In the past year, the U.S. Navy battled the COVID-19 pandemic, weathered senior leadership upheavals, responded to tragedy at home, protected U.S. maritime interests worldwide, and faced many questions on the size, structure, and cost of the future fleet.
Spurred on by the COVID-19 outbreak on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), which forced the carrier into quarantine on Guam, the Navy adapted quickly to new protocols to protect its uniformed and civilian personnel. For a year, the Navy quarantined crews before predeployment workups, keeping them on board in preparation for deployment and limiting port visits to prevent further outbreaks.
The Navy had four acting or confirmed Secretaries serving in rapid succession, all while the service faced hard questions across all domains. What should be the size and force structure of the future fleet? What is the role for unmanned systems? Will Navy budgets be boosted to invest in the networks, systems, and ships required for future naval warfare? The new triservice maritime strategy, published in December, begins to provide some answers.
Advantage at Sea
The strategy, Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power, provides guidance on how the Sea Services will prevail in day-to-day competition, crisis, and conflict during the next decade. The services must deepen naval integration, aggressively pursue force modernization, and continue robust cooperation with allies and partners. “Our integrated Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard must maintain clear-eyed resolve to compete with, deter, and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries while we accelerate development of a modernized, integrated all-domain naval force for the future,” wrote Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Michael M. Gilday, Marine Corps Commandant General David H. Berger, and Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz in the strategy’s foreword.
Advantage at Sea focuses principally on China and Russia in response to their increasing maritime aggressiveness, demonstrated intent to dominate key international waters, and clear desire to remake the international order in their favor. It notes, “China’s and Russia’s revisionist approaches in the maritime environment threaten U.S. interests, undermine alliances and partnerships, and degrade the free and open international order.” The strategy recognizes the maritime domain is integral not only to U.S. security and prosperity, but also to those of all nations, including China and Russia. Oceans connect global markets, contain essential resources, and link societies and commerce.
The services must pursue an agile and aggressive approach to force modernization and experimentation, Advantage at Sea continues. The future fleet will combine legacy assets with smaller ships, lighter amphibious ships, modernized aircraft, expanded logistics, resilient space capabilities, and optionally manned and unmanned platforms.
Greater naval integration will be seen in warfighter training and education; information capabilities and networks; plans, exercises, and experiments; analyses and wargaming; investments and innovation; and force design. Advantage at Sea also underscores that the Sea Services will collaborate with allies and partners to build capability, enhance interoperability, and generate unity of effort. Alongside allies and partners, the services will establish sea denial and sea control where and when needed, project power, and hold critical adversary targets at risk.
Freedom of Navigation Operations Increase
In fiscal year (FY) 2020, the United States challenged the excessive maritime claims of 19 claimants. In the western Pacific, “according to U.S. Navy data, warships maneuvered close to artificial islands claimed and developed by China 10 times in 2019 and another 10 times last year, at least double the annual number going back to 2014. And Navy ships sailed through the Taiwan Strait 13 times in 2020, the highest number of transits in at least 14 years.”1 In the first three months of 2021, the Navy conducted two freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea, including the USS Russell (DDG-59) circumnavigating the Spratly Islands.
The U.S. Sixth Fleet outlined coordinated FONOPs training exercises in the Black Sea that began in January 2021.2 A Navy statement noted:
Operating alongside the Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and Porter (DDG-78), two Turkish frigates, the TCG Oruçreis (F-245) and TCG Turgutreis (F-241), and two Turkish F-16 fighters, the Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 Grey Knights participated in their first joint air and maritime training mission in the Black Sea. These operations with Turkish naval forces serve to fortify the importance and unique benefit of the maritime alliance with our NATO partners.
The U.S. warships and aircraft joined the Turkish maritime forces in an integrated surface, air, and subsurface warfare exercise. The objective was to enhance the tactical proficiency of the ships and aircraft through precision command, control, and communication and to support freedom of navigation.
