Tag Archives: navy

Sliders…

Sliders is shipboard slang for the greasy burgers served aboard. One little roll of the ship, and the slick burger slides away.*

The steel flight decks of carriers are coated with a non-skid material to give the extremely high pressure tires of carrier aircraft just a hint of traction. Unfortunately, hard use wears non-skid away fairly quickly, leaving bare metal exposed. Add in the grease and oil that accumulates, and maybe a touch of salt water, and a strong wind across the deck, and moving planes can quickly get downright sporty.

This video shows just how dangerous it can get, in a heartbeat.

Taken during USS Saratoga’s Desert Storm cruise, the VA-125 E-2C loses traction, and slides across the deck. The port prop actually strikes a tractor on the deck, and then jams its port wing fold into a VA-35 KA-6D’s port elevator.

Incredibly, no one was killed, and apparently no serious injuries were incurred. Word is that the E-2C and the KA-6D both had to be craned off the ship at the next port call for significant repairs before being returned to service.

H/T to Joe Kaposi on Facebook, who has a veritable treasure trove of flight deck mishap footage.

 

*Hot dogs, of course, are therefore known as “rollers.” Don’t get me started on how “autodog” got its nickname.

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PLA Navy tests new refueling pod for J-15 carrier fighter|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com

Having successfully copied the Russian-built UPAZ-1A aerial refueling pod, China’s PLA Navy can refuel a J-15 carrier-based fighter in midair in 5.3 minutes, the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies said on Jan. 22.

via PLA Navy tests new refueling pod for J-15 carrier fighter|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com.

Spill’s on a bit of an air-to-air refueling history kick right now, so I thought I’d share this. Carrier aircraft almost inevitably use probe and drogue refueling. Our land based friends tend to use boom and receptacle, because it was designed for large bomber type aircraft. Booms also have much higher fuel transfer rates. But they require a large dedicated tanker, such as the KC-135. Obviously, you can’t fit one of those on a carrier. So probe and drogue it is.

There’s primarily two types of tanking in naval air, mission tanking, and recovery tanking. Mission tanking is used to extend the endurance or range of strike aircraft for a given mission. Recovery tanking is simply topping off returning aircraft to give them more time to land aboard ship, for instance, if the recovery is delayed by a foul deck or the pilot is having his turn in the barrel and repeatedly boltering (failing to arrest during his landing).

The US Navy used to have dedicated KA-3B and KA-6D tankers in its air wings, which carried sufficient fuel to perform both tanking missions pretty well. Today, the tankers of the air wing are simply F/A-18 E and F SuperHornets that have a buddy refueling pod slapped on. The long, long flights required to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and a few other places also means the Navy has increasingly had to rely on tanker support from the Air Force for mission tanking. KC-135s have an adapter to put a basket on the end of their boom.

Tanking is, like landing upon a carrier, one of those incredibly difficult feats of airmanship that naval aviators simply must become proficient in as a matter of routine, or they are useless to the fleet.

For the Chinese, this is especially so. The ski-jump take off they use on their carrier greatly limits the gross weight a fighter can take off with. If the fighter is going to carry a useful load of weapons, that means much less than full fuel can be carried. Hence the need for a refueling pod. Just how much one J-15 (essentially a Chinese carrier capable version of the Russian Su-33) can transfer is an open question. But a little bit of giveaway fuel is a whole lot better than none.

An UPAZ-1A aerial refueling pod on a Russian Su-24 fighter bomber. (Internet photo)

UPAZ-1A Refueling pod under Russian Su-24. Presumably the Chinese derivative is similar in appearance.

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The Brodie System

We’ve actually written about it before, but the video linked then has been removed, so here’s some more. Via War is Boring, with a tip o’ the hat to Comrade Arthur.

Here’s the short video:

 

And here’s a longer video showing more detail.

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Matt Udkow- Someone You Should Know

Weird thing about internet friends. You think you know someone… and then you learn something new about them. In this case, it was nice to learn that Matt was not just the kind of man I thought he was, but very much the kind of man one can admire.

Matt is currently an MH-65C helicopter pilot for the United States Coast Guard. But he started his aviation career with the US Navy, flying the big old H-3 Sea King. And so it came to pass that when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, Matt, then stationed at Pensacola, Florida, was flying a logistical support mission from P’cola to Louisiana.

