Something the Navy is Doing Right

We’ve been very hard on our squidly brethren for the hash they have made of shipbuilding and procurement, with the jury out on the futuristic but seven-billion-dollar Zumwalt DDGs, the ongoing avalanche of disaster that’s the defenseless, offenseless and half-billion-dollar-apiece LCS imbroglio, and we haven’t even gotten into some of the problems with building a carrier around scheduled inventions. Now, the guys in the cute sailor suits haven’t done this all alone; they’e had an enormous assist from a meddling (and grifting) Congress, and the soi-disant defense industrial base. (That’s the guys who pay the bagmen lobbyists who pay off the Congressmen). Hell, even Fleet Week in San Diego is bankrupt. But since we often step into these pages to flog the Navy like Jack Tar of 1812, we owe it to point out where volcanic action or something analogous raises islands of competence above Mean Bozo Level. And the Navy has one program, at least, that seems to be going right: the Arleigh Burke DDG production “restart.”

USS Rafael Peralta in the Yard

Even though the program is split between two shipyards to minimize efficiency and maximize Congressional peculation, that’s still not as bad as the LCS-doggle where the yards are building completely different ships, with little interchangeable but some nuts and bolts and the Navy Jack. (Well, and the absence of effective armament. Both classes of LCS have that in common). And the first ships seem to be coming in on time. Bath Iron Works just got the thumbs-up from the Navy after acceptance trials of the first ship of what the Navy calls the Flight IIA Aegis Burkes, USS Rafael Peralta, DDG-115. The ship be transferred to Navy authority next month, then will reposition to the Pacific for commissioning next summer. In this video, Peralta gets underway for sea trials on November with a tug in attendance “just in case” (but no propulsion casualties were had). (Warning… excessive fuzz guitar soundtrack!)

Even better, Peralta represents the survival of the noble old Naval tradition of naming ships after sea-service heroes. Sergeant Rafael Peralta was a Marine NCO who earned a posthumous Navy Cross in Iraq, diving on a grenade when mortally wounded and saving his squad to punch the tickets of the men who killed him and threw the ‘nade. He’d enlisted in the Marines on the day he got his green card as a legal permanent resident. “Be proud of me, bro… and be proud of your country,” he wrote to his kid brother shortly before his death. (Ricardo Peralta also served his country as a Marine). Appropriately, DDG-115’s motto is Fortus ad Finem. It’s a hell of a legacy to live up to.

DDG-116, too, will be named for a Naval hero: Lieutenant Thomas Hudner MOH, who bellied in his Corsair behind enemy lines in Korea to try to save the life of another Corsair pilot trapped in a wrecked plane. (He did not succeed, and was himself rescued by helicopter, but the nerve it took to try boggles the mind. We met Hudner, and he was a great and humble guy). Meanwhile, the other shipyard has two Naval heroes coming up, DDG-113 John Finn (Navy Aviation Ordnance Chief who improvised AA guns at Pearl Harbor) and DDG-114 Ralph Johnson (another Marine who had a rendezvous with a ‘nade).

Unfortunately, after that the ships succumb to Ray Mabus names: mostly grifting Congressmen and Senators. (How about a Congressional ban on this naming-for-dollars, before we wind up with USS Geico Enterprise and SSN-6969 Bank of America Topeka?) Several of the class are yet to be named, and if he runs close to form the lame duck SecNav is probably penciling in USS Trigglypuff, USS Trayvon Martin, and USS Bowe Bergdahl.

The Flight IIA Aegis relaunch hasn’t been flawless — Peralta’s schedule slipped six months to let Bath focus on the Zumwalts, and the follow-on ships are even later — but compared to the LCS disaster or the Zumwalt cost overruns, it looks like the sort of thing the Navy used to do. Indeed, the program’s probably as successful as it is because Mabus’s energies were diverted elsewhere, and he wasn’t able to bring his own manic strain of Social Justice Micromanagement to bear.

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34 thoughts on “Something the Navy is Doing Right

  1. redc1c4

    MOTTO: The Latin motto, “FORTIS AD FINEM,” commemorates Sgt. Peralta’s character while serving in Iraq, “Courageous to the End.”

    link to ship’s crest, and an explanation of all the symbology at link in nick

  2. John M.

    Typo, or perhaps carried away by the maritime topic and talking like a sailor?
    “The ship be transferred to Navy authority next month, then will reposition to the Pacific for commissioning next summer.”

    -John M.

  3. John M.

    “Unfortunately, after that the ships succumb to Ray Mabus names: mostly grifting Congressmen and Senators. (How about a Congressional ban on this naming-for-dollars, before we wind up with USS Geico Enterprise and SSN-6969 Bank of America Topeka?)”

