together since.

Since Sunday, the JSO has yet to issue any sighting release on Dongdiao 794. Sunday’s news release said 794 was sighted at 1 a.m. that day sailing westwards in an area 90 kilometers northeast of Hachijo Island. The ship subsequently sailed west between Mikura Island and Hachijo Island, part of the Izu Islands group, while monitored by multi-purpose support ship JS Enshu (AMS-4305).

Both Russian and Chinese ships have been operating in the vicinity of the Izu Islands while sailing around Japan in June. A total of seven Russian ships sailed around Japan from June 16-17, and subsequently the PLAN surface group sailed on June 21.

On Thursday, the JMSDF along with the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) held a joint exercise in the waters east of Izu Oshima, which is part of the Izu Islands, possibly in response to the Russian and Chinese activities there. The exercise involved JMSDF destroyers JS Yamagiri (DD-152) and JS Amagiri (DD-154), along with a JMSDF SH-60K helicopter. The JCG units included patrol vessels JCG Akitsushima (PLH-32) and JCG Miyako (PL-201), along with a JCG Super Puma helicopter.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Asagiri-class destroyer JS Yamagiri (DD 152), left, JMSDF Asahi-class destroyer JS Asahi (DD 119), and JMSDF Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116) sail in formation during Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX), Nov. 21. U.S. Navy Photo

“Through this exercise, we improved the skills of the JMSDF and strengthened our joint response capability with the Japan Coast Guard,” the commander of the JMSDF element said in a news release on the exercise.

The JMSDF has been conducting exercises with the Japan Coast Guard for the purpose of strengthening comprehensive response and cooperation, as well as for the regional security of Japan and surveillance of the sea area around Japan.

On Wednesday, the Japan Defense Ministry announced that Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Parramatta (FFH154) has been conducting surveillance activities in the Sea of Japan in support of United Nations sanctions on North Korea. The release did not specify the time period this activity took place beyond stating it was happened in late June and that this was the seventh surveillance activity the RAN has conducted since 2018.

The sanctions monitoring also includes surveillance by maritime patrol aircraft from various nations, with Canada saying its CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft was harassed by Chinese aircraft while conducting such a mission from April 26 to May 26.

China has denied the actions.

“Canadian military planes used the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions as an excuse to increase their approach to China Reconnaissance and provocation endanger China’s national security,” Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said during the Ministry’s monthly press conference on Thursday. “China firmly opposes this, and urges relevant countries to stop spreading false information, stop acts that endanger China’s national security and increase tensions in the sea and air, and take concrete actions to maintain regional peace and stability”.

In other developments, Australia’s Defence Department issued a news release on Thursday about Australia’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise and disclosed that an unnamed Australian submarine was taking part in the exercise.

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152) arrives at Pearl Harbor for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 on June 29. Royal Australian Navy Photo

Australia had only previously stated that landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02), frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) and replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195) would be its naval units at the exercise.

The release also disclosed the composition of the Australian Joint Landing Force taking part in the exercise, which is embarked on Canberra, saying it was led by the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and accompanied by personnel and capabilities from other Australian Army units. The release said that 1600 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were participating in the exercise. Australia’s participation and leadership in the exercise highlights the nation’s enduring commitment to sovereign security in the Indo-Pacific region, ADF Chief of Joint Operations Lt. Gen. Greg Bilton said in the release.

“RIMPAC demonstrates Australia’s commitment to both the United States and to preserving the freedoms enjoyed by our regional neighbours,” Bilton said in the release. “We face complex strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, and the Australian Defence Force will take every opportunity to assure our friends that Australia has the ability and the intent to stand by its alliances, agreements and bilateral relationships.”

Four submarines are taking part in RIMPAC 2022, though the nationality of only two submarines – the RAN submarine and Republic of Korea Navy submarine ROKS Shin Dol-seok (SS-082) – have been disclosed so far. At least one of the submarines is likely from host nation United States, while the fourth could be either a second U.S. submarine or a partner nation submarine.

Navy Commissions Virginia-Class Attack Submarine USS Montana

The Navy welcomed the 21st Virginia-class submarine into the fleet over the weekend, the service announced Monday. USS Montana (SSN-794) is the third of the Block IV Virginia-class submarines to deliver to the Navy from Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding. It is the second naval war vessel to bear the name of Montana, the other […]

Sailors attached to the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Montana (SSN 794) man the boat during a commissioning ceremony in Norfolk, Va., on June 25, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Navy welcomed the 21st Virginia-class submarine into the fleet over the weekend, the service announced Monday.