In May, three Navy ships entered the Barents Sea off Russia’s northwestern Arctic coast—the first time U.S. warships had operated in the area since the 1980s. They conducted maritime security operations and asserted freedom of navigation rights.3 Although the Barents Sea is international waters, it is Russia’s “naval backyard.” The Northern Fleet, the heart of the Russian Navy, is in Severomorsk, on a bay off the Barents Sea. The Russian Defense Ministry noted that the U.S. destroyers that entered the sea—the USS Porter, Donald Cook, and Roosevelt (DDG-80)—were armed with missile-defense systems. They were joined by a U.S. underway replenishment ship and a U.K. frigate, HMS Kent, and all five participated in antisubmarine exercises in the Arctic.
In mid-September, the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) became at least the third U.S. warship to conduct a FONOP near Venezuela. The U.S. Southern Command stated that the operation challenged Venezuela’s claims to waters that extend three miles beyond its lawful territorial rights. The USS Pickney (DDG-91) and Nitze (DDG-94) also supported the Venezuela FONOPs last year.
COVID and the Fleet
As of April 2021, more than 550,000 Americans had died from COVID-19. Department of Defense (DoD) records show that this includes 288 people connected to the department, 24 of whom were service members.4 February was a particularly bad month for the Navy, with five uniformed and civilian deaths, the most in a single month. Despite these grim statistics, Pentagon officials reported that nearly a third of service members offered the COVID-19 vaccine refused to take it.
On 24 March 2020, the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), under the command of Captain Brett Crozier and with Strike Group Commander Rear Admiral Stuart Baker and his staff embarked, departed Da Nang, Vietnam, headed to Guam. Within a day, tests confirmed that the carrier had coronavirus-infected sailors. One hundred fourteen sailors soon tested positive. Ultimately, 1,273 sailors among the 4,865 embarked contracted the virus—26 percent of the crew—including one who died from complications.
In a 30 March letter leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, Crozier bluntly asked Navy leaders to accelerate the removal of most of his 5,000 sailors from the carrier to facilities on Guam to stop the spread. Crozier also asked that his sailors be moved from communal facilities ashore to individual housing to conform with COVID-19 safety guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly fired Crozier on 2 April and, in June, that decision was upheld after two subsequent investigations. Modly also became a casualty of the event, resiging a day after he made controversial remarks to the carrier’s crew about their fired captain.
Nearly a year later, the Pentagon’s Inspector General released a much-redacted copy of its February 2021 assessment of whether the Navy had policies and procedures in place to control outbreaks of contagious diseases on board ships and submarines prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how well the service followed those measures.5 While the inspector general faulted some Navy commands for not holding required biennial exercises before the crisis began, the report places most of the blame for the deadly outbreak on board the Theodore Roosevelt on the ship’s leaders.
Captain Carlos Sardiello, who relieved Crozier as Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer, believed revised procedures and processes would identify and contain the virus.6 Those procedures included constant “bleachapalooza” disinfections of the ship and requiring each sailor to wear a mask and fill out a daily questionnaire to help identify flu-like symptoms and contain any possible infections aboard the ship.
Fire on Bonhomme Richard
A fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, started the morning of 12 July 2020 in an area above where Marine Corps vehicles are usually stored. The fire quickly spread to the ship’s hangar deck, where it consumed most of the upper decks and raged for five days. Navy officials said temperatures reached 1,200 degrees Farenheit.
More than 400 sailors from 16 San Diego–based Navy ships, helicopter crews from Naval Air Station North Island, Coast Guard maritime-disaster responders, and local and federal firefighters battled the five-day conflagration. Emergency medical teams at a local hospital treated more than 60 sailors and civilians for non-life-threatening injuries. Shortly after the incident, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) identified a Bonhomme Richard sailor as an arson suspect.7 (As of 12 April 2021, the sailor had not been identified in open sources.)
