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House Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for Second Virginia-Class Submarine

By: Megan Eckstein

July 7, 2020, 4:49 PM • Updated: July 7, 2020, 5:52 PM





Sailors aboard to Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Delaware (SSN-791) on November 5, 2019. US Navy Photo

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee today released its draft Fiscal Year 2021 defense funding bill that would buy nine Navy ships, including the second Virginia-class attack submarine that the House Armed Services Committee is fighting to include in next year’s ship-buying plans.

The HAC-D legislation includes $22.3 billion in shipbuilding funds for the first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, the two Virginias, two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, one frigate and two towing ships – and a San Antonio-class Flight II amphibious transport dock (LPD-17) that the Navy did not include in its request.

The HASC gave money for the seven ships the Navy requested, plus the second Virginia submarine and an Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) rather than the LPD that HAC-D funded.

Despite the different surface ship each committee pitched to supplement the Navy’s small shipbuilding request for FY 2021, HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) released a statement today praising the HAC-D bill’s inclusion of funding for two full Virginia SSNs, something that his Senate counterparts did not include in their defense authorization bill.

“Restoration of full funding for a second Virginia-class submarine topped the Navy’s list of unfunded priorities in 2021,” Courtney said in his statement, “which is consistent with the testimony of combatant commanders about the growing need for submarine capabilities around the world, as well as about the harm cutting a submarine would do to the workforce and supply chain, which need stability. That is why we found such strong bipartisan support to fully restore it in the 2021 [National Defense Authorization Act] last week.”

The Navy has bought two SSNs a year since 2011, and its current multiyear contract with prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat was at one point envisioned to cover as many as 13 subs across the five-year contract. The Navy had hoped to buy at least two subs every year, even bumping up to three subs in certain years, to not only increase the size of the SSN force but also to keep a smooth ramp-up in the workload for the submarine industrial base as it prepared to start building the Columbia class as well. The contract that was ultimately signed is for nine, with an option for a 10th boat. The fight over a second boat in 2021 primarily comes down to whether the option is exercised in 2021 or at a later time.

During last week’s HASC markup of its FY 2021 NDAA, seapower subcommittee staffer Phil MacNaughton explained the importance of buying the second Virginia submarine this year – warning that failure to do so could lead to a disruption on the Columbia production line. The Columbia SSBN is the Navy’s top acquisition priority and has already used up all the margin in its schedule, with no room for any future problems between now and the 2027 delivery of the first boat.

“Because of the multiyear contract that the Virginia class is under, if the second FY ‘21 boat is not authorized and appropriated, the shipbuilders will continue to build a second Virginia starting in FY ‘21 because of the multiyear – so they will essentially be bringing work forward under that contract. The result of that will be if they maintain the current schedule that they are, or if they recover schedule as they’re planning to do, by the time they get to the end of FY ‘23, they will run out of Virginia-class work to start. And due to the nature of the contract they have with their unions, they are required, if there’s a reduction in the workforce, to lay off the most recent hires. And that would be the second year of production on the Columbia-class submarine. So the result will be, they will have to be laying off workers they anticipated to hire for Columbia due to the reduction in Virginia-class work,” MacNaughton said.
“So if the second submarine is not authorized and appropriated in FY ‘21, we’ll see potentially an impact to Columbia in FY ’23 – and at that point, there are very few levers for the Navy to pull to try and help that workforce and help correct the Columbia.”

The HAC subcommittees and full committee will mark up their spending bills in the coming weeks, and potentially by the end of the month, the full House will vote on both the defense spending bill and the defense authorization bill that the HASC passed out of the committee last week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet released its draft bill or weighed in on the issue of the second Virginia-class submarine.

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By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor of In Military, InCyberDefense, and In Space News.

Each year, millions of Americans gather on July 4, the birth anniversary of the United States as an independent nation. For many, it’s a time of family, fireworks, and food off the grill. Indeed, Independence Day is the quintessential summer holiday, a perfect example of the spirit of a nation.

And yet, 2020 is a seemingly cursed year of existential threats, when even the mere act of being close to another human can be deadly.

Get started on your Homeland Security Degree at American Military University.

So, with the coronavirus still ravaging the country, after a brief reprieve in May, how can we celebrate the 4th  of July holiday safely? And what does Independence Day mean to all who are fighting for equality and justice?

A Shining City on a Hill

To be clear, the US is going through a time of tremendous challenges: The ongoing struggle for racial equality and justice, a raging pandemic that has killed 130,000 Americans, and a deep partisan divide that hasn’t been seen since the Vietnam War.

Despite this, I would argue that, on Independence Day, we celebrate the “idea” of America.

The beauty of a nation like ours is found in our desire to constantly strive to be a better version of ourselves. The founding fathers, despite their flaws, had the foresight to build into our constitutional framework the flexibility to improve our nation when necessary.

The difference between American pride and that of other nations may be small, but it is crucial. We Americans are proud of our country because of what it could become.

Besides, other nations place more importance on unity through a shared cultural background. But Americans put more importance on unity through shared values among many cultures.

And it is these very values, equality, individualism, self-government, and upward mobility, that we celebrate each Independence Day, even if we haven’t fully realized these values yet for every American.

But What About the Virus?

The coronavirus no doubt has caused severe disruptions to everyday life in these United States, including the fracturing of a healthy economy caused by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Because of this, states are making localized decisions on what businesses, schools, and other activities are safe to reopen and which are not.

But one thing now seems clear in all 50 states: municipal governments are moving toward mandating smaller gatherings and virtual events where the risk of contracting the virus is reduced.

In Washington, DC, known for its spectacular annual fireworks display, the Independence Day parade along the National Mall been canceled. Also, PBS’s annual “A Capitol Fourth” concert will not be held live on the Capitol grounds; instead,  PBS will broadcast a digital version, featuring such well-known personalities as actors John Stamos and Vanessa Williams.

Also, the National Archives will host its first virtual celebration in place of its traditional ceremony of reading the Declaration of Independence outside the museum.

Depending on where you live, it’s likely that your local Independence Day fireworks show has been canceled or augmented with social distancing measures. But no matter what your local situation is, you can still celebrate the values that make America a place worthy of your emotional investment.

Even a small cookout with close friends and a few sparklers is enough to wish the Land of Liberty a happy 244th birthday.

These restrictive challenges make it all the more important that we should celebrate.

Celebrate what?

We celebrate our ability to face monumental challenges as a people and a nation and come out the other side a healthier and more just society.

In 2020, Independence Day celebrations might be smaller and more regional, but we still feel connected in the shared struggle that will define us for decades to come.

Singapore's first Type 218SG submarine delayed by Covid-19

by Ridzwan Rahmat

Invincible<br />
        , seen here at its launch ceremony in 2019.<br />
       (Michael Nitz/Naval Press Service)

Invincible, seen here at its launch ceremony in 2019. (Michael Nitz/Naval Press Service)

Delivery of the first Invincible (Type 218SG)-class air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped diesel-electric submarine (SSK) has been delayed because of disruptions due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Due to supply chain disruptions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the first Invincible-class submarine is expected to be delivered to Singapore by 2022, instead of the previously projected 2021”, said the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on June 29. Janes also understands that the vessel has yet to begin its sea trials.

The SSK, which will be known in service as RSS Invincible once commissioned, is one of four Type 218SG boats ordered under two separate contracts signed between ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and the Singaporean government in 2013 and 2017. It was launched at a ceremony at Kiel in February 2019.

