Home / Community / 2018: A year of increased U.S. Navy lethality and capacity, strengthened alliances and partnerships, reforms

2018: A year of increased U.S. Navy lethality and capacity, strengthened alliances and partnerships, reforms

By Jason Kelly
Digital Media Engagement Manager, U.S. Navy Office of Information

As 2019 gets underway, we’re looking back at 2018 across our fleet with our year in pictures — snapshots of our U.S. Navy Sailors protecting the homeland and preserving America’s strategic influence around the world.

We couldn’t highlight everything that happened in 2018, but as you’ll see below, the year was filled with building a more lethal force, strengthening our alliances and attracting new partners, and reforming for greater performance and affordability to remain the most effective global maneuver force in the world.

In January, naval leaders, government officials and members of private industry gathered for the 30th Annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) National Symposium in Crystal City, Virginia, to discuss innovative solutions for current and future surface warfare challenges.

Also looking toward the future, USS Anchorage (LPD 23) completed in January one of several test recovery operations of NASA’s Orion test article in 2018. The underway recovery tests are part of a U.S. government interagency effort to safely retrieve the Orion crew module, which is capable of carrying humans into deep space. With their main role of conducting amphibious operations, San Antonio-class ships — like USS Anchorage — have unique capabilities that make them an ideal partner to support NASA’s mission.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 21, 2018) Navy divers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 attach an inflatable ring to NASA’s Orion test vehicle to the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Natalie M. Byers/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 21, 2018) Navy divers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 attach an inflatable ring to NASA’s Orion test vehicle to the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Natalie M. Byers/Released)

 

Later in the month, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran visited the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) to get a firsthand look at surface warfare training. SWOS readies sea-bound warriors to serve on surface combatants as officers, enlisted engineers and enlisted navigation professionals to fulfill our mission to maintain global maritime superiority.

In February, the Department of the Navy submitted our long-range ship acquisition plan to Congress. The 30-Year Ship Acquisition Plan focused on meeting our baseline acquisition requirements needed to build the Navy the Nation needs and sustaining the domestic industrial base to meet that aim.

On Feb. 21, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) welcomed Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy. During his first embark on an aircraft carrier, Vinh expressed his gratitude and appreciation for CVN-77’s crew and explained the importance and value of the two nations’ increasing cooperation and advancement of security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

NORFOLK (Feb. 21, 2018) Executive officer Capt. Chris Hill, left, shows Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh a model of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)
NORFOLK (Feb. 21, 2018) Executive officer Capt. Chris Hill, left, shows Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh a model of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)

 

Two days later, we joined allied and partner militaries for the 13th Pacific Partnership mission. The annual maritime operation helps improve disaster response preparedness, resiliency and capacity while enhancing partnerships with participating nations and civilian humanitarian organizations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

In March, the arrival of a detachment of F-35B Lightning II’s with Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) marked increased Navy-Marine Corps sea-based capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. It was the first time the aircraft had deployed aboard a U.S. Navy ship and with a Marine expeditionary unit in the Indo-Pacific.

EAST CHINA SEA (March 5, 2018) An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 touches down on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina/Released)
EAST CHINA SEA (March 5, 2018) An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 touches down on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina/Released)

 

LHD-1 wasn’t the only ship to mark a first in March. USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam, and became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to visit the country in more than 40 years. U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink described the visit as “an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations [with Vietnam]” that demonstrated “U.S. support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam.”

Also in March, Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 began with the construction of temporary Ice Camp Skate and the arrival of two U.S. Navy fast-attack submarines and one U.K. Royal Navy submarine. The five-week biennial exercise allowed us to assess our operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations.

BEAUFORT SEA (March 9, 2018) The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) surfaces in the Beaufort Sea during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Micheal H. Lee/Released)
BEAUFORT SEA (March 9, 2018) The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) surfaces in the Beaufort Sea during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Micheal H. Lee/Released)

 

On March 16, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly released a memorandum that announced a significant restructuring of how the Secretary of the Navy staff is organized in order to accelerate the pace of change and improve enterprise alignment in the business operations of the department. “A more agile, accountable, and lethal force must be matched by business operations that reflect the same qualities,” said Modly. “We must build a business operations culture that employs faster access to accurate information, reduces overhead and bureaucracy, and streamlines process that impeded rapid decision making. This culture must demonstrate the relentless pursuit of operational improvements in order to stay ahead of our adversaries and make the best use of the resources we are provided by the American people.”

