Navy ship plan called ‘pure fantasy’
In unusually sharp language, the chairman of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee — Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss. — faulted Navy officials for offering a 30-year plan that independent analysts warned would leave the Navy short of ships and cash.
“The current shipbuilding plan for the 313-ship fleet is pure fantasy,” Taylor said. “It is totally unaffordable with the resources the Department of Defense allocates to the Navy for ship construction.”
The panel’s ranking Republican — Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland — offered a similar message as he complained of a 25 percent reduction in the number of ships planned for construction from just a year ago.
“I could say ‘Ditto, ditto,’ to the chairman’s statement,” Bartlett said. “I agree completely.”
The bipartisan outburst underscored the growing frustration in Congress with a shipbuilding plan that many people say is unrealistic and almost certain to prove more costly than acknowledged.
Today’s fleet of 279 ships, the smallest since 1917, is projected to grow to 313 — the number that Navy leaders say is the minimum required force.
But the shipbuilding plan wouldn’t produce 313 until at least 2019 — more than a decade from now. And it assumes a dramatic increase in construction money that few people expect will materialize.
Military pay is now on par with civilian
A new Department of Defense study of military compensation finds no pay gap exists today between service members and civilian peers.
But the study, conducted over the last two years, advises defense leaders to adopt a new tool for comparing military and private sector compensation so that service members learn to appreciate the full value of their more favorable package of pay, benefits, allowances and tax breaks.
The military compensation study also calls for changes to key elements of cash compensation:
Housing allowances for people without dependents living off base should be raised in stateside areas as budgets permit, so that over time it covers the full cost of rent and utilities.
Defense pay officials began to close this gap for single members but there’s still a way to go before they no longer face out-of-pocket costs to rent housing of similar size and quality to civilian peers.
Navy suspends DANTES paper-based testing
The Navy has suspended academic testing at its education centers worldwide due to the loss of some of the tests on several installations and ships, Navy officials said.
The suspension affects testing in the Defense Activities for Non-Traditional Education Services program. All paper-based DANTES testing will have to wait or find an alternate testing location.
In an administrative message released to the fleet, the Navy said the suspension is in effect for all Navy commands authorized to administer paper exams. The list of affected tests is extensive, and includes the Scholastic Aptitude Test, General Education Development, College Level Examination Program exams and the Graduate Record Exam.
According to the Chief of Naval Personnel, the Navy administered 10,673 paper-based tests to 6,662 sailors in 2007.
Liberia: U.S. Navy Ship Arrives
Four United States Navy ships are expected to arrive in Liberia Monday at the start of a two week tour. The U.S. Navy ships – the HSV Swift, the USS Ft. McHenry, the USNS Bobo and the USNS Wheat, will be in Liberia’s waters from March 17th – 31st, under the rubric of Africa Partnership Station.
The Executive Mansion quoting a communication from the United States Embassy, says the ships will deliver more than US $3-million worth of medical supplies to the Ministry of Health, JFK Hospital, Redemption Hospital, and the Logan Town Clinic. More than 23 medical, dental, and veterinary professions will offer training and care at various sites near Monrovia during the two week period.
While in the country, the Navy Seabees and other sailors on board the ships will assist in the renovation of selected Liberian schools and clinics. Some Seabees and Marines will provide training to AFL soldiers over the next couple of months. As part of the Africa Partnership Station, a Navy Brass Quintet will be performing at the American Corners in Monrovia, Buchanan, and Kakata.
The visit by the US Navy ships under the Africa Partnership Station is the first in Liberia’s waters.
Cost of new presidential helicopters spiraling higher
In 2002, the White House set out to build a fleet of state-of-the-art Marine One helicopters that would be safer, faster and more reliable than the current iconic aircraft.
Six years later, the cost of the new helicopters has nearly doubled, production has fallen behind schedule and the bulk of the program has been put on hold while the government tries to figure out how to salvage it.
The Pentagon confirmed this month that the cost of the fleet of 28 new super-sophisticated helicopters had jumped from $6.1 billion when the contract was signed in 2005 to $11.2 billion today.
Why the cost has risen so much since the contract was signed with a team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. remains in dispute.
US clauses restrict India from using warship
It seems India has signed away the right to use its second-biggest warship in the event of war.
The Comptroller and Auditor General has slammed the UPA Government for accepting what it terms as “restrictive clauses” in the purchase of the American warship, USS Trenton — now renamed INS Jalashwa.
These clauses forbid the use of the warship for offensive purposes and even allow intrusive on-board inspections by the US.
The Left feels vindicated by the report, and says, “I told you so”.
RSP MP, Abani Roy says, “I don’t know why the Government purchased this warship. I don’t understand who they are trying to satisfy or who is asking them to purchase such things.
Pakistan Navy participates in NATO Naval exercises
Pakistan Navel Ships are for the first time participating in joint naval exercises with NATO Naval Forces in the Mediterranean on invitation of Turkey. Exercises “MAVI BALINA-2008” is being hosted by Turkey and is held in Mediterranean Sea from March 7-16. Pakistan Navy ships, PNS TARIQ and PNS MOAWIN have already joined NATO Naval Group at Turkish Naval base Aksaz, says a message received here Wednesday.
These ships will make a “port Call” at Antalya from March 16-18 and remain open to the public with the aim to enhance goodwill between the two brotherly nations.
Navy to ask PM to buy submarines, new aircraft
The Royal Thai Navy will push the government to buy submarines and new aircraft during a visit to the main naval base by Prime Minister and Defence Minister Samak Sundaravej. Navy commander Sathiraphan Keyanont yesterday said official itineraries would be submitted to the Defence Ministry for consideration as Mr Samak had limited time.
The prime minister is scheduled to visit the navy soon. However, the date of his visit has yet to be set.
Adm Sathiraphan said the navy would brief Mr Samak on its missions, including the submarine procurement project. His agency was in dire need of submarines as it had to operate in three areas _ under water, on the surface and in the sky, he said.
He said he would tell Mr Samak about the obstacles and problems faced by the navy since the prime minister, who concurrently holds the defence minister’s post, was his commander. Any decision to purchase submarines rests with Mr Samak.
”The navy must be ready to go into combat in three dimensions,” he stressed.
Wartime mystery solved as Australian ship finally found
The discovery of the wreckage of a warship that sank with all 645 men aboard in a fierce World War II battle promises clues to one of Australia’s most enduring mysteries, how the pride of its navy could have been lost to a lightly armed German cruiser.
The remains of battle cruiser HMAS Sydney were discovered off western Australia on Sunday, 66 years after it sank on Nov. 19, 1941, after a battle with the German vessel DKM Kormoran in the worst naval disaster in Australia’s history.
All 645 sailors aboard the Sydney were lost and its final resting place remained elusive until sonar technology advanced enough to scour waters more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) deep.
The Kormoran also sank, but 317 of its 397-member crew survived and rowed lifeboats to the Australian coast, where they were taken prisoner.
Australians have long been incredulous that the Sydney could have been lost to the German auxiliary cruiser. For years, various alternate theories have abounded, including that a Japanese submarine really sank the Sydney or that the Kormoran’s crew machine-gunned Australian survivors.