The Invincible class will have maximum speeds in excess of 15 kt when submerged and 10 kt when dived. With an overall length of 70 m and a pressure hull diameter of 6.3 m, the vessel displaces 2,200 tonnes when submerged and 2,000 tonnes when surfaced. Each vessel is armed with eight tubes.

The boat features an X-shaped stern rudder for enhanced maneuverability in shallow littoral waters and customized operator consoles that have been designed to suit the ergonomics of RSN personnel.

Story Number: NNS200701-09Release Date: 7/1/2020 4:52:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dalton Lowing, USS Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- “Ship, Shipmate, Self.” This is a well-known phrase used throughout the Navy. It teaches Sailors in times of casualty or emergency that you use all the training provided to you, to save your ship. Once you have prevented further damage to your ship, you focus on your shipmates, and finally yourself. This has been seen many times in the past when ships have experienced casualties.

Navy Sailors are trained for these situations before they ever boot camp. They receive countless hours of firefighting and casualty response training. When a ship is underway, it becomes the fire department, the doctors’ office, the police force, and sometimes the emergency room.

Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Nathaniel Atkins, from Chesapeake, Virginia, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) engineering department, never expected to use this training during his liberty time, not aboard the ship, but when the call for “help” came, he was ready.

On his way home from grabbing groceries to make dinner, Atkins saw a home on fire. Without hesitating, he pulled over and began to take control of the situation.

“The only thing I saw was a house fire, and there were probably 15, maybe 20 people standing outside,” said Atkins. “I stopped rolled down the window and yelled, ‘is everybody out of the house.’ And they're like, no, there are kids inside.”

Sailors are trained to handle stressful environments, trained to think through solutions, and execute precise actions to complete the mission. Atkins put all that training together to accomplish the mission before him successfully.

“Initially, I went up to try to and assess the situation to determine what the easiest way in was,” said Atkins. “It was a four-apartment duplex and the main entrance that goes upstairs where the kids were, was on fire. I couldn't get through it. I saw the two children in a bedroom window in the back half of the house on the second story and went to find a ladder.”

Atkins has been enlisted in the Navy for more than ten years. Seven of those have been spent at a sea command, where he participated in hundreds of firefighting training and evolutions.

“My training helped me establish a goal and accomplish the goal, get the kids out, keep calm, assess the situation, and make sure that nothing that I'm going to do is going to hurt me or anybody else,” Atkins informed. “The main thing is it kept me calm.”

Atkins said he got a ladder from someone in another house close by. Once he got the ladder up, he climbed to the window where he could see the girls and broke the window out. He had the first girl out before the fire department, EMS, and police showed up. He had the second girl out as the fire department was beginning to combat the fire.

“I saw an older lady in another window as I was pulling the kids out,” said Atkins. “I could see she was on oxygen, and I watched her turn back into the house. I don't know if it was because she was trying to find the grandkids or if she was scared because we were on the second story, and she didn't want to fall. But either way, she turned back into the house, and she didn't make it.”

If he had only gotten there 10 minutes earlier, Atkins said he felt he could have had a better chance to get the elderly lady out.

“There was so much chaos in the very beginning; nobody was taking control. I just leaped into action and did what I needed to do. I don't really know how to feel about it, it's a lot of mixed emotions. I have a feeling of guilt, just because of the grandmother and that situation, but to be honest, I did everything I could. I think that I did a good job, I have a feeling that I've accomplished something.”

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Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Nathaniel Atkins, from Chesapeake, Virginia, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) engineering department, works on a large ice maker in the ship's hangar bay March 28, 2020. Ford is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting carrier qualifications. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Sawyer Connally)

March 28, 2020

NATO Anti-Submarine Exercise Dynamic Mongoose Kicks Off With U.S. Destroyer, SSN

By: Megan Eckstein

June 30, 2020 6:26 PM





USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) and Spanish frigate ESPS Reina Sofia came together for a formation and photo exercise, as Roosevelt transited from its homeport in Rota, Spain, to Iceland for NATO Exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2020. US Navy photo via Facebook.

An advanced US attack submarine and guided-missile destroyer are among the forces participating in the NATO anti-submarine warfare exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2020, which kicked off this week off Iceland.

Virginia-class attack submarine USS Indiana (SSN-789), one of the newest ships in the class, and Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), which recently moved its homeport to Naval Station Rota in Spain to bring its advanced air and missile defense system to the forward-deployed force there, are joining four other surface ships, four other submarines and five maritime patrol aircraft.

For the Roosevelt crew, newly assigned to the Forward Deployed Naval Force-Europe fleet that conducts surface warfare but was formed to focus on ballistic missile defense, the opportunity to conduct anti-submarine warfare is an exciting one.

“Dynamic Mongoose allows Roosevelt to utilize its advanced sonar capabilities in a dynamic, high-intensity anti-submarine warfare environment while operating with our NATO allies and partners to improve readiness and interoperability,” Commanding Officer Cmdr. Ryan Kendall said in a Navy news release.
“My team and I look forward to demonstrating the strength of our NATO alliance, working together to hone our warfighting skills at sea.”

Roosevelt will be joining surface combatants, submarines, and maritime patrol aircraft from Canada, France, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the US for this exercise.

“Dynamic Mongoose aims to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training; to enhance interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare; and to increase our skill,” Norwegian Navy Commodore Yngve Skoglund, the commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, said June 29 in an online press conference.
“Each surface ship in my task group will have the opportunity to execute a variety of anti-submarine warfare operations. The submarines will take turns in hunting or being hunted. We as the surface combatants will closely coordinate our efforts with the air participants operating from the UK and here on Iceland.”

SNMG-1 includes Norwegian frigate HNoMS Otto Sverdrup (F312), currently serving as the SNMG-1 flagship, and Canadian patrol frigate HMCS Fredericton (337). Skoglund said his already-formed task group has to come together with additional US and UK surface ships and quickly integrate before taking on increasingly challenging scenarios in the two-week exercise. This kind of multi-domain warfare is hard enough for one nation, he said but is much tougher for an international group like this.

“All the assets participating here are already at a very good level, so when we start we have a very good individual level on each ship. And we have been working together for a while as well, some of us,” he said, and the exercise will “bring us all up to speed and get that high end of connectivity and working together.”

“And then, of course, as mentioned earlier, we have five submarines. That is a lot to play with for five surface ships. It’s a lot of challenges, and it can lift all the levels onboard, from the operator to the staff, my staff who has to think how do we exploit all these resources – and on top of that we have of course all the air assets that we have to coordinate as well. It’s a brilliant opportunity to go from an outstandingly high level to where we are going to end in two weeks,” the commodore said.




Norwegian frigate HNoMS Otto Sverdrup (F312) leaves Reykjavik, Iceland, for the start of NATO Exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2020. NATO photo via Facebook.

Skoglund noted that everything was being done to make the exercise as realistic as possible. For example, the maritime patrol aircraft from the US and France will operate out of Keflavik, Iceland, whereas the UK planes will fly out of their base in Scotland. This not only provides more options for the tactical commanders – who can figure out how to employ assets based on the scenario and other factors like the weather – but it’s realistic in the sense that, if a conflict emerged, forces might not have time to mass at a common location. They’d likely be coming in from around the region, and task group commanders would have to manage that.

Dynamic Mongoose is one in a pair of annual NATO ASW exercises, with the second being Dynamic Manta in the Mediterranean. Dynamic Manta allows NATO to gain experience and lessons hunting primarily diesel submarines in shallower waters. In contrast, Dynamic Mongoose – which rotates between being hosted by Iceland and Norway every other year – focuses on nuclear-powered submarines in the open ocean.

This year, Fredericton has the distinction of participating in both.




