73 Comments

8 years for a remodel? YGBSM. How much have reasonable requirements changed in that period?

This is spending a ton of taxpayer money on an old (25+) year old warship that has been updated - to only 9 years old, or older?

Expand full comment

Older, for sure. I've seen arguments that requirements documents drawn up in 2005 are still valid for acquisition. 🤦🏼‍♂️

Expand full comment

"8 years for a remodel? YGBSM." These are the same Big Navy and MIC people selling Congresscritters on the idea that it's refueling that is producing time & costs overruns in nuke vessel RCOH which is why we need to move toward LEU cores with one-and-done fueling.

Expand full comment

I'll take your word for it.

Since you're a nuc, what does it mean that a sub was in overhaul so long it lost it's dive cert?

Expand full comment

I was a target so anything I say regarding submarines should be taken with a large cup of salt. My understanding of the Boise (SSN-764) is that as an Improved 688-class she is/was awaiting completion of an Engineered Overhaul and not an Engineered Refueling Overhaul. If correct, my earlier comments would not apply. She was supposed to go into the yards FY'16 but she got stuck behind Boomer & aircraft craft carrier work, along with MTU conversions which Navy gave a higher priority to given the resources available at Newport News.

Expand full comment

SLEP for a carrier was 4 years. WTH?

Expand full comment

That still seems like it's longer than it should be.

Expand full comment

Also costs half as much as a new carrier. We might have a cheaper more effective carrier force if we just block buy 3 carriers every 8 years, launch every 32 months. Keep 10 new carriers ready to go frees up a dry dock for an emergency, gets us to smaller crews faster, lessens maintenance with younger ships. Just need Fords to actually work. Oh, save money on the impact of inflation given our slow build rate. That and capitalizing under used equipment that only gets used for new builds.

Expand full comment

Screw the Ford class - we need Block II Nimitz (They actually perform their functions). Hull and equipment from the existing Nimitz class, electronics from the Ford (except the buck rogers crap)

Expand full comment

It all seems pretty simple to me based on the complete history of our country. We have two really big oceans that have protected us from harm and allowed our security. The first priority of our national defense has to be protecting that buffer. Beyond that are expeditionary forces...all so we fight THERE rather than HERE. Any defense budget that doesn't (and they haven't) reflect that reality is bunk.

The question is why and, beyond all the comments by Sal about the Cult of the Joint etc., it is because the bureaucrats in DC want to spend the money on other things - foreign and domestic.

But there can be no greater priority for the country than increasing the industrial base (both to "make things here" for commercial purposes, but also to support defense), increasing our shipyard capacity (for production and REPAIRS/SUSTAINMENT), and developing what we need to support those Navy/expeditionary operations. It isn't about being parochial, it is about threats and priorities. Support NATO, let European countries take on the land burden though. Work with them on building up their and our Navies through their capacities and ours. We'll dominate of 5C, ISR platforms, coordination, next-gen tech, stealth, etc.

This is NOT rocket science...and the fact it is this hard for the weanies in DC tells you everything.

Expand full comment

What we have forgotten - since we have not had a true peer competitor since 1815 - is that if you don't have maritime superiority, then those "two big oceans" are a highway, not a fort. They allow the enemy to come to you - just like they allowed us to go to the enemy after 1941.

I'm wondering how much of a wake-up call it will be when we see Chinese surface ships and carrier groups operating in the Atlantic. That day will come.

Expand full comment

Well, I think anyone with the capability can sail around anywhere. That is a long way from being able to exert dominance in a blue water or near shore environment. People trying to come here on that roadway would face a much bigger hurdle than we face with Taiwan or the Pacific in general due to our experience in expeditionary operations and we DO still have SOME capabilities. But, yes, you can get into a position where that could be true if the curve stays where it is.

