Here Is Why the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships Punch Below Their Weight
The U.S. Navy’s newest class of small surface combatants, the Littoral Combat Ships, come with a few minor flaws. They don’t have the firepower to hit anything more than a few miles away. They’re unlikely to survive being hit by anything in return. They cost more than twice as much... Read more
The U.S. Navy Still Hasn’t Figured Out How to Make a Decent Uniform
In 2016, the U.S. Navy announced it would dump the much-derided NWU Type I — also known as the “blueberry” or “aquaflage” — after it was revealed in 2012 that the uniforms are flammable. Fire, of course, is one of the greatest threats to sailors. That was the worst... Read more
The U.S. Navy’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes Watch for Chinese Stealth Fighters
The Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye completed its first aerial refueling earlier this summer. The new capability, which will be eventually be retrofitted onto the U.S. Navy’s entire E-2D fleet, will greatly increase the range and endurance of the Advanced Hawkeye. That is particularly important as the United States... Read more
The U.S. Navy’s Secret Undersea Lair
This story originally appeared on June 24, 2013. Point Sur is 600 feet of tough rock facing Pacific rollers that come 6,000 miles to pound the central California coast. Like the 19th-century lighthouse that marks the Point, the now-derelict compound of the former Naval Facility Point Sur evokes another... Read more
The U.S. Navy Readies Its New Missile Submarine
In September 2017, the U.S. Navy awarded shipbuilder Electric Boat $5 billion to proceed with the design phase of the next generation of U.S. nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, also known as SSBNs or “boomers.” A dozen Columbia-class submarines will start replacing the 14 enormous but stealthy Ohio-class boats that constitute the scariest... Read more
The U.S. Congress Could Save the Navy’s Oldest Cruisers
The U.S. Congress is beginning to write the Defense Department’s budget for 2018. For the Navy, that means yet another heated debate over the future of the branch’s 22 Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers. The Navy wants to decommission 11 of the 567-foot-long cruisers at a rate of two per year... Read more
Five Times the U.S. Navy Was ‘Sunk’ in Battle
It’s crucial to remember and learn from defeat. People and the institutions they comprise commonly tout past triumphs while soft pedaling setbacks. That’s natural, isn’t it? Winning is the hallmark of a successful team, losing a hateful thing. And yet debacles oftentimes have their uses. They supply a better... Read more
Why the U.S. Navy Loves Big Aircraft Carriers
A new RAND Corporation study has concluded that bigger aircraft carriers such as the Gerald R. Ford-class are more effective and more survivable than smaller carriers. While a slightly smaller 70,000-ton design would be cheaper to operate, such a vessel would be more vulnerable while costing extra money to develop and... Read more
The U.S. Navy Turned Its Drone Helicopter Into a Mine-Detector
The U.S. Navy’s helicopter-like Fire Scout drone can now operate an advanced sensor giving it increased ability to detect and destroy mines and submarines from a Littoral Combat Ship, service officials said. The new sensor, designed for combat and surveillance missions in littoral waters, is called the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance... Read more
What Would the Athenians Think of the U.S. Navy’s Mishaps?
U.S. Navy leaders should drink hemlock! Some of them, I mean. Figuratively. That would be the Greek approach to solving the Navy’s woes, at any rate. Take Athens. Ancient Athenians were hypersensitive about individual accountability. Athenians enforced accountability remorselessly, and these radical democrats seldom did things halfway. They went... Read more

James Holmes

Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College.

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