23 OCTOBER 2013
It’s traditional we say aloha at a function like this, so I will. But before I start, I’d like to pile on my thanks with the previous speakers to the Naval Submarine League. For not only what you’ve organized here today but what you do throughout the year. I’ve had an opportunity to go through the charter of the Naval Submarine League and the very first is to educate the broader America about what we do in the Submarine Force and I will tell you I think you’ve done a very admirable job and I certainly appreciate all the support that I and my forces have been provided by the League.
I’ve been out at SUBPAC for the past two months and during that time we’ve had two submarines deploy from Submarine Forces Pacific. The last one finished up their FRTP, the process for preparing themselves for deployment, just last week. At the very end of that process we have the commodore of the submarine squadron come in and brief the type commander and staff, and to the school house, the progress of his submarine over that time period.
It’s an informative look. It allows me the opportunity to see the progress of that submarine as it went from the basic phase to intermediate to advanced and all the exams and metrics we have in between to mark their progress. Ideally, you want a nice, smooth, upward slope of their performance. Occasionally, it’s not quite that smooth and upward and we have a lot of questions. The commodore explains how he’s arrived at his determination that they are indeed ready to deploy. Following the Commodore’s brief, I have a chance to sit down and talk to the CO before he finishes up whatever his ship needs to do and then deploys. And during that time we talk about the assessment, how the FRTP process went, what his strengths are, what his weaknesses are, what he needs to work on, get his view of his team’s performance. It’s very enlightening. There’s three things that I draw from this meeting. The first is that it was a mere twelve years ago when I was sitting in the seat that he was sitting in and I was looking across the table at Admiral Padgett and going through the a similar series of questions and discussion. So I wondered, “would I rather be back in his chair or do I like where I’m sitting right now?” And all of us kind yearn to go back and operate the submarine, but I appreciate the seat I am in.
Secondly, it’s very apparent that producing deployed readiness is a complex, integrated process with many, many stakeholders. Admiral Richardson talked about the process from his perspective. And I will tell you from my perspective as a type commander, that it’s just not the ship and the squadron, and the type commander and the school house and the maintenance organizations that are involved in the process. It’s also the dental, the medical, the supply organizations and many, many other organizations that have a play in that. It is extremely complex, and there are sometimes second or third order effects in that process that are not readily apparent for a period of time once the changes are made. And so, I’m concerned with that as we move to the future, and we operate in a more
fiscally constrained environment. We have to be very, very conscious and aware of second and third order effects for our deployed readiness.
The third thing is that no matter the fiscal environment that we find ourselves in – that the standards that we’re going to maintain for our submarines will remain high. Whether it’s tactical readiness evaluation, or an advance pre-deployment training for the ship, it’s critically important that they remain high. Our standards are high because we operate in an unforgiving environment in operationally relevant, challenging areas. Because are standards are high, we will periodically have failures in that process. While that’s not desirable, it’s not unexpected. The ship that we did this assessment on, had a failure earlier on in the system and so we talked through his corrective action and it was very clear that they were able to work through the issues and at the end be at the standards we require for our submarines.
I think the whole process of preparing a submarine for deployment, and certifying for deployment is one of the most
important things that we do. The other part I learned from this process is that out there at SUBPAC as a type commander, I’m somewhat insulated from a lot of the fiscal chum that goes on. Now, as I looked across my FY-14 budgets and what we’re looking at for 15, we’ve taken cuts. We all have. But overall as I look at it, I don’t think they are cuts that any of my predecessors haven’t had to deal with. So I look at that and I think that it is, from my perspective, manageable. One area that I am most concerned with is the impact to our shipyards and the effect of shipyard hiring freezes which in essence, delays the fixing, the repairing, the maintenance of the submarines. This impacts ship’s schedule. Which impacts my ability to produce deployed readiness. I don’t expect this will be a significant issue in FY-14. Likely, it may start manifesting itself in FY-15 or 16 if we can’t make some corrections.
As everybody up here prior to me has mentioned, our strategic forces, particularly Ohio Replacement Program, is our number one priority. And I’m not going to belabor the strategic forces too much because following me, we have Admirals Rick Breckinridge and Dave Johnson, and both will speak about the Ohio Replacement Program. We have the CO NEVADA who will also speak. But let me give you my perspective as a type commander for SSBN forces. First of all, I think of all the areas under my portfolio, it’s probably one of my most challenging. And that is generating SSBN readiness, SSBN deployments. These platforms are aging, the average age of our SSBNs is twenty three years. Squadron Seventeen in the PACNORWEST, and Squadron Twenty in King’s Bay, produce year in, year out, more deployed readiness than all the rest of the submarine squadrons combined. They are doing an amazing job and the commodores, I’ll mention them here; John Tolliver was relieved by Mark Benning up at Squadron Seventeen and Chris Harkins down in Squadron Twenty in Kings Bay. And the two leaders for those groups: Group Nine is Dietrich Kuhlmann, Group Ten was Joe Tofalo, he’s just recently been relieved by Chaz Richards. When we say that they’re doing phenomenal efforts by our people it is exactly that. They are producing deployed readiness at a level that nowhere else in our Submarine Force, do we do it.