The befuddling part is that all of the things we need to fix the Navy, especially industrial capabilities and shipbuilding facilities, benefit the country OUTSIDE the defense infrastructure! It is jobs, growth, economic sustainability...all the things the Congress-critters should eat up with a spoon. Having work for/with government, though, it is probably for lack of someone willing to verbalize (or come up with) a coherent plan and make the argument. I've found that it is VERY hard for them to come up with ideas and, if you give them one they can glom onto they WILL do it. We just need someone who can carry this plan through with some juice behind it. One would hope that would be the President, but...welllllll.....

Expand full comment

Our entire apparatus is now designed around embedded interest rather than growth.

Expand full comment
Apr 11, 2023·edited Apr 11, 2023

No "Peer Competitor since 1815"???!!! WTF.. Did you somehow miss a century of RN history?? The Great Naval Arms Race 1890-1914?? When France could have swatted the USN out of existence at any time between 1840ish and 1910?? Get a grip. We weren't a "World Beating Seapower" until late 1943. Period. Full Stop.

We let the RN carry the ball because THEY not US were the world's premier maritine trading power.. NOT US. It's why they, not US made such a fuss about CRUISER tonnage limits on the Naval Treaties between WW1 n WW2.

Good Lord. "Ming The Clueless" is more like it. LOOK as a Combat Vet and student of history I despise the money suck as much as anyone... Unfortunately in todays environment 8 years is all too believable.. HOWEVER.. The main reason why is that they've essentially started over twice as tech leapfrogged the initial refits..

And keep this in mind. During those 8 years the Japanese Navy has launched 1 lt and 2 Med carriers.. Equipped w F-35s.. More than enough to handle the Chinese rebuilds of 60 yr old Russian rebuilds w NO dedicated Naval aviation assets. In addition we've got plenty of other naval allies in the region. Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan itself.. Hell even Vietnam.

Expand full comment

I may have misunderstood but I think Ming was saying that the UK has been for the most part an ally since 1815, and therefore was not a competitor in any hostile sense. I'm not sure Admiral Farragut would have agreed, although the RN did basically stay out of that conflict, but I think that's what he's saying

Expand full comment
Apr 11, 2023·edited Apr 11, 2023

Even after the Civil War the USN was almost exclusively a riverine monitor navy.. like 90% plus. And we did conflict w the RN in the Caribbean... We had NO deep water trans-oceanic navy cause we had ZERO need for one. We were still engaged in continental "Manifest Destiny"..

Expand full comment

Certainly not France, nor even the UK, was a peer competitor to the United States after 1875. We completely outclassed them in industrial might, and they had zero chance to defeat us in war, and they knew it. Awareness of this is why Britain, in particular, appeased us after 1890. They understood we were superior even though we did not immediately choose to translate this latent power into direct military might. The whole reason Britain agreed to the naval treaties in the 1920s and 1930s was they knew they would lose an arms race and they couldn't afford to race against us. You are clueless if you don't understand all this.

Expand full comment

"Potential" is just that.. Actual ships afloat manned by trained crews is counts.

Expand full comment

Latent power absolutely counted as far as the British were concerned. The British were well aware that the Americans could outbuild them if they chose to do so, and this fact decisively influenced British foreign policy and naval policy.

Expand full comment

From 1840 n b4 thru 1917 America DID NOT HAVE EITHER THE ARMOR PLATE CASTING, BARREL CASTING... OR MILITARY SHIPYARDS CAPACITY EXISTANT TO MATCH BRITAIN.. You have ignored the Great Dreadnought arms race between GB and Imperial Germany of which AMERICA PLAYED NO PART... TR'S Great White Fleet was seen as a naval joke.. made obsolete by the launch of HMS Dreadnought..Your ignorance of ACTUAL naval development history is astounding..

Expand full comment

Yes, but....our pronouns are in order...and the real enemy is “Climate Change,” right?

To all those who say “Yes but our ships and crews are better,” remember that quantity has its own quality...

Time for the children of liberalism and feel good defense to give the keys to DOD back to their parents.

