Saturday, February 28, 2015

Navy's New Maritime Strategy Includes More Destroyers To Pacific

U.S. Navy leaders' plans to forward deploy two more destroyers to Japan and base another attack submarine in Guam appear to be part of a new maritime strategy expected to be released by the Navy next month. While most of the details of the new strategy for the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard will not yet be discussed by Navy officials, the effort does include a new examination of the sea-services' ability to forward deploy and project power in global hotspots such as the Pacific theater and Middle East. "The sea services have updated the maritime strategy in response to changes in the global security environment, new strategic guidance and a changed fiscal environment," said Lt. Timothy Hawkins, a Navy spokesman, told The new maritime strategy, called "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward Engaged Ready," will provide a comprehensive overview and build upon Navy priorities such as the need for deterrence, Hawkins explained. "The principles of our maritime strategy largely remain the same from 2007. It continues to prioritize and value forward presence while emphasizing the continued need for the primary functions of a maritime service which are – deterrence, power projection, sea-control and maritime security," he said. While Navy officials did not specify whether the new strategy takes up the issue of the Pentagon's Pacific rebalance, officials told reporters that the document does address the challenges maritime forces face when it comes to accessing and operating in more "contested" environments. Regarding the Pacific rebalance, Hawkins did re-iterate that the Navy plans to base as much as 60-percent of its fleet in the Pacific region by 2020. Also, speaking Feb. 26 before the House Appropriations Committee – Defense subcommittee hearing on the Navy budget, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert made reference to the Navy's ongoing push to rebalance to the Pacific. Greenert said the Navy's force of attack submarines based in Guam will be increased this year. He also made reference to the fact that two additional destroyers will be forward deployed to Japan. By the end of this year, the number of attack submarines the Navy rotates through Guam will jump from three to four, service officials said. Also, the Navy's aegis-capable a guided missile cruiser, the USS Chancellorsville, will rotate through Japan by the end of 2015, service officials said.
USS Chancellorsville (CG-62)
At the moment, the Navy operates one carrier, seven destroyers, four mine-sweeping vessels, two cruisers and six amphibious ships from Japan, Hawkins said. In addition, the Navy has included the rotation of Littoral Combat Ships through Singapore, the deployment of the P-8 surveillance plane and a rotation of Marines through Australia as portions of the Pacific rebalance. "We have the USS Fort Worth Littoral Combat Ship on deployment over there out of Singapore. When she completes a 16-month deployment, the next ship that comes over will stay. Then another will join and then two more -- so we will have four Littoral Combat Ships by the end of 2017 in Singapore," Greenert told lawmakers. The Chief of Naval Operations also detailed plans to base the Navy's carrier-based variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, in the Pacific region. "Our Joint Strike Fighter will deploy to the Western Pacific by the end of this decade. So you see the trend we are putting all the forces out there, either forward stationed or they will deploy there first," Greenert added. Naval threat assessments and technology development have also squarely been aimed at preparing the force to operate in the Pacific theater, Greenert explained to lawmakers. "We have benchmarked anti-air, anti-submarine, electronic attack and cyber all to how they would perform in the Western Pacific against potential adversaries out there," he said. Greenert also said U.S. relations with allies in the region remained strong, citing Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam. He also added that new partnership opportunities were emerging with India.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

US Icebreaker Polar Star Reaches Boat Trapped In Ice Near Antarctica

Rescuers on Friday reached an Australian fishing boat trapped in the ice near Antarctica with 26 people aboard, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement. The Coast Guard dispatched the icebreaker Polar Star on Tuesday to rescue the 207-foot Antarctic Chieftan, after the vessel damaged three of its four propeller blades and lost the ability to move in the thick ice, the Coast Guard said. Polar Star traveled more than 430 miles, encountering snowy conditions and large icebergs before reaching the vessel stuck about 900 miles northeast of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.
USCGC Polar Star
"It is with a great sense of pride that we are able to assist Antarctic Chieftain," Polar Star Commanding Officer Capt. Matthew Walker said in a statement. "Search and rescue has always been our core mission and Polar Star is demonstrating the Coast Guard's commitment to saving lives in all the world's oceans." The Polar Star will attempt to free the fishing boat from the ice. The New Zealand fishing boat Janas will then escort or tow the vessel to the nearest safe harbor, the Coast Guard said.

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