USS Montana (SSN-794) is the third of the Block IV Virginia-class submarines to deliver to the Navy from Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding. It is the second naval war vessel to bear the name of Montana, the other being the former USS Montana (ACR-13), which was decommissioned in 1921.

Cmdr. Jon Quimby will lead Montana as its commanding officer. The submarine is 377 feet long, with a 34-foot beam, according to a Department of Defense news release announcing the commissioning. Montana can dive to at least 800 feet. Its crew will be approximately 136.

The submarine will provide next generation stealth, surveillance and special warfare capabilities, Under Secretary of the Navy Erik Raven said during the commissioning ceremony.

“She will strengthen our nation’s ability to keep the peace or restore it through decisive action,” Raven said. “This powerful boat and her crew will protect our sea lanes, strengthen our maritime dominance and deepen our relationships with our allies and partners.”

The submarine’s namesake represents the state and its American Indian tribes, Raven said. The ship’s sponsor is former Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewel and its maid of honor is Mariah Gladstone, a member of the Blackfeet nation.

“The Montana big sky spirit will carry our vigilantes of the deep through many challenges and missions ahead even when its crew cannot see the sky,” Raven said.

The Block IV submarines are expected to make 15 deployments while having three planned availabilities, according to a Navy news release on the commissioning.

The fast-attack submarines are core to the Navy’s mission and Montana‘s design will help the Navy compete with other powers, executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Chris Jessel said during the commissioning.

Montana‘s adaptability makes it highly responsive to the changing mission requirements and provides the nation with the capabilities required to be the decisive factor in in any conflict,” Jessel said.

HII delivered Montana back in March, USNI News previously reported. The submarine is the 10th Virginia-class boat HII has delivered to the Navy.

Construction on Montana began in 2015 and took five years. It was christened in 2020. Montana completed sea trials in February and underwent final testing in March.

The submarine represents the best of American ability, said Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding.

It’s “American manufacturing at its finest,” Boykin said. “American ingenuity in all its splendor. And American protection like none other.”

HASC Adopts Amendment for $37B Boost to Defense Topline, Restores 5 Littoral Combat Ships

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved an amendment that would authorize a $37 billion increase to the annual policy bill’s topline and save five Littoral Combat Ships from decommissioning. The amendment, proposed by Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.), would authorize $1.2 billion for the Navy to buy another Arleigh Burke-class […]

The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11), front, transits the Tyrrhenian Sea alongside the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on May 16, 2022. US Navy Photo

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved an amendment that would authorize a $37 billion increase to the annual policy bill’s topline and save five Littoral Combat Ships from decommissioning.

The amendment, proposed by Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.), would authorize $1.2 billion for the Navy to buy another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and allow the service to use incremental funding for the purchase. It would also authorize $923.8 million for another Constellation-class frigate, $746 million for another T-AO-205 John Lewis-class oiler and $695 million for two Expeditionary Medical Ships. These ships would be in addition to the eight battleforce ships the panel’s mark already authorizes to meet the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request.

The HASC’s markup of the FY 2023 policy bill is ongoing as of this posting.

Golden’s and Luria’s amendment also authorizes $660 million for eight F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, despite Navy efforts to end the Boeing fighter line. It authorizes $400 million for the Navy to buy two more E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, $446.2 million for three Navy C-130s, $252.9 for two more Marine Corps KC-130Js, $250 million for two more Marine Corps CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and $212 million for two V-22 Ospreys.

The amendment also authorizes $318 million in funding to save five of the nine Littoral Combat Ships the Navy sought to decommission in its FY 2023 proposal and another $59 million to save two Expeditionary Transfer Docks. The HASC chairman’s mark notably did not stop the Navy from retiring any of the LCSs.

The potential decommissioning of the Littoral Combat Ships has been a prominent discussion topic throughout debate of the FY 2023 defense spending and policy bills. The Navy’s budget proposal sought to decommission a total of 24 ships in FY 2023, including nine Freedom-class LCSs.

Luria’s and Goldman’s amendment follows the same moves by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. SASC in its mark of the defense policy bill saved five of the nine LCSs up for decommissioning, as did HAC-D in its mark of the annual defense spending bill.

But some lawmakers opposed saving the LCSs from early decommissioning. During Wednesday’s markup of the HASC chairman’s mark of the FY 2023 policy bill, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) displayed a chart labeling the LCSs as “Leaking Cracked Ships,” as she spoke in opposition to keeping the ships in the fleet.