Italian submarine ITS Salvatore Todaro (S 526) and Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337) sail in the Ionian Sea during an anti-submarine warfare demonstration for media on February 24, 2020, during the kickoff of NATO’s Dynamic Manta exercise. USNI News photo.

“We’ve already achieved our goal just by doing the two different exercises in two different locations,” Commander of NATO Submarines US Rear Adm. Andrew Burcher said during the media call, referring to the two training events with two different geographical and oceanographic challenges.

Burcher said the exercise is taking place in a 200-by-200 square nautical mile box off Iceland that would serve as a good training ground for NATO forces in an important strategic chokepoint.

“The security challenges associated with Iceland is that Iceland is a strategic location in a strategic chokepoint that leads to the open North Atlantic, which, if Russia were to deploy its assets, they would have to go through. So the security challenge for us is to ensure that we have the skill sets and capabilities to dominate the undersea environment in that area such that, in the event of a conflict or leading up to a conflict, that we can control and protect those sea lines of communication,” Burcher said.
“This particular area has a large amount of international commerce … (and) commercial communications equipment that is on the seabed. So the risks are to ensure that we are able to protect those in peacetime and conflict.”

Russian Black Sea Sub Deployments to the Mediterranean Could Violate Treaty

By: H I Sutton

July 8, 2020 12:55 PM





Kilo-class submarine Rostov-on-Don heading for the Mediterranean Sea. Photo by Yörük Işık used with permission

The Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet recently has been deploying its submarines to the Mediterranean, despite a decades-old international treaty which many thought would prevent those deployments.

The Montreux Convention agreed to in 1936, prohibits submarines from passing through the Bosporus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. There are exceptions in the treaty for individual cases for Black Sea nations: delivery of new submarines to the Black Sea and transits for repairs. Russia is now routinely using these clauses to reestablish a permanent submarine presence in the Mediterranean.

The deployment of these submarines to the Mediterranean is a severe concern to NATO leadership. Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies on June 25, Adm. James Foggo, Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe and Africa, described the Eastern Mediterranean as “one of the most kinetic areas in the world.” He said, “the Russians are deploying quiet, modern, diesel submarines capable of launching the Kalibr cruise missile.”
This refers to diesel-electric Kilo-class boats deploying to the region from the Black Sea via the Bosporus.




H I Sutton Graphic used with permission

“A Kilo-class submarine can go anywhere in European waters and strike any European or North African capital from under the waves. You don’t see it coming,” Foggo said. He spoke just two days after the Russian latest boat, Rostov-on-Don, had passed through the Bosporus.

Russia later said that Rostov-on-Don was going for scheduled repairs, which would make the movement legal under the Montreux Convention. But like other submarines before her, Rostov-on-Don is believed to be heading first for a combat patrol in the Mediterranean. Even if Rostov-on-Don were going straight for repair, the fact would remain that other submarines have used this clause to deploy to the Mediterranean.

How Russia Has Changed The Norm




Russian Kilo-class submarine Krasnodar leaving the Black Sea on March 14, 2019. Cem Devrim Yaylalı Photo used with permission

Russia disestablished its Mediterranean squadron in 1993 following the end of the Cold War. During the Cold War, the submarines of the squadron had been drawn from the Northern Fleet, based in the Arctic, and the Baltic Fleet. This was because the Montreux Convention stopped them from using the Black Sea Fleet’s subs.

The current pattern started in 2015, shortly after Russia’s intervention of the war in Syria. The same submarine, Rostov-on-Don, paused shortly in the Mediterranean during its delivery voyage to the Black Sea. It launched Kalibr missiles at targets in Syria before transiting the Bosporus Strait. Then in 2017, another Kilo-class boat, Krasnodar, did the same thing. This time its pre-delivery combat excursion was longer, a couple of months.

As Krasnodar entered the Black Sea, two additional boats, Velikiy Novgorod and Kolpino, started their pre-delivery combat deployments. This time they operated for much longer, more than a year. When they did eventually sail through the Bosporus, it was “for the first time after their construction or purchase.”

With all six improved Kilo-class submarines destined for the Black Sea Fleet now there, Russia could not use the pre-delivery clause again. Therefore, the two boats which replace Velikiy Novgorod and Kolpino on station in the Mediterranean had to pass out of the Black Sea. Thus, Staryy Oskol and Krasnodar passed south through the Bosporus ostensibly for scheduled maintenance.

The move raised eyebrows at the time, with the USNI News writing that if the submarines conducted military operations, it could be considered a breach of the Montreux Convention.

Russia has sent a few subs out of the Black Sea for maintenance previously, but those moves were more straightforward. The closest precedent to the more recent actions might be in 2011, when an older Kilo-class submarine, Alrosa, briefly paused while on its way for repairs to take part in an international submarine rescue exercise.

Staryy Oskol and Krasnodar both reported for duty in the Mediterranean after transiting the Bosporus. One of them, Krasnodar, was still there in June. Another two submarines have since passed south through the Bosporus for so-called scheduled maintenance.

The Shift In The Balance of Power

Russia now has, in effect, a permanent submarine force in the Mediterranean using Black Sea Fleet diesel-electric boats, despite the Montreux Convention. Russia could already deploy submarines to the Mediterranean from its Baltic and Northern Fleets. But these fleets are further away and have competing priorities. Therefore, the Black Sea Fleet’s Kalibr-capable Kilos have become the submarines of choice.

The new status quo could see Russia liberate itself from the spirit of the treaty while keeping other countries such as the US and its NATO allies bound by its terms. The NATO response to the situation has been muted. Many countries are preoccupied with other topics, and there have not been any signs of political consequences for Russia.

Western planners may be imagining a future where the Russian Navy mirrors its position in Tartus, Syria, with a similar foothold in Libya.

Turkey should also have cause for concern. The submarines are deploying directly to a military conflict where Russia and Turkey are taking opposing positions. The same is true of the conflict in Libya. Turkey has the means to stop vessels transiting, at least in peacetime. The political situation between the two countries is delicate, however, and for the moment, there are no overt signs that Turkey will react.


Submarine Squadron 19 Sailor Wins MCPO Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award

Story Number: NNS200624-12Release Date: 6/24/2020 12:49:00 PM

By Petty Officer 1st Class Andrea Perez, Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (Submarine) Angela K. Koogler, from Dayton, Ohio, an assistant communications officer assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 19 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington, was recently awarded the 2020 Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award.

Five outstanding Sailors were announced as winners of both the 2020 Captain Joy Bright Hancock and Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Awards via NAVADMIN 171/20, June 17.

Koogler was selected for the enlisted leadership award from more than 100 nominees.

“I feel very humbled and honored because I know there were a lot of deserving people who were nominated,” said Koogler. “I hope to continue to inspire junior Sailors and let them know that if you work hard, you can accomplish what you set out to do.”

Established in 1987, and open to both men and women, these officer and enlisted leadership awards are presented annually to honor the visionary leadership of Navy service members whose ideals and dedication foster an inclusive culture while furthering the integration of women into the Navy. Each application was graded on the criteria of inspirational and innovative leadership, professional accomplishments, character, command climate and community involvement.

Koogler was one of the first senior enlisted women leaders to join the Submarine Force and was assigned to USS Michigan (SSGN 727) in March 2016. She is also one of the first women in the Submarine Force to qualify as a diving officer of the watch on both the East and West Coast. Koogler is committed to the development of the Navy’s Enlisted Women in Submarines Program and serves as an enlisted liaison for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

In his award letter of recommendation, Capt. Shawn Huey, commanding officer, USS Michigan (Blue) said Koogler’s leadership and devotion to the Navy not only enhanced the performance level of Michigan, but also the Navy at large.