Expand full comment

Trying to "Awesome!" your way to Victory is an excellent way to get your butt whipped.

Expand full comment

Thought you said "wiped" for a moment and was "honored" to have PotUS in the room

Expand full comment

In January 2021 they assured us that the adults were once again back in charge. I'm sure we've all noticed the great improvement in national security decisionmaking since then.

Expand full comment

I thought the real enemy was White Rage?

Expand full comment

Your comments on deindustrialization, decline and defeat are spot on.

But your comments on the cause, GNA of 1986 are so completely off the mark that they merit my attention. Jointness has nothing to do with the Navy's cluelessness on building a war winning force. If a service cannot successfully compete for resources among its own peers, then it doesn't deserve those resources because it hasn't developed a good narrative.

I personally saw that dynamic in action during the first QDR go-around in 1997. I was part of the Army team that was pre-briefing the Deputy OSD PAE (now CAPE) on our requirements; I was with NGB and was present to make sure the Army didn't screw the RC in their brief (they didn't - then. But that's another story.) Air Force led the services with a whiz bang presentation that made sense and was coherent. Army then presented with its overwrought slides presenting many facts making little coherent sense. The Navy came next. The Rear Admiral (I never did get his name) came up to the blackboard (it could have been a whiteboard but memory fades) and writes the number "11" and sits down. Everyone in the room immediately understood what that meant, and you do too. Succinct to say the least.

I have always thought of that anecdote in a good way for a narrative. However, as I reflect across the decades at that stunt, it was incomplete and incoherent. Why "11"? why not "12"? Why not "9"? All those options were on the table then. The admiral never connected strategy with force. Just stated we need "X" force. And only focused on CSGs. Not Amphibs. Not subs. Not mines. Definitely not USVs. Therein lies the heart of the Navy's problem, I think. Not Jointness but hubris. Or perhaps as the Japanese used to characterize their problem in WWII, "Victory Disease." We are complacent, and the Navy as an institution especially so. The Marines are not; the Air Force is not. Even the Army is demonstrating an immediacy of action different from their past habits. Nothing about this has to do with Goldwater Nichols.

Expand full comment
author

You are wrong Jon. When a VCNO spends more time talking about support to the "Joint Force" than was spent talking about the Navy our nation needs, we have a problem. When some of our best officers are forced to go to make work Joint billets in order to meet a joint requirements spot welded on to a narrow career path, as opposed to something that utilized their experience and education. We have a problem. When new warships take years to approve or to even exist w/o having land and air focused partisans getting their say on it. We have a problem.

Expand full comment
Apr 10, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

When your own service wears another service's uniform, jointness is a problem. I'm sure some sailors have looked in the mirror in the morning and wondered WTF they are.

Expand full comment

So he was a Spinal Tap fan?

Expand full comment
Apr 10, 2023·edited Apr 10, 2023

Sounds like Navy (aviation) needs to talk to Navy (surface) about what Navy needs, with an eye toward the whole peacetime presence mission (carriers and surface) plus wartime. These are US national needs, not Navy needs. Navy and Congress need to get together on a strategy and a story. Army, Marines, & Air Force don't keep the sea lanes open for global trade.

Expand full comment

IIRC, these are the same cruisers that the Potomac Fleet has been trying to slow roll Congress on. That is, everyone spending all of their time arguing and posturing instead of getting on the SOME sort of plan for facing up to our obvious enemies. Unless, of course, the same GOFOs have figure out a way to use their DEI efforts as offensive weapons.

Expand full comment

The Navy spent something like $60 billion dollars on a fleet of worthless and defective little crappy ships and three giant DDs without any ammo or required radars. Is that the fault of Goldwater–Nichols? Is the fact that the Navy takes 8 years to overhaul a sub, long enough that she lost her diving cert, the fault of Goldwater–Nichols? I think it was just incompetence and hubris. The Army fiasco of FCS also wasn't Goldwater–Nichols, it was just incompetence and hubris.

