Refreshed U.S. Navy Design Promotes Pacific Engagement, Urgency

By Dave Werner, U.S. Pacific Public Affairs

The Pacific Ocean is bristling with naval activity. Navies and Sailors are operating with narrowed focus and renewed sense of purpose. They are following in the long wake of those who have gone before them.

The dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Dec. 21. Not long after, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), also with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Visakhapatnam, India, on Dec. 22.

Elsewhere, in a first, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Royal Navy and U.S. Navy joined forces for a trilateral exercise, Dec. 21-22, held in waters south of Japan. Focused on anti-submarine warfare, the exercise featured drills with JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH 183), RN Type 23 frigate, HMS Argyll (F231), and a U.S. Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and submarine.

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 25, 2018) An MV-22 Osprey, assigned to the “Sea Elks” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced), departs Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) during Eastern Maverick 19 a few weeks ago. Flexible and mobile Navy-Marine Corps teams ensure maritime stability and security to provide the capability to regions and nations to protect interests, such as strategic choke points. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Reymundo A. Villegas III/Released)


Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the U.S. Navy has just released A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, Version 2.0.  In it, the Chief of Naval Operations prescribes one of its four Lines of Effort to “expand and strengthen our network of partners,” and reminds readers that “Our nation’s history is replete with examples where the Navy has advanced the diplomatic element of national power.”

During the visits this week, the senior leadership of Rushmore and 13 MEU are underscoring this. They are building the foundation mutual understanding to increase interoperability with the Sri Lankan Navy, including the extensive humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities inherent in American naval assets.  U.S. Sailors and Marines, too, are building on the relationships of trust forged through preceding visits to Sri Lanka, including USS Anchorage’s earlier visit to Trincomalee this past August. Reciprocally, the Sri Lankan Navy participated in this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, and last in their first Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise. The anti-submarine trilateral effort has been collaborating regularly since 2016, and improving interoperability.

The Navy-Marine Corps Team has served for centuries in this uniquely American role.

Rear Admiral George Dewey, Commander of the U.S. Asiatic Squadron, with officers of his flagship, USS Olympia (C-6), and his staff on board the Olympia in Manila Bay circa 20 May-1 June 1898. (Naval History and Heritage Command photograph)


Nearly 120 years ago, newly assigned Commodore George Dewey, Commander of the Asiatic Station, had his ships sail to some of those very same waters to help keep the calm and offer protection to smaller nations. In a Feb. 1, 1898 dispatch from his famed flagship USS Olympia (C 6), he reported to Secretary Of The Navy John D. Long that “… the {USS} Raleigh. arrived at Colombo 5 January 22 and left there January 29 for Singapore, with orders to proceed to Hong Kong and await my arrival.”

Dewey wrote the Secretary that he had already exchanged visits with the Governors of Nagasaki and Yokohama. He also reported that USS Petrel was and would remain in Canton (China), and that the “foreign residents of that port have expressed to her Commanding Officer their satisfaction at her presence there at present time; the turbulent element among the Chinese being likely to become riotous, unless restrained by the presence of an armed vessel.”

Months later in his flagship Olympia, which was commanded by Capt. Charles V. Gridley, Dewey famously said “You may fire when you are ready Gridley.” The order came in action at Manila, Philippine Islands, on 1 May 1898. Dewey’s forces were prepared to, and did, decimate Spanish ships and installations, with little loss to U.S. forces.

Then, as now, the U.S. Navy serves as America’s most visible and viable partner to Pacific nations, and also as the most fearsome of foes.

While the U.S. Navy reaffirms and strengthens its ties with allies, it is working with urgency to accelerate war fighting capabilities and readiness.

The Design 2.0 reminds readers that “It has been decades since we last competed for sea control, sea lines of communication, access to world markets, and diplomatic partnerships. Much has changed since we last competed. We will adapt to this reality and respond with urgency.”

PACIFIC OCEAN (Dec. 8, 2018) An F-35C Lightning II assigned to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Granito/Released)


Just last week in the Pacific the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 completed carrier qualifications aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).  This represented the final required component for Commander Joint Strike Fighter Wing (CJSFW) to issue the squadron its safe-for-flight operations certification. This marks a major milestone for the U.S. Navy toward declaring Initial Operating Capability (IOC) next year.

“We eagerly look forward to declaring IOC and integrating the F-35C into the Carrier Strike Group. This aircraft is a key component to maintaining the U.S. Navy’s dominance anywhere in the world,” said Joint Strike Fighter Wing Commander, Capt. Max McCoy.

America’s Navy will remain forward and increasingly active – serving the interests of fair-minded nations, and standing firm against those determined to undermine stability, prosperity and long-standing order. Having plied the world’s oceans for centuries, the U.S. Navy is writing the next chapter in an age-old story. Sustaining peace while increasing preparedness to win at war is not a new narrative, but it has a renewed – and very real – urgency.