In Forbes: Build A USN Training Fleet

by Craig Hooper on April 5, 2019

I have been remiss, but I have a few posts up at Forbes that may be worth your time. One of them deals with training ships. Go read it!

Now, I am convinced that training ships–if they are taken seriously–do work, and I am particularly impressed at how Japan has converted their BIG training fleet into something of a diplomatic asset. With MARAD building their own amphib-like training ships, and the Navy struggling to both developed trained mariners and shed some ancillary missions, my sense is that the Navy would benefit enormously if they joined the MARAD buy and dedicated some Flight IIa DDGs to training. (Smaller ships like an LCS would be nice additions, but, right now, for surface warriors, it’s CRUDES or Amphib world, so new kids should train to that right now.) Little rogue training fleets would be great for presence and low-threat missions.

Training ships would do a lot for the surface fleet. First, they would relieve the fleet of a lot of show-and-tell missions. Among other things, the goal of the training fleet staff would be to strengthen the Navy’s logistical knowledge-base for port calls, hopefully easing some of the burden on the battle fleet when they might want to visit, and potentially a good place to append some FAOs for training as well. It would also give newbies a stronger foundation–rather than forcing the battle fleet to spend time always training up new sailors, they’d get folks arriving on the ship who knew how things worked–and worked well.

And that, to me, is the most important thing. When talking about the surface fleet, everybody (and I mean everybody) sorta clutches their pearls and bewails the state of the surface fleet culture. But nobody (and I mean nobody) has done much to change things. Seriously, problems with surface fleet culture and training has been a known thing for years, if not decades. A training fleet would help change this by letting new sailors/officers experience life on an impeccably-maintained, fully functional training ship. That would give sailors an opportunity to experience the way things “should be” before they get shunted off to a broke-down mediocrity or some floating madhouse someplace. Getting started on a platform where order has already broken down just normalizes that standard. If a young officer has never experienced greatness, and know that it can be achieved, that officer will rarely try.

Something has to be done. Yes, it costs money and resources, but, you know, crashing ships and fielding non-functional vessels/crews is far more costly.

Hopefully the surface fleet has it in them to try to make this happen, and Congress has it in them to support such a proposal.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

leesea April 15, 2019 at 12:55 am

Nicky, the USN has training ships. There are LCS designated for training.
There are several TSVs in service.

IRT to the MARAD training ship program, it does no good to train naval officers on ships with DIFFERENT systems than warships

IRT to Navy buy ins, there are currently several RETs looking at the next-general auxiliary ships following on the CHAMPS program.

Of course, other navies do shipboad traing a lot different


Nicky April 5, 2019 at 10:53 am

I totally agree that the US Navy desperately needs a training ship of its own. Like the USCG that has the Barque Eagle, that trains it’s cadets, the US Navy should have a training ship of its own. I would think something like the Pathfinder-class survey ship can be converted to a Cadet training ship


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