    It was probably not a good idea to suggest this. Without earmarking, Congressmen are getting restless.

    ” Several of the class are yet to be named, and if he runs close to form the lame duck SecNav is probably penciling in USS Trigglypuff,”

    Kinda shakes when she’s under load.

    “USS Trayvon Martin,”

    Sunk with a single shot.

    “and USS Bowe Bergdahl.”

    Because the Taliban deserves a Navy too.

    -John M.

  4. SPEMack

    Hell, I was surprised to see there was both a USS Miachael Murphy and USS Michael Monsoor on the roles already.

    Perhaps a USS Chris Kyle isn’t too big of a reach.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The sailors on ships named for heroes *love* their ship’s name. Conversely, a friend worked on mission packages for USS Jimmy Carter. That crew were the only submariners who passed on ship’s-pride shirts and ballcaps etc. and wore generic sub service stuff. There’s actually a “no dissing the ship’s namesake” order in the crew inbriefing. Mind you, he said Carter and her officers and men did some amazing stuff, and they’re proud enough of their boat, just not the name. Nature of his business he worked mostly with department heads and department chiefs, but he did see a bunch of regular submariners (is “regular” really the word?)

      1. Boat Guy

        Not if you’re talkin about submariners; the only more inappropriate word I can think of offhand would be “normal” cause that sure as hell doesn’t apply.

        1. SPEMack

          Is it bad that I’m somewhat grateful that they “only” named a Seawofl boat after our most famous Peanut Farmer instead of a carrier?

          1. Hognose Post author

            They thought they were doing him a favor, him being a former Nuc officer. (I don’t think he ever went to sea. His father died unexpectedly, and he was released to run the family farm).

      2. SPEMack

        Ditto. Squidley Brother in Law is a Sonarman on the USS Gonzalez. Most proud is named after a Marine with the Medal.

  5. Boat Guy

    The Burkes were the last decent surface combants delivered to the Fleet. While having two yards building does allow ” Congressional peculation, ” (though to be fair if you wanted to “maximize” it we’d have to be building at Defoe in Michigan and some other ill-advised yards) it really is better to keep two yards alive. I’d personally be OK with Bath being our sole producer but I really don’t think Maine’s got the horsepower to ensure that; the likely result is we’d have one of those “other” yards doing all of our building – it’s bad enough that they get a “share”.

  6. redc1c4

    it just occurred to me that naming the LCS class after Demonrat politicians is actually quite appropriate.

    after all, naming useless ships after useless POS politicians has a certain symmetry to it… 8-)

  7. DSM

    I signed a petition to Congress many years back that Sgt Peralta should have been awarded the Medal. I read his deeds, agreed and signed.
    A museum here in town has a young, local Marine’s posthumously awarded MoH from Korea. I pay my respects every time we go there. His citation is very humbling. I often wonder if the people driving on “Babe” Gomez Rd in his old neighborhood even know who he is.

  8. Tom Stone

    When I read that the Navy had named a ship after Harvey Milk I thought it was a joke.
    I’m a Bay Area boy ( Born in the Siskiyous, raied in the East Bay) and was living in Oakland when he was shot.
    The best line I heard about HM was that when they had the final viewing he was face down so his friends could recognize him.
    SF has produced some politicians that make Rahm Emmanuel look almost good, Gavin Newsome comes to mind.
    And then there’s Kamala Harris, who should scare the shit out of anyone with a lick of sense, think HRC but five times as smart and ten times as vicious.

    1. Haxo Angmark

      Kamala H. is a Barry Soetero re-run: it’s half-Black/half-White, Red inside, and the Black part hates the White part. I’m thinking future Prez, if ‘Murka is still on the map, c. 2028.

      1. Hognose Post author

        The problem with your reasoning, Haxo, is that individuals are more than the resultant of all their ancestry vectors. If someone’s a bum, it might not be because of his or her “black half.”

  9. Badger

    Well, repeal some laws so there’s room for one to add: No armed ship of the line gets named after anyone not having served, then placed on a ranked list, and decorations for valorous circumstances move that name commensurately up the list. Plenty to go around (sadly in many cases, although valor should be celebrated). Those who’ve thrown their medals away in public temper tantrums don’t make it. (Stick it, Kerry.) Fluffy & Buffy can go on the NLCS (Not Literally a Combat Ship) types.

    As long as we’re at it, the Army should name its next kick-ass weapons system (as long as it works) the M-Something Robert L. Howard; that would suit me down to my shoes for starters.

  10. Loren

    The Brits fought most of their historic sea actions with the second best ships in the battle as did the US in the first half of WW2.
    Perhaps the one saving grace for our nonlethal LCS and de-fanged Zumwalt’s is it’s always the quality of the crew that counts.