“We all know what lemon cars are. We have a fleet of lemon LCS ships. We have spent billions of dollars on this fleet when they have no capability to help us deal with [what] our largest threat is, which is that of China and Russia. The only winners have been the contractors on which the Navy relies for sustaining these ships,” Speier said.

Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) departs Naval Station Guantanamo, Jan. 3, 2022. US Navy Photo

“The Freedom-class has been plagued by reliability issues from the start, with numerous power and engine failures, including 10 out of the 11 deployments that the [Government Accountability Office] examined. They’ve got problems with the gears that are faulty. I mean, it goes on and on,” she added.

Listing off problems various Freedom-class hulls have faced, Speier called the ships “a sunk cost” and argued the Navy should not spend millions to keep them in the fleet because they are prone to breaking down.

The Freedom-class ships have faced two significant problems: a class-wide issue with the combining gear that marries the gas turbines to its diesel engines and an inability to field the anti-submarine warfare package for the LCS Mission Module. The Navy earlier this year said it would scrap the ASW package for the LCS due to issues fielding Raytheon’s AN/SQS-62 variable depth sonar (VDS) on the Freedom hull.

HASC Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) similarly spoke in opposition to Golden’s and Luria’s amendment, but praised the package for going after inflation and modernization. The chairman reiterated his argument that the quality of platforms matters more than the quantity of platforms.

“However one feels about the LCS, there have been some arguments that have been made that I just find deeply troubling. One is, ‘well we already bought them, so why would we decommission them?’ Good money after bad is about as cliché as it gets. But it is really important at this point … we have to pay to operate these things,” Smith said.

“And they consistently break down and they consistently have incredibly high maintenance costs,” he added. “So we’re paying money and we’re not getting much in the way of capability. We can save that money, spend it on other things that actually are capable.”

Prior to the amendment’s passage, Smith said he planned to introduce an amendment about the five LCSs on the House floor so the entire chamber could debate the topic.

The Navy’s effort to decommission the LCSs has been fraught, with some lawmakers criticizing plans to retire relatively young ships that have not reached the end of their service lives.

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), the ranking member of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee, told USNI News in an interview this week that while he does not support getting rid of a large number of the LCSs because the class has faced some problems, he thinks the Navy should evaluate potential Foreign Military Sales and how partners or allies could use the ships.

“I do think that those ships have utility both for our Navy and our service branches, but also in ways that could really build United States strategic relationships with other nations,” Wittman said.

Should the U.S. transfer or sell the ships to other countries, Wittman argued there should be a military-to-military relationship between the U.S. and those nations so the U.S. Navy could train those sailors to both use the ships and exercise with them.

“I want to make sure too that we exhaust every possibility for us in our military,” he said.

Wittman pointed to the potential for the U.S. Marine Corps to use the LCS to move Marines around and for the U.S. Coast Guard to use them to perform counter-drug operations in U.S. Southern Command. He said the Coast Guard likely wants more National Security Cutters and the LCS could fulfill that mission set.

“This would be a great opportunity for the Coast Guard to be able to take a ship that has the capability I think that they would need – can move quickly, has the ability to deploy an 11-meter [rigid-hull inflatable boat]. Those are things that fit right within the Coast Guard mission,” Wittman said.

“And the same for the Marines. I mean, the ability to move Marines back and forth – to do tactical support – this ship has some ability to do tactical support for Marines ashore. I think all those things are missions that would fit easily with LCS without any major modifications to it,” he continued. “So I think we need to exhaust all of those possibilities as we go down this road, and then if all of those are exhausted, then we can talk about [Foreign Military Sales]. But FMS does have to be part of the conversation.”

During May testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday floated the potential to transfer the LCSs to other countries.

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee in its draft of the FY 2023 spending bill called for a report analyzing other uses for the LCSs and specifically said the Navy could decommission four of the hulls that it could then assess for transfers to other countries.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday marked up and passed its defense spending bill, which met the Biden administration’s request and allotted $762 billion in defense spending.

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) pier-side at Naval Station San Diego, Calif., on Feb. 15, 2022

Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.), a member of HAC whose district includes Naval Station Mayport – where the Freedom-class LCSs are based, – proposed and then withdrew an amendment that would have saved all nine LCSs from decommissioning.

“It is complete financial malpractice, Madam chair, to scrap any of these ships that have barely begun their service life. They’ve barely begun,” he said.

“The average years of service is less than four years, four years. That’s less than one quarter of their expected 25-year lifecycle. Taxpayers have already spent $4.5 billion on building out the LCS class. It is just wasteful to throw away these decades of investment,” Rutherford added.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who chairs the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said Wednesday that she has spoken with the Navy about its proposal for the LCSs.

