Thursday, July 14, 2011

VADM Burke & McCoy, thank you

Thank you for helping to move this issues out of the blogosphere and media and in to Congress. This conversation is of critical importance and we need to have it in the open where creative friction can help move us to a place we need to be.

Via our buddy Phil Ewing at DODBuzz, seems like Salamanderesque verbiage is breaking out all over the place.
A pair of top Navy officials admitted Tuesday that its endemic readiness problems are basically unresolved — and may keep getting worse — before the service’s plans to fix its surface fleet finally take effect. Vice Adm. Bill Burke, the Navy’s top maintenance officer; and Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, head of Naval Sea Systems Command, told a House Armed Services Committee panel that it took so many years, and so many interconnected decisions, to put the surface Navy in its current state that it would take a lot of time and effort to get it right again.
Over the past five years and beyond, Navy inspections have found that a growing number of the Navy’s surface warships aren’t ready to fight: The ships are in bad physical shape, carry broken equipment, insufficient spare parts, and can’t even rely upon their advanced weapons and sensors. But despite years of embarrassing reports in the press and harangues from Congress and top DoD officials, the fleet has been slow to recover, given the wide range of causes for its woes. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the “running government like a business” craze swept the Pentagon, top leaders rewarded commanders who could get the job done for less money, which then sparked a flurry of inter-related decisions that had the net effect of reducing the readiness of the surface Navy: The Navy fielded smaller crews, making fewer hands available for regular maintenance; it cut human-led, hands-on instruction, preferring to teach sailors their jobs using “computer-based instruction,” which meant they weren’t qualified to do their jobs at sea. And simple budget cuts meant ships didn’t get the regular maintenance or spare parts they needed.
has taken years to get the top brass to acknowledge the failures of initiatives such as “top 6 roll-down,” “lean manning,” and the “fleet response plan.”
McCoy and Burke said that about 70 percent of the Navy’s hoped-for fleet of 313 ships is in service today, but the service can only get to that goal if all its destroyers and cruisers, for example, actually serve for their full 40 or 35 years.

But Congress has heard Navy leaders give this explanation many times before, Forbes said. He pointed to statistics that showed an ever-growing number of Navy warships were being found unready each year — from 12 percent in 2009 to 24 percent last year, and 22 percent already this year. What is the Navy’s target for that number? Forbes asked. McCoy and Burke said the service is in the process of formulating one, but it’s a complicated situation. Forbes complained that defense witnesses always come before Congress with a plan for how they’ll get better, but they seldom appear to be able to act on it; as when DoD was unable to even conduct the basic audits of itself that officials promised they would.

Congressman, they get away with it because there is no accountability. You are actually promoting those who fail to tell you the truth.

Admitting the problem - one we have been talking about here for years - is the first step. Now we need to be very specific about what those bad decision were, who made them, and how we correct them.

Thanks also goes to Rep. Forbes (R-VA) for getting these VADM on the carpet to bring the conversation to the next level. More, much more. Keep pushing, keep asking. Next step is for you to find a way to FORCE the Navy to reverse its CYA act of classifying INSURV - reports that were unclassified for decades. There was no reason to do that, even less reason now.

Ask the incoming CNO about that, I am sure he will love the question.

Hat tip LT B.


sid said...

Oh come now...

Focusing on all that surface rust makes you old farts look stupid...

This really isn't a big issue as people suggest. Known problems with known solutions aren't the challenge for LCS, known or unknown problems with unknown solutions will be the LCS challenge. Those problems are coming, and may already exist. For example, a lot of people have made noise about the material condition of LCS-1 based on pictures. Stupid.

tsk-tsk You "outsiders" Just. Don't. Get. It.

the treatments plus shore maintenance support will prevent that from being a problem.

"Treatments" huh...Sounds like the boats need a good spa visit.

Galrahn said...

Must be great to actually know nothing about a situation but pretend to know a lot from the couch. At one time, you actually did a bit of homework and research before shooting off. Guess you know too much to make that kind of extra effort to ask what is going on these days. When the CO of LCS-1 explains that's not a big deal, but he has other problems - then explains why in detail - I'll take his word over yours.

Galrahn said...


