Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Doesn't Pass The Smell Test

A standard article about a submarine switching homeports to Portsmouth for an overhaul has one sentence that stands out like a sore thumb:
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard union officials hailed the Navy's decision announced Friday to have the USS Virginia call the shipyard its homeport as a key move that could stave off future threats to close the facility...
... O'Connor said the shipyard will now be the homeport of the Navy's newest Virgina-class submarine, which "could level the playing field for us."...
... New Hampshire Sens. Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen, and Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins jointly announced Friday the U.S. Department of Navy directed that the USS Virginia (SSN 774) will have its homeport changed to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard effective Oct. 1, 2010. The USS Virginia will undergo a planned maintenance period at the shipyard through April 2012...
... O'Connor said the Navy's announcement could also usher in a new long-term relationship with the shipyard that will not be as tenuous as it has been in the past.
He said the submarine's crew members and their families will be permanently stationed in the Seacoast region instead of just during scheduled overhaul maintenance periods.
Overlooking the problem where they say the Virginia is the "newest" (as opposed to the oldest) Virginia-class submarine, I'm pretty sure that the union official talking in the last quoted paragraph either doesn't really know what's going on, or is being intentionally misleading. He seems to be saying that the submarine would stay homeported at PNSY after the overhaul ends in 2012. Since there's no training infrastructure there, that makes no sense at all, and I really hope the Navy isn't seriously considering such an idiotic move. Since the press release of one of the Senators involved doesn't mention anything about a continuing homeport shift, I'm assuming there's nothing to this at all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing to it, it just means that instead of pulling sailors away from their families for the entire time they will let the families move up to the area. it's a beautiful area for the families, but life stinks for the sailors, especially the nukes. The forward sailors will still have to make a three hour trek through the dead of winter to use the trainers in Groton, since until a van load of sailors dies on the road the navy won't build any level of training infrastructure at the shipyard. Virginia will most definitely change homeports again once their modernization is done.

11/24/2009 2:35 AM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

There is always another reason, when ships are homeported in shipyards they are usually special and need a lot of love and care.

11/24/2009 4:54 AM

Blogger Jenn and Eric said...

Virginia is changing homeports while in the shipyards. This is due to the amount of time they are scheduled to be there. Most of the time, we know that boats are told 6 months in the yards, and it ends up being a year or more. This time, they are saying it will be 2 years in the yards. Because of this, they COH'ing the boat, temporarily, to allow the families to come to NH with the crew, instead of TAD'ing the men to NH. Virginia will be COH'd back to Groton once she is done in the yards.

(We just transferred off the Virginia)

11/24/2009 6:17 AM

Blogger T.J. said...

Why in the world does a boat that new need 2 years in the yard?

Must be some major changes/upgrades.

I agree, either the quoted guy in the story is clueless or trying to mislead.

11/24/2009 6:26 AM

Blogger Chap said...

I remember showing up to the boat and seeing a letter that read "We are in month 37 of a scheduled 18-month DMP"...

Lotta dudes have been complaining about the bone job of o'haul in a different yard than homeport (Pearl to Bangor, for instance; knew guys who reported aboard and immediately set sail for WA, leaving their families who just arrived in HI by themselves). Maybe some common sense is being applied?

Nah, can't be.

11/24/2009 6:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mare Island always had boats home ported there. Maybe this is a similar situation.

11/24/2009 7:31 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

This appears to be a routine change of homeport for an extended yard period. The "lifesaving" aspect is that PNSY is getting its first Virginia Class overhaul (I guess they are calling it Depot Maintenance these days). In any case, it will put the crew and families together a little closer to the New England ski resorts. Not that the crew will have much time for skiing. Good luck in the yards. They were a grind forty years ago and I am sure that that has not changed.

11/24/2009 8:50 AM

Blogger SJV said...

Dead of winter in CT isn't so bad, but maybe the trainer could be put in a cargo trailer and moved from SY to SY.

With the high cost of living on the east coast, maybe we should look at setting up a shipyard in Michigan. Lots of available workers there. St. Lawrence Seaway would be even easier than the path up to the DIG ball. I'd love to have a picture of that Scuttlebut Drawing ; )

11/24/2009 9:45 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

The news story is curious.

I expect a NavyTimes follow-up article will soon clarify some questions raised above. If not, there may be a good reason:

What also struck me as highly unexplained is the lengthy "maintenance" period. Combine that with the fact that clandestine work can often best be performed in a government shipyard.

Time will certainly tell.

11/24/2009 11:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they are going to use her as a testbed for new mods. Remember the Albacore was in fact homeported in Portsmouth.....

11/24/2009 11:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the general topic of doesn't pass the smell test, how fu@ked up is this:

Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist

11/24/2009 4:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous -11/24/2009 4:10 PM

"three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers"

Isn't that great! We can show the world how great our legal system is, especially at a time when nearly everyone with power in Wash, DC is now a lawyer, and the Navy and USMC are being investigated to see why they have not increased their ranks with more JAG lawyers.

Wanted: More Military Lawyers?


11/24/2009 4:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's fucked up...they should have ass-raped Objective Amber with a rusty pipe instead. And then smashed his dirty muslim brain in.

