Monthly Archives: June 2013

US – Former Navy leader Adm. Frank Kelso dies in Norfolk

Adm. Frank Kelso, who died Sunday, was chief of naval operations from 1990 to 1994.

Adm. Frank Kelso, who died Sunday, was chief of naval operations from 1990 to 1994.

In the place where he was born and where he retired, he was known as a hometown hero who made it all the way to chief of naval operations, influenced men of power and maintained the humility of an ordinary guy next door.

In Norfolk, where he served pivotal years in his 38-year career, Adm. Frank Kelso was a senior regional commander who helped run operations at the end of the Cold War and during heated years in the Middle East before being tapped to run the entire Navy.

Kelso, 79, died Sunday after suffering a fall, according to Navy officials. He was in Hampton Roads visiting his son Robert, a Navy captain who was chief of staff of Navy Cyber Forces until this year. Kelso attended the high school graduation of his grandson, Robbie Kelso, who, following in his grandfather’s footsteps, will go to the Naval Academy in the fall.

“As CNO, he led our Navy through the Gulf War and the uncharted early days of the post-Cold War era with skills and dedication,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement. “Adm. Kelso was a submariner, an accomplished commander and an unmatched leader known for his intelligence and integrity.”

Kelso spent nearly four decades building a career from his days as a submariner to his place at the Navy’s helm. He led forces in strikes against Libya, helped rescue hostages of Palestinian hijackers, and oversaw a difficult drawdown of the Navy at the end of the Cold War. During that period, he realigned the Navy to work more closely with the other services.

But he told a historian that despite his career of nearly four decades, he feared his name would always be tied to the 1991 Tailhook scandal, in which dozens of women were sexually assaulted during a convention of Navy and Marine Corps aviation officers in Las Vegas.

“He lamented… that for many people, that may be the only thing people will remember about him – and he did so much,” said Paul Stillwell, who conducted 37 hours of oral interviews with Kelso as the director of the U.S. Naval Institute’s history division.

The scandal marked the end of numerous officer careers and ultimately led Kelso to retire early. He said he had become “a lightning rod” and hoped his stepping down would shift the focus forward.

Kelso was accused of witnessing abusive acts and turning a blind eye, something he vehemently denied, Stillwell said.

“My assessment was that was not something he would stand for, nor would he lie about it,” Stillwell said. “He was just an individual for whom I had great admiration. He was unpretentious, down to earth, and for someone who accomplished as much as he did, that was very refreshing.”

Kelso’s two sons both served in the Navy, and two weeks ago he attended the graduation of a grandson who is headed into the Navy.

Kelso led the Navy’s 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea during the 1980s, leading the operation to capture hijackers of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and the subsequent air strikes on Libya in response to state-sponsored terrorism.

He served in Norfolk from 1986 until 1990, first as commander in chief of the Atlantic Fleet and then as NATO’s supreme allied commander, Atlantic and as commander in chief of U.S. Atlantic Command.

Retired Vice Adm. Robert Dunn, who commanded Naval Air Force Atlantic in those years, said he never saw Kelso fall short of his duties as a leader.

“He always had a kind word for everyone,” Dunn said. “Good people just naturally flocked to him.”

Kelso became chief of naval operations in 1990 and served until his retirement in 1994. He oversaw the Navy in the Gulf War even as he managed severe budget cuts. Kelso realigned the Navy to meet new, tighter demands. He also supported the integration of women into more wide-ranging roles and command, particularly in the wake of Tailhook.

In Fayetteville, Tenn., where Kelso is to be buried Saturday, businesses lowered flags to half-staff for a man described as a lifelong friend and active community leader, said Ann Hatcher, associate pastor at the First United Methodist Church.

“He was a remarkable man and what has always impressed me so much about him was his humility,” said Hatcher, who knew Kelso from the time she was a young girl.

“He was probably the most important person I would ever meet in my lifetime, but it was never about him. It was always about someone else.”

Source – PilotOnline.com

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Russian submarines heading to NZ waters

The Russians are coming, again, in submarines to waters near New Zealand.

The state-run Itar-Tass agency says Russia will send submarines armed with nuclear ballistic missiles to the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean.

“The revival of nuclear-submarine patrols will allow us to fulfil the tasks of strategic deterrence not only across the North Pole but also the South Pole,” an unnamed official in the military General Staff was quoted as saying.

Given that the South Pole is 1500 kilometres from the sea, it suggests the new Borei-class submarines, with 16 long-range nuclear missiles, might end up in the Ross Sea.

“As the Russian Navy receive the Borei-class missile submarines, they will not only continue to patrol the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but will resume execution of combat missions in those regions of the world’s ocean, where in the late 90s of the last century used to be the Soviet Navy, and where they have ceased to appear following the collapse of the Soviet Union,” the report said.

