Over on Forbes, I’m banging away at the opportunity Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron have this week to deepen an ongoing Franco-US maritime relationship at the G-20 meetings. I have long extolled the strategic value of France’s strategically-useful maritime holdings, and, as we are already working together on maritime security and carrier integration, we should deepen and formalize our relationship. It’d give Macron something really high-profile while advancing our mutual strategic positions at sea.

Go read it here.

I’m quite interested in the potential for a viable mid-sized carrier design. While a range of strategists have urged the U.S. Navy to consider mid-sized carriers, the Navy, for a lot of reasons, has slow-walked every proposal to look beyond the Ford Class. The excuse was that a new design would be expensive, and nobody wanted to fund it, etc etc.

Well, now, with France getting into the game, we’re going to get one of the first modern mid-sized carrier designs since, oh, the Kennedy was launched. It’s pure opportunity. And with the design not owned by Huntington Ingalls, there’s, suddenly, real potential for the Department of Defense to open the innovation aperture and, potentially, look at introducing some modest threat of competition into America’s flat-deck manufacturing industrial base. Neat stuff!

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Mississippi’s Senior Senator, Roger Wicker, has been pushing for two things–a simple, full accounting of Coast Guard needs as well as full funding for the Coast Guard. And he’s gotten none of them. As you can tell from his comments, in the article here, the Senator is fed up.

That’s good. Maybe some righteous indignation for a good cause can help get the Coast Guard the money it needs to move ahead over the next couple of decades. And if we can get the Coast Guard in a good place for the price of a big-deck amphib, that’s…an investment well worth the money.

The problem here though, is that the Coast Guard is a popular cause. It’s so popular, everybody wants to freight Coast Guard funding proposals with a lot of junk. We never really get a stand up “yes-no” vote on pure Coast Guard funding. It either gets lumped in with a whole bunch of extra garbage — like in the infrastructure amendment, or there’s some other poison pill addition that makes Coast Guard funding unpalatable.

But even a stand-alone Coast Guard funding bill has poison pills. Wicker’s Coast Guard bill tacked on a request for funding the Coast Guard during government shutdowns. Now, I’m a Democrat, and, while I really want to see Coast Guard folks get funded during shutdowns, I sure as heck don’t want to make it any easier for my Republican colleagues to shut down the government. I believe shutting down the government is a serious proposition, and steps to make shutdowns as politically-painless as possible are wrong.

We need more irked Senators out there who are willing to help get the Coast Guard ready for the next couple of decades. For once, let’s go get the Coast Guard fully funded.

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In Forbes: Mike Gallagher’s Great Lakes Push is a Breaker Too Far

September 13, 2021

If you want to know about defense journalism and the state of the Coast Guard in relation to the rest of the Uniformed Services, just look at the latest HASC markup. Defense media got the topline messages–that the HASC had grown Biden’s defense budget by $25 billion, and that the Navy got several ships. They […]

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In Forbes: Coast Guard Yard Funding–Staying Alive

September 8, 2021

Well, we’ve come a long way from where we started four months ago–back when I pointed out that the Coast Guard Yard was left entirely out of the Shipyard Act, a massive, $25 billion dollar effort to fund all the emergent needs at the Navy’s four public shipyards. Now, it looks like my pestering may […]

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In Forbes: Using Buoys As Maritime Autonomy Ground-Truth

August 31, 2021

I have a small piece in Forbes discussing what buoys–the original maritime autonomous systems–can offer our hype-driven race for autonomous maritime systems. The answer is, basically, ground truth. Buoys are so mundane, and have so much sea-time, that nobody bothers to shape their performance rates. And, after more than a couple centuries of design refinement, […]

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In Marine News: Shipbuilding And The Navy of Tomorrow

August 5, 2021

Last month, I had a piece published in one of the magazines in the MarineLink constellation–the link is here. Please go read it! For the piece, I was charged to discuss the technical and geopolitical drivers of naval shipbuilding, so there was a lot to cram into the essay. It’s a bit dense. At any […]

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Columbia Class Troop Carriers: Mixing Up The Fleet Mix

July 19, 2021

After three generations of converting surplus/obsolete SSBN hull forms to commando carriers, it’s time to start planning for a Columbia Class commando-carrying variant. Despite a lot of classification, open records suggest undersea commando carriers have accumulated a record of success that stretches back to World War II. And with the Marine Corps already organizing their […]

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In CRS: Discussing Large Surface Combatants

July 16, 2021

With the release of the Pentagon’s 30-year naval force structure estimates, the indefatiguable Ronald O’Rourke, over at the Congressional Research Service, updated his analysis of the Navy’s surface combatant programs, using, in part, my concerned post over at Forbes.com (here). In the Forbes piece, I detailed how the Pentagon could be setting up to ramp-down […]

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In Forbes: A Small Rant On The Littoral Combat Ship

June 29, 2021

It is really annoying to publish a story where Navy PR sources tell me that on-land testing of the Freedom Class gear is still underway, only to see another part of the Navy, barely twenty-four hours after I posted this, trot out Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener, the commander of naval surface forces, to tell a […]

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In Forbes and In Press: Talking To POGO About Shipyards

June 14, 2021

POGO is doing some interesting work on keeping shipyards accountable. The indefatigable Jason Paladino has a pretty good explainer up, talking about the Shipyard Act–identifying concerning issues like the “no-strings-attached” aspects of the $25 billion shipyard supplement, the apparent “quid-pro-quo” on the lobbying/campaign donation side of the shipyard business, as well as questioning the private […]

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