“The first round of discussions I had with the Navy were very unsatisfactory. And they’re coming around to see the seriousness of us making sure that the taxpayers dollars that have been invested are at a minimum repurposed in a way that helps with our national security,” she said during the markup.

While House appropriators followed the Biden administration’s request, Senate authorizers last week authorized a $45 billion increase to the defense topline.

“I think this $37 billion is a start. I applaud the Senate for their addition of $45 billion,” Luria said Wednesday during the HASC markup.
“I know we have slightly different priorities and throughout this process I hope we will end up with an agreement somewhere north of this $37 [billion]. But I think adding this to the budget at least for me makes this NDAA acceptable in its overall topline.”

HASC on Wednesday also approved a separate amendment proposed by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) to authorize $45 million in research and development funding for the low-yield Sea-Launched Cruise Missile. The Biden administration sought to cancel the program in the FY 2023 budget proposal, but Congressional authorizers have sought to approve research and development funding for the program. SASC similarly authorized research and development funding for SLCM in its draft of the policy bill.

Navy Attack Sub PEO Goggins to Lead American AUKUS Effort, Says SECNAV

The admiral who oversees U.S. attack submarine construction has been appointed to lead the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership that promises to develop a nuclear-powered attack boat for the Royal Australian Navy, the Department of the Navy announced Friday. Goggins, who currently serves as the program executive officer for attack submarines, will report to the […]

Rear Adm. David Goggins

The admiral who oversees U.S. attack submarine construction has been appointed to lead the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership that promises to develop a nuclear-powered attack boat for the Royal Australian Navy, the Department of the Navy announced Friday.

Goggins, who currently serves as the program executive officer for attack submarines, will report to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, according to the sea service’s news release. He will turn the PEO over to Rear Adm. Jonathon Rucker.

As the special assistant in support of AUKUS, Goggins will lead the planning and standup of the Navy’s implementation of the approach selected by Australia after a consultation period, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in the release.

“Adm. Goggins selection to lead AUKUS will further our efforts to strengthen our strategic partnerships with Australia and the United Kingdom,” Del Toro said in the release. “Dave comes to us at a critical time in the consultation period of AUKUS and is the right person to spearhead the analysis of the submarine development production and testing efforts. Under his leadership, I’m confident the AUKUS team will help meet the objective of determining the best path toward equipping the Royals Australian Navy with a nuclear-powered, conventionally-armed class of attack submarines by March 2023.”

Goggins previously served as the Virginia-class program manager. He oversaw the delivery of three submarines for the Navy and started the design for the Block V Virginia Payload Module and Acoustic Superiority upgrades as part of the Virginia-class submarines.

He also previously worked on the Columbia-class submarine as the program manager.

The AUKUS partnership, announced in September and formalized in December, allows Washington and London to share technical secrets of nuclear submarine propulsion with Canberra. The move caused Australia to abandon its deal with the French to buy conventionally-powered submarines that would replace the RAN’s Collins-class boats.

The AUKUS effort is now in the middle of an 18-month study period to determine the best way to move forward with the effort.

In addition to nuclear propulsion, the agreement is designed “to spur cooperation across many new and emerging arenas: cyber, AI – particularly applied AI – quantum technologies and some undersea capabilities as well,” according to a summary of the agreement.

New AUKUS Caucus Bill Calls for U.S.-Australia Sub Training Pipeline

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would help the Royal Australian Navy train its future submarine warfare officers with U.S. sailors. Dubbed the “The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act,” the legislation would allow Australia to send at least two of its submarine warfare officers to train with American sailors each […]

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Benjamin Stewart participates in an Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise with a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine during Exercise ARC21 in 2021. Royal Australian Navy Photo

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would help the Royal Australian Navy train its future submarine warfare officers with U.S. sailors.

Dubbed the “The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act,” the legislation would allow Australia to send at least two of its submarine warfare officers to train with American sailors each year. The Royal Australian Navy officers would first attend the Navy Nuclear Propulsion School, then take the Submarine Officer Basic Course, and finally deploy aboard a U.S. submarine after finishing the basic course, according to text of the bill.

“The new bipartisan bill will establish a joint training pipeline between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, and will enable the start of U.S.-based training of Commanding Officers for Australia’s future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance,” the AUKUS working group said in a news release.

The bill would mandate that the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy begin the training exchange in 2023 and continue it in the years to follow.

The legislation is the product of Congress’ AUKUS working group, which lawmakers created in April to help advance the new partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The bill comes as the U.S., the U.K., and Australia continue an 18-month evaluation period to determine what’s necessary for Australia to develop nuclear-powered submarines.

