Friday, January 17, 2020

Fullbore Friday

Do you know the story of Tony Stein? Just a young Ohio man, son of Austrian-Jewish immigrants. A great American ... and a giant who helped create what today we would call a Squad Automatic Weapon from spare parts.

First, attention to citation;
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

CORPORAL TONY STEIN
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, in the Volcano Islands, 19 February 1945. The first man of his unit to be on station after hitting the beach in the initial assault, Cpl. Stein, armed with a personally improvised aircraft-type weapon, provided rapid covering fire as the remainder of his platoon attempted to move into position. When his comrades were stalled by a concentrated machinegun and mortar barrage, he gallantly stood upright and exposed himself to the enemy's view, thereby drawing the hostile fire to his own person and enabling him to observe the location of the furiously blazing hostile guns. Determined to neutralize the strategically placed weapons, he boldly charged the enemy pillboxes 1 by 1 and succeeded in killing 20 of the enemy during the furious single-handed assault. Cool and courageous under the merciless hail of exploding shells and bullets which fell on all sides, he continued to deliver the fire of his skillfully improvised weapon at a tremendous rate of speed which rapidly exhausted his ammunition. Undaunted, he removed his helmet and shoes to expedite his movements and ran back to the beach for additional ammunition, making a total of 8 trips under intense fire and carrying or assisting a wounded man back each time. Despite the unrelenting savagery and confusion of battle, he rendered prompt assistance to his platoon whenever the unit was in position, directing the fire of a half-track against a stubborn pillbox until he had effected the ultimate destruction of the Japanese fortification. Later in the day, although his weapon was twice shot from his hands, he personally covered the withdrawal of his platoon to the company position. Stouthearted and indomitable, Cpl. Stein, by his aggressive initiative sound judgment, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of terrific odds, contributed materially to the fulfillment of his mission, and his outstanding valor throughout the bitter hours of conflict sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
Two videos that tell the story well.

First;


And second, his "stinger."


Thursday, January 16, 2020

From DDG-1000 to CA-154?

So, we have a rump, 3-ship class of land attack destroyer, the ZUMWALT Class, that was designed about a bespoke 6.1-in (nee 155mm) naval gun that we are not going to use because we did not have an economist or historian on the program team.

As such, and we don't have to even go in to the problematic manning and other issues, we have your classic white elephant tooling around with the most expensive 30-mm batteries in Christendom with nothing forward of bridge of any lethality unless you are an unfortunate Cetacean that can't get out of the way of its bow on the few occasions it gets underway.

Well, we spent billions of dollars borrowed in the name of children yet unborn to get these in the fleet ... what can we do with them besides relegate the trio to technology demonstrators, CAPT Commands, or missile possible sponges as we try to keep the Chinese Fleet from moving east of Oahu?

It seems smart people with hard jobs have been looking at options and they may have found a way to get something moving forward.

To get a better idea we'd need a few artists rendering informed by competent marine engineers - but before we start getting the blow torches and blueprints out, let's see what they have to say.

The Navy’s newest destroyer may fire a not-yet-to-be fielded Conventional Prompt Strike conventionally-armed missile engineered to hit anywhere on earth within an hour, service program managers said. The weapon, now being considered by Navy weapons developers for the emerging USS Zumwalt, will bring new attack options to the stealthy destroyer being prepared for combat as soon as 2021, Capt. Kevin Smith, Zumwalt-class destroyer Program Manager
OK, let's unpack this a bit. First of all, let's define the most sparkly item; CPS;
Navy Starts Conventional Prompt Strike Missile Program Evidence of the growing Pentagon interest in hypersonic missiles, several exploratory programs have been shifted into engineering development over the past year. In 2019, DARPA relinquished control over the Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, with the effort transferred to the Navy’s Strategic Systems Program. Now called Conventional Prompt Strike, the effort became a program-of-record in late 2019. The aim of the program is to examine a new intermediate range missile that can be fired from Ohio-class missile submarines that have been converted to launch cruise missiles (SSGNs) and Virginia-class attack submarines equipped with the Virginia Payload Module.
...
On 30 October 2018, the Navy flew the first CPS test, designated Flight Experiment 1, more than 2,000 nautical miles from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands. ... The Navy expects to conduct the CPS Flight Experiment-2 in 2020 and FE-3 in 2022. So far, there is no estimate regarding an introduction into service.

