Construction Examination


“But we do want to rely less and less on flyaway teams; this is a Navy-wide cultural shift. We want our ships to be kept repaired at sea, and so we want to limit the number of [casualty reports] that are being [sent], we want the number of technical assist requirements of having to send flyaway teams to be reduced, and we want to enter these shipyard availabilities … in better material condition. So this is part of this warfighting cultural shift to just have the captains keep their ships repaired at sea, and that’s an extremely important part of this initiative.” Rear Adm. here Blake Converse, the commander of Naval Submarine Force Pacific, said in his remarks during the virtual event that he worried about the fleet’s ability to do maintenance in the shipyards and in expeditionary locations, especially if the attack submarine fleet were to grow in the coming decades as Navy and Pentagon leadership have discussed. Converse noted that the Navy has 50 attack submarines today, compared to about 100 at the end of the Cold War. Still, despite the SSN force shrinking to half its former size, the infrastructure to maintain and support it has shrunk even more: the Navy has just two submarine tenders today compared to 12, four public shipyards compared to 11, just two fixed undersea Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) stations compared to 22, and many fewer maritime patrol aircraft and surveillance ships to help support SSN operations compared to the later years of the Cold War. “This is concerning today, and as we increase our SSN force structure over the next two decades, it will become a crisis without dedicated action today,” Converse said specifically of the maintenance capacity, though he said he worried about boosting the other undersea warfare support systems too. Artist’s conception of the Boeing and HII Orca XLUUV. Boeing Image Converse spoke at length about the improvements he hoped to see in unmanned systems – both moving vehicles and fixed seabed sensors – that will help the attack submarine fleet do its job better. On the mobile side, the fleet has unmanned underwater vehicles, remotely operated vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles that can feed information to attack subs.