US Navy

Navy Efforts in Gulf Reflect New Mar­itime Strat­e­gy

By Fred W. Bak­er III
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2008 — The U.S. Navy’s efforts in the Per­sian Gulf are sym­bol­ic of the Navy’s future and reflect the essence of the forces’ new mar­itime strat­e­gy, the chief of naval oper­a­tions said today.

“It’s that naval force … that is guar­an­tee­ing that free flow and the safe­ty and secu­ri­ty of those very pre­cious com­modi­ties,” said Navy Adm. Gary Roug­head today at a Pen­ta­gon news brief­ing. “That’s what navies do. And the fact that we are oper­at­ing in con­cert with our friends in the region and oth­er nations who con­tribute to the coali­tion speaks to the essence of our mar­itime strat­e­gy, which is one of coop­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion.”

The admi­ral spoke to reporters just as he is fin­ish­ing his four-month mark in the Navy’s top mil­i­tary posi­tion. Roug­head said he has spent the past months vis­it­ing ser­vice­mem­bers in the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand area of oper­a­tions, where more sailors are serv­ing on land than on ships, many doing jobs nor­mal­ly per­formed by ground forces.

“It was a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to see what our young men and women are doing over there and the con­tri­bu­tions that they are mak­ing,” he said. “The indi­vid­ual aug­mentees that we have there are doing great work. They bring a range of capa­bil­i­ties and capac­i­ties to the ground forces that are there, and when they come back … they bring a per­spec­tive that I think is healthy for our Navy and actu­al­ly enhance who we are.”

Besides vis­it­ing sailors over­seas, Roug­head said, he has also been vis­it­ing major ship­yards in the Unit­ed States, talk­ing with con­trac­tors and review­ing build­ing process­es.

This is crit­i­cal as he begins to try to build the Navy to 313 ships, a base­line for what is need­ed for future oper­a­tions, he said.

“We need at least that num­ber to be able to engage, to be present, to devel­op the types of rela­tion­ships, and from that rela­tion­ship, the trust that goes with being able to con­duct coop­er­a­tive and col­lab­o­ra­tive oper­a­tions around the world,” the admi­ral said. “I do believe that being out there does require a Navy that has the capac­i­ty and the capa­bil­i­ty and — equal­ly impor­tant — the bal­ance across a range of mis­sion areas that allow us oper­ate a glob­al Navy.”

One of the issues is the expense for build­ing new ships. One of its new ships, crit­i­cal to fill­ing in gaps in its new strat­e­gy, is the small, fast Lit­toral Com­bat Ship. It is designed to patrol “green water” areas, or the regions along the coast. Already fac­ing tech­ni­cal and finan­cial prob­lems, the ship’s build­ing costs have dou­bled to about $460 mil­lion. Two con­tracts for LCS ships have been can­celled because of cost over­runs. Two designs are due this year for test­ing before the Navy choos­es one design for devel­op­ment.

Still, Roug­head said, the LCS devel­op­ment dri­ves the ship­build­ing _plan, and the cut­ting of the two con­tracts was nec­es­sary to pre­serve the pro­gram as a whole.

“We have to inject in our process the dis­ci­pline to con­trol the require­ments that we’ve placed into the ships,” Roug­head said. “We have to put in there what we need, not what we want. We also have to make sure that we’re doing every­thing to con­trol costs.”

One _plan for reduc­ing costs of future ship­build­ing is to explore using a com­mon hull, he said. “We can no longer design a dif­fer­ent ship for every dif­fer­ent mis­sion that we have,” he acknowl­edged.

To reduce costs and build the force, the Navy and ship­builders will have to work togeth­er, the admi­ral said, “because at the end of the day the Navy and the ship­build­ing indus­try have the same desire … to build capa­ble ships for our Navy, and that is a high pri­or­i­ty of mine,” he said.

Roug­head said he sees build­ing tomorrow’s Navy at the top of his pri­or­i­ties, along with main­tain­ing readi­ness and bol­ster­ing the service’s recruit­ing and reten­tion efforts.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)