Comment & Discussion

I have more than 30 years of active duty and civil service experience as a Navy ship pilot and cannot foresee any advantage in the Z umwalt ’s  propeller configuration in a maneuvering situation. Because of the ship’s size and hull form, performing a “reverse twist” to walk the ship sideways—even with the most ideal, extremely rare environmental conditions—would be phenomenal. I’d have to see it to believe it.

—QMCM Michael Toomey, USN (Ret.)

Fly to Fight, Fight to Win

(See R. Swain, pp. 58-63, October 2018)

LIEUTENANT SWAIN’S ARTICLE immediately brought back memories of an event that took place shortly after Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three “Seawolves” had arrived in Vietnam in 1967. Although Operation Market Time was not mentioned, I was executive officer of the 82 ft. patrol boat USCGC Point Partridge (WPB-82305) while we conducted interdiction operations in the Bassac River delta, upriver as far as 10 miles inland from the South China Sea.

One night in early 1967, we had been conducting night interdiction ops, looking for sampans or junks moving across the Bassac in the darkness, part of the Viet Cong (VC) supply system. Under cover of night, we followed channels that were deep enough for our 6-foot draft but often traveled close to the river banks. On this particular night, we had successfully interdicted one or two VC boats that had been moving arms, ammunition, or other supplies; it was early morning before we headed back down the river. We knew the “Seawolves” had arrived only days before and were operating from a landing ship tank (LST) upriver, possibly near Can Tho.

Near the mouth of the river, the channel passed within 100 yards of a 20- to 30-foot raised bank. We suddenly were ambushed by enemy small-arms fire coming from the top of the bank, blocking our exit. We brought three .50-caliber machine guns to bear on the shooters, and withdrew to a safer distance while we called the Seawolves for assistance.

The small-arms fire continued sporadically as we waited for the Seawolves to arrive. Soon we heard the “wop-wop- wop” of the UH-1 Huey rotor blades in the distance, and we established radio comms. Flying very low, they swung wide of the targets and circled around to come at the shooters from behind. We withheld our fire as the Hueys approached, and we moved out of their line of fire. The Hueys suddenly appeared behind the high bank, firing machine guns and door guns. The bank seemed to explode with fire and smoke.

Suddenly one of the Hueys pulled up sharply and performed a “hammerhead” turn and unloaded all of its rockets into the bank! In the smoke and dust rising, we watched in awe as the Hueys finished the job. We then asked the flight leader why he did that “hammerhead”; and he told us, “The SOBs shot between my feet and through my windshield. It really pissed me off!” Needless to say, our trip back to the sea was safe. Many thanks and BZ to the great guys of HAL-3!

CAPT Richard F. Healing, USCGR (Ret.)

The Mirage of Mission Command

(See C. Graham, pp. 62-65, August 2018 and J. Hummel, p. 9, September 2018)

HATS OFF TO CHIEF HUMMEL for his letter on the reliability of carrier wave (CW) communications. When I went to radio officer’s school (around the same time as the chief), the Navy taught that the number one priority for communications was reliability. I agree wholeheartedly with him on the reliability of CW.

Its big drawback is the relatively low data rate (20-30 words per minute; repeat minute ), but essential information can often be transmitted with very few words (e.g., “One if by land, and two if by sea . . .”).

But this “simple” medium has virtues. One certainly is the ubiquity of the technology. The ability to communicate with a ship that lacks the sophisticated means the U.S. Navy employs can be a life-saver.

Back in 1968, when I was radio officer on USS Providence (CLG-6), we received a distress call from a merchantman—the SS Steel Vendor —leaving Hong Kong and being approached by Chinese warships. With the Seventh Fleet commander on board, we were directed to return communication to enquire about the details of the incident. Initial attempts via CW met with no response—very discouraging. My best CW operator repeated the calls. I don’t recall if it was my idea or his, but it occurred to “us” that our use of the Seventh Fleet commander’s international call sign—BVKG—might have appeared to the merchantman that we were Chinese (B*** call signs are allocated to the People’s Republic). We then switched to the Providence' s call sign (NUKL) and received an immediate— and reliable!—answer. Subsequent information revealed that the crisis had passed.

Reliability in communications is to be able to talk to whomever you want, whenever you want.

—LCDR Eric Hodson, USN (Ret.)

Bring the Boomers' Crew Cycle to the Surface

(See I. Everett, p. 16, October 2018)

PETTY OFFICER EVERETT recommends decommissioning 50 percent of the surface fleet while still achieving presence missions. That would be great if presence was our only mission. Since it is a war fleet however, perhaps we should keep those extra hulls around— just in case.

—Tim Duff, former avionics technician, USN

Run Silent, Run Shallow

(See J. Patton, pp. 32-35, October 2018)

The Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines, such as the USS Hawaii (SSN-776) shown here, could possibly use unmanned underwater vehicles in much the same way Navy aircraft use suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) tactics to draw enemy fire. (U.S. Navy)

CAPTAIN PATTON’S ARTICLE was very interesting, but I believe there is another option for U.S. nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) to engage enemy diesel/air-independent-propulsion submarines. The submarines should borrow not only the idea but the tactics used in suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD). In that context, it seems logical to use unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), launched from U.S. SSNs, as they penetrate area-denial bastions. These UUVs would serve two purposes: Seek out enemy submarines with their own sensors to pass that data back to the launching submarine; and entice enemy submarines to fire on the UUVs, allowing U.S. submarines to target and kill the enemy.

