USNI News polled its writers, naval analysts, and service members on what they consider the most important military and maritime stories in 2013.
6. Guardian Grounding
On 17 January, the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM-10) grounded herself off the Tubbataha Reef off the coast of the Philippines. The incident raised tensions between the Philippines and the United States.
A report on the grounding found “this tragic mishap was wholly preventable and was the product of poor voyage planning, poor execution, and unfortunate circumstances. This investigation uncovers no single point of failure; instead, there were numerous links in the error chain leading up to the grounding. Had any one of which been appropriately addressed, the grounding would have been prevented.”
5. Carrier Woes
As a result of funding interruptions from the budget battles in Congress, the Navy reduced its carrier presence in the Middle East, delayed deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), and the refueling of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).
The shift placed pressure on the crew of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on almost back-to-back deployments with just a two-month breather in between.
The image of five carriers pierside at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., was among the most iconic images of the sequestration and continuing resolution budget struggles for the Pentagon.
The budget deal reached by Congress plans to allay some of the operational snags in carrier deployments, but it is unclear if Navy will plus-up carrier presence in the Middle East to its 2012 levels.
4. USS Freedom (LCS-1)
The first littoral combat ship (LCS) Freedom underwent her first practical deployment to Singapore. The ship arrived in April and suffered several malfunctions while in Singapore—delaying participation in a series of exercises. In parallel, the Navy has done more to flesh out the operating concept for the new class of ship. Freedom’s deployment will inform the next series of deployments. Four ships will be forward-deployed to Singapore.
3. Haiyan Response
The U.S. response to Typhoon Haiyan’s strike in the Philippines was largely naval. The amphibious warships USS Germantown (LSD-42) and USS Ashland (LSD-48) joined the USS George Washington (CVN-73) and its partial carrier strike group. The naval forces were joined with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
2. X-47B Landing
On July 10 the Navy successfully landed the first fixed-wing unmanned aircraft on an aircraft carrier. The successful test of Northrop Grumman’s X-47B is the first step in developing an unmanned carrier aviation platform that could greatly extend the range and relevance of carriers.
1. Syria Standoff
The Navy sent four Tomahawk missile-laden destroyers off the coast of Syria—prepared to launch strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad—following allegations the Al-Assad regime used chemical weapons against Syrian citizens. A last-minute deal between Russia, the United States, and Syria defused the standoff and avoided military action.