Latest Virginia-Class Submarine Named

By MarEx 2015-05-24 20:01:07

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus hosted a ship-naming ceremony over the weekend in Jersey City, New Jersey, to announce that SSN 796, a Virginia-class attack submarine, will bear the name USS New Jersey.

Mabus told the audience the submarine will be named to honor the long-standing history its namesake state has had with the Navy. New Jersey was where USS Holland, the Navy’s first submarine, was designed and constructed in October 1900.

“New Jersey’s relationship with our Navy has been defined by innovation, leadership, and courage- in conquest and in combat.” said Mabus. “The name of our newest nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine will carry on that strong tradition.”

Since the creation of that first submarine, two naval ships have been named New Jersey: a battleship commissioned in1906 which was part of the famed Great White Fleet and another battleship commissioned in 1943 making SSN 796 the third naval ship to bear the name New Jersey.

“As we sail deeper into the 21st century it is time for another USS New Jersey, time to keep that storied name alive in our Navy and Marine Corps,” said Mabus. “She will sail the world like those who have gone before her, defending the American people and representing our American values through presence.”

The next-generation attack submarines will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the 21st century, said the U.S. Department of Defense. They will have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy’s multi-mission requirements.

The submarines will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They are also designed for special forces delivery and support.

Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. It is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The submarine will be built in partnership with General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corp., and will be built by Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.

Technological Superiority

With the number of foreign diesel-electric/air-independent propulsion submarines increasing yearly, the United States Submarine Force relies on its technological superiority and the speed, endurance, mobility, stealth and payload afforded by nuclear power to retain its preeminence in the undersea battlespace.

The Navy has three classes of submarines in service. Los Angeles (SSN 688)-class submarines are the backbone of the submarine force with 41 now in commission. Thirty Los Angeles-class submarines are equipped with 12 Vertical Launch System tubes for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Navy also has three Seawolf-class submarines. Commissioned on July 19, 1997, USS Seawolf (SSN 21) is exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors. Though lacking Vertical Launch Systems, the Seawolf class has eight torpedo tubes and can hold up to 50 weapons in its torpedo room.

The third ship of the class, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), has a 100-foot hull extension called the multi-mission platform. This hull section provides for additional payloads to accommodate advanced technology used to carry out classified research and development and for enhanced warfighting capabilities.

The Virginia (SSN 774) class has several innovations that significantly enhance its warfighting capabilities with an emphasis on littoral operations. Virginia class submarines have a fly-by-wire ship control system that provides improved shallow-water ship handling. The class has special features to support special operations forces (SOF), including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads.

The class also has a large lock-in/lock-out chamber for divers. In Virginia-class submarines, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. With the removal of the barrel periscopes, the ship’s control room has been moved down one deck and away from the hull’s curvature, affording it more room and an improved layout that provides the commanding officer with enhanced situational awareness.

Additionally, through the extensive use of modular construction, open architecture, and commercial off-the-shelf components, the Virginia class is designed to remain state-of-the-practice for its entire operational life through the rapid introduction of new systems and payloads.

As part of the Virginia-class’ third, or Block III, contract, the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the ship to reduce their acquisition costs. Most of the changes are found in the bow where the traditional, air-backed sonar sphere has been replaced with a water-backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) array which reduces acquisition and life-cycle costs while providing enhanced passive detection capabilities.

The new bow also replaces the 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The VPTs simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs, and provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller VLS tubes due to their added volume.

General Characteristics, Virginia class

Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding.

Date Deployed: USS Virginia commissioned October 3, 2004

Propulsion: One nuclear reactor, one shaft

Length: 377 feet (114.8 meters)

Beam: 33 feet (10.0584 meters)

Displacement: Approximately 7,800 tons (7,925 metric tons) submerged

Speed: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour, 46.3+ kph)

Crew: 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted

Armament: Tomahawk missiles, twelve VLS tubes, MK48 ADCAP torpedoes, four torpedo tubes.


USS Virginia (SSN 774), Portsmouth, NH

USS Texas (SSN 775), Pearl Harbor, HI

USS Hawaii (SSN 776), Pearl Harbor, HI

USS North Carolina (SSN 777), Pearl Harbor, HI

USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), Groton, CT

USS New Mexico (SSN 779), Groton, CT

USS Missouri (SSN 780), Groton, CT

USS California (SSN 781), Groton, CT

USS Mississippi (SSN 782), Groton, CT

USS Minnesota (SSN 783), Norfolk, VA

North Dakota (SSN 784), No homeport – Construction began March 2009. Christened 2 November 2013.

John Warner (SSN 785), No homeport – Construction began March 2010

Illinois (SSN 786) – Construction began in March 2011.

Washington (SSN 787) – No homeport, construction began in September 2011

Colorado (SSN 788) – No homeport, construction began in March 2012.