The CPS missile is not called a ballistic missile since it employs a hypersonic maneuvering body to carry its warhead, called the Common Hypersonic Glide Body(C-HGB). On 30 August 2019, Dynetics Technical Solutions (DTS)of Huntsville, AL, was awarded a $351.6 million contract to build at least 20 Common Hypersonic Glide Bodies for both the Army and the Navy. The Army’s counterpart to the CPS is the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW). Lockheed Martin was awarded a $347 million contract in September 2019 for this program.
So, that is what we are looking at. First step, we need to find a way to shoehorn the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) in to the Zumwalt.

Not sure you will be able to do that by the end of FY21, but we'll see.

There is limited real estate - believe it or not - in this Graf Spee sized "destroyer." As such, what presently is fallow ground looking for highest and best use?  That's right kiddies, those mothballed 6.1" gun mounts. Let's extract those.

How many VPM can you fit in that space?


Each VPM is 87" wide. I can't seem to find a good open source diagram to ponder with, but let's make some assumptions using these two as reference points.


For planning purposes, let's remove both 6.1" mounts. In place of the forward, lets say you can install 3 VPM. Where the aft mount is, because it gets a bit wider, you can fit 5; 3 down the centerline like you did with the forward mount, and then two to the side between the two closest to the bridge.

The VPM can hold 7 TLAM. Will CPS use up the same space as a TLAM? If we assume so, that will give you 8x7=56 CPS if you did a full load out.

That ain't nothing. That is something. Could we do that ship modification for the cost of a LCS? If so, I'd approve that ship modification if for no other reason than not buying more LCS ... but for my approval you'd have to do the right thing and classify this pocket battleship sized warship to what it actually is; a cruiser.

As this would not be an air defense cruiser, but a cruiser designed around surface and land attack, then let's call it what it is; an attack cruiser. CA-154 is the next available number. If you insist on keeping the redundant "G" then fine, CG-74 - but that is lame.

This has the potential of salvaging something of use. Also, being that the VPM was designed for submarines, it will be more than fit-to-purpose for the bow of that tumblehome hull. That thing will be wet.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Selling Seapower to a Sea Power; a Masterclass

Would you like to read something from a member of Congress that will have you nodding your head in agreement?

Head on over to USNIBlog to see it all.

Ripe for the Front Porch; we are not alone.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Why Our Navy Has a Credibility Problem

The regulars here don't need a refresher on the dog's breakfast and institutional shame that is the ZUMWALT Class DDG (sic). Just click the DDG-1000 tag below if you are new here and want to know what all the fuss is about.

I had to check the day ... but yep, this came out yesterday.



“I’m very excited about getting the Zumwalt-class destroyers out there,” Vice Adm. Rich Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces, said during a Jan. 6 media teleconference embargoed until Jan. 13. “Incredibly capable ships. When the ships deploy, they will bring the fear of God to our adversaries. I wish we were building more of them. They are great ships.”
Additionally, if you have a warship that was designed around its two 6.1-in guns, guns that cannot be used because we decided we didn't want to pay for the bespoke ammo & it won't use normal 155-mm ... then how does said ship;
Zumwalt “is tracking right on the timeline … and it’s looking like [fiscal 2021] will be FOC [full operational capability],” he said.
I'm sorry Admiral Brown, but no one believes what you've said. If you really believe this - and this is a free country, people can think what they want - then don't be surprised if this colors all other opinions you voice.

This is over the top happy talk. When you do such things, it will make everyone question everything else you say. They will wonder what else you are saying or claiming that has no ground in objective truth.

Sorry, but that is the plain truth.

You can change standards all day long, but it does not change the fact that this white elephant is nothing more than a technology demonstrator ... and an example of how not to run a program.

Shame on everyone.

When will we get a leadership that treats everyone like adults, and speaks truth? Leaders who act and speak like a customer OF the military-industrial complex, and not someone sounding at best like an industry spokesman, or posturing for a board position after retirement at worst.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Summer 2017's JAG Backwash

2.5 years.

That is roughly a bit more than 2/3 the time we fought WWII.

Though well meaning people can come to disagreements on details, but there is no question that from the junior officer to the flag officer, the Navy failed its Sailors. There has to be some accountability, or we send a message that poor performance at sea isn't really a concern.

