Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Geno Smith and Shocking the FORD

Let’s review some fundamentals.

1. Build a little, test a little, learn a lot.
2. First in class always have first in class “issues.” Find those on Hull-1 and fix in time so they aren’t an issue with follow-on platforms.
3. Sailors go on ships; ships go to sea.
4. Ships go to sea in peace, so they can perform at war.
5. At war, ships get hit.
6. Hit ships need to be able to fight hurt.
7. The bigger the ship, the more resilient they need to be.
8. The time to find out your primary weapon system is not war-ready is … when?

Of course, the answer to #8 is, peace. We are relatively at peace right now.

So, our new carrier is the FORD class. OK. Help me with this. Via Chris Cavas at DefenseNews;

The Pentagon rejected a US Navy plan to carry out shock and survivability tests on the second ship of its new aircraft carrier design, and instead directed the service to test the first ship — even though doing so may delay the ship's first deployment by at least half a year.

In an Aug. 7 memo to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's top acquisition official, ordered the "full ship shock trial" (FSST) to be carried out on the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), first of a new class of carriers and expected to enter service in 2016.

The ship is in the final stages of construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

The Navy had wanted to wait until the second ship, the John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), was available, but that carrier isn't expected to enter service until late 2022 or 2023. Among other issues, the Navy argued that the time taken to perform the tests on the Gerald R. Ford would delay the ship's first deployment.

Let’s backup a bit. What is more important, a showboat deployment with a “?” on survivability, or properly testing Hull-1? Are we doubling down on the bad habits from LCS that our ships are best used as PR platforms as opposed to properly tested warships?

It should be simple, but is appears not to be. There are some distinct narrow-band sources breaking out from the ambient noise that are telling me there is a reason we don’t want to shock test the FORD, and it has to be a lot more than just the deployment schedule.

Really, a deployment schedule at peace? First, that is lame as both a reason and an excuse. Reason or excuse? 

Let’s run with the excuse gambit. If an excuse, what are we worried about not being able to handle it? Also, for goodness sake, why would we want to put one of our capital ships on the front line with a possible China-doll own-mission-kill problem that should be fixable?

That makes about as much sense as the Jets putting Geno Smith in pads for a scrimmage this weekend. There is something more here, what it is? No idea.

As a side note, I like this Kendall guy;

Quoting directly, Kendall's memo directs the Navy to:

"Execute the FSST for the CVN 78 Class using the lead ship, CVN 78. The FSST shall be conducted prior to the initial operational deployment of CVN 78.

"Fully fund the CVN 78 program in the FY 2017 Navy budget submission to complete the component shock testing program and to execute the FSST as directed.

"Complete the Total Ship Survivability Test (TSST) using CVN 78 prior to initial operational deployment, as currently planned.

"Provide me the detailed plan to implement this direction at the CVN 78 Annual Defense Acquisition Board In-Process Review in December 2015."
Also, via Bloomberg, right thinking people are thinking right;
Pentagon leaders considered the test’s timing and implications and its impact on the deployment schedule, Kendall’s spokeswoman, Maureen Schumann, said in an e-mail.

After discussions with the Navy, the leaders “concluded that impacts on operational deployments did not outweigh the utility of obtaining information about potential vulnerabilities, which could be revealed through testing,” she said.

Work made “the right decision,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain said in an e-mail.

McCain, an Arizona Republican, has pressed the Navy to do the testing that he said “will mitigate the risks of integrating several new technologies, improve the design of future carriers, and, most importantly, increase” the vessel’s survivability and the “ability of the crew to survive battle damage.”

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