“Her personal commitment and dedication to the Navy are a constant source of encouragement to those around her,” said Huey. “She is most deserving of this recognition and truly exemplifies the best qualities of a leader in our Naval service.”

Rear Adm. Doug Perry, Commander, Submarine Group 9, also congratulated Koogler on her selection for the leadership award.

“The competition is always keen for these prestigious awards, so you [Koogler] should be justifiably proud of your accomplishments,” said Perry. “Your leadership and teamwork brings great credit to Commander, Submarine Squadron 19 and the Submarine Force. Congratulations and keep charging!”

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Submarine Squadron 19 Sailor Wins MCPO Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award

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Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (Submarine) Angela K. Koogler, from Dayton, Ohio, assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 19 poses for a photo at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington. Koogler was recently awarded the 2020 Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award.

Report to Congress on U.S. Navy Ship Names

June 25, 2020 8:41 AM


The following is the June 24, 2020 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. On July 13, 2012, the Navy submitted to Congress a 73-page report on the Navy’s policies and practices for naming ships.

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

  • SSBN-826, the first of the Navy’s new ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) has been named Columbia in honor of the District of Columbia, but the Navy has not stated what the naming rule for these ships will be.
  • Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines are being named for states.
  • Of the Navy’s 15 most recently named aircraft carriers, 10 have been named for past U.S. Presidents and two for Members of Congress. On January 20, 2020, at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ceremony, the Navy announced that CVN-81, an aircraft carrier authorized by Congress in FY2019, would be named for Doris Miller, an African American enlisted sailor who received the Navy Cross for his actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
  • Destroyers are being named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including Secretaries of the Navy.
  • The Navy has not yet announced a naming rule for its planned new class of FFG(X) frigates, the first of which was funded in FY2020. Previous classes of U.S. Navy frigates, like Navy destroyers, were generally named for naval leaders and heroes.
  • Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) have been 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.

Since 1974, at least 21 U.S. military ships have been named for persons who were living at the time the name was announced. The most recent instance occurred on May 6, 2019, when the Navy announced that it was naming the destroyer DDG-133 for former Senator Sam Nunn.

Members of the public are sometimes interested in having Navy ships named for their own states or cities, for older U.S. Navy ships (particularly those on which they or their relatives served), for battles in which they or their relatives participated, or for people they admire.

Congress has long maintained an interest in how Navy ships are named, and has influenced the naming of certain Navy ships. The Navy suggests that congressional offices wishing to express support for proposals to name a Navy ship for a specific person, place, or thing contact the office of the Secretary of the Navy to make their support known. Congress may also pass legislation relating to ship names. Measures passed by Congress in recent years regarding Navy ship names have all been sense-of-the-Congress provisions.

Program Office Maturing USVs, UUVs With Help From Industry, International Partners

By: Megan Eckstein

June 23, 2020 5:27 PM


A Ghost Fleet Overlord test vessel takes part in a capstone demonstration during the conclusion of Phase I of the program in September. Two existing commercial fast supply vessels were converted into unmanned surface vessels (USVs) for Overlord testing, which will play a vital role in informing the Navy’s new classes of USVs. US Navy photo.

The Navy’s transition from prototype to program of record for its portfolio of unmanned surface and undersea systems is being aided by industry, international partners and developmental squadrons, even as the program office seeks to ease concerns that the transition is happening too fast, the program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants said today.

Rear Adm. Casey Moton said he’s aware of concerns regarding how unmanned systems – particularly the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel – will be developed and used by the fleet, but he’s confident in his team’s path forward.

“From my standpoint we are making a lot of great progress in working out the technical maturity, answering those kinds of questions (about how to employ and sustain the vessels) and getting the requirements right before we move into production,” he said in a virtual event today co-hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Among the hurdles the LUSV faces is pushback from Congress. Lawmakers were first concerned about an unmanned vessel that would carry missiles – and whether the Navy was ready to protect the craft from being sunk, sabotaged, stolen or hacked. Concern then turned to the pace at which the Navy wants to move, with Pentagon-level prototyping tests taking place now, the Navy taking over the testing in Fiscal Year 2021 and then competing a contract for the first program-of-record LUSV in FY 2023.

This week, the House Armed Services Committee released parts of its FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act legislation, which bans funding to buy any LUSVs until the Navy can certify that the subsystems are mature and reliable, that the command and control and autonomy are reliable, that measures are in place to measure and demonstrate ongoing performance, and more. The seapower and projection forces subcommittee language will be in the full bill set for a markup and vote next week.

A committee aide told reporters on Monday that, “if you look at their acquisition strategy, there’s really no gap in between what they’re calling these prototype ships and when they go into actual serial production. So essentially they’ve been trying to go into serial production from the very beginning. We don’t believe that that’s a sound strategy. Certainly prototyping is a good idea, and when we asked what they could do with six that they can’t do with four, we didn’t get any detailed answers on that other than, well we can get a lot more steaming hours. Well, that doesn’t tell me that you really need that many.”

Without directly referencing the committee or the bill, Moton said during the event that, “for LUSV, we don’t buy our first program-of-record prototype until FY ‘23. The FY ‘23 vessel, which our plan is would have [Vertical Launching System cells], is going to be quite a bit different from the prototypes. I think there’s folks out there that believe that our prototypes are the start of a serial production run. I don’t believe that’s true. Our prototypes are out there to [increase] technical maturity, and then when we are through that work and we have everything matured, we will buy our first vessel in FY ’23.”




Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) prototype Sea Hunter pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on Oct. 31, 2018. US Navy Photo

The two prototypes in the water today, Overlord USVs purchased by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, are converted manned commercial fast supply vessels that went through an overhaul period to install autonomy systems to control ship navigation and operations. The Navy was given research and development money this current fiscal year to buy two more LUSV prototype vessels and wanted money in FY 2021 for two more. It would then buy one more in FY 2022 with R&D funding before starting the program-of-record acquisition program with shipbuilding funds in FY 2023. It is not clear when the requirements would have to be set to allow for a competitive acquisition program and a contract award by the end of FY 2023, and therefore how much of the prototyping effort would be able to inform those requirements.

Lawmakers would rather see a clearer path from learning through prototypes, to taking that knowledge and writing a set of requirements based on that, to buying and building a LUSV that has made the most of the prototyping period.

“What we really need to see is that they have a full understanding of what the requirements are to then go and confidently build a ship that they’re confident in the design and it’s going to meet what their requirements are,” the HASC aide said this week.
“Right now I feel like they’re wanting to build ships to figure out what the requirements are, which is the opposite of the way they should do.”

A second line of concern from lawmakers has to do with the reliability of the components of the LUSV. The Navy’s plan for the LUSV is that it could operate for at least 30 days and potentially up to 90 days without human intervention – a far cry from the daily maintenance the Navy conducts on manned ships, with sailors constantly painting, tending to the engines, checking on pipes and more.

“There are a lot of concerns about that; I’m not saying that there’s not work to go, but it’s an area that we’re focused on very hard,” Moton said of the hull, mechanical and electrical systems that will make up the LUSV.
“Both of our vendors with our Overlord vessels right now have HM&E system with reliability features, with autonomy features, and a lot of these features are not super developmental. The fundamentals – the generators, the engines, the fuel filters –a lot of that stuff is normal, good, robust commercial gear, the same kind of commercial gear that’s operating with high reliability on offshore support vessels on offshore platforms. What we’re doing is automated valves; maybe redundancies, so if one system fails there’s a second one; sea chests that can do some automated cleaning; you might have one fuel filter and we’ll have two fuel filters. And then honestly the control piece of that as well, which we are testing heavily and are going to do some additional testing at our Naval Surface Warfare Center in Philadelphia. So HM&E autonomy is something that’s a big focus for us. We feel confident that the 30-day threshold requirement is something that’s achievable. We worked really hard with industry on that number and are confident based on what we’ve gotten back and our performance to date that we’re going to be able to meet that requirement.”