11/24/2009 9:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the topic at hand:

This isn't unusual. Ships undergoing lengthy (2 year EROs) in Norfolk have undergone a change in homeport to have the work done (San Fran, etc).

This allows the sailors to move their families and whatnot.

The real question is why they need two years for work when they're brand new?!

11/25/2009 10:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brand new? Not really. Commissioned October 2004. Change of homeport effective Oct 2010 (actual date may vary), but 6 years isn't unreasonable. Look at the time between overhauls for any of our SSNs.

First of the class, never done this before, probably looking at more things to determine if there are any class issues (lengthening 688 time between overhauls only came after doing some overhauls and evaluating). Hopefully we figured out how to do combat control system upgrades during the yards so you don't get out of a DMP then go right into a modernization period. Two years (give or take) sounds about right.

I feel bad for any 688s that will be in the yards at the same time. I will guess that they will always have second priority to the 'future' of the shipyard (Virginia class overhauls)...

11/25/2009 11:12 AM

Anonymous Vigilis said...

Anon 11/24/2009 7:31 AM

"Mare Island always had boats home ported there. Maybe this is a similar situation."

You think?

11/25/2009 4:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do largely to the hard work of a resourceful LT working at PSNY, the shipyard has a Tactical Team Trainer (basically a Mini-Span) and a separate 16 station VMS lab for training purposes.

Now, if we could only get the trainer(s) manned with an instructor or two, we could significantly help boats in the yard keep up to speed on their training demands.

11/25/2009 7:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully the VA class will avoid becoming Pierwolf class mk 2. For a first in class ship I could see ~50% of time in overhaul or major maintenance, but if that number doesn't come down quick then someone screwed up big time at NAVSEA.

11/26/2009 12:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is supposed to go for an 18th month overhaul, while there she should be getting upgraded to new control room gear.

18 months is the estimate, and I am sure it will go over. Although we weren't to late coming out of PSA (well at least getting our butts out of EB!) If I were heading back to the yards for that long, then Portsmouth is def the place to go, unless you really want to be in the yards for an extended period of time, then Pearl Harbor is the place to go. Wait till TEXAS and HAWAII go in for their yard periods out there!

11/26/2009 7:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easy to tell when a Union rep isn't telling the truth: his lips are moving.

11/27/2009 5:51 PM

Blogger King said...

Does putting a bunch of guys just going into shipyards through trainers seem ridiculous to anyone else? How about you worry about finishing the overhaul on time and then start working up 6 months out from leaving?

11/30/2009 4:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

King! Welcome back!! Where have we been without your vast bitter-JO experience!

DBFTMC stands in awe of your sage experience.

12/01/2009 12:39 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Probably a response to the closing of Brunswick Air Naval station...all of the NE governors know our area has been decimated with military installation shut downs and the loss of military industry.

There are terrified they are going to lose Portsmouth Navel Shipyard.

Throw one Virginia class submarine homeported into the base for two years it will assuage all our fears...make up for all the 1000’s of jobs we lost through the last few decades.

It is typical worthless political public relations.

Hmm, typically when you win the Whitehouse....your strong areas are rewarded with large new military instillation?

12/02/2009 7:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not too sure I'd be real proud to admit my boat's homeport was the shipyard. In the aviation world having a "hangar queen" wasn't a mark of distinction. It's a good place to get spare parts though.

12/02/2009 8:26 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

It doesn't surprise me that "Queen Jeanne the Spending Machine" likes the idea of keeping PNSY open as long as possible, even though it's technically in Maine and a huge waste of money. And Foster's as a source? Ouch. (Yeah, I live in the Seacoast region of NH, just to clarify.) Frankly, I'm amazed that PSNY is doing much of anything anymore, aside from ditching dirtbag sailors who beat up civilians in Portsmouth.

12/06/2009 11:01 PM

Blogger STS#1 said...

In response to King:

No, putting a bunch of guys through trainers in Groton, or in NH for that matter doesn't seem ridiculous. I am a Combat System's team trainer instructor at SUBSCOL, and we constantly have training groups coming down from Portsmouth. You have to realize that once this boat is ready to leave the yards, and actually punch holes again, they have to have a trained and proficient crew. They are getting a combat systems and sonar system upgrade, which will involve new systems that most of the guys will have little to no experience with the Advanced Processor Build that they are getting. Also the fact that most boats go through a significant crew change-out during shipyard periods, so you either have new guys that have never been to sea before, or people coming from shore tours (many out of rate or if in rate, likely from and IMA). Also, we do send instructors to NH to give modernization training for the new systems that they will be receiving. The training is given by SME's like me and others that spend quite a bit of time being in the know about what our fleet is being given and taking to sea. Many boats rely on us to give them the best training possible for the time they spend going back and forth to be better at what they do, and to continue to stay proficient when their time comes to leave.

12/23/2009 8:30 PM

Blogger STS#1 said...

Also, one more thing, usually 6 months in between closing out work packages and getting the boat back together, isn't enough time to work a crew up for proficiency to go back to sea, especially with new systems. The last 3-6 months is the busiest time of the whole shipyard period.

12/23/2009 8:34 PM


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