In a letter to Navy admirals and master chiefs, Admiral Gilday reported the fire caused extensive damage to the ship:
• There is fire and water damage, to varying degrees, on 11 of 14 decks. With the flight deck as a reference, I walked sections of the ship 5 levels below and had the opportunity to examine the superstructure.
• The island is nearly gutted, as are sections of some of the decks below; some perhaps nearly encompassing the 844-foot length and 106-foot beam of the ship ([Naval Sea System Command’s] detailed assessment is ongoing). Sections of the flight deck are warped/bulging.
• The explosions, some were intense, and the uncertainty of their location and timing, led to a situation that might have been under control late Sunday night, but expanded into a mass conflagration, spreading quickly up elevator shafts, engine exhaust stacks, and through berthing and other compartments where combustible material was present.8
About 60 percent of the ship was ruined and would have had to be rebuilt or replaced, Rear Admiral Eric Ver Hage, the commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Center and director of surface ship maintenance and modernization, told reporters in a 30 November 2020 phone call, according to USNI News.
After several reviews, the Navy concluded the cost to restore LHD-6 for full-spectrum amphibious-assault operations could exceed $3.2 billion and take as long as seven years, while netting a new service life of only about 15 years. A new-construction amphibious assault ship would cost approximately $4 billion, but also would bring a 45-year service life. The Navy examined rebuilding the ship for other, less-demanding missions—e.g., antisubmarine warfare and a hospital ship—and estimated the cost could have exceeded $1 billion. The service instead began an inactivation availability in April 2021 (expected to cost $30 million) to cannibalize systems and components for other ships and to ready the ship for scrapping.
Fire safety and prevention remain critical. “Since July, the Navy [has] taken numerous actions designed to provide immediate fire safety and prevention improvements across the fleet,” a Navy press release outlined. “Working collaboratively, the fleet commanders established a Fire Safety Assessment Program to conduct random assessments of ship’s compliance with Navy fire-safety regulations, with a priority on ships undergoing maintenance availabilities.”9
Navy Shipbuilding: Flank Speed
Navy and private shipbuilders, shipyards, and workers confronted the unprecedented dangers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. With ramped-up testing, strong safety protocols, and expedited funding to industry, the Navy kept shipbuilding on track—an unqualified success. No Navy shipbuilding program’s schedules or costs were seriously impacted. Service leaders attribute the success to wartime planning drills and discussions that were under way before COVID-19 struck.
“It has been fairly remarkable that we have not slowed down; in fact our operations are at an all-time high. We’ve never shut down a shipyard—private or public—for a day during COVID,” James Guerts, then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, said last December. “Our focus now is taking all the hard lessons we’ve learned from the terrible challenges of COVID, how we continued to operate through that.”10
Developments across several high-visibility shipbuilding programs during the past year include:
Aircraft Carriers. The Navy made substantial progress in getting the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) through its 18-month post-delivery test and trials. The Ford operated on an alternating schedule of a month at sea performing all types of increasingly taxing tests, followed by a month in port for shore-based testing of combat and other systems, all while serving as the primary East Coast carrier qualification platform for fleet aviators.
Rear Admiral John Meier, Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic, and Rear Admiral Craig Clapperton, Commander Carrier Strike Group 12, wrote,
In November, Ford was at sea with her entire Carrier Strike Group (CSG) for integrated operations. During this underway, CSG-12, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron Two and elements from the group’s air and missile defense and information warfare teams conducted operations consistent with a CSG’s predeployment training cycles. . . . Ford was averaging about 50 sorties per day, with a partial air wing of roughly 35 aircraft flying, approximately 50 percent of a fully outfitted air wing, using Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) with great success.11
The Navy also achieved significant success in getting the Ford’s new advanced weapons elevators (AWEs) tested and declared operational. “The weapons elevators are on schedule and on track to support full ship shock trials in 2021,” said Rear Admiral James Downey, Program Executive Officer (PEO) for carriers. Downey explained the teaming between the ship’s crew and industry to solve AWE issues was pivotal to this good-news story.12
The size and shape of the carrier fleet was once again under scrutiny. The Battle Force 2045 plan, released in October 2020, called for a study of light carriers (CVLs), as well as other naval vessels.13 Perhaps as many as six CVLs in the future fleet mix could complement a force of 12 nuclear-powered large-deck carriers (the current number is 11). This is not a new debate. A gaggle of future carrier studies since the early 1960s have wrestled with the “big vs. little” and “nuclear vs. oil-fired” dilemmas. “Big and nuclear,” sometimes complemented by amphibious strike warships, seems to have been where to place bets, at least since 1975.
