Apologies to the growing cadre of non-US-ian readers, but most of you haven’t got much in the way of Navies, have you? (A direction in which we’re trending). Some of you haven’t got much in the way of armies, either — we were shocked to learn the dreaded German Panzer force is, count ’em, four operational tank battalions (+1 operational training battalion). But the US still is trying to have a Navy, despite a sex and social-justice obsessed upper management echelon, which makes these items interesting about Your Navy, if you’re a fellow Yank. If you’re one of our overseas friends, just think about this as Those Silly Yankees, #32767.
Item: Navy Blows over 130,000 Sailors’ PII, Shrugs.
A Navy contractor lost the complete Personal Identifying Information, including Names, Dates of Birth, and Social Security Account Numbers, of 134,386 sailors to an unknown hacker in October. Notified by the contractor, Hewlett Packard, the Navy sat on this information for just under a month. No one is being held accountable, and the Navy plans simply to provide the usual year of credit monitoring that has allowed other Washington agencies to escape any consequences for irresponsible data mishandling.
Payments to HP under the contract continue uninterrupted. The careless individual who put the Navy data on an unsecure laptop continues to draw pay under this contract.
Use of the term “sailors” in Navy official correspondence and PR on the matter suggests than the victims are all enlisted personnel. That might explain why Big Haze Gray is so apathetic about the breach.
Item: The CO Up and Quit
This has happened approximately zero times until this week, but you can bet it has taken the E-Ring by storm this morning: the Commanding Officer of USS Rushmore walked down the gangplank for the last time, and turned in her chit.
The “her” is why the E-Ring is abuzz; as a Valuable Diversity Bean, Commander Sarah DeGroot was, to pilfer a phrase, more equal than the other animals, at least to the sex-obsessed denizens of the big offices. Navy Times:
Cmdr. Sarah DeGroot told the head of Amphibious Squadron 3, Capt. Homer Denius, on Monday that she was resigning as the Rushmore’s CO. Three sources were unable to immediately specify why she’d taken this highly unusual and likely career-ending move.
Rushmore is an LSD, which in the Navy is not a mind-altering drug but a dock landing ship, which can launch landing craft from a floodable welldeck and helicopters and powered-lift aircraft from a short flight deck. Ships like Rushmore are also often used as flag and command vessels for amphibious and special operations.
Prior to taking command of Rushmore on 1 Mar 16, DeGroot was her XO. At that time, Rushmore was starting a “maintenance availability” and remains in the shipyard. It does not appear to have put to sea, ever, under De Groot. At her change of command, in, the Navy released the following:
De Groot was born in Long Beach, California, received her commission, 3rd Mate commercial license, as well as Bachelor of Sciences in Marine Biology and Marine Transportation in 1998 from Texas A&M, Galveston Maritime Academy. She reported to the Rushmore as the executive officer after serving as the director of Combat Systems and Tactics Training, as well as lead tactical action officer mentor at Afloat Training Group San Diego.
So she was probably a ROTC scholarship student at that maritime academy (for the Regular and not Reserve commission).
“You have done incredible things over the nearly two years I have been [executive officer]. It has been a joy to be a part of your unbelievable accomplishments,” said De Groot. “Because of your exceptional achievements, I know without a doubt that I am the most blessed commanding officer coming into the seat because of [the crew of Rushmore].”
De Groot’s sea tours include USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) as the first division officer and the electrical officer, USS Constellation (CV 64) as the combat systems maintenance officer, USS Rushmore (LSD 47) as the 1st lieutenant and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 50 as the force protection officer.
She served ashore at the Navy’s Operational Test and Evaluation Force as a C4I systems liaison officer and as the flag secretary for Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic.
That’s an interesting career, with tech jobs alternating with command, and heavy on the PHIBRON assignments… almost a career gator. The Flag Secretary strikes us as an unusual job for a non-Academy type. Wonder what Commander Salamander thinks of this? Let’s check… hmmm. Nothing, yet.
Item: Functionally Unarmed Ship Named for Anti-Gun Activist to be Commissioned
The 10th Littoral Combat Ship, USS Gabrielle Giffords, has passed a set of acceptance trials not involving weapons firing, which is deprecated in today’s Navy. It did, however, demonstrate lots of proof-of-bugout-capability. Giffords is one of the few Ray Mabus ship names that seems to fit. The human Giffords is a former politician who was shot in the head, and became an anti-2nd-Amendment activist as a result; the ship Giffords is as unarmed and defenseless as its namesake was on the day, and would like the citizenry to be for all time. Here’s hoping they keep it far away from superior surface combatants, such as Somali and Yemeni pirate dhows.
MOBILE, Ala. (Feb. 24, 2015) An aerial view of the future littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) during its launch sequence at the Austal USA shipyard. The launch of the Gabrielle Giffords marks an important production milestone for the littoral combat ship program. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
Like all the two-hull bipolar class of Littoral Combat Ships, Giffords can’t fight against aircraft, surface ships, shore installations, or submarines. It does, however, provide commander and command master chief billets and can launch and recover rigid-hull inflatable boats. That last capability may come in handy if it ever has to engage the patrol boats of a third-world navy, by allowing its selected-by-diversity-beancount officers to abandon ship without getting moistened.