Moton noted that an Overlord vessel recently traveled from the Gulf Coast to Norfolk, Va., and back – a 1,400 nautical mile journey – while autonomously navigating and following International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) to safely operate among commercial traffic. This follows a previous mission by a Sea Hunter medium USV from San Diego to Hawaii and back, where the vessel needed small mechanical repairs on the way out but made the trip home without intervention.




A Ghost Fleet Overlord test vessel takes part in a capstone demonstration during the conclusion of Phase I of the program in September. Two existing commercial fast supply vessels were converted into unmanned surface vessels (USVs) for Overlord testing, which will play a vital role in informing the Navy’s new classes of USVs. US Navy photo.

As for what maintenance would look like when the LUSV and the Medium USV require it, that’s still being discussed.

USNI News recently reported that the Surface Development Squadron One (SURFDEVRON) was working on the first iteration of a concept of operations document for the surface fleet, which would not only include how the LUSVs and MUSVs would perform missions but also what manning they would require, how maintenance would be done, where they would be controlled from and more. SURFDEVRON has just one Sea Hunter prototype originally purchased by DARPA, but as a second Sea Hunter and the two Overlord vessels come into their command, they will start experimenting at sea to refine the initial CONOPS.

“From my standpoint, we definitely, like any program office, we are responsible for sustainment of the systems, so we have all the steps in place to work that out. For USVs in particular, there is a lot of interesting questions we’ve got to decide on: do we keep those vessels under the maintenance employ of our traditional surface combatant maintenance force, with the [regional maintenance centers] and all of that infrastructure? Do we treat them perhaps more like aircraft, where a squadron is participating and the squadron does [operational]-level maintenance? How do we handle the [intermediate] maintenance and the [depot] maintenance of these? We don’t precisely know” all the answers yet, he said, but the PEO is relying heavily on the SURFDEVRON to make their best recommendations for the fleet and for the program office back at Washington Navy Yard.

Finally, Moton said he has the benefit of allies and partners going through the same growing pains with unmanned systems. NATO has invested in research into unmanned vessels and surface gliders to support anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures and other mission sets, and NATO members and other partners around the world are turning to unmanned systems in all domains to extend their reach while keeping down costs.

Moton noted that NATO had stood up a Maritime Unmanned Systems (MUS) initiative and hosted a Recognized Environmental Picture (REP) MUS 2019 exercise last year off Portugal, which Moton was able to attend. He said he was impressed with what he saw during the exercise’s demonstration day.

“There are just so many countries out there that are bringing [unmanned systems] all the way from smaller UUVs to medium-sized UUVs to the smaller USVs with platforms. A lot of great effort, and this NATO committee among others is helping us participate and work with other countries,” he said.
“The U.K. has done quite a bit of work there. We’ve been involved working with the U.K. on the command and control side, how to test together on unmanned vessels. From my own standpoint we’ve had a lot of great discussions with some of our closest partners – the U.K., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, others. … It’s actually not just been on the platform side but even on vessel integration. Integration of smaller unmanned systems onto ships and submarines is a hard problem, and when you talk to other countries, it’s a hard problem for them too. We’ve also got a group that’s stood up between us that’s looking at platform integration type aspects, so I think there’s a really huge opportunity there to leverage off of each others’ work and to make sure that our systems are able to operate together.”

Lockheed Martin continues upgrading sonar and guidance of Navy submarine-launched torpedo

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy submarine warfare experts are asking Lockheed Martin Sippican Inc. in Marion, Mass., to upgrade sonar and guidance systems on the submarine-launched Mark 48 torpedo under terms of a $59.2 million order announced Friday.

John Keller

Aug 13th, 2018

Lockheed Martin continues upgrading sonar and guidance of Navy submarine-launched torpedo

Lockheed Martin continues upgrading sonar and guidance of Navy submarine-launched torpedo

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy submarine warfare experts are asking Lockheed Martin Sippican Inc. in Marion, Mass., to upgrade sonar and guidance systems on the submarine-launched Mark 48 torpedo under terms of a $59.2 million order announced Friday.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington are asking Sippican to provide new guidance and control sections, as well as sonar upgrade kits, for the Mark 48 Mod 7 torpedo, which is standard armament for the Navy's fleet of Los Angeles-, Virginia-, and Seawolf-class fast attack submarines, as well as Ohio-class ballistic- and cruise-missile submarines.

Sippican will provide Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System (CBASS) upgrades, MK 48 Mod 7 heavyweight torpedo guidance and control sections, and related engineering services, Navy officials say. The order combines purchases for the U.S. Navy; as well as the governments of the Netherlands, Canada, and Turkey under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

The Lockheed Martin Corp. Rotary and Mission Systems segment is building the Mark 48 Mod 7 CBASS heavyweight torpedo with advanced common broadband advanced sonar system for expanded operational capabilities for shallow waters along coastlines and inside harbors, as well as in the deep-water open ocean.

Related: Boeing moves forward with flying torpedo high-altitude ASW attack system for P-8A aircraft

The CBASS broadband sonar enhancement makes the torpedo more effective against new enemy submarines in the harshest of acoustic environments, Lockheed Martin officials say.

The Mark 48 Mod 7 CBASS torpedo uses modern commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies in an open-architecture computing environment, and can be upgraded with regular hardware and software upgrades, Lockheed Martin officials say.

The Mark 48 Mod 7 CBASS kit’s evolutionary design and modular nature makes the upgrade of older version Mark 48 torpedoes to the Mod 7 CBASS capability a relatively straightforward effort without requiring significant torpedo redesign and certification, Lockheed Martin officials say.

The CBASS torpedo also has the ability of multiband operation with active and passive homing; advanced counter-countermeasure capabilities; effectiveness against low-Doppler shallow submarines, fast deep diving submarines, and high-performance surface ships; autonomous fire-and-forget operation or wire-guide capability to enable post-launch monitoring and updates via the submarine combat system; and running Otto Fuel II as the propellant.

Related: Raytheon to repair and upgrade Navy's inventory of Mark 54 lightweight air-launched torpedoes

The Mark 48 Mod 7 CBASS provides the ability to transmit and receive over a wide frequency band and use broadband signal processing techniques to improve the torpedo’s search, acquisition, and attack effectiveness, Lockheed Martin officials say.

The Mark 48 torpedo is 19 feet long, 21 inches in diameter, and weighs 3,500 pounds. It can be used as deep as 1,200 feet at distances as far as five miles. The torpedo can travel as fast as 28 knots and has a 650-pound high-explosive warhead.

This contract has options that could increase its value to $424.7 million. Sippican will do the work in Marion and Braintree, Mass.; and Lemont Furnace, Pa., and should be finished by March 2021. For more information contact Lockheed Martin online at,

L3Harris KEO to build electro-optical photonics masts to aid stealth of Virginia-class attack submarines

The LPPM is a low-observable optical mast that reduces the submarine's risk of detection by enemy submarines and surface warships.