Not sure if you watched the video or read the transcript, but my impression is both Burke and McCoy walked unprepared into a lions den. They really didn't contribute much to the hearing at all, and I thought embarrassed themselves and the Navy in the process. Everything new with 3 exceptions (and all 3 simply reinforced new information by Congressmen) came from House members asking very tough questions, which the Navy didn't appear to be ready for. There were a lot of long pauses and short answers by the Vice Admirals as tough question after tough question was asked, and the VADMs did not look prepared at all. Anyone who walked away from this hearing thinking the Navy is on top of this problem saw a completely different hearing than I did. The video went online yesterday afternoon - it's pretty remarkable.

FCC said...

Galrahn - I can understand where you're coming from, and yet ...

The material condition of a ship (even superficially) speaks volumes on a PR (okay, IO) level... and this has been the case since the first ironclads.  To have what is essentially our nation's "Flagship of the 21st Century" shown with running rust in nearly every photo (even official ones) would be laughable were it not such an outrage.  To other sea powers (friendly and otherwise), it makes us look weak and lubberly, IMHO.

I've got much respect for the good LCS-1 CO (I sure as hell would not want to walk a nautical mile in his thrusters :-P ), but to poo-poo the very basic criticism of the presence running rust (even if, as he implies in LCSs' case, it's not as detrimental -- which I also don't buy, but that's another post) is to lose sight (or to intentionally ignore) what most would agree is a sine qua non of presence/deterrence.

FCC said...

Wow, is C-SPAN the new Springer?  Between that and yesterday's 9wnage of Bernanke by Ron Paul, I'm gonna have to watch more.  Things are getting interesting.

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

I have no doubt CO has "other problems". When preservation starts to slip, it's a primary tell on the existance of "other problems".  Which is why if you want to control your own command tour to any degree you present a squared away face to the world.

Any competent ISIC knows that. When it happens he looks for other problems. Gahlran's friend the CO's problems include being massively undermanned by design.  He doesn't control sufficent man hours to do the maintenence and training required to maintain his ship and train his crew to operate, fight, and maintain his ship. Furthermore, since all the takers and fakers way up the chain are saying every thing is hunky dory, if he speaks to much truth to power, well, his fate will be the same as Von Rundsted (sp?) after D-Day - and for the same reason. You can't tell The Leader his program is fatally flawed by design and the only solution is to abandon the program and do what The Leader's worst critics have been advocating... and stay in the job. He was screwed the day he got the job, and dare not tell the ugliest truths with the bark off. Lay off him, he's dancing as fast as he can.

The LCS is a failure by design and execution of the Navy's shipbuilders, or those who replaced the last ones when they retired. The problem is exacerbated by a whole lot of staff solutions to institutional strategic folly which have so damaged the Navy us old farts gave the best years of our lives to and made family sacrifices, unmeasureable and unknowable, for.

Like the laundry list above.

So sic 'em congresscritters.  The Vice Admirals walked into a fire sack on the hill? Poor lambies. They are certified best fitted. They get no sympathy.  

It's a little late to learn how to fix problems by dealing with the facts, straight up and head on. But I have confidence they can learn. Pick a corner, Admiral; and break out a new broom.

Phil said...

Link for the video? Having a hard time finding it...

Thanks if you post...

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

(cont'd - briefly).  There has GOT to be pony in there somewhere.

CDR Salamander said...

You have to understand the nature of the thanks. By their performance they have brought the subject above the background noise. Nothing they said is unknown, but there had not been an act to bring the discussion above the weeds for awhile. This did it. No reason to beat them up about it. Just like the drunk driving his car through the city rose garden raises the profile of drunk driving, so they have raised this profile. Re-read the last two paragraphs of my post, and I think you'll get the gist.

Guest said...

There are simple truths in keeping ships ready:
1.  Rust Never Sleeps.
2.  You must have a valve maintenance plan for the crew.
3.  Corny but:  A happy ship is a clean ship, and a clean ship fights well.
4.  The Chief Engineer MUST review an sign his logs daily - every day.  
5.  Starting and stopping gas turbines and diesels repeatedly is bad for them.  

Lastly, I would like to see a qualified full time maintenance officer on the crew whose only job is to scrub the CSMP every day and document and report on all the material issues that are affecing reliability, maintainability, and service life.

Retired Engineer.

The Usual Suspect said...

Perfect KISS

LT B said...

