The latest Freedom class LCS, USS Cooperstown (LCS 23) stopped in Halifax yesterday for about 8 hours. the ship arrived in the morning and sailed from the dockyard at 4:30.
The freedom class LCS program has been beset by a number of issues, including problems with the combining gear that connect the diesel engines and the turbines to the shafts, given the location of that combining gear, the navy has mothballed many of the early ships of the class, as the repair is too costly.
The USS Gerald R. Ford offered a media availability yesterday, which i had the privilege to attend. All manner of tour boats, and a Halifax transit ferry were pressed into service to move people form the carrier to shore and back, including tour vessels from Oak Island and Lunenburg – sort of a mini Dunkirk.
The carrier is designed for stern boarding, and a barge was used as a floating dock. from there, its up two flights to the hanger deck.
Those doors lead to the hanger deck.
The flight deck is several flights of stairs up from the hanger deck.
(below) the view form vultures alley, the lowest balcony on the tower.
Most of the Air wing looked to be on deck, and was made up up of F-18 hornets. This one had a kill; a SU-22 in 2017.
(above) E-2 Hawkeye (below) SH-60 seahawk (which is the naval variant of a blackhawk)
As Part of the Media availability, various officials spoke of the the importance of the deployment, both to test the Ford, but also to hone interoperability between navies, and show that nato can work together as a unified force.
The Ford has on board a liaison officer from each of the participating navies. (Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Spain. These officers also spoke to the importance of the work
HMS Prince of Wales, the UK’s second aircraft carrier sailed for a North American Deployment a couple of days ago. On the way out of Portsmouth, it appears the ship may have struck bottom, and suffered an issue with her Starboard shaft or propeller. She is now at anchor, undergoing inspections.
HMS Prince of Wales was reportedly due to visit Halifax this fall, and under go some exercises with a US Carrier Group.
This brings us to the C-2 greyhound, the US Navy’s carrier capable cargo plane, a variant of the E-2 Hawkeye, the plane features a bigger body, but same engines, tail and wings. This particular plane arrived at YHZ yesterday from Norfolk, and returned this afternoon. Flying as Rawhd75, the plane belongs to VRC-40 rawhides squadron.
USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, LCS-21 arrived Sunday for a port visit. The ship is Due to sail tomorrow morning. Like most LCS built at Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, the ship stopped in Halifax on her way to her home port.
USS St Louis Bypassed Halifax during Covid in 2020. Early ships faced issues with the Combining Gear – the Gear box that transfers power to the shafts form either the diesel engines or the turbines. Because of these issues, Completed ships were not accepted by the navy untill alterations could be made, which led to 3 visits in November 2019.
Due to the location of the combining gear, it was determined to not be cost effective to repair early ships. USS Freedom was Decommissioned in Sept 2021, and Fort Worth, Detroit and Little Rock are set to be decommissioned this year. 5 Additional ships are currently under construction.
At approximately 8:30 on July 12, a fire was discovered aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) while it was moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego. Approximately 160 Sailors were aboard at the time. USS Bonhomme Richard is going through a maintenance availability and normally has a crew size of approximately 1000.
the fire is believed to have started on one of the vehicle storage decks and spread to the well Deck. the ship is designed for amphibious assault, and features a flood-able space at the rear for launching landing craft and has 2 vehicle decks with direct access to the well deck.
throughout the day, the fire spread, into the the hanger deck, and by last night into the island, destroying the bridge area and causing the forward mast to collapse on deck. the ship developed a 3 degree list to starboard.
As of this morning,6:30 a.m. Pacific time, firefighting teams continue operations on board, 57 personnel, 34 USNavy Sailors and 23 civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.
US Navy Officials are optimistic the ship can be saved, however the extent of the fire may mean the ship is a total loss.
this post will be updated.
UPDATE 22:50AST: as of 3:30 p.m. Pacific time July 13, firefighting teams continue operations on board USS Bonhomme Richard. 59 personnel, 36 U.S. Navy Sailors and 23 civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no personnel hospitalized.
Several commentators are further suggesting the heat stress on the ship from the still burning fires will result in the ship being declared a loss. replacement cost for the ship would be in excess of 1.5 billion dollars.