It does have a fairly good turn of speed, if all the gadgetry is working, and decent stealth, if all its gadgetry (radar, radio, etc) is not working; thus, it will be capable of flight from enemies in littoral or deep water alike, making it the very Brave Sir Robin of surface combatants. (If “combatant” is really the word. But the Navy hates to admit these are “surface targets.”)
The LCSes that are not being named by SecNav Mabus for politicians and activists of his party, are being named for cities, names once reserved for cruisers, but the Navy seems to have given up on building cruisers: too many icky guns, too much versatility, too much triggering combat power.
Item: Navy Can’t Even Squeeze a Ship Through the Panama Canal Any More
Not if the ship is the science-fiction looking DDG-1000 USS Zumwalt, the new ship that’s so experimental that the Navy gave up on buying ammunition for it. The Zumwalt class are supposed to have an all new engineering setup that works a little like a diesel-electric locomotive, to provide previously unprecedented levels of electrical power from a non-nuclear ship. This juice is intended to power weapons of the future, but it’s having a hard time powering propulsion of the present.
USS Zumwalt, fitting out in October, 2013.
Sam LaGrone at the USNI Blog:
A defense official told USNI News on Tuesday the repairs could take up to ten days.
The ship lost propulsion in its port shaft during the transit and the crew saw water intrusion in two of the four bearings that connect to Zumwalt’s port and starboard Advanced Induction Motors (AIMs) to the drive shafts, a defense official told USNI News on Tuesday. The AIMs are the massive electrical motors that are driven by the ship’s gas turbines and in turn electrically power the ship’s systems and drive the shafts.
That sounds like an attempt to minimize the event, as LaGrone also tells us that:
Both of the shafts locked during the passage and the transit had to be completed with tugs. The ship made minor contact with lock walls in the canal resulting in minor cosmetic damage.
That the ship made “minor contact with lock walls” and there isn’t an accompanying press release with the words “relieved when commanders determined they had lost confidence” hints at an unexpected event.
Following the transit, the Navy determined the ship couldn’t continue to its new homeport at Naval Station San Diego without additional repairs.
This is engineering casualty Nº 3, at least, for the new ship. It crapped out once, precommissioning, on arrival in Virginia from its builders, Bath Iron Works.
USS Zumwalt in Newport, 8 Sep 16
The latest casualty follows an incident in September following the ship’s transit from shipbuilder General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Maine to Naval Station Norfolk, Va. in which the crew discovered “a seawater leak in the propulsion motor drive lube oil auxiliary system for one of the ship’s shafts,” the Navy told USNI News at the time. A service official told USNI News the most recent incident is similar. The service has narrowed down the likely problem to lube oil coolers leaking. The service replaced all four lube oil coolers following the September casualty.
If it’s the same part again, that’s probably not the planned service life. On the plus side, maybe they could store lots of lube oil coolers in the space taken up by empty magazines?
And then it lost propulsion again, sometime in October.
Following its Oct. 15 commissioning, Zumwalt suffered additional unspecified engineering trouble around the time arrived at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. and spent extra time repairing and testing the propulsion system, USNI News understands.
Zumwalt entered the Panama Canal following a successful port visit to Colombia last week – a visit which the service intended to skip if it thought the engineering problems would continue, several defense officials told USNI News.
Zumwalt has a number of tests and evaluations that it must undergo before actually joining the fleet, a date that was already projected gauzily to about two years in the future, and is certain to slide further now, possibly into 2019. That is not as much of a limitation as it sounds like, though, because the decision not to procure the only ammunition the Zumwalt class guns’ magazines can handle, means that, like the functionally unarmed LCS vessels, it is incapable of more than “presence patrols,” or showing the flag in uncontested seas and ports.
While this looks like something to keelhaul a few admirals over, everything suffers teething when it’s new (to put it in firearms terms many of you will understand, many are alive that remember the M16 controversy, and you can read about the unsatisfactory initial deployment of the gas-trap M1 Garand in the 1930s; even the first AK-47 had to be hastily redesigned on the fly). And the more complex something is, the more likely you are to have teething problems — and you’d better believe an all-electric guided missile destroyer is fiendishly complex.
The ship’s engineering plant – the Integrated Power System (IPS) – is arguably the most complex and unique in the service. Installing and testing the system — that provides ship additional power margins to power high energy weapons and sensors — was a primary reason the ship delivered months late to the service.
The DDG-1000 class is also very expensive on a unit basis because the three units left after cuts must bear all the overhead and RDT&E expense of the entire project.
The other two DDG-1000 ships will be named, one for a Naval hero as was long the custom of the Navy for destroyers, SEAL MOH recipient, DDG-1001 USS Michael Monsoor, and the other, thanks to lame duck SecNav Ray Mabus, for a politician of Mabus’s party, DDG-1002 USS Lyndon B. Johnson. They will benefit from anything learned with Zumwalt’s revolutionary but fragile propulsion system — but still go to sea with empty magazines.
Item: To End on a Positive Note, HoverJug to Go to Sea Soon
In additional news, an Marine force will soon be deploying with a full squadron of F-35 STOVL aircraft on its baby carrier. So there is that.