In April, Modly delivered the Navy League’s 2018 Sea-Air-Space Exposition keynote address in National Harbor, Maryland, where he spoke about the future of fleet design and the ways in which we’re working to achieve that architecture. During the expo, military and civilian leadership from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard exchanged ideas on subjects ranging from current and future worldwide operations to innovation in training, logistics, shipbuilding, and making the most of available technology.

On the same day as Modly’s remarks, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group  (HST CSG) deployed from Naval Station Norfolk. For Truman, the deployment followed more than eight months of intense training and preparation that began when the ship completed its on-time periodic incremental availability in July 2017, and culminated in its Composite Training Unit Exercise in March, which certified the ship for deployment.

NORFOLK (April 11, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departs Naval Station Norfolk as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr./Released)
NORFOLK (April 11, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departs Naval Station Norfolk as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr./Released)

 

On April 14, U.S., French and British forces struck targets in Syria as punishment for Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. The precision strikes against the chemical weapons capabilities were designed to stop Assad from using the banned weapons.

In May, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group commenced air operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Operating from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1’s strike fighter squadrons conducted sorties over Syria, demonstrating the strike group’s ability to support two different geographic combatant commanders simultaneously.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (May 3, 2018) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaysee Lohmann/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (May 3, 2018) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaysee Lohmann/Released)

 

During a change of command ceremony in Norfolk on May 4, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson announced the establishment of U.S. 2nd Fleet. “We’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” said Richardson. “That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the North Atlantic.”

On May 7, the White House announced President Donald J. Trump would award the Medal of Honor to Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL), Retired, Britt Slabinski for his heroic actions in March 2002 during the Battle of Takur Ghar while serving in Afghanistan. At the time, Slabinski was only the 12th living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery displayed in Afghanistan. Slabinski received the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony May 24; he was inducted into the Pentagon Hall of Heroes on the following day.

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2018) President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski during a ceremony at the White House. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
WASHINGTON (May 24, 2018) President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski during a ceremony at the White House. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)

 

In the Atlantic Ocean, a historic first happened in naval aviation. Exercise Chesapeake 2018 was the first-ever training to fully integrate a French Navy air wing into a single, unified carrier air wing, Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8). Richardson joined his counterpart, Chief of Staff of the French Navy Adm. Christophe Prazuck, aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14 to observe the high-end combined training, which was another demonstration of our implementation of the National Defense Strategy and its direction to strengthen alliances and deepen collaboration to become a more lethal force.

Increasing lethality was also on display as USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) conducted a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia, which marked the completion of the first phase of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) Developmental Testing for the LCS Mission Modules program. It was the first integrated firing of the SSMM from an LCS. Additionally, this was the second at-sea launch of SSMM missiles from an LCS. SSMM leverages the U.S. Army’s Longbow Hellfire Missile in a vertical launch capability to counter small boat threats.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 11, 2018) The Freedom variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) fires an AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missile during a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 11, 2018) The Freedom variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) fires an AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missile during a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

In June, naval ships, aircraft and personnel from India, Japan and the United States participated in exercise Malabar off the coast of Guam; it was the first time the exercise had been conducted there, and was the latest in a continuing series of exercises that have grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security.

Meanwhile, Carrier Air Wing One (CVW) 1, embarked aboard CVN-75, completed its participation in the annual multinational exercise Baltic Operations. CVW-1 operations over the Baltic involved overflight of Europe from the Adriatic Sea and represented the first instance that U.S. carrier aircraft participated in the exercise. F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter aircraft and E/A-18 Growler electronic attack aircraft joined aircraft from Poland, Spain and U.S. Air Forces Europe to demonstrate the ability to perform combined air operations while communicating and coordinating effectively.

