Home » Budget Industry » Navy Asks Hill for $64M for Short-Term Surface Warfare Reforms

Navy Asks Hill for $64M for Short-Term Surface Warfare Reforms

Ens. Samantha Rados stands watch as junior officer of the deck in the pilot house of the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) on June 26, 2018. US Navy Photo

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK – The Navy is asking Congress for a $64-million adjustment in its budget to begin work on a series of reforms to the surface force following the fatal collisions of two warships in 2017, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran confirmed to USNI News on Monday.

Two separate reviews following the deaths of 17 sailors from the collisions of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) identified 111 areas the surface navy needed to tackle to shore up readiness and safety standards, Moran told sailors during an all-hands call in Norfolk.

The new ask — part of the Pentagon’s reprogramming request for the fiscal year 2018 budget – gets after the first tranche of fixes the Navy identified in the reports.

The request includes money for new maritime training schoolhouses on the East and West coasts, money for Automatic Identification System laptops, development money for a next-generation surface search radar and the money to reestablish U.S. 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Va., according to a copy of the plan obtained by USNI News last week.

Moran described the requests as “the highest priority items that we need and that we could do in Fiscal Year ’18. Get that money under contract and start the process.”

The first set of items the Navy will pursue center on basic mariner instruction efforts and improvements in navigation and ship handling that were central to the McCain and Fitzgerald collisions.

USS O’Kane (DDG-77), USS Preble (DDG-88), USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) and USS Sterett (DDG-104) are moored during the harbor phase of the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise on July 4, 2018. US Navy Photo

Surface Reform Items in the Pentagon Reprogramming Request:

  • $16.2 million for additional enlisted pay and benefits to help improve afloat unit manning and training.
  • $1.3 million for Naval Surface Forces Atlantic to update Automatic Identification System laptops.
  • $1.8 million for a Naval Sea Systems Command ship control system design review.
  • $2.3 million to reestablish U.S. 2nd Fleet.
  • $4 million for improvements in budget and accounting process.
  • $22.6 million to establish the Mariner Skills Training Program (MSTP) at Newport, RI, Norfolk. Va. and San Diego, Calif.
  • $0.3 million to expand the use of U.S. Naval Academy Yard Patrol (YP) craft for NROTC midshipmen in FY 2018.
  • $7.18 million for consultant services to “execute a forward-looking learning culture” in the service and a modernizes the Navy’s Manpower Requirement System.
  • $8.5 million to accelerate fielding of the Next Generation Surface Search Radar.

The largest chunk, $22.6 million, is requested to kick off a mariner skills training programs in San Diego, Calif.; Norfolk; and Newport, R.I.; to be overseen by the Surface Warfare Officers School. The money will cover the construction of two new schoolhouses and the curriculum that’s being piloted now.

“The simulation environment at Newport is going to grow. The simulated environment on the waterfront in Norfolk and San Diego is going to grow, so we’ve programmed money in there and are waiting for Congress to release those monies so that we can get them under contract and get them kicked off,” Moran said.

If Congress approves the shift in funds, the SWOS mariners skills program could start as early as May.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran speaks to sailors and guests during an all hands call at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. on July 23, 2018. US Navy Photo

“SWOS is ready to go, we just need to get the money approved,” Moran said.

When asked by USNI News last week, Navy officials in the Pentagon said more readiness funding line items were being developed for next year’s fiscal year 2020 budget rollout.

“Additional funding in support of readiness reform recommendations will be programmed across the [future years defense plan],” Lt. Lauren Chatmas told USNI News in a written statement.
“Once the FY 20 budget is rolled out, we will be able to discuss in further detail any additional funding requirements in support of readiness reform.”

As for 2019, the Senate and House armed services committees included additional surface reform measures in the conference report of their defense authorization bill, released on Monday night. That work included key provisions of the Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)-sponsored Surface Warfare Enhancement Act of 2018. House provisions included in the conference bill include creating clear chains of command for overseas ships, limits on how long a ship can be deployed overseas, and directing the Government Accountability Office to study if the Navy should create separate career paths for navigators and engineering officers on ships.