The Columbia-class Ballistic-missile Submarines. In November, the Navy awarded to General Dynamics Electric Boat a $9.47 billion construction contract for the first of the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs). The contract also provided advanced procurement for the second submarine, the future Wisconsin. The 10-boat Columbia-class will replace the 12-boat Ohio class. Probably no shipbuilding program in the history of the Navy carries more import than Columbia. The future of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent depends on its being ready for operational deployment in 2031 and her sister SSBNs following in tight succession.
“Now it’s really about execution,” said Geurts. “The design and maturity of this program surpasses any other submarine we have ever done.” But for the Columbia to be successful, it is more than just the construction of each individual boat. “That’s necessary, but not sufficient. We’ve got to make sure the enterprise is ready to execute the full scope of the program so that we can meet the requirements for the nation.”14
But a January 2021 Government Accountability Office report estimated Electric Boat is already behind schedule on the Columbia, in part because of issues with a new computer-aided design tool. The tool was supposed to speed work by reducing inefficiencies, but “persistent problems” have generated schedule delays and cost increases.15
The Constellation-class Frigates. Following a year-long competition among four different industry teams vying to build the Navy’s next frigate, the service picked Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) in April to design and build its future small surface warship. The design is based on Fincantieri’s well-established FREMM design, operated by the Italian and French navies. The Navy awarded FMM a $795 million contract for the detailed design and construction of the ship; the award also includes options for ten frigates.16 Navy plans call for 20 frigates in total, with the second tranche to be competed with a second shipyard.
Navy officials have been adamant that the Constellation-class remains on budget and schedule. The Navy projects lead-ship delivery in 2026 at a cost of $1.28 billion, with follow-on ships costing between $800 million to $950 million in FY2018 dollars. The Congressional Budget Office questioned the Navy’s cost estimates and generated an independent estimate that each frigate would total no less than $1.2 billion per hull.17
Littoral Combat Ships. The checkered history of the littoral combat ship (LCS) program was strikingly evident in 2020. Construction of the Freedom monohull and Independence trimaran variants continued apace, with all 35 ships either delivered to the fleet, in construction, or under contract. Operationally, in 2020 the Navy deployed four LCS vessels: the Montgomery (LCS-8) and Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) to the western Pacific, and the Detroit (LCS-7) and Little Rock (LCS-9) to the Caribbean. The Gabrielle Giffords deployed for 18 months and carried the new Naval Strike Missile, which offers the LCS an over-the-horizon strike capability. Conducting FONOPs missions in the South China Sea, the Gabrielle Giffords protected a Panamanian-flagged drilling-ship from Chinese threats.18
The LCS narrative turned negative when a series of engineering issues struck the Detroit and Little Rock during their Fourth Fleet deployment. Investigations determined the issues were rooted in the complex combining gear that transfers power between the ship’s diesel and gas-turbine engines. The Navy classified the issue as a “latent defect” affecting all Freedom-variant ships and stopped delivery of LCS-19 and LCS-21 from Lockheed and FMM. The German firm Renk AG builds the combining gears and noted that repairs will be complex and take each Freedom variant out of commission for months.