SAN DIEGO (July 13, 2020) An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3, provides aerial firefighting support alongside Sailors and civilian fire crews on the ground to fight the fire aboard amphibious assault ship USS #BonhommeRichard (#LHD6). pic.twitter.com/Ky7sEUzO89
SAN DIEGO (July 13, 2020) An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3, provides aerial firefighting support alongside Sailors and civilian fire crews on the ground to fight the fire aboard amphibious assault ship USS #BonhommeRichard (#LHD6). pic.twitter.com/b07grBqAMZ
SAN DIEGO (July 13, 2020) An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3, provides aerial firefighting support alongside Sailors and civilian fire crews to fight the fire aboard amphibious assault ship USS #BonhommeRichard (#LHD6). pic.twitter.com/A0FDKKiTAS
UPDATE July 16: 06:00 a.m. Pacific time July 15, firefighting teams continue operations on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), 63 personnel, 40 Sailors and 23 civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no personnel hospitalized. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron THREE has conducted more than 1,500 helicopter water bucket drops, which is cooling the super structure and flight deck enabling fire crews to get onboard internally to fight the fire.
The fire is now thought to be mostly under control, with teams chasing hot spots. Apparently the superstructure was constructed from Aluminum, which is why the Island was able to burn through – the Heat melted the metal.
at 2:30 am pst, the USN Surface Warriors twitter account tweeted that “Out of an abundance of caution the pier and ship were cleared of personnel due to an initial shift in the ship’s list. Personnel are now pier side. ” there have been no further updates.
the 6 am update indicates that fire teams are back on board. the ship has a noticeable list towards the pier, no smoke is visible, and external water application has ceased.
The first arrivals for exercise cutlass fury showed up in Halifax Yesterday and Today. HMS Northumberland is missing below, its tucked in out of the way at the moment. HDMS PETER WILLEMOES had not yet arrived.
Exercise Cutlass Fury is taking place September 9. The announcement has said 22 ships will take part.So Far, it appears NATO Standing maritime Group 1 will be in attendance. SNMG1 currently consists of: – USS Gridley (American) – BNS Leopold I (Belgium) – NRP Francisco de Almeida (Portugal) – KNM Thor Heyerdahl (Norway)
I am also hearing that the new Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will be making an Appearance. It has in the past traveled with a Destroyer and Supply ship.
UPDATE 1. Marlant has confirmed Asterix will be participating via a tweet.
UPDATE 2. the Royal navy confirmed HMS Northumberland will be sailing to Halifax. the release also states that Northumberland is part of the QE Carrier strike group with HMS Dragon and RFA Tideforce.
UPDATE 3: Arrivals are beginning to be posted – On September 5th, HDMS PETER WILLEMOES (Danish),HNLMS VAN SPEIJK (Dutch) and HNOMS THOR HEYERDAHL (Norwegian) are due.
UPDATE 4: USNS PATUXENT and NRP FRANCISCO DE ALMEIDA also now confirmed.
UPDATE 5: A US navy Submarine is Due on the 4th. it is USS New Hampshire, Virginia class, fast attack . Other confirmed arrivals include USS GRIDLEY, USS JASON DUNHAM , and BNS LEOPOLD
UPDATE 6: HMS Queen Elizabeth will be in Halifax in this month. She is traveling with HMS Dragon, and RFA Tideforce
Defence watch reports HMC Ships Fredericton, Ville de Quebec, St. John’s, Shawinigan, and Glace Bay will be participating for Canada.
Incidentally – the previous reports mentions 22 Ships and 8 countries. So far we have: Canada – 6 ( Fredericton, Ville de Quebec, St. John’s, Shawinigan,Glace Bay and Asterix) US – 4 (USS GRIDLEY, USS JASON DUNHAM, USNS PATUXENT USS New Hampshire) UK – 1 (HMS Northumberland) Portual – 1 ( NRP FRANCISCO DE ALMEIDA) Norway – 1 (HNOMS THOR HEYERDAHL ) Netherlands -1 (HNLMS VAN SPEIJK ) Denmark – 1 (HDMS PETER WILLEMOES)
France is likely a participant, and will probably send a Frigate and a Submarine as they did in 2016. Add the Leeway Odyssey we have 18 ships. The HMS Queen Elizabeth, RFA Tideforce and HMS Duncan bring us to 21 ships. the RN Carrier group also includes a Astute class Submarine.
UPDATE 7: the French anti-submarine frigate La Motte-Picquet was spotted working with HMS Queen Elizabeth and RFA Tideforce.