The USS Connecticut, a US Navy fast-attack submarine, is out of action due to a collision with a seamount in the South China Sea. Reports suggest it won’t be ready for battle until early 2026. Alarm bells are ringing as this extended timeline adds to an already towering pile-up of maintenance overhauls. It’s a pressing issue for the United States, considering the increasing tensions with a rapidly expanding Chinese naval fleet.
In October 2021, the USS Connecticut, a cutting-edge Seawolf submarine, had an unexpected rendezvous with an uncharted seamount. The encounter dealt a hefty blow to its bow and lower rudder, causing notable damage.
With a whopping repair bill estimated at around $80 million, this isn’t just a dent in the submarine’s hull, but a major hit to the Navy’s budget, according to Bloomberg. Yet, the real story here isn’t about the cost, but the glaring spotlight this incident shines on the Navy’s ongoing struggle with maintenance issues in their shipyards. This drawn-out timeline for the submarine’s return to service reveals a systemic problem that’s far from being resolved.
Meet the USS Connecticut – a titan of the sea and one of just three nuclear-powered Seawolf-class submarines gracing the US Navy’s fleet. These underwater leviathans, originally engineered to keep the Soviet Union in check, take the crown as the most colossal attack submarines currently in service.
Think of a quiet, powerful predator, equipped with advanced weaponry and sensing technology. This is how the Navy characterizes this type of submarines. The USS Connecticut, specifically, is potent. It has eight torpedo tubes and can hold 50 weapons in its torpedo room, making it very powerful.
“The predicament of Connecticut’s repair brings to light a glaring issue—the Navy’s deficiency in repair surge capacity,” expressed Diana Maurer, a director at the Government Accountability Office’s defense readiness evaluations. “This situation inevitably prompts us to question the Navy’s preparedness for executing battle damage repairs in the midst of a conflict.”
The US submarine force, crucial against a larger Chinese Navy, is experiencing a significant issue. This isn’t a high-profile event, but a recurring problem noted by the Government Accountability Office [GAO] for years. The problem? Delays. These are severely affecting the readiness of these submarines.
Between 2008 and 2018, the US Navy lost 10,363 operational days, equivalent to over 28 years. A GAO report indicates this loss was due to slow submarine shipyard entry and exit, impacting US capabilities against China.
The USS Connecticut, a powerful nuclear submarine, is waiting for maintenance at a Washington state naval shipyard. The maintenance was scheduled to start in February, but it has been delayed.
But, there’s a little twist in the tale. The much-needed maintenance is now pushed to next month. Why, you ask? Well, the Navy is taking no chances and wants to reinforce the dry dock against potential earthquake shocks first. Talk about preparing for all eventualities!
Papua New Guinea military bases
In the unfolding drama of US-China relations, the US military has just made a significant move. They’ve successfully secured “unimpeded access” to key defense facilities in Papua New Guinea [PNG]. What a fascinating twist in this geopolitical chess game!
The PNG-Australia Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island, a key part of the Defense Cooperation Agreement, is now accessible to the US. A strategic step, right? This is more than just territory expansion. It’s a global strategy. The US is enhancing its military presence to balance China’s increasing influence. The stakes are immense.
A 15-year Defense Cooperation Agreement [DCA] between Papua New Guinea [PNG] and the United States was recently signed and unveiled. This DCA aims to strengthen military collaboration between the two nations, replacing the previous agreement. However, it has faced significant domestic criticism despite its objectives.
The DCA is like a master key, granting access to various strategic spots like Lombrum Naval base, Port Moresby Seaport, and airports in Port Moresby, Lae, and Momote. But it’s more than just entry. It enables a range of actions, such as surveillance, reconnaissance tasks, and vessel bunkering. It also facilitates force staging and deployment.
Consider this: The Lombrum Naval Base, a significant player in global strategy. It could strengthen US positions in Guam to the north, particularly if Taiwan tensions increase. However, there are obstacles. Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, faces protests and criticism. The main concern is whether the country is sacrificing its sovereignty for security. Marape raised the alarm in parliament, highlighting the gradual erosion of the country’s military might. With a sense of urgency, he emphasized the critical role a sturdy military plays in preserving national sovereignty.
Papua New Guinea, blessed with abundant natural resources and a strategic location near vital shipping lanes, has unwittingly been drawn into the diplomatic chess game between Washington and Beijing. As the board’s focal point, the nation is feeling the pressure as these two superpowers vie for regional dominance.
Source : Bulgarian Military