Following its participation in BALTOPS, the HST Carrier Strike Group returned to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to resume flight operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, demonstrating the flexibility and capabilities of a carrier strike group.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Jun 10, 2018) Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jason Maginess inspects ordnance prior to launch of an F/A-18 Super Hornet aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rebekah A. Watkins/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Jun 10, 2018) Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jason Maginess inspects ordnance prior to launch of an F/A-18 Super Hornet aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rebekah A. Watkins/Released)

 

Also in June, the 13th annual Pacific Partnership mission concluded after completing mission stops in Japan and throughout South and Southeast Asia. The annual multilateral, multi-service mission featured partner nation counterparts working together in eight Indo-Pacific nations to improve disaster response preparedness and enhance relationships across the region.

Fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships continued in June with the start of the world’s largest international maritime exercise, the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. With the theme of “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” RIMPAC’s participating nations and forces exercised a wide range of capabilities and demonstrated the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities ranged from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program included gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, and salvage operations.

Navy firsts continued with our first East Coast Amphibious Ready Group Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise, which was completed by USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). The SWATT, which was led by mentors and warfare tactics instructors from Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, provided at-sea mentoring to build more capable and tactically proficient surface forces.

Before the end of the month, USS Coronado (LCS 4) and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1) completed the first comprehensive Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) for the MQ-8C Fire Scout. The operations, an important milestone for the LCS and Fire Scout programs, demonstrated cohesion between the surface and aviation platforms. The results informed decision-makers on how best to integrate our newest unmanned helicopter with littoral combat ships and other platforms.

In July, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1), embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman, conducted integrated flight operations with French naval aviation aircraft as part of French Air Defense week. The exercise increased readiness and demonstrated the ability to operate together by practicing air warfare and strike techniques, including dissimilar air combat training.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 3, 2018) A French Dassault Rafale M Fighter prepares to touch down on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gitte Schirrmacher/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 3, 2018) A French Dassault Rafale M Fighter prepares to touch down on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gitte Schirrmacher/Released)

 

On July 23, a revision to the requirements for qualification and designation as a surface warfare officer (SWO) was announced. Designators 116X and lateral transfers into the SWO community became the only designators eligible to pursue SWO qualification. This change aligned with new career path revisions, which focused on increased experience on ships, including increased bridge watchstanding opportunities for SWOs.

In August, the Navy and Coast Guard completed a trilateral exercise with Iraqi navy and Kuwaiti navy partners in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The exercise, which focused on improving collective proficiency in maritime security tactics between the three nations and ensuring the freedom of navigation throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, included live fire gunnery exercises, visit, board, search and seizure team training, maritime infrastructure protection drills, search-and-rescue training, and high-value unit protection operations.

The official crest for U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F). (U.S. Navy graphic illustration/Released)
The official crest for U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F). (U.S. Navy graphic illustration/Released)

Prior to its establishment ceremony on Aug. 24, Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet revealed Aug. 22 its new crest and motto, which represents the fleet’s mission. The symbolism is rich and reflective of the purpose of C2F.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson presided over the establishment ceremony as Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis assumed command aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). U.S. 2nd Fleet exercises operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and the North Atlantic. Additionally, it plans and conducts maritime, joint and combined operations as well as trains and recommends certification of combat ready naval forces for maritime employment and operations around the globe. U.S. 2nd Fleet falls under operational control of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

On Aug. 25, the Navy joined the nation in mourning the death of Senator and Navy veteran John S. McCain III who died on that day at age 81. Sen. McCain served as a naval aviator during the Vietnam War. As a prisoner of war, he endured more than five years of captivity, representing America honorably and selflessly. After retiring from the Navy, he continued national service in Congress, first as a representative and later as a senator from Arizona.

Two days later, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group departed from Naval Station Norfolk, completing its working port visit. The strike group had deployed April 11 and returned to Norfolk July 21 for an extended port visit. During this working port visit, CVN-75 and strike group assets conducted routine maintenance on ships, aircraft and equipment; conducted advanced training; and maintained warfighting certifications.

On Aug. 29, Richardson selected Fleet Master Chief Russell Smith to be our 15th MCPON, following a comprehensive review of potential candidates. Smith was pinned to MCPON, Aug. 31, during USS Constitution’s underway; it marked the first time a MCPON was pinned aboard Constitution.