Indiana (SSN 789) – No homeport, construction began September 2012.

South Dakota (SSN 790) – Under contract.

Delaware (SSN 791) – Under contract.

General Characteristics, Seawolf class

Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat Division.

Date Deployed: USS Seawolf commissioned July 19, 1997

Propulsion: One nuclear reactor, one shaft

Length: SSNs 21 and 22: 353 feet (107.6 meters)

SSN 23: 453 feet (138.07 meters)

Beam: 40 feet (12.2 meters)

Displacement: SSNs 21 and 22: 9,138 tons (9,284 metric tons) submerged;

SSN 23 12,158 tons (12,353 metric tons) submerged

Speed: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour, 46.3+ kph)

Crew: 140: 14 Officers; 126 Enlisted

Armament: Tomahawk missiles, MK48 torpedoes, eight torpedo tubes.

General Characteristics, Los Angeles class

Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co.; General Dynamics Electric Boat Division.

Date Deployed: Nov 13, 1976 (USS Los Angeles)

Propulsion: One nuclear reactor, one shaft

Length: 360 feet (109.73 meters)

Beam: 33 feet (10.06 meters)

Displacement: Approximately 6,900 tons (7011 metric tons) submerged

Speed: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour, 46.3 +kph)

Crew: 16 Officers; 127 Enlisted

Armament: Tomahawk missiles, VLS tubes (SSN 719 and later), MK48 torpedoes, four torpedo tubes.


$91.6 Million Allocated to Sewol Recovery

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-24 19:43:58

South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has allocated $91.6 million for the salvage the passenger ship Sewol that sank last year killing over 300 people, mostly school children.

The salvage will involve the 6,825-ton vessel out of the water without causing damage that could cause the loss of the nine bodies believed to be inside.

Salvage bids will be ranked according to a 100-point scale, with technological capability accounting for 90 percent of the evaluation, reports local news agency Yonhap. The bidding price will account for the other 10 percent.

The terms of the salvage tender require the salvor to film the entire process in high-resolution video. The project must be completed by the end of 2016 including any delays associated with adverse weather.

Bids must be announced by 18:00 on June 22.

The ferry is expected to be significantly corroded. It is located on the seafloor of the Maenggol Channel which is known for its strong and potentially dangerous currents.

Sewol is located in 44 meters (144 feet) of water and is now on its left side in about 1.5 meters (five feet) of sediment.

Various plans have been proposed for the vessel’s salvage. One involves divers drilling 93 holes in the side of the vessel so it could be tied to two cranes which would then be used to lift it about three meters (10 feet) off the sea floor. It could then be moved to a safer location for lifting, or on to submersible floating dock.

Sewol sank on April 16, 2014, while en route to the country’s southern resort island of Jeju.


18 U.S. Senators Want Shell Stopped

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-24 19:15:53

A group of 18 mostly Democratic U.S. senators on Friday urged the Obama administration to stop Shell’s preparations for oil exploration in the Arctic, saying the region has a severely limited capacity to respond to accidents.

The senators, from both coasts and several Midwestern states, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, urging her to retire Arctic leases in the Chukchi Sea.

Jewell’s department earlier this month conditionally approved Shell’s exploration plan in the Arctic. The move means the company is likely to return to the Chukchi Sea this summer for the first time since 2012.

Earlier this month, hundreds of activists in kayaks protested in Elliott Bay in Seattle. The latest protests this weekend resulted in U.S. Coast Guard personnel assisting in the removal of an activist who secured himself to the anchor chain of the support vessel Arctic Challenger in Bellingham, north of Seattle in Washington State.

Matt Fuller requested Coast Guard assistance down from the vessel’s anchor chain at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and was taken to Coast Guard Station Bellingham.

A second activist, Chiara Rose D’Angelo, remained attached to the Arctic Challenger’s anchor chain on Sunday after climbing the chain on Friday night.

The Arctic Challenger is part of a fleet of vessels Shell expects to use in its drilling program. The converted barge is designed to launch oil spill containment equipment, but some activists have questioned its effectiveness in Arctic conditions.

The Coast Guard has cited four people for violation of the 100-yard safety zone around the Arctic Challenger and has terminated the voyage of two vessels determined to not have had the required safety gear including operating without navigational lights after sunset. A small inflatable raft was held due to lack of proof of ownership.

Lt. Cmdr. Justin Noggle, chief of enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle, said: “The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment Rights of people to safely and lawfully assemble on the water. To that end, we will enforce those laws and regulations necessary to ensure the safety of the maritime public.”

Violation of the safety zone can result in possible civil or criminal penalties. Whether intentional or unintentional, interference with these vessels has the potential to result serious injury, death or pollution in the highly sensitive ecosystem of Puget Sound, says the Coast Guard.


