Sunday, May 08, 2005
“One Ship a Week Would be Allowed to Stay Out Overnight…”
In the most unlikely places, you sometimes find out how history repeats itself. I was having dinner with a former shipmate. While retired, he is a contractor to support a major training system and therefore is around the waterfront, and on the ships underway, on a regular basis. I asked how the fleet was doing, and he told me the forward deployed ships, which now have rotating crews are a problem. For years, the SSBN units had “blue” and “gold” crews, that would take turns taking the submarine to sea for deterrent patrols. I hadn’t been following surface operations closely, so I found out we are now doing it on the surface combatants. The forward deployed hulls seem to be doing find, but “they (the deploying crews) are even taking the light bulbs (from the hull they inhabit Stateside) with them. It would take them three months to get XXXXXXXX ready to get underway.” That comment took me back to 1980. I was Missile Officer and was responsible for the newly installed NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System (NSSMS). For full operational certification, we had to fire two “birds” (AIM-9F) to finish the Combat Systems Qualification Trail (CSSQT). The civil servant from Naval Surface Weapons Systems, Port Hueneme assigned at the Systems Command team leader was an older gentleman who had enlisted in the Navy about a year before Pearl Harbor. In between testing, he told me about the Navy of so many years ago. He told me how there were many destroyers in San Diego, all painted up and with shined brass fittings. A few ships would be sent out to sea each week, but they had to return that evening. One ship a week would get to stay out for the night While the conditions are not exactly the same, the concept is very similar. He told me they would regularly, rhetorically ask: “She looks good, but can she sail?” Are we there again? Then again, maybe the “skimmers” have discovered the fine art of using “hanger queens” in order to met operational requirements, refined by our aviation brethren.