Are YOU ready to fight climate change?

Expand full comment

I disagree Kevin. Many, if not all of these issues you put on the table do lie at the feet of, or at least sit across the dinner table from, GWN. The lack of the ability to put together a comprehensive naval strategy since Sec. Lehman, is the mother that has beget all of these wrong turns. That inability was also called out by CDR Bryan McGrath in his 2010 Proceedings article. GWN has made everything in the five-sided pleasure palace about spit swapping. IMO. Pass the flask!

Expand full comment

How did Jointness make the Navy design defective engines and reduction gear? How did jointness design an aluminum hull that cracks? How did jointness produce $8 billion destroyers without ammo or air search radars? How did jointness produce the laws of physics violating mine sled? How did jointness arm a major warship with a single 57mm gun that requires someone go out and take down the safety lines on the deck before it can be safely fired? Which Air force general specified no air search radar? Who was the Army General who wrote the reduction gear spec or told them the navy that they don’t need to worry about corrosion or stress cracks on their new aluminum ship?

Expand full comment

Look, IMO the problem lies with the burdensome acquisition and OT&E that have spawned from GWN. Big Navy (and every other service) knows they only get one shot to sell a new program, so every big project gets filled with new technologies - it must be transformational. Under GWN you can't go back to focused, incremental programs like Meyers and Raborn. I think it is structurally impossible. Thus, you get Fords, Zumwalts, and Little Crappy Ships. The Vice CNO went to the VCS of the Army and the VCS of the AF and said here's my pretty wrapped package. You support mine and I'll support yours. Did the VCS of the AF say "Don't put cathodic protection on the LCS"? Of course not, but he was shown a sparkly PPT of an LCS with that in its design and signed off on it. Not because he cared about anything in the VCNO's sparkly PPT, but because the spit swap would be mutually beneficial. That is what GWN has wrought. Institutionalized non-accountability. This was identified by ADM Holland in his 2008 Proceedings piece -(https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2008/february/building-small-surface-warship-mission-impossible) and in Bob Work's CSBA report (https://csbaonline.org/uploads/documents/2007.04.19-Navy-Surface-Battle-Line.pdf) "The SC-21 family of ships would be the first surface warfare program to be considered by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), the Burke DDG having been designed before it was created. The JROC, mandated by the aforementioned 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act and strengthened after Operation Desert Storm, was the principal forum in which senior military leaders (the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the four Service vice chiefs) addressed requirements for new programs and systems from a joint perspective. If the Navy wanted to build new SC-21s, it would first have to get the JROC to approve a Mission Needs Statement (MNS) for the SC-21 family, a general statement of what the ships had to do." We are still building Burkes and likely will be till doomsday. Would Big Navy accountability be any better if GWN had never happened. I don't know. Congress passed GWN hoping the services would play together like nice little children. Instead, they formalized a support structure for princelings and courtiers. Again, IMO.

Expand full comment

The issue is "privatization." From the time of Athens' wooden walls, until a very few years ago, nation-states had the ability to build their own warships. The United States had naval shipyard capable of building naval ships.

When the folks who wanted to shrink the size of the federal government until they could drown it in a bathtub started cutting, they cut the US Naval Shipyards. "Why should the United States have the ability to build naval ships when private companies can do the same job cheaper?"

One reason is that when the US Navy was in the shipbuilding business we had folks in government employ who knew how to build naval ships. As they aged out, nobody with their skills replaced them. Now, we are 100% dependent on private corporations whose loyalty is to their shareholders, not the nation. The owners may not be Americans.

Until we regain the ability to design and build government ships in government yards we will be ripped off by the multi-national corporations we privatized the defense of our nation to.

Expand full comment

First and foremost we are now men and women out of time.

We seek a Navy while those in charge on the waterfront and offices are rent seekers little interested in the pride of seeing their work get underway when they can prolong to either make more money, or avoid making a mistake that ends their naval career.