The CNO has a publication called Sailing Directions. He has three tenets in there: war fighting first, operate forward and be ready. So I’m going to walk through the first two of those. War fighting first.. Admiral Harris relieved Admiral Haney last week as Commander of the Pacific Fleet, and he closed his change of command ceremony with, and I’m going to paraphrase, “The adversary isn’t pausing during this ceremony. Let’s end it and get back to work.” And I say that because we’re going to go through challenges here in the future, our potential adversaries aren’t going to care. They’re going to continue to march to whatever their strategic plan is and so we have to recognize that and we have to look at both materiel and non-materiel solutions of how we would conduct contingency operations and war fighting. Two materiel ones that were also identified by Admiral Connors UnderSea Dornanance Plan, and they are UUVs and UAVs.
The UAV perspective is a fairly simple one for us. We want to use UAVs to extend our ‘reach’ Depending upon the scenario, this may mean we launch and control the UAV. The reach it extends is my ability to look over the horizon, my ability to organically understand what it is that’s over there so I can best understand what I need to do to optimize my submarine’s position or advise my operational commander. Second, are the UUVs, and there’s a lot of continued discussion about UUVs. They also will extend our reach, go to areas that my submarines can’t, and also as Admiral Connor said, it’s about payloads. There are a lot of things that smart people can think of to do with UUVs and how they may fill a seam, cover a gap in some capability or area that would be beneficial to us. Along these lines, very recently we designated Devron Five as the Submarine Force lead for the TTP development for UUVs.
Devron Five is working on a roadmap that will deliver capability and trained operators to the force. They are working with N97 and other stakeholders including in N2N6, to make sure they’ve got that right and then we’ll publish it. They will be our go-to organization that has our subject matter experts on UUVs. I think that non-materiel solutions are very important also because we have to continue to look at what our potential adversaries are doing and how we’re going to overcome what they’re doing with or without materiel solutions. So on the non-materiel side, the two type commanders with intel support and the fleet support we look at this A2/AD environment. If we had to go to battle now with a potential adversary that could put an A2/ AD environment out, what exactly would we do? How would we do our current missions and tasking given that type of environment? There are some things that you can do with our platforms as they are. Along with that A2/AD environment, we’re always concerned about satellites and whether we’ll have communications and whether we’ll have GPS. We also have to plan in case that may be the eventuality. And part of those plans, and part of that experimentation, part of that real world TTP development that we are doing is being done by our forward deployed operational commanders.
We have two, one in Group Eight in the Mediterranean, Admiral Bob Burke, and one out in West Pac, which also covers the Persian Gulf Admiral Stuart Munsch. They both are doing phenomenal work; they are on the demand side of the supply demand equation. We talk to them regularly. The relationship we have between our forward operational commanders and the type commanders, and the submarine leadership at large, is very, very tight, almost seamless if you will, which is a great advantage to us in the Submarine Force.
So, when I was CTF-74/ CTF-54 I had a lot of people that came by and visited. Oftentimes they asked the question, “Okay, you’re the operational commander, you’re looking at the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf and what is it we could give you that would make your job easier?” Over time I evolved two answers for that. My first was, “Give me unlimited weapons capability.” Of course, we want more, we want better. My point on that is that, our heavyweight torpedo, is a phenomenal weapon, it really is, there’s none like it. However, perhaps we ought to be looking at some way of delivering the same type of kill capability with an increased capacity. Unlimited would be ideal, clearly that may not be realistic, but since they asked me what I want, I’m telling them. I want to be able to send my submarine in and let him relentlessly hunt and kill all those that he is supposed to and not have to pull back out because he has run out of torpedoes.
The second answer I provided was I want a smart mine that can travel thirty to forty nautical miles and I can program it. I can tell it, “Blow up or not blow up.” I want a smart mine with that capability. I think we should work hard on developing a long-range mine. Very recently we launched a Submarine Launched Mobile Mine out in Hawaii. I had heard, I don’t know quite where I heard it, that we were out of the offensive mining capability, which is not true. We have offensive mining capability, we have the SLMM mine and we just shot some exercise shots out in Hawaii. So I think the mine is a valuable weapon. It’s not only an offensive weapon but it also can be a cost-imposing weapon.
Admiral Padgett mentioned I was from Guam, I’m not a Guamanian but I’m very familiar with Guam and 1 would start with, if you haven’t been to Guam within the last three years, it’s changed a lot. From the Submarine Force perspective we have put considerable investment into our infrastructure. First, we’ve built a squadron building and co-located the training center with it. It’s brought us a synergy that allows a squadron, the training command and the units that are deployed out there and home ported out there to have a place where they can sit down and talk about deployed operations. We have three home ported submarines in Guam, the fourth will arrive in calendar year 15. I always called the submarines we have home ported in Guam, “my 911 force”, when I was CTF-74. If there was a contingency that I needed a submarine for, I was looking to Guam first. They had the experience, it was their back yard and I expected those guys to always be up on the ramp to be able to go do whatever it is I needed them to do as the operational commander.
