The following blog was written by Rear Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, Director of Surface Warfare. In it he talks about some of the ongoing operations, innovations, and future goals of the Surface Warfare community. Adm. Rowden will be speaking at the 25th Annual Surface Navy Association National Symposium in Crystal City, Va., next week.
Since I last wrote, multiple holidays have passed — I hope that all of you have entered into this new year with a renewed sense of purpose. I am confident that this year will be filled with successes from our Fleet with support from those of us here inside the beltway.
During my travels in November and December, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of our greatest supporters at the SNA Greater Washington Chapter Lunch, watch several of our outstanding Sailors advance, visit with innovators and professionals at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and PEO-IWS and SWE Science and Technology days, and more. It is an honor to encounter so many positive aspects of our surface force on a daily basis. You all inspire me. In that vein, I hope you’re planning to attend the 25th Annual SNA National Symposium in Crystal City, January 15-17.
Among the featured speakers will be Secretary Mabus (SECNAV), Vice Adm. Copeman (COMNAVSURFOR/SURFPAC), Rear Adm. Thomas (COMNAVSURFLANT), and others who continue to set the pace for Surface Warfare. I intend to address you all on our desired internal Navy practices and how we can do business better when building surface ships. Additionally, I trust you will find the recently mailed Cardinal Headings publication a valuable product which aligns our vision, guiding principles, and direction.
Today we find our Nation in a very uncertain fiscal climate. Accordingly, we must now, more than ever, focus on program wholeness as we make the challenging decisions necessary in what will likely be a period of flat, if not lower, funding for the Department. CNO’s call for us to “Be Ready” challenges our team to formulate forward-leaning technologies and capabilities by harnessing the talent and imagination of our most innovative assets – you, our Navy’s Sailors. I am interested in your ideas and suggestions for ways to improve the capability of our Fleet while reducing overall cost.
As evidence of our commitment to filling capability gaps in a cost-effective manner, I’m excited to share with you that USS FREEDOM’s preparations for deployment to Forward Operating Station Singapore continue on schedule. Her deployment will generate valuable lessons as we implement new constructs for manning, training, maintaining, sustaining, and tactically operating forward. She’ll participate in International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX), Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), and multiple Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) events. Of primary importance, FREEDOM’s deployment is proof positive of our commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.
Another significant update to our future Fleet’s composition is the recent unification of ZUMWALT’s hull and deckhouse. Like her namesake Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, the 19th Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), DDG 1000 is technologically savvy and Sailor friendly. In preparation for her scheduled christening and launching in 2013 and her delivery in 2014, ZUMWALT will undergo rigorous tests, trials, and certifications. Significant events in that process include ‘Gas Turbine Generator Light Off’ and ‘Float Off,’ where the ship is physically transferred (or launched) from BIW’s shipbuilding station Land Level Transfer Facility to the water in 2013. In spring 2014, ZUMWALT will get underway for Builders Trials and Acceptance Trials, where her hull, machinery, electrical equipment, and systems will be fully tested and inspected. Following delivery, the ship’s schedule features a year-long battery of shipyard and underway events known as Mission Systems Activation (MSA), integrating and aligning her systems to warfighting mission readiness. Following MSA and crew move aboard, the ship will conduct Sailaway in 2015, and then participate in multiple inspection and qualification trials leading to a Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) as she is readied for service to the Fleet. ZUMWALT’s final new construction milestone is her achievement of Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in 2016. At that point, ZUMWALT will be a state-of-the-art combat-ready surface combatant.
As I prepare to close, I want to return to a topic I introduced in my first SITREP, that of the value of Surface Warfare. Despite the current tenuous fiscal environment and the ever-changing political landscape of the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, our ships are relevant, credible sources of combat power throughout the world. “Flags on Halyards” fly in Ghana from High-Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) during Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2012 and in the Arabian Sea from USS JASON DUNHAM (DDG 109) on deployment. They fly with our Sailors in Souda Bay at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center during Eurasia Partnership Capstone 2012 (EPC 12). We are the ready, relevant stewards of the nation, and we remain on watch despite the OEF/OND draw-down. Our force is resilient, and no matter the impact of the financial climate, our team operates whenever and wherever there is a call to arms. Our Fleet embodies our nation’s need for an overt, tangible maritime presence operating forward. I look forward to hearing from you this spring following the roll-out of our video series highlighting “The Value of Surface Warfare”. We will also stream live footage from SNA next week.
I encourage all of you to join me at SNA National and engage in conversation about the professional matters affecting surface naval forces and the United States Navy. Thanks for all you continue to contribute to Surface Warfare and to our nation.
Best and V/r,
This blog was originally posted in the current issue of the Surface SITREP newsletter.