Jun 22nd, 2020

Va Class Sub 22 June 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy undersea warfare experts are enhancing the stealthiness and survivability of the nation's premiere fast-attack submarine fleet by equipping additional vessels with improved electro-optical sensor photonics masts.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced an $17.3 million order last week to L3Harris KEO (formerly Kollmorgen Electro-Optical) in Northampton, Mass., to build the Low Profile Photonics Mast (LPPM).

The LPPM aboard Navy Virginia-class attack submarines operates in place of the traditional submarine periscope. The photonics mast uses a variety of electro-optical sensors, and does not penetrate the submarine hull like a traditional periscope. Instead, photonics mast sensors connect to the submarine by optical fiber.

The LPPM is a low-observable optical mast that reduces the submarine's risk of detection by enemy submarines and surface warships while the system is in use, while improving the submarine's sensor capability.

Related: Navy orders additional submarine electro-optical imaging sensors from Lockheed Martin

The LPPM is a modular non hull-penetrating imaging sensor sited in a telescoping universal modular mast bay that provides the submarine with improvements in stealth and survivability. Imagery from the LPPM is displayed on high-definition screens aboard the submarine.

Features include short-wave infrared (SWIR) and high-definition visual imaging, laser range finding, special stealth features, and an antenna suite with broad spectral coverage and direction finding. SWIR sensors particularly are adept at penetrating fog, haze, and other obscurants.

In March 2019 L3Harris KEO $8.7 million order to build LPPM units. Five years ago L3Harris won an $111.8 million contract to develop LPPM prototypes. At the time Navy Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert asked for all Pacific Fleet Virginia-class submarines to be equipped with the LPPM to support sensitive missions vital to national security.

Related: L-3 to provide electro-optical submarine sensor systems for U.S. attack and missile boats

LPPM prototypes initially were developed without the installation and spares necessary to support deployments and were intended only for integration and testing as part of local operations, Navy officials say.

Production LPPM masts were not to be made available until 2018. Previous to that, LPPM prototypes were installed on deploying Virginia-class submarines as one way to provide fast LPPM capability.

On this order L3Harris KEO will do the work in Northampton, Mass., and should be finished by February 2022. For more information contact L3Harris KEO online at, or Naval Sea Systems Command at

Navy, Electric Boat Agree on $9.5B Contract Option for First 2 Columbia Subs

By: Sam LaGrone

June 22, 2020 5:40 PM

The Navy and its lead builder for a new class of ballistic-missile submarines have hammered out their path forward for how to fully fund the first two boats, the head of Navy procurement told reporters on Monday.

The agreement, pending Department of Defense and congressional approval, lays out a cost and incentive schedule for the full-rate construction contract options for $9.5 billion for first two Columbia-class (SSBN-826) boats.

“The contract modification includes a fully priced option for the construction of SSBN 826 and SSBN 827, associated design and engineering support,” reads the Monday announcement. “For SSBN 827, the modification covers advance procurement, advance construction and subsequent fiscal 2024 construction of SSBN 827. This option is required to support October 2020 construction start of the SSBN 826.”

The pending option “is the result of a lot of hard work between the shipbuilder teams and our teams to negotiate the first two ships’ cost,” Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts told reporters on Monday.
“That will allow us to begin full-rate construction of the first ship, begin advanced construction of the second ship with the intent then to begin full construction of that second ship in FY ’24.”

The full-construction option comes attached to an $869-million contract that continues the incremental funding for the submarine production as well as support for the U.K. Dreadnaught-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine program. The U.S. and U.K. boomers share the same quad-pack missile tubes as a cost-savings measure.

The step is key to keeping the Navy’s top acquisition priority on track, Geurts and Program Executive Officer for Columbia Rear Adm. Scott Pappano told reporters.

There is very little flexibility in the schedule for the new class of SSBNs. The future Columbia is set to deliver in 2028 and undertake its firsts nuclear strategic deterrent patrol in 2031 as the first Ohio SSBNs begin to retire, Geurts said.

With non-reoccurring engineering expenses and research and development costs, the lead ship is expected to cost about $14.4 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service. The second ship will cost about $9.2 billion, according to Navy estimates. The Navy is facing Pentagon cost caps to bring the total cost per-hull down to $8 billion.

Burial at Sea


by Lt. Col. George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes.  Some were significant; most were trivial.

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it.  Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos , and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army.  Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.
*The heat, dust, and humidity.
*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland

It was late 1967.  I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam.  Casualties were increasing.  I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia.  I hesitated before entering my new office.  Appearance is important to career Marines.  I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine.  I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before.  At 5'9", I now weighed 128 pounds - 37 pounds below my normal weight.  My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant's desk and said, "Sergeant Jolly, I'm Lieutenant Colonel Goodson.  Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket."

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, "How long were you there, Colonel?"  I replied "18 months this time."  Jolly breathed, "You must be a slow learner, Colonel."  I smiled.

Jolly said, "Colonel, I'll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major.  I said, "No, let's just go straight to his office."  Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, "Colonel, the Sergeant Major.  He's been in this job two years.  He's packed pretty tight.  I'm worried about him."  I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major's office.  "Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Officer."  The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, "Good to see you again, Colonel."  I responded, "Hello Walt, how are you?"  Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major.  We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances.  Walt's stress was palpable.  Finally, I said, "Walt, what the hell's wrong?"  He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, "George, you're going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here.  I've been in the Marine Corps since 1939.  I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months.  Now I come here to bury these kids.  I'm putting my letter in.  I can't take it anymore."  I said, "OK Walt.  If that's what you want, I'll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps."

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later.  He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering.  He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action.  Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory.  Four, however, remain.

My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps.  The information detailed:
*Name, rank, and serial number.
*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.
*Date of and limited details about the Marine's death.
*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.
*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy's family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away.  I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car.  Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store/service station/Post Office.  I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store.  A man and woman approached the small Post Office window.  The man held a package.  The store owner walked up and addressed them by name, "Hello John.  Good morning Mrs. Cooper."

I was stunned.  My casualty's next-of-kin's name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, "I beg your pardon.  Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address)?

The father looked at me - I was in uniform - and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited.  His wife looked horrified at him and then at me.  Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion  I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank.  I answered their questions for a few minutes.  Then I drove them home in my staff car.  The store owner locked the store and followed in their truck.  We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the store owner to his business.  He thanked me and said, "Mister, I wouldn't have your job for a million dollars."  I shook his hand and said; "Neither would I."

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk.  Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house.  I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days.  I had made my first death notification.

Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals.  I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, "All Marines share in your grief."  I had been instructed to say, "On behalf of a grateful nation...."  I didn't think the nation was grateful, so I didn't say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn't speak.  When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder.  They would look at me and nod.  Once a mother said to me, "I'm so sorry you have this terrible job."  My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.

Six weeks after my first notification, I had another.  This was a young PFC.  I drove to his mother's house.  As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car.  I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house.  Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out.  She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming "NO! NO! NO! NO!"

I hesitated.  Neighbors came out.  I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her.  She collapsed.  I picked her up and carried her into the house.  Eight or nine neighbors followed.  Ten or fifteen minutes later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel.  I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later.  We went through the drill.  The mother never looked at me.  The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.

One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing.  Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, "You've got another one, Colonel."  I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up.  Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person's address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman.  He lived a mile from my office.  I called the Longshoreman's Union Office and asked for the Business Manager.  He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father's schedule.

The Business Manager asked,  "Is it his son?"  I said nothing.  After a moment, he said, in a low voice, "Tom is at home today."  I said, "Don't call him.  I'll take care of that."  The Business Manager said, "Aye, Aye Sir," and then explained, "Tom and I were Marines in WWII."

