A couple of interesting stories about the Navy in the news. As many of you know, I don't consider myself a very capable Navy blogger, but 21 years in uniform leave me with some enduring interest therein.
Firstly, the Secretary of the Navy has decided to name the next VIRGINIA Class Submarine after retired VA Senator John Warner. This is a travesty on several levels. I can't for the life of me figure out the naming convention we're using for ships anymore. Ships used to be classed together with names deriving from a common theme, but now it seems that ships get named after whatever political back needs scratching. Additionally, I'm just not a John Warner fan. Warner is a pompous show-horse, a shell of a man with a limited intellect and a seemingly endless supply of bloviation. His back stab of Ollie North when North ran for the Senate was unforgivable, and his failure to vote for the perjury charge against Bill Clinton in the Senate trial simply defied understanding.
Next, a blue-ribbon panel convened by SECDEF after the Air Force foibles with nuclear weapons has largely bestowed upon the Navy a big, fat, wet kiss. The key graph: “The attitude of the Air Force was: ‘We know that the president and the secretary of defense don’t give a damn about what we do,’ ” the authors wrote. “The attitude of the Navy was: ‘We know that the president and the secretary of defense don’t care — but we do.’ "
The report does go on to say that the Navy Surface and Air communities have lost the skills and practices associated with nuclear weapons safety, and they recommend at least some of those programs be reconstituted to some level. I don't agree. When Bush I signed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement that removed such weapons from ships (and aircraft), an incredible burden was removed from those ships. As a young Ensign and Lieutenant JG, I was the Nuclear Weapons Safety Officer on a ship, and the requirements were grinding. The weapons ships carried at the time were deemed easy enough to deal away in a treaty, so the programs that supported them were almost instantly terminated. Unless there is some plan I do not know of, returning nukes to ships isn't likely to happen any time soon. If we did decide to do so, the submarine community could easily be tapped to reconstitute the capability in ships.