Before we bring out a few pull quotes, we need to emphasize this; our Forward Deployed Naval Forces in WESTPAC are supposed to be our front-line. They are at the bleeding edge of the Pacific Pivot. They are responsible for BMD, and to be the face of our Nation to Russian, North Korea, China, as well as our friends.

And yes;
... Rear Adm. Brian Fort found that Combs’ CIC had "zero communication” with the bridge team before the Crystal loomed seemingly out of nowhere to ram the Fitz’s starboard hull.

Although listed as operational, her CIC’s SPS-67 system actually had fallen into a “degraded status,” according to Fort’s report.
...
Some CIC sailors didn’t appear to know how to use the equipment — much of it in various states of disrepair — and the room itself was heaped in garbage, human waste and exercise equipment, he wrote.

In the aftermath of the ACX Crystal collision, Fort found a stack of abandoned forms where Combs had been sitting.

“She was most likely consumed and distracted by a review of Operations Department paperwork for the three and a half hours of her watch prior to the collision,” he wrote.
Here we are, the winter of 2020 and the only officer held to any account was the one who was advised to take a plea deal.

Sucker.
Military prosecutors arraigned Combs in 2018 for two violations of the UCMJ: dereliction of duty that negligently resulted in the death of fellow sailors and the negligent and improper hazarding of a vessel.

It was a controversial call. Sifting through the evidence compiled against her, an Article 32 hearing officer previously recommended the Navy skip court-martial proceedings and send Combs to a board of inquiry to determine if she warranted remaining on duty.
...
...
the case against her and her commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, collapsed nine months ago under the weight of an increasing number of allegations accusing senior leaders of misconduct, especially concerns that unlawful command influence, or UCI...
...
That left only Combs to face the administrative tribunal. While they determined her performance shortly before the collision was substandard, the board unanimously agreed there was no basis for involuntarily separating her and chose to retain her, according to Bean.
...
A Navy board of inquiry on Thursday ruled there’s no reason to separate a lieutenant for dereliction of duty while serving on board the guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald during a deadly 2017 collision that killed seven sailors, one of her attorneys told Navy Times.

Lt. Natalie Combs now will be honorably discharged from the sea service after 11 years in uniform.
From DESRON to the CNO's office, the legal support, recommendations, and performance is, in a word, damning.

For years, officers have waited for some type of final closure on their reputation and careers. That isn't fair to them.

Families of the 17 Sailors have looked for explanations and something like justice. That isn't fair to them.

Our Navy has been looking for evidence that we are a sound, well run institution. That isn't fair to us.

It wasn't just the CIC of FITZ that was full of broken equipment, incomplete admin overhead, bottles full of human waste, and non-mission related distractions - as evidenced by this timeline, so is the Navy's system of accountability.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Stress Tested a Sealift Surge? How'd it go?


We just stress tested our Strategic Sealift. We'll discuss what we can learn from it this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern with returning guest, Salvatore Mercogliano.
Sal sailed with MSC from 1989 to 1992, and worked MSC HQ as Operations Officer for the Afloat Prepositioning Force 1992-1996.
He has a BS Marine Transportation from SUNY Maritime College, a MA Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology from East Carolina University, and received his Ph.D. in Military and Naval History from University of Alabama.
He's taught at East Carolina University, Methodist University, UNC-Chapel Hill, & the U.S. Military Academy.
Currently an adjunct professor at the US Merchant Marine Academy and an Associate Professor of History at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC.
Recently published “We Built Her to Bring Them Over There: The Cruiser and Transport Force in the Great War,” in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Sea History; author of Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Maritime Logistics in the Vietnam War, published by the Naval History and Heritage Command in 2017, and 2nd Prize winner in the 2015 US Naval Institute Naval History Contest with Semper Sealift: The U.S. Marine Corps, Merchant Marine, and Maritime Prepositioning
You can listen to the show at this link or below, but remember, if you don't already, subscribe to the podcast at Spreaker or any of the other podcast aggregators.

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Fullbore Friday

1 ship. 1 Commanding Officer. 2 Theaters of Operation. 14 months.
3 Battle Stars.
That is it for the USS CHEVALIER (DD-451). A ship with some family connections.
The first Chevalier (DD-451) was launched 11 April 1942 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine; sponsored by Mrs. G. DeC. Chevalier, commissioned 20 July 1942 Lieutenant Commander E. R. McLean, Jr., in command, and reported to the Pacific Fleet.

