Tuesday, November 29, 2016


There is a fascinating article at Janes discussing the recent complete breakdown of USS ZUMWALT as it passed through the Panama Canal. The ship is currently docked at the former Rodman Navy Base in Panama while experts from Naval Sea Systems Command fly out to diagnose and repair the ships propulsion system.
A series of engine problems has hindered USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) on its maiden transit from the US East Coast to the ship's designated West Coast home port of San Diego, requiring the ship to be towed through the Panama Canal, US Navy (USN) officials told IHS Jane's. 
The ship is now being held in Panama as the USN and contractors try to fix the engineering problems, service officials said on 22 November. As of this writing it was unclear what was wrong with the vessel, which is the lead ship in a class of three next-generation multi mission destroyers. 
Vice Admiral Nora Tyson, commander of US Third Fleet, has directed Zumwalt "to remain at ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama to address engineering issues that occurred while transiting the Panama Canal", Commander Clayton Doss, a USN spokesman, told IHS Jane's .
"The timeline for repairs is being determined now, in direct co-ordination with Naval Sea Systems and Naval Surface Forces," Cdr Doss said. "The schedule for the ship will remain flexible to enable testing and evaluation in order to ensure the ship's safe transit to her new homeport in San Diego." 
In San Diego, the ship is scheduled to conduct combat system testing and certification before being deployed to the Western Pacific. 
Pacific Command (PACOM) officials remain enthusiastic about the ship's entrance to the region, despite the engineering issues. "As with all first-of-class ships, the navy will have some kinks to work out," PACOM commander Admiral Harry Harris told IHS Jane's. 
Assuming ZUMWALT actually makes it to San Diego it will join the other "first-of-class ships" known as Littoral Combat Ship, all of which appear to be broken beyond repair and of little use to either Third Fleet or the United States Navy.
A report in 2010 by the Pentagon's director of Operational Test and Evaluation found that neither design was expected to "be survivable in a hostile combat environment" and that neither ship could withstand the Navy's full ship shock trials.[14] The Navy responded that the LCS is built to a Level 1+ survivability standard and that the ships will rely on warnings from networks and speed to avoid being hit, or if hit be able to limp to safety.[15][16] Jonathan Greenert said that the crew would "conduct an orderly abandon ship" if their ship was struck by enemy fire, an action that might not be necessary on other vessels in the same circumstances. The ships were designed to minimize vulnerability with modern automated damage control systems to perform its mission, then withdraw from the area under its own power.[17] 
The LCS's combat abilities were said to be "very modest" even before the cancellation of the XM501 Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System.[18] The Independence variant reportedly has better helicopter facilities and more internal space while the Freedom variant is said to be better able to launch and recover boats in high seas. Admiral Gary Roughead said that a mix of both types would be "operationally advantageous".[19]
It was rather sad to see the way Admirals just flat out lied about the worthless little ships. I was quite disappointed in both Greenert and Roughead. I don't know why they compromised their integrity by lying about a ship that was clearly worse than useless from the very beginning.

As we move forward we need to have actual surface combatants that can, at a bare minimum, defend themselves from readily obvious and apparent threats but also protect unarmed ships they might be convoying through the Strait of Hormuz or the South China Sea. Warships that can't conduct meaningful anti-surface warfare, any  kind of mine warfare or any type of anti-submarine or anti-air warfare are useless and worse than useless because they require real warships to defend them.

The idea that we deliberately keep building ships that cannot survive in a hostile environment and are expected to run away from threats they hear about and "limp to safety" after getting tagged by the bad guys is not really funny anymore. The ships engines don't work and they don't "limp" home, they have to be towed. All of the broken ships of the Navy appear to be headed to San Diego and Third Fleet. When Obama talked about a pivot to the Pacific I didn't think he meant to weaken the fleet and load it up with crippled and broken ships.

Trump needs somebody who can look into the debacle and fire everyone involved.


The Old Man said...

There seems to be a few bugs - not features - in the Navy procurement system. If the LCS class wasn't evidence enough, this incident seems to be another scary example, as I understand that the power setup IS THE FUTURE for the Navy because railguns and lasers....
Welcome to interesting times.

HMS Defiant said...

What we have now is all bugs. The features are payme later add-ons that we can't afford and are so bleeding edge they still don't work even 10 years later.