“Now that the root cause of the defect has been determined, our priority is to build and test the fix as soon as possible and to get that fix installed on in-service ships with the least operational disruption possible to the Fleet, and to ensure new construction Freedom-variant hulls are corrected prior to delivery,” said Rear Admiral Casey Moton, head of the
Navy’s Program Executive Office (PEO) for Unmanned and Small Combatants.19
In addition, the CNO stood up an LCS Strike Team to improve overall reliability and operational availability. And a separate LCS study is under way at Surface Forces Pacific, which is taking a more holistic review of the LCS. “There are things in the near term that I have to deliver, that I’m putting heat on now, and one of them is LCS,” Admiral Gilday said. “One part is sustainability and reliability. We know enough about that platform and the problems that we have that plague us with regard to reliability and sustainability, and I need them resolved.”20
Navy Unmanned at a Crossroad
Congress sent the Navy a powerful signal in 2020: Issues with the service’s plans for unmanned systems development, particularly with the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV), raise serious concerns that must be addressed before pushing ahead.
Congress cut $341 million from the Navy’s FY21 budget request of $579.9 million to fund large unmanned systems and their enabling technologies—a 60 percent reduction.21 Congress also imposed strict new guidelines on the Navy regarding unmanned maritime systems. These include: designating a Navy PEO responsible for autonomy; requiring the development of a full-fledged land-based engineering test site for unmanned systems; tightening restrictions on the integrated testing of weapons from unmanned surface vessels (USVs); and directing the Navy to complete an analysis of alternatives on other types of vessels that can meet these missions.
“We fully support the move toward unmanned, whether that’s on the surface or undersea” said Representative Joseph Courtney, chairman of the House Seapower subcommittee. “But we want to make sure . . . the real nuts-and-bolts issues . . . are worked out before we start building large, unmanned platforms.”22 Congress fears that LUSV will be a repeat of the problems that have dogged several Navy warship acquisition programs, which drove Congress to apply the brakes on LUSV.
The congressional legislative direction and severe funding cuts stand in stark contrast to the Battle Force 2045 plan that former-Defense Secretary Mark Esper unveiled last October. The plan called for a future Navy with 140–240 unmanned platforms of all types.23 Similar numbers of unmanned systems have also been recommended in other think-tank studies on future Navy force structures.
The Navy’s strategy is built on a family of systems approach for both USVs and unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs). Under this acquisition approach, the Navy has increased investment in multiple types of both USV and UUV developmental efforts. Boeing has already been awarded a contract to build the first tranche of Orca Extra Large UUVs, based on their Echo Voyager prototype, whose mission is to self-deploy for months at a time conducting surveillance and clandestine weapons delivery. A team led by L3/Harris was chosen in July 2020 to build the Medium USV, displacing about 500 tons, that will be outfitted with various sensor packages to conduct electronic warfare and early warning missions.
The Navy also awarded Large USV study contracts to six industry teams in early September: Huntington-Ingalls; Bollinger; Austal USA; Lockheed Martin; Gibbs & Cox; and Fincantieri Marinette Marine. The studies “will allow the Navy to harvest the learning from our land- and sea-based prototyping efforts and work directly with industry to refine the requirements for an affordable, reliable, and effective Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV) and reduce risk for a future design and construction competition,” said Captain Pete Small, program manager for unmanned maritime systems.24
Displacing about 1,000 to 2,000 tons, the LUSV’s projected mission is to serve as an adjunct missile magazine to the Navy’s manned fleet of cruisers and destroyers, supplementing their onboard missile inventory. LUSVs will operate a version of the Aegis combat system, and any firing decision will still be controlled by manned warships, Navy officials maintain. It will be designed to operate for up to 30 days at sea and accommodate a small number of personnel for security and possibly to perform some maintenance.
