Stackley: Would Increase SSN, DDG, Amphib Production Rate To Reach 350-Ship Navy

Megan Eckstein, USNI News, December 1


The Navy would prioritize increasing the production rate of existing ship classes and inserting new capabilities into mature hull designs as a way to get to a 350-ship Navy, if the incoming Trump administration follows through on its promise to grow the Navy, the service’s acquisition chief said today.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked what challenges the Navy would face in reaching President-Elect Donald Trump’s stated 350-ship goal.

Sean Stackley, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said the biggest challenge would be keeping the Ohio Replacement Program, also called the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, on schedule and reducing cost as much as possible – which is already a challenge for the service.

Specific to increasing the fleet from today’s 308-ship trajectory to something even higher, Stackley said they key would be to leverage existing designs rather than try to design new ship classes to field.

“What we don’t want to do is bring a whole bunch of new designs to the table, add the technical risk that that brings, add the start-up cost that that adds, add the uncertainty that that introduces and add the amount of time that that would take to get through the design and production schedule,” he said.

“So let’s leverage the existing production lines that we have and introduce capability to those platforms as best as possible, looking at that future threat. And that’s the path that we’re on.”

The Navy has already tried to follow that concept, with basing its LX(R) dock landing ship replacement design on the existing San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock design.

The next step in building a bigger fleet is increasing the rate of production of ship classes currently being built – specifically, Virginia-class attack submarines, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and amphibious ships.

“I would tell you, the first priority is going to be our attack submarines. When you look at our force structure, going forward we have a very serious shortfall in attack submarines in the late 2020s. We have got to stem that as best as possible. So that would be the first place that we go in terms of increasing our production rate,” Stackley said.

“Surface combatants – right now we’re building surface combatants at a rate that, in the long term, results in dropping off in terms of total number of large surface combatants because we built at such a high rate during the Reagan buildup years; if we stay at two per year, we’re going to start settling down to a 60 to 70 number of large surface combatants, which won’t meet our operational requirements

“And then amphibs: today we are below what the [chief of naval operations] and the commandant have agreed to in 2009 in terms of the amphib force structure,” Stackley continued.

“We have to get up to that number (38) and we’re on that path. But the reality is that these are high-utility platforms, they are high demand, high utility and very flexible. Wherever we have operations going, amphibs find a way to support that operation,” he said, suggesting that the number of amphibs could increase beyond the current plan.

Independent of the incoming Trump administration, the Navy has been working on a new force structure assessment, as real world conditions have changed dramatically since the 2014 FSA. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and other top Navy officials have made clear that the current 308-ship requirement is likely to go up.

Stackley told Cruz at the hearing that the Navy is still “identifying what number and mix of ships we need for the future, the mid-2020s and beyond.” He added that smaller ships such as the Littoral Combat Ship, which the SASC hearing focused on, would be important in that final mix as a way to keep operational pressure off more expensive ships like destroyers. If not for LCSs and the eventual follow-on frigates, building to achieve the requirements under the new FSA would be an even bigger budget challenge.


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Northrop Grumman Delivers Submarine Sensors

Staff, Shephard News, December 1


Northrop Grumman has delivered LWWAA panels for all Virginia class boats, and this delivery marks the start of a series of ten Block IV shipsets that will be delivered at a rate of two per year to Huntington Ingalls Industries.

The LWWAA is a fibre-optic passive hull mounted sensor array that is designed to enable the Virginia class to

counter evolving sensor technologies used by enemy forces well into the future. There are six arrays in each shipset, and Northrop Grumman provides the acoustic array assemblies as well as all the hardware required to install the arrays on the exterior of the ships.


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Meet Woody the Submariner, Bringing Caps and Smiles to Children’s Hospital

Alyssa Paldo,, December 1


For children and families who have to spend time in the hospital it can be a scary and often uncertain time.

However, a man at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois is making them feel better with a baseball cap.

It’s called the “Kaps4Kids” Program. Members of the United States Submarine Veterans group across take part in this, regularly visiting local children’s hospitals across the US, to offer kids a cap and a bit of a history lesson.

Our local volunteer is 86-years-old and he’s been on the job for 6 years now. His name is Tom Woodhouse, but, he says just call him “Woody”.

Every Wednesday morning at 7:30 sharp, Woody rounds the corner on floor 6 of the children’s hospital dressed in his button up, but wearing a smile, clipboard in hand.

“It’s a different situation in each room. I don’t know what to expect when I go in there. Even though the census tells the diagnosis I don’t pay any attention to that at all.” Woodhouse explained.

On this visit there’s no discussion about doctors, needles, or being sick. This week marked 2,100 visits for Woody, but each one starts out exactly the same.

“Good morning! I’m not a doctor,” Woodhouse says. “Once I get in and introduce myself and say the fact that I’m not a doctor, everything’s alright.”

Then, Woody dives into a question for the kids.

“Do you know what a submarine is?” Woodhouse asks.

He served in the US Navy from 1951 until 1955 aboard the USS Tang in the Pacific. Woody has seen a lot, both in his 86 years of life and his time in the service. He says he often struggles with talking about his time in the service even with his own family, but not here.

“I don’t even talk to my family about different situations that I went through while in service.” Woodhouse said.

After some shop talk, Woody makes the kids part of the crew, a certificate and a hat makes it official.

“This hat makes you an Honorary Submariner and special friend of the United States Submarine Veterans.” Woodhouse said to a patient.

Like any good submariner would, these children ask the tough questions.

“The main one is can you see sharks when you’re underneath the water.” Woodhouse said.

Woody does have children and grandchildren of his own, but, it’s these children who keep him young.

“It makes me feel good especially when I’m walking down the hall and here’s a little boy going down for surgery and he’s got his cap on.” Woodhouse said.

It’s a visit that makes all of the submariners in the room feel a little better.

Woody has no plans of stopping. He says he’ll be doing this for at least the next 10 years.

Woody buys the caps through donations that the Peoria Area Submarine Veterans group collects.


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