“The AUKUS alliance is the most important national security partnership that America has entered into in decades. Its centerpiece is creating an Australian nuclear-powered undersea fleet of submarines, which all three allies are actively designing. While that work is ongoing, it makes sense to open the U.S. Navy’s nuclear training programs to Australia’s naval officers to acquire proficiency in the operation of nuclear submarines,” Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), a member of the AUKUS working group who is also the chair of the House Armed Services seapower and project forces subcommittee, said in a statement.

Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) and Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarine HMAS Rankin (SSG-78) operate together in waters off Rottnest Island, Western Australia on March 4, 2015. Royal Navy Photo

Courtney, Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Blake Moore (R-Utah) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) – all co-chairs of the AUKUS working group – sponsored the bill, as did Reps. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).

“The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act will help facilitate the delivery and ensure the future success of Australia’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance. Because the delivery of such submarines to Australia will require the appropriate training and development of future commanding officers, and in order to uphold the stewardship of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, the bill establishes a program for Australian submariner training between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy,” the AUKUS working group said in the release.

Last September the Biden administration announced the new trilateral AUKUS alliance, which includes both broader technology sharing and sharing the nuclear propulsion technology required to develop nuclear-powered submarines. The United States has only ever shared nuclear propulsion technology with the U.K. in 1958.

Building nuclear-powered submarined would require billions of dollars and years of investment in infrastructure on Australia’s part, as the country does not have a shipyard that can build or maintain nuclear-powered vessels, USNI News understands.

“It is imperative that we strengthen our undersea capabilities and increase submarine production for our national security interests, and the training exchange program outlined in the legislation will help us achieve that goal,” Moore said in a statement about the bill.

Report to Congress on U.S. Navy Ship Names

The following is the June 13, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress. Names for Navy ships traditionally have been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President and in accordance with rules prescribed by Congress. Rules for giving certain types of names to […]

The following is the June 13, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress.

Names for Navy ships traditionally have been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President and in accordance with rules prescribed by Congress. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time. There have been exceptions to the Navy’s ship-naming rules, particularly for the purpose of naming a ship for a person when the rule for that type of ship would have called for it to be named for something else. Some observers have perceived a breakdown in, or corruption of, the rules for naming Navy ships. Section 370 of the FY2021 NDAA (H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283 of January 1, 2021) established a commission regarding the removal and renaming of certain assets of the Department of Defense (including ships) that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.

For ship types now being procured for the Navy, or recently procured for the Navy, naming rules can be summarized as follows:

  • The first and second SSBN-826 class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) have been named District of Columbia and Wisconsin. The Navy has not stated the naming rule for this class of ships.
  • Until recently, Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines have generally been named for states, but the four most recently named Virginia-class boats have instead been named in honor of earlier U.S. Navy attack submarines.
  • Of the Navy’s 15 most recently named aircraft carriers, 10 have been named for past U.S. Presidents and 2 for Members of Congress.
  • Destroyers are being named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including Secretaries of the Navy.
  • The first three FFG-62 class frigates have been named Constellation, Congress, and Chesapeake, in honor of three of the first six U.S. Navy ships authorized by Congress in 1794. The Navy has not stated the naming rule for this class of ships.
  • Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) were named for regionally important U.S. cities and communities.
  • Amphibious assault ships are being named for important battles in which U.S. Marines played a prominent part and for famous earlier U.S. Navy ships that were not named for battles.
  • San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ships are being named for major U.S. cities and communities and cities and communities attacked on September 11, 2001.
  • John Lewis (TAO-205) class oilers are being named for people who fought for civil rights and human rights.
  • Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPFs) are being named for small U.S. cities.
  • Expeditionary Transport Docks (ESDs) and Expeditionary Sea Bases (ESBs) are being named for famous names or places of historical significance to U.S. Marines.
  • Navajo (TATS-6) class towing, salvage, and rescue ships are being named for prominent Native Americans or Native American tribes.

Download the document here.

GAO’s 2022 Weapons Systems Annual Assessment

The following is the June 8, 2022, Government Accountability Office report Weapon Systems Annual Assessment: Challenges to Fielding Capabilities Faster Persist. From the report What GAO Found For over 20 years, GAO has assessed the Department of Defense’s (DOD) weapon programs and noted significant changes in its acquisition policies and practices. GAO’s first assessment in […]

The following is the June 8, 2022, Government Accountability Office report Weapon Systems Annual Assessment: Challenges to Fielding Capabilities Faster Persist.