I got in my staff car and drove to the house.  I was in uniform.  I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door.  I saw instantly that she was clueless.  I asked, "Is Mr. Smith home?"  She smiled pleasantly and responded, "Yes, but he's eating breakfast now.  Can you come back later?"  I said, "I'm sorry.  It's important.  I need to see him now."

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, "Tom, it's for you."

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door.  He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, "Jesus Christ man, he's only been there three weeks!"

Months passed  More notifications and more funerals.  Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth....... I never could do that..... and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps.  I took notes, said, "Got it." and hung up.  I had stopped saying "Thank You" long ago.

Jolly, "Where?"

Me, "Eastern Shore of Maryland .  The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer.  His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam ...."

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, "This time of day, it'll take three hours to get there and back. I'll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter.  And I'll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief's home."

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father's door.  He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, "Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?"

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM).  "I've gone through my boy's papers and found his will  He asked to be buried at sea.  Can you make that happen?"  I said, "Yes I can, Chief.  I can and I will."

My wife who had been listening said, "Can you do that?"  I told her, "I have no idea.  But I'm going to break my ass trying."

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, "General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?"  General Bowser said, "George, you be there tomorrow at 0900.  He will see you."

I was and the Admiral did.  He said coldly, "How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel."  I told him the story.  He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, "Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?"  The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, "Captain, you're going to do a burial at sea  You'll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed..."

He hung up, looked at me, and said, "The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me.  You don't have to sic Al Bowser on my ass."  I responded, "Aye Aye, Sir" and got the hell out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief.  Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship's crew for four days.  Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of.  He said, "These government caskets are air tight.  How do we keep it from floating?"

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, "Come on Jolly.  I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out."

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worse for wear, and said, "It's simple; we cut four 12" holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs. of lead in the foot end of the casket.  We can handle that, no sweat."

The day arrived.  The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp.  General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board.  The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification.  The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot.  The ocean flat.  The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque.  The Chaplain spoke.  The volleys were fired.  The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father.  The band played "Eternal Father Strong to Save."  The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet.  The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell.  The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea.  The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever....

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, "General, get me out of here.  I can't take this anymore."  I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering.  I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy.  I said my goodbyes.  Sergeant Jolly walked out with me.  He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, "Well Done, Colonel.  Well Done."

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

'A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including their life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'

I am honored to pass this on and I hope you feel that way too.

I want to say "Thank you" for your service to every Veteran who reads this.
In God We Trust.


Feds say company provided subpar steel for US Navy subs

By: Gene Johnson, The Associated Press   3 days ago

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The government did not disclose which subs were affected. (U.S. Navy/Huntington Ingalls Industries)

SEATTLE — For decades, the Navy’s leading supplier of high-strength steel for submarines provided subpar metal because one of the company’s longtime employees falsified lab results — putting sailors at greater risk in the event of collisions or other impacts, federal prosecutors said in court filings Monday.

The supplier, Kansas City-based Bradken Inc., paid $10.9 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, the Justice Department said. The company provides steel castings that Navy contractors Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding use to make submarine hulls.

Bradken in 2008 acquired a foundry in Tacoma, Washington, that produced steel castings for the Navy. According to federal prosecutors, Bradken learned in 2017 that the foundry's director of metallurgy had been falsifying the results of strength tests, indicating that the steel was strong enough to meet the Navy's requirements when in fact it was not.

US Navy commissions its last Block III Virginia submarine

US Navy commissions its last Block III Virginia submarine

The attack submarine Delaware has joined the fleet.

By: David Larter

Prosecutors say the company initially disclosed its findings to the Navy but then wrongfully suggested that the discrepancies were not the result of fraud. That hindered the Navy's investigation into the scope of the problem as well as its efforts to remediate the risks to its sailors, prosecutors said.

“Bradken placed the Navy’s sailors and its operations at risk,” Seattle U.S. Attorney Brian Moran said in a news release. “Government contractors must not tolerate fraud within their organizations, and they must be fully forthcoming with the government when they discover it.”

There is no allegation in the court documents that any submarine parts failed, but Moran said the Navy had incurred increased costs and maintenance to ensure the subs remain seaworthy. The government did not disclose which subs were affected.

The foundry's director of metallurgy, Elaine Thomas, 66, of Auburn, Washington, was charged criminally with one count of major fraud against the United States. Thomas, who worked in various capacities at the lab for 40 years, was due to make an initial appearance in federal court June 30. Her attorney, John Carpenter, declined to comment.

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The criminal complaint said investigators were able to compare internal company records with test results that Thomas certified. The analysis showed that she fabricated the results of 240 productions of steel, representing nearly half of the high-yield steel Bradken produced for Navy submarines — often toughness tests conducted at negative-100 degrees Fahrenheit, the complaint said.

When a special agent with the Department of Defense's Criminal Investigative Service confronted her with falsified results dating back to 1990, she eventually conceded that the results were altered — “Yeah, that looks bad,” the complaint quoted her as saying. She said she may have done it because she believed it was “a stupid requirement” that the test be conducted at such a cold temperature, the complaint said.

Investigators said the fraud came to light when a metallurgist being groomed to replace Thomas upon her planned 2017 retirement noticed some suspicious results. The company said it immediately fired Thomas.

“While the company acknowledges that it failed to discover and disclose the full scope of the issue during the initial stages of the investigation, the government has recognized Bradken’s cooperation over the last eighteen months to be exceptional,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Bradken has a long history of proudly serving its clients, and this incident is not representative of our organization. We deeply regret that a trusted employee engaged in this conduct.”

Bradken agreed to take steps that include increased oversight over the lab, fraud protections and changes to the foundry’s management team. If Bradken complies with the requirements outlined in the deferred prosecution agreement, the government will dismiss the criminal fraud charge against it after three years

Joint U.S. and U.K. Readout of Call Between U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace

June 26, 2020

U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace spoke yesterday with U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper, who visited Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall. They emphasized the continued importance of the two nations’ collaboration and friendship as we face challenges and opportunities together both now and in the future.  

The Secretaries exchanged views on approaches to shared global security challenges, including COVID-19. Secretary Wallace and Secretary Esper discussed the security situation in Libya, ongoing operations in Afghanistan, the threat from Russia, and support to Ukraine. 

Secretary Wallace briefed on the UK’s Integrated Foreign, Security and Defense Review and they discussed how best to foster closer industrial cooperation.

Secretary Esper also expressed his gratitude for the United Kingdom’s continued partnership as a stalwart Ally of the United States, and emphasized the continued U.S. commitment to NATO and transatlantic security. 


Former Nazi Submarine Base Transformed Into Digital Art Gallery

The concrete bunker once housed Axis U-boats. Now, it features floor-to-ceiling projections of works by Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee

Works by German artist Paul Klee are projected on June 3, 2020, at the Bassins de Lumières digital art center in Bordeaux. (Photo by Georges Gobet / AFP via Getty Images)

By Alex Fox
June 10, 2020 11:50AM

A “concrete monster” that once housed a fleet of Nazi U-boats in Bordeaux, France, is set to begin a new life as the world’s largest digital art gallery, reports Agence France-Presse.

The hulking, abandoned submarine base is one of five such World War II-era structures along the French coast, according to the Bassins de Lumières art center. Its primary purpose was to protect the German fleet from aerial attack while vessels were being repaired.

To exhibit artworks on a monumental scale, the gallery uses projectors that cast images onto the concrete walls of the base’s submarine pens, some of which are more than 300 feet long and 36 feet high, reports Charlotte Bellis for Al Jazeera.