I did not see the video, and I wonder if all the email the congress critters got from people that have been paying attention might have had them asking the less than softball questions.  Wouldn't it be nice to think that hey, Phib's porch led Congress to ask the questions that, in all honesty, needed to be asked?

leesea said...

Grandpa I respect your opinion but we have to separate ship construction issues from ship M&R problems. Yes if one does not build them right, they are hard to maintain.  But I think the construction issues of the LCS are far overblown as is the concept and program itself.  IOW both sides are speaking out of turn. Lack of CPS is different from uncoated AL hull structure.  More details to emerge on both those.  We will see what is told to Congress next?

The M&R problems are apparently by previous reports and documented long term, endemic, self-inflicted matters which should have been managed by the USN years ago.  And to make matters worse the USN has taken COA since to make the M&R problems even worse.

My ship visits to both LCSs showed they both are having problems, some with the ship designs and others by lack of crwew and foggy operational concept. Improvements must and will be made, but right now we have a sub-optimal platform and mission modules which may prove to be vaporware? 

One XO was heard to say:  these ships are NOT like other warships, they are not meant to go into combat like during WW2...

Byron said...

Galrahn, when you've spent as much time as we have INSIDE the ships on the waterfront, and have spent a career building a knowledge base of how things REALLY work vice how the Navy/DoD/ or "All the Worlds Ships" says they do, then I'll start paying attention to what you say about troubled programs like we have.

Have you talked to "technical specialists" getting a green paycheck every two weeks about LCS? I have. I also talk from time to time with an SME for MILCORPX.?

Did Sid not say two years ago that there would be erosion issues with the water jets on LCS2? Guess what, he was right. Did I know say that LCS-1 would suffer fracturing issues? Sure did, and damn scary, too.

The difference betweeen you and us is that we don't (for damn good reason) believe what the press flacks for people like Austal or LockMart have to say.

And last but not least...couch my aching ass.

CDR Salamander said...

Funny, I'm in contact with a couple of officers on both LCS. ....(non CO) and what do they tell me? Mmmmm, after a "thank you" the latest phrase about our comments were ... "spot on."

I'll run with that.

sid said...

<span>Must be great to actually know nothing about a situation but pretend to know a lot from the couch. At one time, you actually did a bit of homework and research before shooting off. </span>
<span>My observations are from 50 years -yes a half century's worth- of messing about boats and ships G.</span>
<span>Yes. I can tell alot from a picture. Like...would I be worried about crevice corrosion on the RAST rail bolts on the Haly?</span>
<span>You betchyah.</span>
<span>So G...That running rust IS a problem...But more importantly is a vivid indicator of much deeper M&R issues.</span>
<span>And its damned STUPID to pretend otherwise.</span>

Squidly said...


Re the full-time MO - we had that (got called the Repair Officer), but it wasn't the only job but a collateral duty typically bestowed upon the A&E officer.  Most of the stuff that broke below decks (and some above decks too) fell into his lap anyhow.  Keeping the SMAF / CSMP up to date was a PITA (particularly on the old SNAP II) but we managed to keep things going (frequently CASREP'ing for parts).

Valve maintenance is a great thing, when you can manage to isolate the firemain in order to maintain the valves that won't shut because they've never been maintained because the firemain can't be isolated because the valve seats are shot or have critters growing therein.  Big decks typically have valve maint shops.  Small boys have to pretend (and improvise).

CDR Salamander said...

In the intel world, it's called I&W. In the Navy it's called mastering the fundamentals.

For you football fans, Vince Lombardi would understand 100%.

sid said...

 Which is why if you want to control your own command tour to any degree you present a squared away face to the world.

Two of dad's recurring sayings..

"Never look bad around the boat" (Squadron CO)

"Always paint the side the admiral sees." (CVA XO)

Byron said...

"When the CO of LCS-1 explains that's not a big deal, but he has other problems - then explains why in detail - I'll take his word over yours"

What, did he tell you he has enough crew to either fight the ship or save the ship, but not both? That's a serious non-starter. LCS wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes at Samar.

Surfcaster said...

B - it would have run out of gas long before getting there.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Phib, the facts and opinions stated there are stark, that is, the signal to noise ratio was high and will have a huge impact.

Steve Anderson said...