While Congress is putting the brakes on funding, the Navy is still pressing ahead with a robust experimentation schedule using its growing fleet of unmanned vessels. The Sea Hunter is now operating with the Surface Warfare Development Squadron in San Diego and has engaged with carrier strike groups during their deployment work-up phases. A second USV, the Ranger, funded by the Pentagon’s Special Capabilities Office (SCO), also is operating there after making a remarkable 4,700–nautical mile transit from the Gulf Coast to California, during which more than 97 percent of the trip was in autonomous mode. Two more USVs, the Sea Hawk and the Nomad, will be operational before the end of 2021, allowing the Surface Warfare Development Squadron to rapidly increase the experimentation tempo.
A Missile-defense Milestone
On 16 November 2020, the Missile Defense Agency intercepted a cross-Pacific intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on the first attempt. The Department of Defense reported that “the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and U.S. Navy sailors aboard an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System–equipped destroyer intercepted and destroyed a threat-representative [ICBM] target with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA [RIM-161] missile during a flight test demonstration in the broad ocean area northeast of Hawaii, Nov. 16.”25 The successful test marked the first time a target ICBM had been intercepted by a ship-launched interceptor missile. “This was an incredible accomplishment and critical milestone for the Aegis BMD SM-3 Block IIA program,” said MDA Director Vice Admiral Jon Hill.26
The target ICBM, launched from Kwajalein Atoll, traveled thousands of miles before being destroyed between Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast. The Aegis BMD guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) used engage-on-remote capabilities through the Command and Control Battle Management Communications (C2BMC) network—an array of sensor and C2 systems designed to detect and monitor any incoming missile attack on the United States. After receiving tracking data from the C2BMC system, the John Finn launched an SM-3 Block IIA surface-to-space guided missile, and its kinetic kill vehicle destroyed the target.
The successful missile test shows that another layer of missile defense could counter North Korea’s growing long-range missile inventory. In October, Pyongyang displayed what looks to be the world’s largest mobile-launched ICBM, one that could threaten the U.S. homeland. “The Department is investigating the possibility of augmenting the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by fielding additional sensors and weapon systems to hedge against unexpected developments in the missile threat,” Hill noted.
The successful intercept was designated Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-44 (FTM-44) and was the sixth flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA from a Navy ship. This test more than satisfied a congressional mandate to evaluate the feasibility of the SM-3 Block IIA to defeat an ICBM threat before the end of 2020. The Block IIA was originally designed and built for the intermediate-range ballistic missile threat. This achievement dramatically expands the BMD battle space against global missile threats.
The SM-3 Block IIA is the Navy’s exoatmospheric ballistic-missile-defense interceptor. An evolution of the Standard Missile family, it is a four-stage, 21-inch-diameter rocket launched from the Aegis Weapon System vertical launch system from ships or ashore. The fourth-stage kinetic warhead’s integrated propulsion, long-wave infrared seeker, and guidance and control system enable it to acquire, track, discriminate, divert, and intercept a ballistic missile outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The SM-3 uses hit-to-kill technology—releasing more than 130 megajoules of kinetic energy—to destroy incoming warheads during the threat’s mid-course phase of flight.
The United States and Japan have cooperated in developing technologies for the Block IIA system, an Aegis collaboration started in 1984 and the foundation of an expanding Aegis global enterprise in 2021—multimission interoperability across naval warfare domains on some 120 warships, in ten ship classes from seven countries.
1. “DoD Releases Fiscal Year Freedom of Navigation Report,” Department of Defense News, 10 March 2021.
2. “VP-46 Coordinated Operations in the Black Sea,” U.S. Navy Press Office, VP-46 Public Affairs, 9 March 2021; “U.S. Navy and Turkish Navy Conduct Joint Exercises in the Black Sea,” U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, 9 February 2021.
3. Matthew Bodner, “U.S. Navy Ships Operate in Russia’s Barents Sea for First Time Since 1980s,” NBC News, 4 May 2020.
4. U.S. Navy COVID-19 Updates: The U.S. Navy’s Response, Weekly Updates; Rebecca Kheel, “Navy Sailor in Virginia Dies of COVID-19,” The Hill, 24 February 2021; and Jeff Schogol, “The Navy Has Lost More Sailors to COVID-19 in February  than in All of 2020,” Task & Purpose, 24 February 2021.