From the report

What GAO Found

For over 20 years, GAO has assessed the Department of Defense’s (DOD)
weapon programs and noted significant changes in its acquisition policies and
practices. GAO’s first assessment in 2003 highlighted challenges, such as
committing billions of taxpayer dollars before obtaining key information, including
reliable cost estimates and proven designs. Yet these challenges still hinder
many programs. And they slow the department’s current emphasis on delivering
capabilities to the warfighter faster.

This year’s report analyzed 63 of DOD’s costliest weapon system acquisition
programs. These programs include:

  • 40 major defense acquisition programs (MDAP);
  • four future major weapon acquisitions; and
  • 19 programs using the middle tier of acquisition (MTA) pathway, used for
    rapid prototyping and rapid fielding efforts.

GAO found that MDAPs continue to struggle with schedule delays. Over half of
the 29 MDAPs that GAO reviewed that had yet to deliver capability reported
delays during the past year (see figure). The lack of future year funding data in
the fiscal year 2022 budget request precluded GAO from assessing the MDAP
portfolio’s cost performance this year.

GAO observed a correlation between programs that obtained certain knowledge
at key points and better cost and schedule outcomes. Knowledge-based
acquisitions attain crucial information about topics such as technology maturity
before proceeding beyond key points. But the majority of MDAPs GAO reviewed
continue to not fully achieve knowledge that informs key investment decisions.
This finding is consistent with GAO’s reporting over the last 20 years.

DOD continues to leverage MTA rapid prototyping and rapid fielding efforts, with
the aim of delivering capabilities faster. MTA programs do not have comparable
milestones to facilitate consistent schedule analysis. However, three MTA
programs GAO reviewed reported challenges that may threaten the planned
program completion dates. These challenges may also hinder the programs’
ability to rapidly deliver capabilities as initially envisioned.

Further, MTA programs’ approaches to obtaining knowledge pose potential risks.
DOD is increasing its use of the MTA pathway. Yet, GAO observed that these
programs generally do not plan to attain sufficient product knowledge before
starting follow-on efforts, falling short of leading acquisition practices. This
approach increases the risk that these follow-on efforts may encounter cost,
schedule, or technical challenges during development or production.

Additionally, GAO’s past work has emphasized the importance of modernizing
DOD’s software development efforts. The department built on ongoing
modernization initiatives over the past year. For example, DOD leadership has
emphasized key practices, such as iterative development. However, most of the
39 programs that reported using a modern software development approach
deliver working software for user feedback more slowly than recommended by
industry’s Agile practices, which call for rapid, frequent delivery of software and
fast feedback cycles (see figure). As a result, these programs may lose out on
some of the benefits of using a modern approach.

Download the document here.

New Marine Littoral Regiment Will Make Debut in This Year’s RIMPAC Drills

Marines with 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment will join ground forces along with a fleet of ships, submarines and aircraft from 26 countries for this year’s multinational, Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise off Hawaii, officials told USNI News. “As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and […]

U.S. Marines with 3d Marine Littoral Regiment, 3d Marine Division, post security during a field training exercise at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, May 30, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

Marines with 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment will join ground forces along with a fleet of ships, submarines and aircraft from 26 countries for this year’s multinational, Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise off Hawaii, officials told USNI News.

“As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans,” 3rd Fleet officials said last week in an announcement. “The theme of RIMPAC 2022 is ‘Capable-Adaptive-Partners.’ Participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces.”

About 25,000 military personnel will participate in RIMPAC 2022, which kicks off June 29 and runs through Aug. 4, with 38 surface ships, four submarines and more than 170 aircraft taking part in training at sea and ashore.

“It’s a return to a full-scale exercise,” Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a 3rd fleet spokesman, said Friday.

The biennial exercise, hosted by Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Fleet, was scaled down and shortened in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That year, 10 countries participated in a force of 5,300 personnel along with 22 surface ships, one submarine and aircraft operating at sea over a two-week period in August 2020 off Hawaii.

Participating with U.S. service members are forces from 25 nations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the U.K. and the U.S.

The forces will exercise a range of capabilities, including disaster relief, maritime security operations, sea control and complex warfighting, according to 3rd Fleet. That includes training in amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense, counter-piracy operations, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and diving and salvage operations.

While most of the training and exercise events will be held in and around the Hawaiian islands, a portion of the exercise – largely focused on mine warfare – will take place in Southern California, Robertson said.

This year’s international participants include Ecuador, a first for the South American nation, Robertson said.