On the same day, USS Harry S. Truman and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) began dual-carrier sustainment and qualification operations in the western Atlantic Ocean, enhancing combat readiness and interoperability as well as demonstrating the inherent flexibility and scalability of carrier strike groups.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 30, 2018) Aircraft from the Freedom Fighters of Carrier Air Wing 7 fly in formation above the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) from Destroyer Squadron 2; the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) from Destroyer Squadron 28; and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Brooks/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 30, 2018) Aircraft from the Freedom Fighters of Carrier Air Wing 7 fly in formation above the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) from Destroyer Squadron 2; the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) from Destroyer Squadron 28; and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Brooks/Released)

 

Before the end of the month, the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Escort Flotilla 4 Battle Group participated in bilateral training in the South China Sea, furthering the interoperability we have been building for years with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

In September, we continued strengthening partnerships. Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, visited the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Navy, Vice-Admiral Ahmed Khaled in Alexandria, Egypt, Sept. 7-8.

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Sept. 7, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, right, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, greets Adm. Ahmad Khaled, commander in chief of the Egyptian Navy, during a reception aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Sept. 7, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, right, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, greets Adm. Ahmad Khaled, commander in chief of the Egyptian Navy, during a reception aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)

 

From Sept. 10-12, the HST Carrier Strike Group and the Royal Canadian Navy conducted bilateral operations in the North Atlantic.

Also, U.S. Navy and coalition assets led numerous exercises as part of the greater U.S. 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise.

USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group began operations in U.S. 6th Fleet, continuing to support NATO allies, European and African partner nations, coalition partners, and U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.

In Newport, Rhode Island, military leaders from more than 100 nations discussed cooperative strategies for enhancing global security, order and prosperity at the chief of naval operations’ 23rd International Seapower Symposium (ISS) held at U.S. Naval War College. ISS, the world’s premier naval gathering, brought together heads of services to bolster maritime security by discussing common challenges and shared opportunities.

In Millington, Tennessee, Navy Personnel Command opened our MyNavy Career Center contact center Sept. 24, delivering on a promise to provide Sailor-focused customer service and around-the-clock assistance.

Embarked aboard USS Essex (LHD 2), the Marine Corps F-35B conducted its first combat strike in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, Sept. 27. During this mission, the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations; the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander.

In October, the Ready, Relevant, Learning Executive Steering Committee held its initial meeting. RRL is one of three pillars for Sailor 2025, which is the Navy’s program to more effectively recruit, develop, manage, reward and retain the forces of tomorrow. The initiative’s goal is to provide Sailors the right training at the right time and in the right way.

On Oct. 2, USS Ashland (LSD 48) became our first ship in the 7th Fleet to conduct amphibious operations with the newly established Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) troops and their equipment. The ARDB, formed on March 27, brings new capability to the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) by combining ground forces, aviation support and logistical capabilities into a cohesive unit capable of operating from the sea and reacting to a variety of scenarios, including self-defense and humanitarian assistance-disaster relief.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 3, 2018) This drain strainer orifice system, a prototype, is a steam system component that permits drainage and removal of water from a steam line while in use. A version of this is approved as the first metal part created by additive manufacturing for shipboard installation. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Ricky Thompson/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 3, 2018) This drain strainer orifice system, a prototype, is a steam system component that permits drainage and removal of water from a steam line while in use. A version of this is approved as the first metal part created by additive manufacturing for shipboard installation. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Ricky Thompson/Released)

On Oct. 11, Naval Sea Systems Command announced the approval of the first metal part created by additive manufacturing for shipboard installation. A prototype drain strainer orifice (DSO) assembly was anticipated to be installed on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in Fiscal Year 2019 for a one-year test and evaluation trial. The DSO assembly is a steam system component that permits drainage/removal of water from a steam line while in use.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, a U.S. aircraft carrier entered the Arctic Circle Oct. 19 to conduct operations in the Norwegian Sea. Accompanied by select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG-8), USS Harry S. Truman traveled north to demonstrate the flexibility and toughness of U.S. naval forces through high-end warfare training with regional allies and partners. USS America (CV 66) was the last ship to operate in the area, participating in NATO exercise North Star in September 1991.

On Oct. 25, USS Harry S. Truman and select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG-8) joined U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps service members for the largest NATO exercise since 2015 – Trident Juncture 2018. Along with fostering stronger bonds among allies and partners, Trident Juncture ensured NATO forces are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat to global security and prosperity.