86,000 NAVSEA employees plus the experts at the Broken And Expensive (BAE) yards. All with eight years of safe sinecure under their belts. - Why take a risk?

We might as well shout at the clouds.

Expand full comment

So, you pointed out why we deserve to lose. We have allowed this to happen. We will all suffer. I am not happy about it, but I am realistic about living in Weimar America.

Expand full comment

Terrifying!

Thanks so very much for keeping us posted. - Sid

Expand full comment

40% of defense spending for Navy/Marines, 35% for Air/Space Forces, and 25% for Army sound about right if China really is the pacing threat? Or will the Army's new procurement chief, Vladimir Putin continue to win budget negotiations?

And given the extra money, will the Navy spend it on maintenance, supply/support vessels, escort vessels, munitions, and training; or will we get Little Crappy Ships 2.0?

Expand full comment

A 1 trillion "infrastructure" bill that was a green cult boondoggle. 100+ billion to bleed out a second rate land power in Ukraine. I realize that realistic fungibility is an issue, the whole if we could put a man on the moon why can't we eliminate poverty b.s. I think we will look back and say a fraction of that might have saved the day. Was reading a book called The Lonely Ships about the US Asiatic Fleet in late 41/early 42. If we do that well, I'd be amazed.

Expand full comment

I may not be up-to-date in current naval affairs, having retired in 1991, but aren't there enough MU's in the Reserves that could be called up to play Souza music in parades and concerts in support of selling war bonds in order to reindustrialize to built and repair ships should we ever go to war again? What worked for us in WWII could work again. Assuming there is even a market for U.S. bonds anymore.

Expand full comment

I'm not sure we still have the ability to reindustrialize. Math and science education is continually degraded and denigrated as racist while we watch more of our manufacturing ability disappear along with the knowledge to recreate it.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think the "American Century" ended with much finality 1/6/21 and it's never coming back.

Expand full comment

"Assuming there is even a market for U.S Bonds anymore". Surely you jest. We've got 31.2 trillion of bonds out there. And with the 90 day paying more than the 10 year that says "we've lost confidence in YOU US Guvmint". The debt will be deflated by inflation and your dollar will be worth even less. China ain't buying our crap, neither is Japan or Europe. So the Fed just prints more.

Expand full comment

It won't be long in coming, Gman79. They can simply print a few 100 trillion dollar bills to pay off the national debt and have money left over for a pizza order.

Expand full comment
Apr 10, 2023·edited Apr 10, 2023

There's a distinct unseriousness amongst the senior ranks of the Navy and their civilian department lifers who make up the Pentagon.

Since jointness and satisfying the CoCom requests are enshrined in law...I'm not sure what the answer is. We've seen Henrix, McGrath and Clark point out the shortcomings and possible solutions for the Navy but, I've yet to read any solution to unraveling the knot that's been twisted as a result of Goldwater-Nichols. Is the Navy the only one reeling because of this? Is the Navy just the most unfocused of the services?

Expand full comment

"There's a distinct unseriousness amongst the senior ranks of the Navy and their civilian department lifers who make up the Pentagon."

- Rent seekers protected by a union. It's probably like LCS sea duty. All the pay with non of the sea.

Expand full comment

Maybe it's time to get rid of Goldwater Nichols, cut the civilian employees by 50% and flag officer by 75%

Expand full comment

All:

1) If you could have 5 changes to GN that would reflect an updated maritime reality or correct original flaws, what would they be?

2) If you could have 5 emergency measures put in place to bolster USN lethality/deterrence around Taiwan and Philippines “quickly” what would those be?

3) If you could remove funding from 5 other service programs to fund longer term Navy weapons/maintenance programs what would they be?

4) What would you push that funding you pirated from the other services to?

Note: Elimination of DEI under #2 is allowed, and hereby granted as a free wish.

Expand full comment

Thanks for focusing on the facts

Expand full comment

These are good numbers to have in discussion our lack of capability. Thanks.

Expand full comment