It echoes the Soviet days and in 1982, when a Russian submarine was photographed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force east of New Zealand.

The air force still has submarine-hunting capacity in the form of its six P3 Orions, but it seldom practises finding them now.

In 1972, the navy was ordered to sea as intelligence suggested a Soviet submarine was near New Zealand.

Several ships and the air force were well out to sea when they heard, on what was then the NZBC, that a Soviet hydrographic submarine had docked in Suva that morning.

Just before Christmas in 1982, the diesel-powered Soviet Foxtrot submarine Regul was spotted on the surface near Tahiti sailing with a research vessel.

It continued towards the South Island and was last seen near the Chatham Islands. The Soviets said they were doing oceanographic work.

Three years later, there were headlines and claims that the French submarine Rubis was in the Waitemata Harbour, supporting the agents bombing the Rainbow Warrior. It was never proved.

German and Japanese submarines operated near New Zealand during World War II.

U862 captain Heinrich Timm claimed later that while they were off Hawke’s Bay, crew landed to get fresh milk from the dairy herd they saw.

In the 1870s, New Zealand built 17 harbour forts around the country, fearing that Tsarist Russia, in the wake of the Crimean War, might invade. It was never clear why it wanted Auckland.

Source – Stuff.co.nz

Plymouth Submariner surfaces to collect MBE

A MARINE Engineering Officer who had the “relentless” task of keeping a nuclear submarine at sea for 11 months has been awarded an MBE.

Lieutenant Commander Andy Sharp was deployed aboard HMS Triumph in 2011 and 2012 when the boat was sent to the Gulf and Libya.

Lieutenant Commander Andy Sharp was deployed aboard HMS Triumph in 2011 and 2012 when the boat was sent to the Gulf and Libya.

 

Servicemean Andy Sharp receives his MBE, accompanied by his fiancee Kay Talbot

The 45-year-old regularly faced repairing the ageing Trafalgar-Class boat but each and every time ensured HMS Triumph and her crew remained tightly on schedule.

The citation explained how the boat remained on station for Operations Ellamy and Unified Protector for more than 100 days providing vital intelligence to NATO and as the UK’s strategic strike capability.​

mbe

It continued: “Throughout that time Andy led his department with selfless dedication, tenacity and resourcefulness as they kept the submarine in a first class state of repair through what was, at the time, the longest ever operational SSN deployment.

“By the time she returned to the UK, HMS Triumph had spent over 14 of the previous months away from home and that achievement was due in no small part to Andy.”

Commander Rob Dunn, the Commanding Officer of HMS Triumph at the time, said: “Too often in the past what submariners have done has been out of sight and therefore out of mind. But the challenges faced by my engineers in keeping Triumph ready for operations was immense and I was delighted to see Andy, along with several other members of my crew, recognised in the Operational Awards.”

Also to be recognised in the Operational Honours with a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service was Warrant Officer 2 Alasdair McCall who supported Andy throughout the deployment.

Andy said: “It was a brilliant day, it was presented by the Queen. She said congratulations and asked me if I was busy last year because of the award.”

He said the MBE represented the hard work of an “excellent team”.

The Lt Cdr was presented his MBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace with his fiancee Kay Talbot and children Danny and Kirsty.

His son Danny, a Royal Navy Air Engineering Technician, was flown off HMS Illustrious especially for the occasion.

Source – ThisisPlymouth

Canada’s submarine fleet needs to start from scratch

 

By the time Canada's submarines are ready for duty, they'll be due for retirement.

By the time Canada’s submarines are ready for duty, they’ll be due for retirement.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay blames the Liberals for Canada’s troubled fleet of second-hand Victoria-class submarines. It was the Liberals who purchased the four British-made vessels for the suspiciously low price of $750-million in 1998. Yet it was none other than MacKay himself who, 10 years later, persuaded his Conservative colleagues not to scrap them. It was MacKay who signed taxpayers up for another $1.5-billion worth of refits and repairs, thereby throwing good money after bad.

It was apparent long before 2008 that the submarines were deeply flawed. The diesel engines were designed for railroad locomotives and not the rapid stops and starts required of submarines. There were defects in the torpedo tubes, making it possible for both the inner and outer doors to be open at the same time, even while the subs were submerged. The subs were mothballed in saltwater for four years before Canada bought them, and years more before we took possession. They suffered serious corrosion — the diving depth of HMCS Windsor is now restricted due to rust damage on the hull.