What I saw out of Rep. Forbes was political grandstanding in beating a couple of three-stars over the head with questions way above their paygrade. Questions that should be directed to Panetta and Mullen. McCoy and Burke don't have final say in these matters. They can make recommendations, but ultimately it's out of their hands.

It's an important issue and one that needs to be addressed, but I'm not really sure what was accomplished in this hearing.

CDR Salamander said...

Raising the profile.  Raising the profile and holding people accoutable to the taxpayer.   

Do you think the Navy is better served by everyone being quiet?  How is that working for us?  BTW - this answer is BELOW SECDEF & CJCS's paygrade.  This is actually fair warning to the CNO to get his facts and story straight.  I would much rather have two VADM doing this than the CNO.  

The new CNO now has been put on notice that he needs to be prepared.  Looks to me like a win-win.  Also - if these two VADM can't/shouldn't answer such questions - then they should be replaced with a Bull CAPT who will.

Byron said...

"I'll take his word over yours."

Galrahn, the absolute worst thing you could have done was get a ride on Freedom from Marinnete to where were captured by the process instead of becoming a dispassionate observer.

Stu said...

Above their paygrade?!!!


LT B said...

Hell, I know some bulls here that will give them the horns if they VADMs won't.  I might even say that the game the Navy played to fellate Congress for money (diversity/DADT/etc) has cost us our readiness, along w/ a lust for new and "revolutionary" technologies to fulfill FITREP bullets.  Then I would point out the happy talk and lack of honesty coming from the head shed and see how that went over.  :)   But, hey, I like battleships, so we KNOW I'm not "transformational."

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

Yea verily and amen.

Practice daily with the guns (or whatever you have to shoot), some of then if not all.

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

<span>"Improvements must and will be made" and "</span><span>One XO was heard to say:  these ships are NOT like other warships, they are not meant to go into combat like during WW2..".</span>

Cosmetic improvement will be attempted, but the XO had it right, and that is the problem.

Since the before the Quasi-war with France, the USN won and kept respect by designing and building ships meant to go into combat and successfully fight above their weight. Those ships were manned, kept ready, and fought by men who wouldn't have it any other way in numbers necessary to get the job done.

The LCS in not like other warships because it is in no way a warship, but a pathetic and unsatisfactory attempt to substitute something far less.

What needs to be done is simple. 

LCS delende est. As well as all the damnfool nonsense that led to this fiasco.

That will be the improvement the situation requires.

Sean said...

For those of us who have been out of the Navy for awhile and are not as plugged in as some of the folks here are, can someone summarize some of the fads du journey the the surface navy has gone through that have contributed to this problem?



(my experience is more in the line of translating the latest quality/lean fad into stuff I learned twenty years ago...the amusing part is when I try to think of how many different slogans have been invented to say the same things....)

Sean said...

Fads du jour....stupid autocorrect spelling!

Steel City said...

Speaking of fellating Congress, an even more contemptuous recent example was the naming of LPD-26.  Be our buddy in Congress (ask softball questions to issues like LCS, surface ship readiness, etc.) and we even might name a ship after you some day.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

To be fair, Byron, Samar was littoral combat.  And if it is one thing the Navy tells us the Littoral Combat Ship is NOT built for, it's combat in the littorals.

leesea said...

ok lets walk this down the path.  Let's assume the johnny come lately Senators catch up SECNAV is something so wrong, and that they get their wishes and program is defunded?  Then what?

It will take NAVSEA another 5 years or so to get another warship design into service at best~ Meaning an LCS resolicit like Duncan Hunter wants (for NASSCO).  Or maybe using an exisiting design. But 7 years is the average anyway.

In the meantime the Perrys are not going to be improved (upgrades not programmed etc, and will be streched out in service with their material condition going further south.

So where does that "kill off the LCS" get the US Navy - deeper in the hole.  All the while the PLAN is buidling up its surface ships for a Pacific takeover. And oh BTW if the DDG-1000 is cut due to up coming budget reductions, that means the USN only has some cruisers and lots of Burkes getting older for our fleet.

LCS are now sub-optimal platforms, but they probalby can be improved and at least they will be new ships in service.  So what do those(except Sid) think?

Salty Gator said...

Problem appreciation is nothing.  When they come up with a tenable solution set that won't make the problem worse, I will express my thanks.  Because right now, within the building, their solution sets will make things exponentially worse.