Between 3 October and 11 December 1942 Chevalier made three convoy escort voyages; one coastwise, with tankers; a second, from Bermuda to Norfolk and with one of the first reinforcement convoys for North Africa. Sailing from Norfolk 17 December, Chevalier reached Efate, New Hebrides 22 January 1943. On 27 January she sortied with TF 18 to cover the movement of troop transports to Guadalcanal. On 29 and 30 January Chevalier joined in protective antiaircraft fire as her force came under intensive Japanese air attack in the Battle of Rennell Island. Chevalier operated on patrol from Efate, and after 14 February from Espiritu Santo. On 7 May she escorted three minelayers as they mined Blackett Strait, and Kula Gulf, Solomon Islands. The next night three Japanese destroyers, Kuroshio, Oyashio, and Kagero, ran into the minefield and were severely damaged by the mines and then sunk by aircraft. Between 11 May and 14 May, Chevalier joined in the bombardment of Vila, and covered another minelaying operation in Kula Gulf.

On 28 June 1943 the destroyer again sailed from Espiritu Santo as a part of the covering force for troops bound for landings at Rice anchorage to block Japanese movements from Vila to Munda Solomon Islands The group entered Kula Gulf shortly before midnight,1 July, and began to bombard Vila and Bairoko Harbor, while the transports headed for the anchorage. During the operation the American force was attacked by three Japanese destroyers which launched torpedoes, and retired at high-speed. One of the Japanese torpedoes hit Strong (DD-467), tearing open her hull amidships on both sides. Chevalier deliberately rammed her bow into Strong's port side and lay along side for several minutes while Strong's survivors crawled on board. Japanese shore batteries opened fire on the stricken ship, but Chevalier remained alongside until 241 survivors had come on board, while O'Bannon (DD-450) delivered counterfire against the Japanese. Chevalier pulled clear of Strong at 0122, and the stricken destroyer sank A minute later. Chevalier had torn a hole 10 by 2 feet in her bow, but it did not seriously impair her operating ability as it was well above her waterline. The destroyer returned to Espiritu Santo 8 July for repairs.
Repairs completed 22 July 1943, Chevalier operated throughout the Solomons on patrol and escort duty until 14 August. On 15 August the destroyer covered the landings at Vella Lavella, Solomon Islands. On the 17th Chevalier and three other destroyers were dispatched to intercept four Japanese destroyers and several enemy barges who were attempting to reinforce Kolombangara. After a brief encounter between the destroyers, in which neither side suffered to any great extent, the Japanese destroyers departed the area, abandoning the barges. The American forces turned their attention to this objective and sank or severely damaged all of them. The destroyer returned to Espiritu Santo 29 August and during September made an escort voyage to Sydney, Australia.

On 6 October 1943 Chevalier, O'Bannon, and Selfridge (DD-357) intercepted nine Japanese destroyers and destroyer transports attempting to evacuate troops from Vella Lavella, Solomon Islands. Although greatly outnumbered, the American destroyers attacked. After firing half of their torpedoes and scoring several hits with gunfire, the group continued to steam into the line of fire of enemy torpedoes in order to keep their own guns bearing. At approximately 2205 Chevalier was struck on the port bow by an enemy torpedo which tore her bow off to the bridge, throwing the ship entirely out of control. The destroyer O'Bannon which was following Chevalier could not avoid the damaged destroyer and rammed her in the after engine room, flooding that space and stopping Chevalier's port shaft. While making preparations to abandon ship, Chevalier's skipper ordered the torpedoes in her tubes to be fired at the Japanese destroyer Yugumo. The burning Japanese ship blew up soon after. By 2326 it was apparent that Chevalier could not be saved and "Abandon Ship!" was ordered. Her crew was picked up by O'Bannon's boats, and Chevalier was sunk the following day by a torpedo from a friendly destroyer. Her severed bow was located about a mile to the west and was sunk with depth charges. Chevalier lost 54 killed, and suffered 36 wounded.

Chevalier received three battle stars for World War II service.
Think about your crew 14 months ago, and then imagine doing all of that - and then having almost 1 of 4 of your Shipmates dead or wounded in battle. Trained, ready, and trusting? Have what you need? Ready with what you have now - not what is on someone's PPT?

As a side-note to those FbF fans - check out The Commissar's Ships of WWII site he is building. In addition, he is in the process of learning classic Greek and doing a running translation of one of Phibian's Top 10 books, Anabasis.

First posted in JUL 2007.