You may recall the scenes of helicopters of all sorts hoisting stranded New Orleans residents from rooftops to safety. Guess what? Matt was one of those aviators engaged in rescuing our fellow Americans.

In Matt’s own words:

I was blessed to serve as the SAR officer and pilot with the NAS Pensacola SAR Unit (renamed Helicopter Support Unit) from 2003 ?to 2005. During this period, my crew and I had the opportunity to assist with the SAR efforts in the New Orleans area following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. Out first SAR mission was on 30 August (27 persons hoisted), and the second one was conducted on 2 September 2005 (20 persons hoisted). In my opinion, these two missions were the pinnacle of my naval flight career.

Here’s the caption to this picture from Naval Aviation News:

Twenty survivors were happy to be off the flooded ground. The seated man on the right wearing a white t-shirt had a heart-attack on the way to Louis Armstrong Airport. I informed the tower, and we received permission to land in front of a huge line of helos and fly right over the terminal to drop him off first to waiting paramedics. AO3 Danny Smith, the crewman at the door, did a great job hoisting and managing the passengers, plus the three crew members and one photographer in the back. (Photo by Gary Nichols)

Now, being the military is a team sport. We love the image of the gallant individual, but no one man does great things. They all work together. So it is right and proper to share the credit with his crew:

My crew: (left to right): Myself (pilot), AW2 Jake Mclaughlin (rescue swimmer), AW2 Justin Crane (rescue swimmer), AW1 Kevin Maul (crew chief), Lt. Bryce Kammeyer (co-pilot). This was taken after landing after the first day, with two SAR sorties complete and 27 survivors hoisted. All of our crew and the civilian maintainers were very excited and proud of the work we had done.

Matt’s efforts were not without some controversy, however.

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Two Navy helicopter pilots were “counseled” about the importance of supply missions after they rescued 110 New Orleans hurricane victims before returning to base from a cargo delivery, the military said Wednesday.

One pilot was temporarily assigned to a kennel, but that was not punishment, said Patrick Nichols, a civilian public affairs officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

“They were not reprimanded,” Nichols said. “They were counseled.”

The pilots, Lt. Matt Udkow and Lt. David Shand, met with Cmdr. Michael Holdener, who praised their Aug. 30 actions but reminded them their orders had been to return to Pensacola after flying water and other supplies to three destinations in Mississippi — the Stennis Space Center, Pascagoula and Gulfport.

Matt made a decision. In this case, the right one. As I mentioned in an earlier post, that’s a skill that junior officers need to learn. Make. A. Decision. Yes, every decision has consequences. But so does failing to make a decision.

47 American citizens today were spared from possible death or injury by Matt’s actions. That’s something a man can hang his hat on.

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The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest

“Air-Sea Battle” with Chinese Characteristics: a large fleet of land-based aircraft armed with some of the world’s most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles.

Lyle J. Goldstein

January 22, 2015

 

During the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina possessed a measly total of five Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles with which to face down the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic. Had that number been more like 50 or 100, that conflict might well have had a very different ending. This important lesson has not been lost on China’s military chiefs. Indeed, China has placed great emphasis on anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) development over the last three decades and is now set to reap the strategic benefits of this singular focus.

via The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest.

Mr. Goldstein is indeed correct that large inventory of Chinese ASCM present a greater threat to US surface fleets in the Western Pacific than probably any other single Chinese weapon system.

But his analysis is too focused on the arrows in the quiver, and not enough on the eye of the Archer.

The huge numbers of cruise missiles are useless if rather precise information is lacking on the location, course, and speed of the intended target. And for all of China’s impressive improvements in maritime strike capability over the last three decades, their investments in maritime patrol aircraft and other targeting systems seem decidedly lacking.

To be sure, to influence the course of events ashore, a power projection navy such as ours must eventually close the coast, coming within easy sensor range of an enemy. But the great virtue of seapower here is the initiative to choose the time and place for such strikes.

That’s not to say the US Navy should simply assume it can easily better the Chinese. It shouldn’t. But it is a caution to the reader to not magnify the threat beyond all reason.