Originally set to open this spring, Bassins de Lumières delayed its launch until June 10 due to COVID-19. The space’s inaugural exhibition spotlights Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, who is perhaps best known for The Kiss.

Works by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt are projected on June 3, 2020, at the Bassins de Lumières digital art center in Bordeaux. (Photo by Georges Gobet / AFP via Getty Images)

Per a press releaseGustav Klimt: Gold and Color features portraits, landscapes and nudes in the artist’s signature gilded aesthetic. The show traces Klimt’s evolution from the neoclassical style he rejected to the Vienna Secession movement he pioneered. Also on view are projections of works by Klimt contemporary Egon Schiele, whose art is characterized by its “melancholic colors and tormented lines.”

A second smaller display centers on German artist Paul Klee’s colorful abstract creations. Titled Paul Klee: Painting Music, the exhibition pays tribute to its subject’s little-known musical talents, taking viewers “from an opera overture in an imaginary city to an underwater concerto amidst gold and multicolored fish,” according to the statement.

A new set of artists will be featured at the gallery next year.

“When we visited the space, we knew we had to work with it,” exhibition director Augustin de Cointet tells Al Jazeera. “We had this epiphany and we knew we had to put on exhibitions here.”

The cavernous submarine bunker is made up of more than 21 million cubic feet of reinforced concrete, reports AFP—enough to fill roughly 240 Olympic swimming pools. Its four parallel sections are crisscrossed by walkways that allow visitors to explore almost 130,000 square feet of immersive artwork powered by 90 video projectors, 80 speakers and more than 60 miles of optical cables.

Works by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt are projected on June 3, 2020, at the Bassins de Lumières digital art center in Bordeaux. (Photo by Georges Gobet / AFP via Getty Images)

Around 6,500 volunteers, contractors and forced laborers from France, Spain, Belgian and Italy participated in the base’s construction, which commenced in September 1941, according to the gallery’s website. Art and architecture historian Mathieu Marsan tells Al Jazeera that the base, operational as of 1943, was in use for less than two years. It was large enough to protect and repair 15 large submarines, and though it was the target of multiple bombing raids throughout the war, it sustained minimal damage.

The Germans abandoned the city of Bordeaux—including the base—on August 28, 1944. As Marsan tells AFP, the bunker was so massive and well-built that the city deemed it too costly and dangerous to destroy.

After the war, artists gradually started showing interest in the concrete relic. In order for the site to become a public attraction, however, it had to undergo significant safety retrofitting.

Culturespaces, the group behind the new gallery, is piloting similar projects in Paris and Baux-de-Provence. The group has invested more than $15 million in what it says is the largest digital art center in the world.

In response to the pandemic, the gallery is requiring visitors to reserve time slots ahead of time, wear masks, disinfect their hands, maintain a distance of roughly three feet from other patrons and undergo body temperature screenings.



USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) (Blue) Holds Change Of Command

Story Number: NNS200608-02Release Date: 6/8/2020 1:06:00 PM

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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ashley Berumen, Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) (Blue) held a change of command ceremony onboard the submarine, June 5.

Cmdr. Jared Wyrick was relieved by Cmdr. Joseph Pisoni as commanding officer of West Virginia (Blue) during a ceremony at its homeport, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.

Wyrick thanked his crew and attributed his success as commanding officer to them as well.

"I was blessed to have the opportunity to witness these warriors day in and day out, do the impossible,” said Wyrick. “Many Americans won’t understand the sacrifice these silent Sailors make to operate this warship. These men serve on the most powerful weapon system ever created, armed for Armageddon, with the sole purpose of preventing it.” 

Wyrick continued to recognize the sacrifice and support of the crew’s families.

“I am thankful for the continued support of their families and their communities, enabling them to step on board, cast off all lines and head out to sea. Most of all, I am thankful for my wife Hallie, who covered down for a couple Christmases, birthdays and anniversaries with my amazing kids Jack, Jane and Miles, while dad went back to work with these men. And as always, one last thing, Let’s Go…Mountaineers!”

Wyrick assumed command of West Virginia in September 2017. Shortly after he took command, the ship was awarded the Battle Efficiency Award.

Wyrick, from Little Rock, Arkansas, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. He received a master’s degree in leadership and human development from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2005.

“This is the best job anyone could ask for, it’s been a pleasure, but I am excited to see what Joe does next with these men,” said Wyrick.

The new commanding officer, Pisoni, previously served as Force Safety Deputy at Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic. Pisoni born in DuBois, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of Brocton Central High School in Brocton, New York, and was commissioned in 2003 through the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program. He attended North Carolina State University and earned a Master of Science in aerospace engineering. His parents, Joe and Judy Pisoni reside in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

"This is a proud moment and I’m honored to take command of such an incredible ship and crew who stand watch daily, protecting the American ideals and people around the world,” said Pisoni. "I wouldn’t be here today if not for the values my parents taught me and the example they set, the support and sacrifices made by my sons, John, Josh, Julian, and Jordan, and their fantastic mother Ruie, and of course the countless Sailors who taught me so much about leadership and Submarines over the years. I look forward to the challenge of carrying on the fine work Jared has done and continuing the mission of strategic deterrence with the men of steel of USS West Virginia Blue Crew.”

West Virginia is one of five ballistic-missile submarines stationed at the base and is capable of carrying up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with multiple warheads.

USS Nebraska Gold Earns The Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy

Story Number: NNS200608-05Release Date: 6/8/2020 3:52:00 PM

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By Petty Officer 1st Class Andrea Perez, Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet recently named the gold crew of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) winner of The Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for 2019.

The trophy is awarded annually to one ship or aircraft squadron from both the Pacific and Atlantic Fleet for having achieved the greatest improvement in battle efficiency during the calendar year, based upon the battle efficiency competition.

Nebraska Gold’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Alex Baerg, from Everett, Washington, is proud of all his crew has accomplished in the short time since returning Nebraska to strategic service in 2018.

“They have gone from a crew well-versed in shipyard work controls with no sea time, to a crew well-trained for the entire breadth of SSBN missions,” said Baerg. “The crew is very diligent about finding creative solutions to problems and aren’t willing to simply accept defeat. The ship’s schedule over the last year has been challenging and ever-changing, but the crew greets each challenge with mission accomplishment and tenacity.”

Prior to her return to service, Nebraska underwent a 41-month engineered refueling overhaul to extend the life of the submarine by 20 years.

“The crew is excited for the recognition of their work and glad to see the payoff of their efforts,” said Senior Chief Electronics Technician (Navigation) Chase M. Krause, from Fort Worth, Texas, chief of the Boat, USS Nebraska (Gold). “The crew has spent many late hours honing their skills in all facets of battle readiness. Their efforts, combined with the strong team dynamic they have developed, has pushed them to new levels of success.”

The award is named in honor of Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, who had a distinguished Naval career for more than 38 years, in which he made vital contributions to the Navy in many key warfare areas, including battle efficiency, new tactical concepts, weapon systems and Naval leadership.

In a letter of congratulations to Baerg and his crew, Rear Adm. Doug Perry, commander, Submarine Group 9, said he was happy to see USS Nebraska Gold’s name on the trophy.

“The competition is always keen for this prestigious award, so you and your crew should be justifiably proud of your accomplishments,” said Perry. “Congratulations and keep charging!”

Nebraska was commissioned in Groton, Connecticut, July 10, 1993. She was the first Ohio-class submarine to visit Europe and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nebraska has also been awarded the Omaha Trophy for excellence in strategic deterrence and two Battle Efficiency Awards.

Wyrick will now serve as a member of the Naval Office of the Inspector General.


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