While the Hawaii-based 3rd Marines have regularly joined in previous RIMPAC exercises, this year marks the first that it, as 3rd MLR, will participate in its recently-designated form. In March, the Marine Corps officially turned the previously infantry-focused regiment into one that would be structured with smaller, maneuverable, expeditionary advanced base detachments and equipped with anti-ship capabilities – changes more aligned with the service’s Force Design 2030 strategy to reshape its forces focused to “outpace a pacing threat,” as officials have said, in the Indo-Pacific.

That “pacing threat” includes China, which first participated in RIMPAC in 2014 and in 2016 but in 2018 the PLA Navy was disinivited due to China’s deployment of anti-ship missiles, electronic jammers in the South China Sea. Tensions in the region have only grown with continued operations and China’s militarization in the region and expanding global influence.

Third Fleet will lead the exercise as the multinational, Combined Task Force commander, with Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Robinson as the CTF deputy commander, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata as the vice commander and U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph Clearfield, who is the Marine Forces Pacific deputy commander, as the Fleet Marine Force commander. Commodore Paul O’Grady of the Royal Australian Navy will command the maritime component and Brig. Gen. Mark Goulden of the Royal Canadian Air Force will command the air component.

This year marks the 28th iteration of RIMPAC, which first began in 1971 as an annual event but shifted to biennial in 1974. It follows on a March planning conference in Hawaii attended by 1,000 members of participating countries and a smaller staff exercise held in San Diego that “allowed its attendees to walk through scenarios in a computer-based format in advance of executing operations at sea off the coast of Hawaii this summer,” according to a Navy news story.

Keel Laid For Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine District of Columbia

After inspecting the engraved plate with her welded initials, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) declared the keel laid for the future USS District of Columbia (SSBN-826). The ceremony marks the ceremonial construction start of the first in a new class of ballistic missile submarine that’s expected to commission in 2027. “Though this is not the […]

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) approves the welding of her initials onto a metal plate at a ceremony at the General Dynamics Electric Boat Facility at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on June 4, 2022. EB Photo

After inspecting the engraved plate with her welded initials, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) declared the keel laid for the future USS District of Columbia (SSBN-826).

The ceremony marks the ceremonial construction start of the first in a new class of ballistic missile submarine that’s expected to commission in 2027.

“Though this is not the first time a U.S. Navy vessel has been named Columbia, this is the first time that the name has been used to specifically commemorate the District of Columbia. The Columbia class will be the largest, most capable and most advanced submarine produced by our nation,” Norton said in her remarks during the ceremony.

Norton added the district is home to about 30,000 veterans now and almost 200,000 D.C. residents have served in the armed forces since World War I.

District of Columbia ship insignia

It was appropriate, “the Navy would be recognizing the people of the District of Columbia,” she said.
“It is fitting that it recognizes what will become the 51st state.”

Building the 12 boomers in the District of Columbia-class has been the Navy’s top priority for the last decade. Preliminary design work on the 520-foot long, 20,000-ton ballistic missile submarine started in 2007. The class will replace the Ohio class ballistic missile submarines as the nation’s number one strategic deterrent starting with District of Columbia’s first patrol in 2031.

The Columba class will carry “70 percent of America’s deployed nuclear arsenal,” Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said at the ceremony at Electric Boat’s Quonset Point facility in Rhode Island. He added the ballistic missile submarines are “the smartest investment we can make” to secure the American public,

The D.C.-class will bring to the Navy “unmatched stealth, advanced weapons systems” and a complex electric propulsion system, Adm. Daryl Caudle, a career submariner and commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said

Welder Maria Betance-Pizarro welds the initials of the sponsor of the future U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarine District of Columbia, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), onto a metal plate at a ceremony at the Electric Boat facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on June 4, 2022. EB Photo

Electric Boat president Kevin Graney added, District of Columbia is expected to “serve well into the 2080s” and will never have to return to a shipyard for nuclear refueling.

In March, USNI News reported the $110 billion Columbia program and the Virginia Payload Module hull module are refining modular techniques EB developed to build the early Virginia-class submarines to maximize the efficiency of assembling the complex hulls under a timeline with razor-thin margins.

Also like the Virginia-class, Electric Boat is pairing with Newport News Shipbuilding in the submarines’ construction. Jennifer Boykin, president of HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding, said the work “raised the bar on size and scope” of submarine’s modular construction. The bow and stern modules for District of Columbia will be transported by a specially-built ocean-going barge from Virginia to Electric Boat’s facility at North Kingstown, R.I.

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) addresses at a ceremony at the General Dynamics Electric Boat Facility at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on June 4, 2022. EB Photo

In 2016, then Navy Secretary of the Navy announced the first in the new class of boomers would be called Columbia after D.C., reported USNI News at the time.