Five days later, Richardson visited Indonesia, reaffirming our commitment to our strategic partnership with the country. He highlighted the importance of the U.S. and Indonesian relationship at @america, a U.S. Embassy cultural center that helps Indonesians learn more about the U.S. and share ideas about issues that affect both nations.

Also in October, the Department of the Navy released our business operations plan, establishing the framework for the department’s continuing business reform agenda. Through greater accountability, more agile processes and improved management of business operations, the plan will enable greater efficiencies that allow the department to reallocate resources from business operations to readiness and recapitalize our naval forces for the future.

In November, Richardson visited Canberra, Australia, Nov. 1, to reinforce our commitment to U.S.-Australia alliance and explore ways to expand security cooperation.

Then, from Nov. 2 to 3, Richardson visited New Zealand to meet with its naval leadership to discuss deepening the U.S.-New Zealand naval partnership and recognize New Zealand’s role as a leader in regional security.

On Nov. 8, the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group finished exercise Keen Sword 2019 with units from the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. During the exercise, the strike group conducted several events over 13 days with the JMSDF, including logistics exchanges, replenishments-at-sea, senior leadership engagements, air-defense exercises, anti-submarine warfare exercises, and a three day war-at-sea exercise.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters/Released)

 

Also in November, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group conducted high-end dual carrier operations in the Philippine Sea, demonstrating our unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force effort.

On Nov. 11, two of the world’s most technologically sophisticated warships, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), conducted a photo exercise with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) and RFA Tidespring (A136), a Tide-class replenishment tanker of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). The rendezvous was a reminder of the long alliance between two maritime nations.

Ten days later, USS Ronald Reagan, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Curtis D. Wilbur (DDG 54) anchored in Hong Kong Harbor. Rear Adm. Karl O. Thomas, commander, Carrier Strike Group 5, said “the abundant growth and prosperity that surrounds us in Hong Kong is what the United States Seventh Fleet seeks to preserve for all nations in this important region.”

The Navy’s Surface Fleet became more capable, ready and lethal in November as surface combatants from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group completed our first East Coast Carrier Strike Group Cruiser-Destroyer Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training exercise. Rear Adm. John F. G. Wade, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, described it “as a milestone event not only for the Surface Fleet, but also for the Navy as a whole as we continue to focus on the development of tactical proficiency and lethality which is of strategic value and importance in this era of great power competition.”

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 9, 2018) Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Downing, right, an anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare tactics instructor, assigned to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, mentors Lt. Cmdr. Kris Yost, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf’s (CG 55) chief engineer, during a fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft training event in the ship’s combat information center as part of a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Marquez Magallanes/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 9, 2018) Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Downing, right, an anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare tactics instructor, assigned to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, mentors Lt. Cmdr. Kris Yost, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf’s (CG 55) chief engineer, during a fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft training event in the ship’s combat information center as part of a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Marquez Magallanes/Released)

 

On Nov. 27, we announced USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) achieved a major milestone as it launched from dry dock and moored pierside at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. It was an important step in the ongoing effort to repair and restore one of our most capable platforms, reflecting nearly a year’s worth of wide-reaching and successful coordination across multiple organizations.

On Nov. 30, we joined the nation in mourning the loss of our shipmate and former President George H.W. Bush. Among America’s few seafaring presidents, he passed away at his Houston, Texas, home at the age of 94. Bush enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 13, 1942, on his 18th birthday after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He had preflight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and became one of the youngest naval aviators. He was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 9, 1943, days before his 19th birthday.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 2, 2018) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) honor the ship's namesake, former President George H. W. Bush, by lighting Bush's initials and presidential number. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 2, 2018) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) honor the ship’s namesake, former President George H. W. Bush, by lighting Bush’s initials and presidential number. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

In December, following six days of national mourning, Bush was laid to rest in College Station, Texas, alongside his wife of 72-years, former First Lady Barbara Bush and their late daughter, Robin.

On Dec. 11, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s dynamic force employment drew to a close, departing European waters. The CSG’s deployment began in April and became highly unpredictable when the carrier and a few of its strike group ships remained in the Mediterranean Sea instead of transiting to the Middle East as expected, and then returned to its homeport in Norfolk in July after completing three months of combat operations, and cooperative exercises and engagements with NATO allies and partners in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic.