Shortly after Canada took possession, 1,500 litres of saltwater spilled into HMCS Corner Brook because of a malfunctioning Submerged Signal Ejector — a device that is used to deploy decoys while submerged. HMCS Victoria experienced serious problems with its cooling system. And a deadly fire broke out on HMCS Chicoutimi when seawater entering through an open hatch caused an electrical short in wiring that had just one layer of waterproof sealant, instead of the three layers the construction specifications had required. In 2004, the electrical system on Victoria was destroyed when the submarine was hooked up to an on-shore electric supply. The Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that the Navy spent about $200,000 after the accident “to buy old technology that mirrors what the sub’s British builders used” – equipment that one of the Navy’s own “electrical technologists” said “probably goes back to the ‘60s.”

In 2007, Windsor entered a refit that was supposed to take three years but ended up taking six. Documents obtained by the CBC later explained that every system had major problems. Spare parts are also difficult to obtain.

It was in this context that MacKay pushed for the $1.5-billion refit and repair contract, a move rendered all the more perplexing by the fact that, by 2008, the submarines were already between 15-19 years old. This meant that the most one could hope for from the vessels, after their refits, was a single decade of service.

Chicoutimi has been out of the water since the fire in 2004, and will remain in dry dock until at least the end of this year

Which is not very long when you consider that, for the same amount of money, Canada could have procured between 3-4 brand new diesel-electric submarines based on proven designs from France or Germany.

Today, five years after the $1.5-billion contract, MacKay insists the situation is improving. Which is true, if going from horrendous to bad counts as an improvement. Corner Brook was damaged in an accident in 2011 and put out of action until 2012. It is scheduled to return to dry dock for three years in 2014. In December 2012, a defect was discovered in one of Windsor’s two diesel engines, which resulted in the submarine having to operate on just one engine. This put the sub on limited duty. She will be taken out of service later this year so that the engine can be replaced. Chicoutimi has been out of the water since the fire in 2004, and will remain in dry dock until at least the end of this year. Victoria, which emerged from six years in dry dock in 2011, is scheduled to return there for three years in 2016.

According to the Department of National Defence, Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines have accumulated a total of just 1,131 days at sea in the decade since 2003 — about 30 days per submarine per year. It’s time to stop throwing good money after bad. If Canada wants to maintain this capability, we need to start from scratch.

Source – National Post

DECISION ON NEW BARROW BUILT SUBMARINES ‘MUST NOT BE DELAYED’

EXTENDING the life of Barrow-built nuclear submarines would not be safe, a top politician has claimed.

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Defence secretary Phillip Hammond made the admission in response to a parliamentary question asked by Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock.

There have been fears that the government’s Trident Alternative Review could recommend a further delay in bringing in new submarines, a move that would risk leaving a gap in the order book at Barrow shipyard.

The coalition government has already ordered a four-year delay to the in-service date of the successor deterrent boats, meaning that the existing Vanguard class vessels will have served for a record 35 years before they retire.

Following a question from Mr Woodcock in the House of Com mons, Mr Hammond confirmed the life of the hulls of the Vanguard submarine fleet cannot safely be extended beyond their latest retirement date, which for Vanguard – the oldest of the boats – is 2028.

Mr Hammond said: “We have already extended the life of the Vanguard class once and it is not judged possible or safe to extend it further.”

Speaking after receiving the response, Mr Woodcock said: “This clear view from the MoD that it would be unsafe to further extend the life of Vanguard should knock on the head any idea the government could put yet another delay into the build programme at Barrow.

“Aside from the extra cost and disruption that another delay would cause, we cannot countenance asking the sailors who bravely provide Britain’s nuclear deterrent to serve in life-expired, potentially unsafe hulls.

“By 2028, the Vanguards will have done good service, but the time will have come to provide the country’s vital deterrent with new submarines rather than spend huge amounts of money to extend the life of Vanguard still further, simply so we can again postpone the urgent decision on new boats.”

Source – North West Evening Mail

US – Two submarines on deck at Electic Boat

Submitted photo courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat
The first module for the future USS Illinois, the 13th member of the Virginia class, arrives at Electric Boat in Groton by barge from EB’s Quonset Point facility Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
For first time in decade, shipyard builds two boats at once

 

Groton — For the first time in a decade, Electric Boat is simultaneously working on two submarines in its main building shed.

The first module for the future USS Illinois, the 13th member of the Virginia class, arrived by barge from EB’s Quonset Point facility Tuesday. It was placed next to the North Dakota, the 11th of the class.

Two submarines have not been side by side in Building 260 since 2003, when EB was building the USS Jimmy Carter and the USS Virginia, the first of the class.

“This is our first step to ramping up in Groton to two boats a year,” said Todd Beardsley, the ship’s manager at EB for the Illinois (SSN 786).

The first module for the follow-on submarine at EB normally arrives after its predecessor is put into the water for the first time. The “float off” for the North Dakota (SSN 784) will not happen until September or October. That submarine is on track for the fastest delivery of the class yet.