On Friday, Del Toro announced the boat would officially add “District of” to the name in order to avoid an overlap in names with the existing USS Columbia (SSN-771). The Los Angeles class attack boat , named for cities in South Carolina, Illinois and Missouri, was also built at Electric Boat and commissioned in 1995. The current Columbia was originally set to leave the fleet before District of Columbia was to commission but is set to see a service life extension, USNI News understands.

While the name Columbia for a U.S. ships and aircraft is not new – at least eight U.S. ships, a Space Shuttle and the Apollo 11 command module have all shared the name – it will be the first time the name has been used to commemorate the U.S. capital.

“The District of Columbia is rich with naval history. The Washington Navy Yard is our oldest shore facility… Marines like Montford Point Marine Herman Darden and Brigadier General Anthony Henderson and sailors like Yeoman Charlotte Louise Berry Winters and Medal of Honor Recipient First Class Fireman John Rush were born and raised in D.C.,” Del Toro said.
“This is why I prefer to call D.C., not just our nation’s capital, but instead, our naval capital.”

Japan Announces Indo-Pacific Warship Deployment Ahead of U.S.-led RIMPAC Exercise

Four Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warships will leave later this month for a four-month deployment throughout the Indo-Pacific region, Japan’s Ministry of Defense recently announced. From June 13 to Oct. 28, Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD2022) will involve three ships, a submarine and three fixed-wing aircraft from the JMSDF. The deployment has two objectives: “to improve […]

JS Izumo (DDH-183) docking at the Port Klang Cruise Terminal, Malaysia during its 2019 Indo-Pacific Deployment. Dzirhan Mahadzir Photo

Four Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warships will leave later this month for a four-month deployment throughout the Indo-Pacific region, Japan’s Ministry of Defense recently announced.

From June 13 to Oct. 28, Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD2022) will involve three ships, a submarine and three fixed-wing aircraft from the JMSDF.

The deployment has two objectives: “to improve JMSDF tactical capabilities and to strengthen cooperation with partner navies in the Indo-Pacific region through joint exercises and secondly to contribute to the peace and stability of the region and to enhance mutual understanding and relationship with partner countries through the deployment,” according to a statement from the MoD.

The JMSDF has done the IPD deployment annually since 2019. This year, the deployment will include destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) with three embarked helicopters and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110). A second surface unit includes destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104). The name of the submarine deploying is not clear.

Three aircraft – a P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, a UP-3D Orion Electronic Intelligence training aircraft and a US-2 search and rescue seaplane along with support personnel – will deploy to countries where IPD 22 naval units will join for exercises. Elements of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force will embark for part of the deployment.

The IPD 22 units will make port calls to Australia, Fiji, French New Caledonia, India, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Tonga, United States, Vanuatu and Vietnam. The IPD 22 units will participate in six exercises, namely Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022), according to the news release. They will also partake in Pacific Partnership 2022, the Japan-United States-Australia-Korea joint exercise Pacific Vanguard 22, Japan-India joint training exercise (JIMEX), the Royal Australian Navy multilateral training exercise Kakadu 2022 and the U.S. and Australian-sponsored multilateral exercise Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama/ MTA Lumbas 2022. The release did not specify which units will take part in each exercise.

RIMPAC 2022 will take place from June 29 through Aug. 4 near the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California, according to a Tuesday news release from U.S. 3rd Fleet.

“Twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 170 aircraft and approximately 25,000 personnel” will join for RIMPAC, 3rd Fleet said.

Several of the participating nation’s ships have departed from their home ports for Hawaii, with the Republic of Korea Navy Landing Helicopter Platform ROKS Marado (LPH-6112) and destroyers ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991) and ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976) leaving Jeju Naval Base on Tuesday. Submarine ROKS Shin Dol-seok (SS-082) and a ROKN P-3 Maritime Patrol aircraft will also participate in RIMPAC 2022. On Monday, Royal Malaysian Navy corvette KD Lekir (FSG26) left RMN Lumut Naval Base for Hawaii.

In an interview on Saturday, Lekir’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Asri Dasman said his ship will take part in the Sink Exercise (SINKEX) during RIMPAC 2022, firing an MM40 Exocet anti-ship missile.

MTA Sama Sama,/MTA Lumbas is a multilateral exercise involving the Philippines, Australia, Japan, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. A date for the exercise has yet to be released. Exercise Kakadu 2022 will take place in the waters of Northern Australia from Sept. 12 through Sept. 25.