The next day, the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 completed their carrier qualifications aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), which was the final required component for Commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing to issue the squadron its safe-for-flight operations certification. This marked a major milestone for the U.S. Navy toward declaring Initial Operating Capability in 2019. The safe-for-flight operations certification was the final step for VFA-147’s transition from the F/A-18E Super Hornet to the F-35C Lightning II. This process ensures a squadron is manned with qualified personnel to implement maintenance and safety programs in support of fleet operations. All transitioning squadrons are required to complete this certification prior to independently conducting flight operations.

On the same day, the secretaries of the Navy, Army and Air Force announced a conference at the U.S. Naval Academy in April 2019 on the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault at America’s colleges and universities. The service secretaries will open the discussion to leaders and subject matter experts who are actively working to address this critical issue. Experts on the topic of sexual harassment and sexual assault from America’s leading institutions of higher learning and government officials will be invited.

Also on Dec. 12, Modly completed a three-day partnership-building visit to Norway, where he met with senior military and civilian officials to discuss security and stability issues and efforts along with touring some of the Norwegian assets and facilities.

Later in December, the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, the USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group, and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed integrated operations in the Arabian Sea. CVN-74 and LHD-2 supported Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, providing armed support to deny terror safe haven in Afghanistan and enable the Afghan Security Forces to set conditions for a political solution.

ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 14, 2018) An MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced) from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Connor D. Loessin/Released)
ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 14, 2018) An MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced) from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Connor D. Loessin/Released)

 

On Dec. 14, we held a ceremony at Naval Base Coronado to commemorate the establishment of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30, our first CMV-22B squadron. VRM-30 was established to begin our transition from the C-2A Greyhound, which has provided logistics support to aircraft carriers for four decades, to the CMV-22B, which has an increased operational range, greater cargo capacity, faster cargo loading/unloading, increased survivability and enhanced beyond-line-of-sight communications compared to the C-2A.

Two days later, nearly 6,500 Sailors from the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group returned to Naval Station Norfolk, completing an eight-month deployment. The strike group deployed April 11 as part of the ongoing rotation of forward deployed forces to support maritime security operations. Several strike group units returned to Norfolk in July 21 for a working port visit until Aug. 28 when they departed to continue their deployment. The strike group’s ships and aircraft conducted a variety of missions, including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation. The strike group also participated in numerous bi-lateral and multi-lateral engagements, including Lightning Handshake 2018, Baltic Operations 2018 and Trident Juncture 2018; as well as operations alongside Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Egypt and Norway.

NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 16, 2018) Family and friends wait on the pier for Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to return to Naval Station Norfolk (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)
NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 16, 2018) Family and friends wait on the pier for Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to return to Naval Station Norfolk (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)

 

On Dec. 17, Richardson released A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, Version 2.0, which “sets a framework by which the Navy will continue to prepare, fight, and win,” said Richardson.

On Dec. 18, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) pulled into Naval Station Norfolk, completing its deployment to South and Central America in support of Enduring Promise. Comfort’s embarked medical team worked with health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras, providing care both aboard the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partially by an increase in cross-border migrants. The deployment reflected the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Americas.

On Dec. 25, the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit entered the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. More than 4,500 Sailors and Marines are prepared to conduct a variety of missions, including maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation.

Finally, our look back at 2018 wouldn’t be complete without the ships that joined our fleet in 2018, both increasing our lethality and expanding our capacity for the Navy the Nation needs.

2018 Commissionings

As 2018 draws to a close, Naval History & Heritage Command looks back at this year's #USNavy commissionings as we continue to increase our lethality and expand our capacity, supporting the Navy the Nation needs.

Posted by U.S. Navy on Wednesday, December 26, 2018

 

As we did in 2018, we will continue in 2019 to build a more lethal force, strengthen our alliances and attract new partners, and reform for greater performance and affordability to remain the most effective global maneuver force in the world.

Be sure to stay up-to-date in 2019 by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and here on the Navy Live blog as well as subscribing to Navy News Service updates.

Check Also

Then and Now: Century of Service Shows Need for Shipyard Investment at Pearl Harbor

By Capt. Greg Burton, Commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & IMF They rushed to put …