      1. Boat Guy

        Yup. Crew complements have been cut drastically in the name of “quality of life” and 10-section duty rotations. Ship can no longer respond to multiple emergencies inport.
        To quote one of our CG’s “The best ‘quality of life’ is coming home alive”

    1. Aesop

      The quality won’t matter when the LCS meets a ragtag bunch of pirates on a rustbucket ship with, y’know…actual weapons and a functional propulsion suite.

      Then we’ll have the highest quality hostages and corpses afloat.

      There is a way out, though. (Besides after-market complements of banks of galley oars for the LCS Backup Propulsion Plan.)

      Loudly and widely ascribe total defenselessness to the LCS and Zumwalt classes, salting story after story of their total lack of any functional armament.

      And quietly rig them as modern-day Q-ships, deploy them to wailing and moaning over their inability to threaten so much as an errant porpoise, and set them to clearing the pirate alleys, like off Indonesia and Somalia, of everything floating that’s hostile and larger than an inner tube.
      Followed by alpha strikes on the homeport ragvilles that deploy them.

      And please, by all that’s holy, YouTube the after-action videos, followed by Navy recruiting spots.

    1. Aesop

      Hopefully, a homebuilt garbage scow, commissioned and laid down in Kenya.
      Ideally, to carry the metaphor to the extreme, with an obnoxiously loud whistle, a faulty compass, and a helm completely disconnected from the rudder. And of course, filled to the gunwhales with steer manure.

      And by law, set to sink without a trace 8 years to the day from its launch.

      1. John M.

        I’m afraid that particular scow would leave a reeking trail of foul-smelling oil on the surface of the water for many, many years after sinking.

        -John M.

  11. Linz

    OK, I’m a dam furriner…but why does your USN name it’s carriers after dead Presidents?
    Did Hornet, Enterprise Saratoga, Lexington, Yorktown, Essex serve so badly that their names will not be continued as carriers?
    As for the destroyers…I would have thought that enough earned name continuance from WW1, WW2, Korea…

    1. Aesop

      The ninth USN ship to carry the name Enterprise will begin construction in 2018, and launched sometime around 2025.
      And once someone named one carrier after a dead president, the floodgates were opened.
      In some cases, pity the seacocks weren’t, as well, but it’s too late to get the horses in once the barn door is opened.

      As for the smaller surface combatants, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the legacies to the sole examples, as there are always suitable subjects for naming, to create their own new legacies. As noted above.

      Personally, beyond disgust that the empowered idiots named a ship after Harvey Milk, I thought it was inadvertently wry that it’s a ship that dispenses oil and lubricants. True mirth would have been making it one of the LHDs, just for the number of times beautifully inappropriate jokes would be made when it took on landing craft up the stern gate.

    2. Hognose Post author

      It’s worse, my foreign friend. We name them after live ex-Presidents. It smells of Roman Imperial coinage.

      This “tradition” began with the John F. Kennedy, CVA-67/CV-67 which was named for a dead President in a post-assassination near-Stalin-level cult of personality that saw the renaming of hundreds of schools, streets, and facilities for the murdered President. CV-67 has been stricken (a group in Rhode Island is trying to reopen it as a memorial museum) but Mabus has named one of the ships under construction John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). (You could argue that the trend really started with naming a ship for FDR crony turned Secretary of the Navy/Defense, the suicidal James Forrestal, for whom CV-59 was named in 1954, after his leap from a psych ward window in Bethesda).

      The entire Nimitz class was names for recent Presidents, even Presidents who were living when the ship was named: Reagan, GHW Bush, and a couple of Congressmen who did nothing for the Navy but appropriate money (while grabbing what they could grab), Carl Vinson and John Stennis. It is shameful to name ships for such obscure, undistinguished and uninspiring characters.

      Two of the next three carriers are named after Presidents; the third would be the ninth USS Enterprise and the third carrier of that name; the eighth Enterprise is pending scrapping. CVN-80 has not had any metal cut yet and may not see water under her keel until 2027. So there’s still plenty of time to name the ship for Janis Joplin or something similarly retarded. If she does launch as Enterprise, that will be the only carrier bearing a WWII name. (Some of the great old names have been assigned to smaller VSTOL-carrier amphibs). (ETA- some of the great old names like Essex and Wasp continue on Wasp-class and America-class landing ships. Especially the Americas are really light carriers designed to land Marines by Osprey, not landing craft).

      A submarine was named for President Carter, as he had trained to be a submarine engineering officer before his separation from the Navy. There was previously (early 60s) a class of nuclear submarines named for patriots and pioneers, including many early long-dead Presidents and founders, and such Revolutionary War figures as Ethan Allen.

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