  • proudrino

    Wow! What a random collection of asks. I have to wonder how some of it ties into the theme of surface force reforms. Funds for budget processes and consulting services for the Navy Manpower Requirements System seems more like administrative overhead more than anything reforms. Funds for expanding the YP program is a dubious fix IMO because the efficacy is limited. And additional funding for unit manning and training needs to be tied to requirements- has there been any study of these issues or is the intent to just throw money at the problem? In the grand scheme of things these are not large expenditures but without a more concrete way forward I am not sure the Navy is practicing good stewardship with this request.

  • Bubblehead

    Next Gen Surface radar? I’m no Surface Expert (or any expert for that matter) but I don’t see how this will reduce risk of collisions. The problems were not radar performance for sure. AB’s have the most advanced radars in the world already, I don’t think picking up on radar a giant 100 ton cargo ship 10 miles away is part of the problem.

    Any surface “experts” want to tell me I’m wrong?

    • Duane

      Apparently from reports published in the last year after the collisions, quite a few of our surface warships have had to install commercial off the shelf surface nav radars in order to acquire modern marine sensor capabilities for target ID, warning, and tracking for the bridge team. Those COTS radars are not integrated with the rest of the ship, so the tracking team folks down in CIC don’t necessarily have the same target info as those on the bridge, which naturally leads to lack of, or confusion in, situational awareness in both teams.

      Seems incredible that multi billion dollar warships are outfitted with critical sensors purchased from Boat/US or the equivalent, if those media reports are true.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      Funny, when the Fitzgerald got hit by the cargo mammoth or whatever it was, I had dinner that night with my Dad, and I said pretty much *exactly what you just said” to him …. and then we actually were meeting to eat again after the McCain, and he says, “Did you see, another Navy destroyer hit another cargo ship?” and I almost didn’t believe it — I thought they were built *literally upon* the radar system to have the best radar on the seas, how do we miss those fucking superships? — My personal theory is that it was an ingenious move by North Korea… I remember reading that all the Flight 1 DDG-51s have been upgraded with a BMD-capable version of Aegis, and have the SM-3 capability — BUT NOT THE LATEST VERSION(s) OF AEGIS — which means that the SPY radar can scan the atmosphere (or wherever you’d be scanning for ballistic missiles) OR they can scan the horizon area for anti-ship cruise missiles & surface-to-surface missiles / aircraft … but not both! (This is one of the main reasons the 4 Rota DDGs were given SeaRAMs … the idea being, while they are conducting BMD patrols and scanning the atmospheres, they’re basically defenseless until it’s too late [especially with the latest Russian supersonic/hypersonic SSMs] — but the SeaRAM is a set-it-and-forget-it autonomous system, so at least gives them some sort of protection while they’re radar is otherwise occupied) …So remember, last summer, things with NK were much worse and they were testing legit ICBMs, claiming they were able to strike the US with impunity and threatening Guam… I think NK did an spook-style operation, paid off/induced those two ships to try to take out two Japan–based BMD ships out of the “rotation” — because unlike our President’s claims and beliefs, Aegis BMD is a tenuous capability at best, and every ship removed from the rotation is a gap in the net … Obviously I have no solid proof for this, and in the end nothing happened (like an attack that could not be prevented due to lack of coverage of ships etc) — but to me, the only way those ships are able to hit US Navy DDG-51s is if the ships WANTED to hit them, were TRYING to hit them.

      • Donald Carey

        Like a DD cannot dodge a container ship? LOL

    • Graeme Rymill

      There were problems with the surface navigation radars. These radars are separate from the advanced SPY phased array radar the Arleigh Burkes use for detecting aircraft and missiles:

      “Woodley and Coppock had very different pictures of what was happening around the ship, and it would have taken communication to reconcile the differences. While the bridge had almost 200 contacts on its SPS-73 radar, the CIC’s SPS-67 radar had an only a handful due to an overall “poor radar picture,” Operations Specialist Second Class Matthew H. Stawecki said at the hearing.

      “There was a lot of clutter,” he said. Part of the reason the picture was muddy was the radar had been set to a long-range so-called “long pulse” mode that made contacts close to the ship difficult to see. The setting couldn’t be directly adjusted from CIC, and Fort’s investigation found there was no effort to contact the ship’s electronics technicians to adjust the radar picture.