LT B said...

Minimal manning, poor training, reliance on computer based training vice hands on training, lack of system knowledge for Sailors, misaligned money/resources (travel training time) to social engineering (women gays race quotas) rather than treating all Sailors as Sailors.  Huge amounts of money thrown on a ship w/o a mission rather than buying ships for the missions, the good idea fairy along w/ the bean counters came up with what they thought was a cool design.  Bot designs are welded to the pier.  That will get you started.

LT B said...

There's the rub, Lee.  If the Navy had any damned sense, they would have put something in motion.  This train wreck is predictable.  It was obvious to those on the front porch and you KNOW Washington looks at the porch wishing they had a means to take the porch down.  You KNOW they have heard us.  So, 7 yrs?  Hell, we SHOULD be at least 2 years into that solution.  Additionally, we used to turn and burn on manufaturing.  Conceivably, we could do so again, if we could keep the perfumed princes at bay.  There are designs out there that are working.  They could use one of them, tweak it and move on.  Stop gap, they could SLEP the Figs, but they should be planning/doing something RIGHT the F##K NOW!

YNCS(SS/SW) said...

I'm of the opinion that Mullen and Roughead should have had their asses in the hotseat, not McCoy and Burke to answer for this fiasco.

LT B said...

I don't think anybody would argue w/ you Senior.  Most of us that frequent the porch, are less than sanguine w/ the senior "leadership," their social engineering, their failure to see the obvious, etc.  I would love for Congress to look at them and say, "Dear God man, put some clothes on, you're naked!"  They have definitely shown their a$$ w/ their "Diversity is my main goal," diversion. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Senbior Chief,

Mullen and Roughead have worked diligently to curry political favor, so that they are not held accountable for anything

They have become actors in costume, not Officers in uniform.  They may as well be in a production of HMS Pinafore.

Aubrey said...

"LCS wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes at Samar."

LCS wouldn't last 5 minutes off San Diego

Stu said...

More of the same top leadership headed our way!

Retired Now said...


Isn't MURTHA the name of a large sized city somewhere ?

"large sized city" = like San Antonio , New Orleans .

Oop's.. Or perhaps small city like USS GREEN BAY, LPD-20 ?

Oop's... Or perhaps a place .... Like USS MESA VERDE LPD-19 ?

Or maybe MURTHA is a large state, like... USS NEW YORK LPD-21 ?

Or maybe the SecNav uses a full time GS-14 to name ships in a class ? It really IS very difficult you know.

Retired Now said...

LCS-9 was just "named".

She will be the future USS LITTLE ROCK.

To be built up in Wisconsin at that Italian owned shipyard.

MR T's Haircut said...

I am pretty sure one of the ENUMERATED powers of the Congress, is too build a FREAKING NAVY!



MR T's Haircut said...

URR, which is the Vegetable?

sid said...

Problem is that the USN has largely lost its sense of identity...Just look at its ships...and the contorted machinations in the naming of them.

Here are a couple of names to follow in the tradition of naming ships after mid-sized as_holes, like Murtha and Chavez...

USS John Dillinger

Iconic, popular figure who helped out the poor... and Navy Veteran (although he didn't like it much).

USS Larry Flynt

C'mon now..We all know the majority of folks here wish they could've had what he has had over the years. So that makes him iconic and widely admired....An apparent ship naming convention. Navy connection?...He once related that he had an epiphany about his life's work while on liberty in San Juan.

sid said...

<span>So what do those(except Sid) think?</span>

Fisrt off...

Quit trying to slather lame verbal lipstick like "sub-optimal" on this pig of a program.

The need for new ships does not mean that the USN should continue to build ships that will turn into outright battle losing death traps in a real war at sea. Given the numbers the USN is foolishly saying they need, they will be very quickly miscast in battle.

And when that happens...Its always ugly

Every time.

Even you say they are not "warships."

Ironically, I missed your countersnark because I have been busy helping to put together a fairly major RFP for Day Job...

Mindful of your right lame "sub-optimal"...I drove home the point that WE are in charge of product definition, and that we shouldn't just accept some weak crap these vendors want to peddle us, with the hopes that we can make it all "optimal."

So. Thanks for the inspiration lee!