Used in conjunction with the other methods Captain Patton described, a SEAD-like antisubmarine-warfare system could provide U.S. attack subs with a distinct advantage in enemy waters. 

—Kevin A. Capps

There's a Case for Diesels

(See M. Walker and A. Krusz, p. 64, June 2018, B. Gabbert, More C&D, July 2018, D. Fargo, p. 8, August 2018, G. Walker, p. 8, October 2018)

MR. WALKER WRITES that total numbers of platforms and total cost are important when considering diesel-electric versus nuclear submarine construction. I agree.

On dollar cost . In zero-sum budgeting, building fewer nuclear submarines to introduce U.S. diesel-electric submarine construction will drive up the per-unit cost of the former. Fewer dollars also would negatively impact the already-struggling U.S. nuclear industry—especially, if history is teacher, the research, development, and design efforts necessary to maintain the future force.

Also introduced are new costs in training, maintenance, and logistics. Such costs will apply across the operational, intermediate, and depot levels of fleet support. The opportunity costs from building a new diesel-electric platform will therefore significantly diminish if not erase intended savings, while reducing current and future overall force capabilities.

On numbers . U.S. shipyards currently are operating at capacity. There are only so many dry-dock and modular track availabilities. There are two options for introducing diesels (or any other ships):

Build and/or refurbish additional shipyards at the cost of many billions of dollars. Executing such a plan would seem impractical if not impossible in today’s budget environment, as Mr. Walker emphasizes. This would maintain the nuclear submarine build rate.

Reduce nuclear submarine construction and build diesels without new shipyard availabilities. This perhaps supplements the fleet with one or two additional, cheaper hulls per year. But because these hulls arrive without all the capabilities of nuclear submarines, they reduce overall force capability to the extent they reduce nuclear submarine numbers.

To build diesels would be to go in the wrong direction, no matter how fiscally attractive the option may look. We should review new propulsion options when they offer today’s nuclear capabilities at less cost.

Diesel-electric submarines are formidable warships in the hands of U.S. allies. But largely because of our allies, diesels are not tactically necessary to the U.S. Navy. They are not capable of all its missions. They are not the best we can build. And because of necessary and prolonged mast exposure, they are more vulnerable than nuclear-powered submarines.

—CDR Dennis Fargo, USN (Ret.)

How to Lead the New Generation

(See. L. Winnefeld, pp. 77-79, July 2018)

I WAS PROUD TO SEE my classmate Second Lieutenant L. J. Winnefeld’s well-researched article on recruitment. I agree with the need he identified to emphasize potential improvement in recruits’ economic standing, station in life, and future prospects. The military does offer unparalleled career stability and benefits, and it is almost the last occupation in the United States that is a viable ladder to the middle class for those lacking more than a high school degree. This should be a point of pride for the service and clearly is appealing to many in “iGen.”

He is correct that this is the proper strategy for recruiting the post-9/11 generation, but a bit off on why . The need does not arise from differences with generations that came before. There actually is very little difference in today’s young people, particularly when considering the incentives that elicit responses to recruitment campaigns. It is inherent that a career in the military is centered on service to our country, and all who join our all-volunteer force display a love of country and degree of selflessness. These qualities do not wane from one generation of service members to the next, despite what many older individuals would have you believe in social media comments.

For example, a classic recruiting poster (circa 1914) advertises “allowance, board and lodging, medical” and a free uniform along with “liberal pay.” Would we say that those World War I sailors were unpatriotic or less committed to service than other generations?

Service members and the veteran community should not act as though their decisions to serve were entirely selfless or without consideration of compensation. Aspiring to improve one’s financial standing or future is not mutually exclusive to possessing a love of country and service. It is all too easy to see the borderline generational hatred displayed by older service members in many places. We all want a better life, and we should not fault others for seeking that through the military.

—ENS W. Kirk Wolff, USN

The Carrier's Role is Narrowing

(See A. Ross, pp. 16-20, July 2018, R. Nutwell, p. 87, August 2018, C. Pearson, pp. 87-88, September 2018)

COMMANDER ROSS’ VIEW that “the carrier’s role is narrowing” has raised some concerns. Lieutenant Commander Pearson reminds that “the British learned from their mistakes” in “preparing to relight the last war,” while Rear Admiral Nutwell notes that “the author's argument fails to consider several factors” and judges that Commander “Ross’ arguments apply only to the case of a major conventional conflict with a near-peer adversary.”

I submit that the aircraft carrier’s role instead is widening and becoming more critical than merely being of service in a “major conventional conflict.”

No nation seems ready to trigger a world war, because globalization has made economic strength the measure of a nation’s power in the world. Thus, defense of a nation is defense of its economy. But war costs. So, a nation’s most effective defense would be to avoid wars.