      “They accepted the fact they had clutter, and they didn’t do anything about it,” Fort said.
      “It was the world in which they were living in, and it was the world that was accepted.”
      [From USNI News 10 May 2018 “USS Fitzgerald Combat Team Unaware of Approaching Merchant Ship Until Seconds Before Fatal Collision”

      • Curtis Conway

        This is another example of the “customer” taken out of the loop of using a product (surface track data). I remember when TRACK SUPERVISORS were expected to troubleshoot a link when they took their USQ-36 with all the lights and indicators, and replaced them with a single line display that had 83 pixelated characters on it. Monitoring complex relationships between xmit/receive simultaneously was eliminated from the equation, yet they still wanted that human being to ‘divine’ the solution from limited data input.

        The radar operator in CIC should ALWAYS be able to tweek the radar if necessary to improve reception so accurate data can be entered/verified/quality assured.

  • b2

    OK. $64M sounds reasonable…however a little leadership exhibited top-down and some strict accountability and perhaps some attrition bell curve type training certification. Those type changes dont cost much but do pay off..if you have the guts to follow them…

    But I would not want to see more cuts to Naval Aviation as a result… Meaning OPTAR/ pilot flight time reductions, any more deferred aviation PDMs for aircraft…. or any reduced urgency to correct the OBOGs/ECS issues.

    Amazing the Vice CNO discussing this in that photo. Never had a single day of sea time and never stood a watch at sea. Not his fault as a P-3 guy I am sure..but still….. This is our US Navy, 2018….

  • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

    Call me a cynic, but this is a bunch of whale stuff.

    The only fix is to decide that surface warfare, and its crews, are as important as aviation and submarines; not second class citizens who haul the freight, deliver the mail and land the marines.

    Spend as much time and money on developing the lethality of the surface force as, say, the F-35 then upgrade the training pipeline to match.

    P.S. In 1971 most ships were equipped with a COTS Deca commercial radar. Worked well. Also made EW interesting.

    Sad, so sad.


    Definitely human error as pretty much all collisions tend to be. And not just on the Destroyers, the two merchant ships were equally clueless although they have a better excuse. I have to laugh when people talk about the AEGIS system as if that somehow makes the surface picture better. In my experience, the better the Air picture is, the more likely the guys in CIC are ignoring the surface picture. The “better” OSs are on the Air side and frankly the TAO and CICWO pretty much ignore the surface picture to watch the air picture even if nothing is going on. The fact that you can have different contacts on the bridge and CIC in a busy shipping lane with no one trying to rectifying that is just amazing to me.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    Thanks for the info, that is completely opposite what I have read from other people.

  • Marc Apter

    In all the discussion below of radar issues, why is there no mention of those lookouts? We do still have lookouts on ships? Where exactly are they and how many are there on watch on the Burke and LCS Classes?

  • Duane

    SPY-1 is a volume air search radar, not a nav radar. It may pick up surface targets but it isn’t programmed for nav functions, with a very slow scan rate for low angle/horizon scans. Warships need both a volume air search radar for air defenses and a nav radar.

    Nav radars are not only optimized for scanning rapidly at low angles, but are programmed specifically for continuous tracking of large numbers of surface contacts, and calling out alarms on any contacts on potential collision tracks (on constant relative bearings) with the ship. In congested sea lanes such as those where both destroyer collisions occurred last year, that is an extremely valuable capability to have on the bridge and in CIC.

  • Duane

    A nav radar is not a volume air search radar, period. SPY-1 has a low angle scan rate of only 1/minute, as compared to its air search scan rate of 12. 1/minute will buy you a surface collision in crowded sea lanes. Gee, as I recall, isn’t that what happened twice last year?

    Both of the colliding destroyers had SPY-1 radars that did not perform, either due to hardware or operator issues. The accident investigation reports cited dozens of factors, but if SPY-1 was a tiptop nav radar, both collisions should never have happened.

  • Duane

    1/min horizion scan, 12/min air volume scan.

    In no published source is SPY-1 described as a nav radar … all published sources descrube it as a volume air search radar.