We are training and building a cadre of submariners out there that have a significant amount of Western Pacific experience. That experience they also bring to bear for deployers when they come to Guam. They are able to mass, if you will, in classified areas and talk about operations. They are able to share data deployer to deployer and between Guam boat to deployer similar to what our acoustic intelligence specialists do. So there’s a great synergy of US submarine operations and knowledge out there.
Guam, historically, has been a stop for the Japanese and the Korean submarines as they come to Hawaii. They stop for fuel, food, relaxation, whatever, then they proceed to Hawaii, come to RIMPAC, or other exercises. It’s been a good relationship. What we’re trying to evolve to make Guam their destination also, in between exercising in HI. Bring their submarines to Guam, we can operate there bilaterally or multilaterally in a good environment for submarines .. The value of having the Japanese and the Koreans continue to come to Guam is it provides our submarines experience with diesel submarines and that is precious. We get the opportunity to operate, to train and to practice a lot with our allies.
Guam is a logistics hub and it’s a maintenance hub for West-pac. A kind of an 800 pound gorilla there is the tender. And I know we’ve got many tender folks here in the audience. A tender remains the submariner’s best friend. On deployment you like nothing better than to tum the corner and to see the tender there and the repair department waiting to come down and to support your ship. Our two tenders, our forward deployed tenders, Frank Cable and Emory S. Land do phenomenal work for us. I’m not sure they get all the credit that they really deserve. But the submariners recognize and appreciate the value that the two tenders bring. You may have seen here just recently EMORY S. LAND won the Secretary of Defense’s Field Level Maintenance Award for 2013. One of the three winners and the only one in that category.
The other thing about the tenders that I think we need to do a little bit better job on as a Submarine Force is to educate the rest of the Navy on exactly what the tender provides. Because it provides much more than just deployed submarine maintenance. That’s what we think of it as. But whenever there’s excess capacity in the repair department, and periodically there is, we offer that excess capacity out to the surface fleet and I will tell you there are no happier surface fleet sailors than the MCMs and the PCs when they get a tender alongside to do some work. The story I tell is of a minesweeper CO who only put in for 25 work requests. A typical submarine will drop 100 on you in a heartbeat. And this minesweeper CO said, “Well, I’m really kind of concerned, I don’t want to give you guys too much work, I don’t want to ruin this relationship I had with you.” And I said, “You’ve got a 45-men crew, I have a 700-men repair department, give us all your two kilos, we will come, we’ll fix those things you’re unable to get fixed.”
We sent LAND out to Fifth Fleet on a rotational deployment and I almost didn’t think I was going to get the tender back to Seventh Fleet, because the Fifth Fleet commander, kept coming up with reasons to keep her inport. But they did a lot of work, they did a lot of work for our surface fleet, our amphibs and our MCMs and our PCs in particular.
I talk about RIMPAC 2012 to remind us all that as we move forward, we are going to rely more and more on support from our allies. We leverage it considerably, obviously both from NATO and our Westpac allies, friends and partners. Many things we could not do without their support. You can surge a lot of things. I can surge a deployed submarine in time of contingency, I can surge people to help, I can surge a lot of folks to Japan for Operation Tomodachi. And we did. But the one thing that you cannot surge is, you cannot surge trust. So you have to be there to build relationships and build partnerships with these folks. And so it’s in our best interest.
And lastly, Admiral Connor mentioned the Theater UnderSea Warfare Commander and that is a combination of the ASW commander and the Mine Warfare commander reporting under one hat, which is what we envision the future being. In 2014, we will test the concept by merging the Theater ASW team and Mine Warfare team into a Theater UnderSea Warfare team. So I’m sure there will be a lot of lessons to learn that come out of that.
I’m going to end as I started and tell the Naval Submarine League, for all you do for us, my sincere appreciations. And with that, thank you very much! I’ll take questions.
Question: Admiral, the United States is taking a lot of international flak for having unmanned but armed UAVs. Do you think that’s going to inhibit any future development of unmanned but armed UUVs?
Answer: That’s a very good question, that’s a very challenging question. And I know there’s a lot of policy makers that are wrestling with that. I don’t know what that answer’s going to be, I do know that we can use the unmanned aerial vehicles in the issues that are going on to educate and inform us as we go down that path for arming UUVs.
Question: My question is are there plans in the future for the US Navy to increase the collaboration between US submarines in the Pacific and those submarine forces of allies, like Japan, their submarine forces is said to be increased from 16 submarines to 22 and of course the South Koreans have a [?] Submarine Force and with the Australians and the nascent Singaporian submarine force. A sort of like a network cooperative engagement capability sort of collaboration might be possible, are there plans to do so in the future?
Answer: Thank you, it’s a good question. In the Undersea Warfare magazine in spring of this year – that magazine’s the one put out by N97 – that had as the main focus was what we’re doing in the Pacific. And particularly, Pacific Submarine Forces. And that issue had articles written by Singaporean Navy, Indonesian, Australia, Republic of Korea and Japan. And if you read through articles from their Submarine Force commanders, it is very clear that they value operations and working with the United States Navy both from an ally perspective and also from an ability to learn from each other. So my view is they want to continue to operate and maybe expand operations with us. So I would be completely and very open to those types of operations in the future. Thank you.