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Motherships and International Cooperation

Every navy faces the challenge of unlimited missions, and limited resources. Even ours. For our allies, the problem is even more acute. The European Union, taken in aggregate, is roughly equal to the US in terms of population and production. But it isn’t a single entity. It’s an extremely loose confederation of independent states. And because of that, the individual navies tend to be quite a bit smaller, both in total hulls, and the size of individual hulls. In spite of the importance of sea trade to Europe’s economic health, fielding navies large enough to secure that trade is virtually impossible, to say nothing of the post-war European tendency to shy away from militarization.

So when threats to sea trade arise, such as piracy off the eastern coast of Africa, no single nation can field a sustainable response. But by fielding international task forces, Europe, with the cooperation of other like minded nations, such as the US, and even China, and of all people, Iran, has managed to suppress the worst of piracy in the waters off the coast of Somalia.

Most Euro navies are frigate navies. And while frigates are quite the handy little warships, let’s face it, it’s a bit much for tracking and deterring pirates in 15m skiffs. Given our lack of frigates, the US Navy tends to support operations there with a Burke class destroyer. Which, let’s face it again, a multi-billion dollar warship is a bit much for taking on cheap boats.

Chuck Hill, of the invaluable Coast Guard Blog, shows a more sensible approach to countering low capability maritime threats, through cooperation of various nations and platforms.

The following was reported by the German Navy blog Marine forum, “8 January, PIRACY–Anti-Piracy Forces: Sweden is preparing for another mission (M-04) in support of EU operation “Atalanta”, this time working jointly with the Netherlands navy … COMBAT BOAT 90 fast interceptor craft, helicopters and 70 personnel to embark on Netherlands Navy dock landing ship JOHAN DE WITT.”

As you may recall, I have advocated using WPCs supported by a mother ship to supplement the larger cutters for distant drug interdiction operations.

Large amphibious ships are almost by definition “motherships.” Designed to operate and support landing craft, it is no great stretch for them to similarly support small patrol craft and other small combatants. The weakness of small craft is their lack of seakeeping. That is, their endurance and their crew’s ability to remain on station is limited. But by pairing them with a larger vessel, the ability of a small flotilla of craft to patrol large areas is greatly enhanced, at a fraction of the cost of maintaining several larger combatants on station.

Further, virtually all major amphibious ships have the ability to support significant helicopter detachments. Said helos are critical for the surveillance part of counter piracy operations, vastly expanding the task force’s field of view, and vectoring the limited number of patrol craft to the most likely targets of interest.

The one real disadvantage of this approach is that amphibious shipping is already in great demand for its primary mission. In our own Navy, we simply don’t have enough “gators” to support the requirements for our Marine Corps.

Some alternatives exist. The Navy’s Advance Floating Support Base (AFSB) would be a particularly good fit for this role. Of course, the limited number and costs of AFSB in the foreseable future means maintaining one on station is not realistic. Other options might include the Joint High Speed Vessel, though they have limited endurance.  My own first suggestion, years ago, was to buy used Platform Support Vessels at dirt cheap prices. The drawback with that platform is the cost of refitting them with command and control facilities, and more critically, the lack of sufficient helicopter facilities.

Chuck’s suggestion of using forward supported WPB and WPC Coast Guard patrol vessels is a good one, though again, the Coast Guard is hard pressed to meet its domestic demand signal for boats.

Other areas that would benefit from such a mothership concept include the Persian Gulf, and the waters near Singapore, where currently the Navy envisions extended deployments of LCS ships.

The US Navy has long operated alongside our partners and allies, and this is one area where such further cooperation is likely to be mutually beneficial.

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“Underway on nuclear power.”

60 years ago today, at 11am on the morning of January 17, 1955 the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, eased away from her pier at Groton, CT, and moved out to sea under her own power. Her historic message was soon sent, “Underway on nuclear power.”

http://elementsunearthed.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/nautilus300.jpg?w=842&h=575

By today’s standards, Nautilus was almost crude. But her ability to operate submerged for extended periods of time completely revolutionized submarine warfare, and was also a key demonstration of the capacity for peaceful application of nuclear power.

BZ, USS Nautilus.

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