“Everything keeps getting earlier and earlier, so we’re ready to go to two boats a year,” Beardsley added.

The Navy began buying two submarines per year in 2011 but the Groton waterfront is where the final assembly and testing of submarines is done, so it is not projected to have a steady workload until 2015. EB is under contract to build the 11th through the 18th ships of the class, with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

About 600 people in Groton and Quonset Point are working on the Illinois. Next year, once all four modules are in Groton, nearly 1,000 people will be working in the yard on the submarine.

The arrival of the first module, in this case, the forward half of the engine room, is a milestone, Beardsley said, because major work on the submarine can now begin in Groton. The next task is to attach the reactor compartment to the 50-foot-long cylindrical module, he said.

Cmdr. Jess Porter, the submarine’s commanding officer, arrived in Groton on Monday to begin assembling the crew. The first group, about 35 people, will spend the next few weeks in school in Schenectady, N.Y., learning how to operate the propulsion plant, Porter said.

Porter said being in command of a new Virginia-class submarine is “a phenomenal opportunity” because the culture for the ship is set in the early stages of construction.

“That culture, in large measure, goes a long way toward building that ship to a viable and powerful platform,” he said.

First Lady Michelle Obama was named sponsor for the submarine last year.

Construction on the Illinois began in March 2011. The submarine is contracted to be delivered to the Navy in 66 months, on Aug. 31, 2016. Beardsley said his goal is to finish earlier in 2016 and to beat whatever record the North Dakota sets when it is delivered in early 2014.

Female officers will begin reporting aboard Virginia-class submarines in January 2015. Porter said that if women are assigned to the Illinois, “my ship will be ready to support that.”

Porter, 46, who is from Pocatello, Idaho, took the USS Missouri through the delivery and commissioning process as that submarine’s executive officer. He spent 12 years as an enlisted nuclear electrician’s mate in the surface fleet before being commissioned as an officer and joining the submarine force. He served on the USS Michigan and the USS Connecticut.

The shipyard is a challenging environment, Porter said, but the crew will come away from it knowing “that ship inside and out.” Porter and Beardsley met for the first time on Wednesday so Porter could see the hull section.

Outside of the bustling building shed, EB’s three graving docks are currently filled with three submarines undergoing repairs. Beardsley, who has worked at EB for 14 years, remembers when the Jimmy Carter and the Virginia were there.

“This is by far the busiest we’ve been since then,” he said.

Source – The Day

ROYAL NAVY SUBMARINER EARNS DOLPHINS THE AMERICAN WAY

Royal Navy Submariner earns dolphins - the American way

A Royal Navy submariner recently received US Navy Submarine Service “dolphins”, making him just the second UK officer to qualify on a US Navy submarine.

It has been a tough process, but getting my US Navy dolphins is one of the highlights of my career and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Lieutenant Matt Main RN

Lieutenant Matt Main has already earned his Royal Navy dolphins – the unique badge which signifies a qualified submariner – but on June 10 he was presented with the US equivalent after a gruelling 27 month training and qualification process.

Matt, a Marine Engineer (Submarines) in the Royal Navy, was presented with the US dolphins by Commander George Perez, Commanding Officer of the USS New Mexico, after his success as part of the US-UK Personnel Exchange Programme.

Fully integrated into the crew of USS New Mexico, Matt is currently the Damage Control Assistant and will become the Assistant Engineer in due course before returning to the Royal Navy.

US Navy submarine officers must qualify both forward and aft to earn their dolphins and so, for Matt, learning to drive the submarine both surfaced and submerged has been a unique experience.

“It is a real privilege to serve on this fine submarine with such a professional, motivated crew,”

said Matt.

“It has been a tough process, but getting my US Navy dolphins is one of the highlights of my career and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

“The welcome I received when I reported on board a year ago was incredibly warm and I am proud to call these men my brothers.”

Commander Perez said:

“After a fast-paced, demanding year of intense operations, Lieutenant Main has earned his gold US dolphins.

“He is fully qualified to stand Officer of the Deck on USS New Mexico and will do so repeatedly over the next year as he assumes an even larger role in the day-to-day operations of the ship.

“When an officer earns his dolphins in the US Navy, it signifies that they have demonstrated, through performance as the Officer of the Deck, a thorough understanding of all aspects of submarine operations.”

Lieutenant Main was presented his dolphins during a ceremony alongside HM Naval Base Clyde. Witnessing events were the crew of USS New Mexico as well as Royal Navy colleagues.

Matt is the second Royal Navy officer to earn US Navy submarine dolphins, with the first, Lieutenant Commander Ralph Coffey, receiving his after serving with USS Providence from 2010-12.

Source – Royal Navy Website