How a Rocket Explosion Nearly Consumed a Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier
A series of collisions involving U.S. Navy destroyers in 2016 and 2017 — including two incidents this summer that left 16 sailors dead — have raised questions as to why the maritime fighting branch appears to be suffering the same accident again and again. However, it can take time... Read more
How Fire and Fatigue Almost Destroyed an American Carrier
Two deadly collisions involving U.S. Navy destroyers in June and August 2017 cost the lives of 16 sailors, leading the Navy to declare a day-long operational pause to reflect upon its safety culture. That such similar accidents took place in such close proximity reflects stresses and failings common to the maritime... Read more
You Needed Grit to Dive On a Target in an A-4 Skyhawk
Modern jet fighters continue to grow ever more complicated and more fantastically expensive. But some of the most influential aircraft in history succeeded instead because they could do their job pretty well at a very reasonable cost. Such was the case of the agile A-4 Skyhawk, a small but... Read more
The U.S. Navy’s Greatest Enemy Might Be Exhaustion
With the USS John S. McCain knocked out of commission after a collision on Aug. 21 near the Straits of Malacca, the U.S. Navy is down two ballistic missile defense-capable Aegis destroyers in the Pacific. With USS Fitzgerald being also being knocked out of action after a June 17 collision... Read more
We’ve Caught a Glimpse of Northrop’s Carrier-Launched Tanker Drone
The U.S. Navy’s future drone tanker has begun to break cover. In mid-August 2017, the first photos appeared depicting Northrop Grumman’s entry in the Navy’s Carrier-Based Aerial Refueling System, or CBARS — the years-long effort to produce the first drone warplane for the Navy’s carrier air wings. The photos,... Read more
Sailors Missing, Heavy Damage After the Second U.S. Destroyer Collision in Two Months
Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five were injured after the Liberian-flagged tanker ship Alnic MC collided with the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John S. McCain off the Malaysian coast before sunrise on Aug. 21, 2017. The damage from the 600-foot-long, 30,000-ton tanker vessel’s impact on John S. McCain... Read more
The Captain of the Carrier USS ‘Franklin’ Is a Case Study in How Not to Lead
Seldom does your humble scribe come away incensed from reading history. The saga of the World War II aircraft carrier USS Franklin constitutes an exception. We normally think of Franklin’s history as a parable about the importance of shipboard firefighting and damage control. It’s about materiel and methods, in other... Read more
Soviet Nuke Attack Could Have Cut Off U.S. Missile Submarines
This story originally appeared on Oct. 16, 2015. A key component of the U.S. doctrine of mutually assured destruction — commonly and appropriately known as MAD — was that American troops would still be able to retaliate if the Soviet Union launched a nuclear attack. But for a time, the Pentagon... Read more
Forget ‘God-Damned Steam,’ the U.S. Navy’s Digital Catapult Actually Works
On July 28, 2017, a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter became the first fixed-wing airplane to land on and launch from the Navy’s new aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford. The Super Hornet belonged to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23, based at Patuxent River in Maryland. Lt.... Read more
In the Future, U.S. Navy Assault Ships Will Face More Threats in More Places
The USS Portland, or LPD 27, recently completed a series of at-sea tests including full power runs, self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, evaluations of combat and communications systems, rapid ballast/de-ballast operations, steering checks and anchor handling demonstrations. Portland is part of a broader Navy and Marine Corps strategy to prepare amphibious... Read more
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