Libyan Planes Attack Oil Tanker

By Reuters 2015-05-24 17:10:44

Warplanes from Libya’s official government attacked an oil tanker docked outside the city of Sirte on Sunday, wounding three people and setting the ship on fire, officials said.

It was the third confirmed strike by the internationally recognized government on oil tankers, part of a conflict between competing administrations and parliaments allied to armed factions fighting for control of the country four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

The recognized premier Abdullah al-Thinni has been working out of the east since losing the capital Tripoli in August last year to a rival faction. Both sides have been attacking each other with warplanes and thanks to loose alliances with former anti-Gaddafi rebels have also been fighting on several fronts on the land.

“Our jets warned an unflagged ship off Sirte city, but it ignored the warning,” the eastern air force commander Saqer al-Joroushi told Reuters.

“We gave it a chance to evaluate the situation, then our fighting jets attacked the ship because it was unloading fighters and weapons,” he added.

“The ship now is on fire. We are in war and we do not accept any security breaches, whether by land, air or sea,” Jourushi added.

Mohamed El Harari, a spokesman for Tripoli-based state oil firm NOC, said the Libyan tanker Anwar Afriqya had been carrying fuel for Sirte’s power plant. Another oil industry official said the size of the cargo was 25,000 tons.

A Reuters reporter could see the tanker docked near Sirte’s power plant. Two parts of the tanker were still burning.

A port worker said there had been two attacks. First a plane had fired rockets at the tanker’s cockpit and crew’s cabins, he said. “Then the plane attacked again with guns.”

“They attacked after we had discharged the first tank and were readying the second,” he said.

Sirte’s power plant on the western outskirts is controlled by forces loyal to Tripoli. The rest of the city has fallen into the hands of Islamic State which has exploited a security vacuum.

The eastern government had already attacked in January a Greek-operated tanker docking at Derna, killing two seamen and accusing the shipper of sending weapons. NOC had said the tanker was only carrying heavy fuel oil for a power plant.

Two weeks ago forces loyal to the official government shelled a Turkish ship off the Libyan coast after it was warned not to approach. One crew member was killed in what Turkey described as a “contemptible attack”.


Italy Rescues 70 Migrants

By Reuters 2015-05-24 16:54:50

Seventy Afghan and Iraqi migrants were rescued from a packed boat off the southeastern coast of Italy and brought to shore on Sunday, Italy’s coast guard said.

Italy closed down a specialized naval mission to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean last year, but continues to bear the brunt of the rescues as the European Union and member states conduct talks on how to deal with the influx.

Two Italian coast guard cutters brought the group to the port of Santa Maria di Leuca in Puglia. There were two women and four minors on board, the coast guard said in a statement.

Refugees escaping war and persecution and economic migrants from Africa and the Middle East have poured into Italy this year. Lawlessness in Libya gives traffickers a free hand to pack people into boats.

But the journey is highly dangerous: on Saturday five Tunisians died after their boat capsized while attempting the crossing, and last month around 800 people drowned in the worst such disaster in recent history.

The United Nations refugee agency said approximately 35,500 migrants arrived in Italy by sea between the start of the year and the first week in May.

Arrivals in Greece, Spain and Malta bring the total number of migrants known to have crossed the Mediterranean in that period to 62,500.

The number of dead or missing so far this year is about 1,800 versus 3,500 during all of last year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.


Memorial Day Remembrance

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-23 20:48:21

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. In this week’s address, the U.S. President Barack Obama commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to their country.

Other leaders around the nation have added their voice to the commemoration.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens says, “Since 1776, our patriots have fought to defend those certain unalienable rights – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Our way of life has been made possible by their resolute dedication, their tenacity, and ultimately, their sacrifice. We honor them for that sacrifice this Memorial Day. We honor them through remembrance as we take a knee and bow our heads in tribute. Just as importantly, we honor them by standing the watch.”

In delivering his Memorial Day message, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said:

“While every Memorial Day is marked with solemn remembrance, in 2015 we take special note. This year, as we mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the 40th anniversary of our departure from Vietnam, and the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield in the lead-up to the Gulf War, we honor and remember those who perished in those wars, just as we recall the more than 6,800 American servicemembers who gave their lives since Sept. 11, 2001.

“To the families of our fallen patriots: we lack the words to describe what you feel on Memorial Day, because try as we may, as we must, we can never fully know it. But we do know what your sacrifice means to us, to our country, and to a world that still depends so much on America for its security.

“As our nation remembers the service and sacrifice of previous generations, we as a people recognize that the men and women serving in uniform today, active-duty, guard, and reserve, are as humble, patriotic, and selfless as any generation that has come before. They, alongside their families, continue that tradition of service to country that makes our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known. Nearly 200,000 of these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are currently serving beyond our shores, protecting us far from home, and will not be able to spend this holiday with their loved ones. Today, and every day, we honor them and their families with our heartfelt thanks and support.”