5. Department of Defense Inspector General, “Evaluation of the Navy’s Plans and Response to the Coronavirus Disease—2019 Onboard Navy Warships and Submarines,” Memorandum for the Navy Auditor General, 11 May 2020; Jeff Schogol, “The Pentagon Throws Navy Captain Brett Crozier Under the Bus One Last Time,” Task & Purpose, 9 February 2021.
6. Luis Martinez, “USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain Confident Ship Can Deal with New COVID-19 Cases,” ABC News, 23 May 2020.
7. Julie Watson and Lolita C. Baldor, “Arson Expected as Cause of USS Bonhomme Richard Fire,” Military.com, 27 August 2020.
8. David B. Larter, “US Navy’s Top Officer Reveals Grim New Details of the Damage to Bonhomme Richard,” Defense News, 22 July 2020.
9. “Navy to Decommission USS Bonhomme Richard,” Navy Press Office, 30 November 2020.
10. John Doyle, “Geurts: Ramping Up for Wartime Demands Increased Shipyard Efficiency during COVID Siege,” Seapower, 17 December 2020.
11. RADMs John Meier and Craig Clapperton, USN, “Opinion: Cutting-edge USS Ford Cruising Toward Certification,” Virginia Pilot, 2 February 2021.
12. Chris Cavas, “Carrier Ford Test Program on Track Despite COVID 19,” Defense & Aerospace Report, 22 April 2020; also see Ronald O’Rourke, “Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, 17 March 2021.
13. “Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels,” Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities OPNAV N9), 9 December 2020; see also Meghan Eckstein, “SECDEF Esper Calls for 500-Ship Fleet by 2045, With 3 SSNs a Year and Light Carriers Supplementing CVNs,” USNI News, 6 October 2020.
14. David Larter, “U.S. Navy Inks $9.4B Contract for Two Columbia-class Nuclear Missile Submarines,” Defense News, 5 November 2020.
15. Government Accountability Office, “Columbia-class Submarine: Delivery Hinges on Timely and Quality Materials from an Atrophied Supplier Base,” January 2021.
16. Michael Fabey, “U.S. Navy Awards Fincantieri Marinette Marine FFGX Detail Design and Construction Contract,” Jane’s Navy International, 1 May 2020.
17. David Larter, “U.S. Navy’s Cost Estimate for New Frigate Won’t Hold Water, Predicts Government Analyst,” Defense News, 14 October 2020.
18. LT Lauren Chatmus, USN, “U.S. Navy Maintains Persistent Presence near West Capella,” U.S. Pacific Fleet press release, 12 May 2020.
19. Paul McLeary, “Navy Sticks with LCS Despite Engine Troubles: Lockheed Races to Make Fixes,” Breaking Defense, 26 January 2021.
20. David Larter, “The U.S. Navy Is Investigating a Potential LCS Class-wide Design Flaw,” Defense News, 15 December 2020.
21. Ronald O’Rourke, “Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, 21 February 2021.
22. David Larter, “Unclear on Unmanned: The Navy’s Plans for Unmanned Are on the Rocks,” Defense News, 10 January 2021.
23. Paul McLeary, “Esper Outlines New Navy, But Big Questions Remain,” Breaking Defense, 6 October 2020.
24. Justin Katz, “Navy Contract Awards Reveal Six Top Contenders for LUSV,” Inside the Navy, 8 September 2020.
25. Department of Defense, “U.S. Successfully Conducts SM-3 Block IIA Intercept Test against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Target,” 17 November 2020.
26. Luis Martinez, “U.S. Successfully Intercepts ICBM with Ship-Launched Missile in Historic Test,” ABC News, 17 November 2020.