The U.S. Navy has an unmatched fleet of supercarriers, putting the United States in a superior position to persuade defense-minded nations toward coexistence in balance—if only in a pseudo peace. That persuasion could come in military-to-military exchange with the navies of potential adversaries.

The world is in disarray. Can the carrier’s role as defense warrior “diplomat” come to the rescue?

—Thomas S. Momiyama, U.S. Senior Executive Service (Retired)

Team the P-8 and Sea Hunter

(See P. Tilus, pp. 40-44, September 2018)

Mine Warfare: Ready and Able

(See A. Lucas and I. Cameron, pp. 70-74, September 2018)

THESE SEPTEMBER ARTICLES are on the right track regarding the Sea Hunter and expeditionary mine countermeasures (ExMCM), but both could use some commonality and additional versatility to be even more effective—and stand a much better chance of getting enough funding to make it to the fleet.

One enhancement might be a versatile “mother ship,” capable of going in harm’s way and able to transport at least five medium-displacement unmanned surface vehicles for both wide area antisubmarine warfare and wide-area MCM. Such a ship could also carry SEALs, explosive ordnance disposal teams, and other special warfare uses. The Whidbey Island -class dock landing ships (LSDs) would be an affordable starting point for a design.

—Everett Ratzlaff, P.E., Naval Architect, and lead engineer on the MCM-1-class bow thruster

This is Not 'Cold Fusion'

(See M. Ravnitzky, pp. 64-68, September 2018)

THE PUBLICATION of Mr. Ravnitzky’s article in Proceedings may be interpreted as an endorsement by the Naval Institute and even the Navy of the plausibility of low energy nuclear reactions (LENR). Such an endorsement would be premature.

The possibility of LENR with its scientific, engineering, and naval advantages is hypnotizing—and generates much enthusiasm. One should use caution, however, because the LENR concept has not been theoretically proven or experimentally demonstrated unambiguously and repetitively. The Widom- Larsen proposal (despite people calling it a theory, it does not deserve that status) also has not been proven theoretically or conclusively demonstrated experimentally.

The Navy should encourage research in all physically reasonable ideas, including LENR. But until the ideas are confirmed or disproved, I suggest the Navy be more deliberate before promoting LENR as a panacea for its future needs.

—LT William J. Veigele, Ph.D. (Physics), USNR (Ret.)

Pivot to Panay

(See C. Cash, pp. 52-55, July 2018, J. Zhao, online, August 2018, and F. Ota, p. 87, September 2018)

I CANNOT LET Vice Admiral Ota’s comments go unchallenged. The Rape of Nanking was not a unique event. Japan bestowed its form of occupation and barbarism on every country it invaded, including but not limited to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Guam, Hong Kong, and others. Whether we are to believe the low number of deaths or the high number of deaths attributed to the Japanese butchers, Japan was still guilty of unspeakable crimes. For whatever reason, the country steadfastly refuses to apologize or make meaningful reparations.

It is ludicrous for Admiral Ota to compare Japan’s form of barbarism before and during World War II to the current Chinese government or the state of affairs in China today. If given the choice, I would prefer to live in today’s China rather than the China of 1937- 45 under the Japanese occupation. The lesson to be learned is that it is time for Japan to accept responsibility for its involvement in World War II and to apologize and make reparations wherever possible.

—Captain Lucio DiLoreto, USN (Ret.)


In September’s World Naval Developments , the frigate HMS Westminster was incorrectly identified as HMS Winchester .

USS Sioux City (LCS-11) Joins the Fleet

THE NAVY WILL COMMISSION the USS Sioux City (LCS-11) during a ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland , on 17 November 2018. In keeping with naval tradition, Mary Winnefeld, as Sioux City ’s sponsor, will give the order to “Man our ship and bring her to life!” Mrs. Winnefeld is the wife of retired ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr.

Although the Sioux City is the first Navy ship named in honor of Sioux City, Iowa, she continues the strong historical connection between the land-locked state of Iowa and the Navy. Two former ships have been named for the state—the Spanish-American War-era USS Iowa (BB-4) and the lead ship of the final class of battleships the USS Iowa (BB-61). Tens of thousands of lowans have served honorably in the Navy, including the “Heater from Van Meter” Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Chief Petty Officer Bob Feller.

Laid down on 19 February 2014 at Marinette, Wisconsin, by Fincantieri Marinette Marine and launched 30 January 2016, the Sioux City is a Freedom -class variant of the littoral combat ship, a ship designed to meet fleet requirements for surface warfare, antisubmarine warfare, and mine countermeasures missions in the littoral region.

After the commissioning, the Sioux City will make her way to her new homeport in Mayport, Florida, with Commander James R. Malone, U.S. Navy, in command.

(U.S. Navy)

LCS-11: Displacement 3,900 tons; length 378’; 

beam 57.4’; draft 13’; speed 45 knots; 

endurance 3500 nm or 21 days

Boats: 11m RHIB and 12m high-speed boats

Armament: BAE Systems Mk 110 57mm gun, RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Surface-to-Air missiles, 

Honeywell Mk 50 Torpedo, and 2x.50-cal guns

Aircraft: 2xMH-60R/S Seahawk and MQ-8 Fire Scout



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