The great Navy Day Fleet Review held in the Hudson River off New York City, 27 October 1945.President Truman is down there on the battleship Missouri while the new brand-new, just commissioned that morning super-carrier, the 968-foot USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) is clearly visible. To the left you see the Empire State Building and the 1940s Gotham skyline. Quite a bookend to Pearl Harbor
Yes that’s right, added to the ranks of countries with carriers to include the US, China, France, the UK (well, they are building two new ones anyway), and India is that internationally respected naval powerhouse of Angola. It is now the only African country to have ever owned a flatop.
According to Portuguese daily ECD, the former Spanish naval jump carrier ‘Príncipe de Asturias’ will be acquired by Angola. Not for scrapping, or to be a hotel or casino, but to perform as an aircraft carrier and flagship of their navy. The 16,000-ton ship, commissioned in 1988, was just retired by Spain nine months ago. It’s argueably the lowest mileage surplus aircraft carrier on the market today.
The ship would presumably operate helicopters as their are no VTOL fixed wing aircraft currently on the market. This could prove a problem for the Angolan navy as that service has no helicopters. However, the country’s air force does operate about 70 aging Soviet Hip and Hind choppers as well as a smattering of French Alouettes, Dauphins and Gazelles.
With the sale (and an agreed refurbishment by Spanish shipyards) the African country will also (complementarity) receive three lightly armed offshore patrol boats and an amphibious assault ship that had been removed from the Spanish Naval list. These include the P-27 Ízaro (300-ton, launched 1980) P -61 Chilreu (1900-ton, launched 1991), F-32 Diana (1200-ton, 1979), and the L-42 Pizarro (8500-ton, formerly the 1972-era USS Harlan County LST-1196). The country is awash in new oil money and is looking to put up a naval ‘keep off the grass’ sign.
Angola’s navy, the Marinha de Guerra, currently has just 1000 officers and men and consists of a dozen near-shore Osa and Shershen type Soviet PT/FAC boats. A couple small minesweepers and landing craft serve as its blue-water force while about forty small boats handle brown water. As the Príncipe de Asturias requires a 600-person crew irregardless of any embarked air crews, coughing up some experienced (non-national?) sailors who can operate gas turbines and NATO communications suites is going to be Angola’s challenge.
How would you like to be the Logistics guy for this navy?
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time
period and will profile a different ship each week.
- Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday November 27th 2013 One of the Best Tin Cans
On June 4, 1942, the pivotal day of the Battle of Midway, a group of new TBM Avenger torpedo bombers headed to the isolated atoll to improve the base’s security. These six planes from VT-8 included one 32-year old AM3 William Clare Lawe, who, along with
the crews of five other planes never reached Midway, jumped on the way by Japanese zeroes. Lawe received the posthumous
Distinguished Flying Cross and was set to have a new destroyer escort named after him. This ship, DE-313 was canceled before it could be commissioned so his name was given to another ship (DE-373) which was also canceled. Then it was finally bestowed to the new Gearing class destroyer DD-763, which you see above.
The Gearing class was the Cadillac of US Navy WWII-era destroyers. What was not to like? I mean they could steam at almost 37-knots, carried six rapid-fire 5-inch/38 caliber guns, 23 anti-aircraft guns, depth charges, and ten beautiful 21-inch torpedo tubes. Further, they had long legs, capable of steaming over 4500 miles between fill ups. The Navy asked for 156 of them and Congress paid for 99, of which the new USS William C Lawe was one.
She was laid down at Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco, California on 12 March 1944. When the war ended the next year, her completion was delayed and she did not get to see service until December 1946. This was baby may have been conceived during the Big One, but she didn’t get delivered until it was all over. Nevertheless, she had a very active life, and did a little bit of everything for nearly forty years.
The Lawe escorted President Harry S. Truman, joined a Deep Freeze task force to the polar regions, exercised often with NATO ships at sea, conducted midshipmen cruises, walked the picket line around Cuba during the Missile Crisis, and supported the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965. She also stood by in the very tense waters off Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and helped recover NASA’s Gemini IX and X space capsules.
The picture above shows a U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4B Phantom II armed with an AIM-7 Sparrow missile from Fighter Squadron VF-33 “Tarsiers” on the catapult of the aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66). VF-33 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 6 aboard the America for a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea from 10 January to 20 September 1967. In the background are the U.S. Navy Gearing-class destroyer USS William C. Lawe (DD-763), screening the carrier from the Soviet Kashin-class guided missile destroyer 381. This was during the tense standoff of the Arab-Israeli War.
By 1972 she was part of the gunline that floated just off the coast of North Vietnam, conducting hot and heavy naval gunfire support that included exchanging shots with NVA shore batteries and point-blank range. She received two battle stars for her Vietnam War service.
In 1978, as one of the smallest ships in the navy, she toured the Great Lakes, making stops in Ohio, Canada, and Michigan, in some places being the first US Navy warship to make port since WWII. US Navy recruiting posters of the time featured the ship and promised adventures.
The Lawe, along with her sister-ship USS Harold J. Ellison DD-864 (which was also named after a naval aviator who died during the Battle of Midway) were the last WWII-era destroyers of the Gearing class in US Naval service. They both were decommissioned 1 October 1983, replaced by much larger Spruance-class destroyers. While many of the Gearings went on to serve in other navies, (both Mexico and Taiwan still have a few that are nominally operational), the 37-year old Lawe never again left the US.
She sat in mothballs with the James River reserve fleet for sixteen more years until she was sunk as a target at sea 14 July 1999. Two of her sisters, USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850) in Fall River, MA; and USS Orleck (DD-886) in Lake Charles, LA are maintained as museum ships.
Displacement: 2,616 tons standard; 3,460 tons full load
Length: 390.5 ft (119.0 m)
Beam: 40.9 ft (12.5 m)
Draft: 14.3 ft (4.4 m)
Propulsion: 2 shaft; General Electric steam turbines; 4 boilers; 60,000 shp
Speed: 36.8 knots (68.2 km/h)
Range: 4,500 nmi at 20 knots
(8,300 km at 37 km/h)
Complement: 350 as designed
6 × 5 in /38 cal guns (127 mm) (3×2)
12 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns (2×4 & 2×2)
11 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
2 × depth charge racks
6 x K-gun depth charge throwers
10 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
6 × 5 in/38 cal guns (127 mm) (in 3×2 Mk 38 DP mounts)
6 × 3 in/50 cal guns (76 mm) (2 x 2, 2 x 1)
2 x Hedgehog ASW weapons
1 × depth charge rack
6 x K-gun depth charge throwers
4 × 5 in/38 cal guns (127 mm) (in 2×2 Mk 38 DP mounts)
1 x ASROC 8-cell launcher
2 x triple Mark 32 torpedo tubes for Mark 44 torpedoes
1 x Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH), removed by 1970
Variable Depth Sonar (VDS)
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They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.htm
The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval
vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.
Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of
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Looking like 1944 is calling and sending an Essex class fleet carrier into a time warp, the newest Amphibious Assault Ship, PCU
USS America (LHA6) is on her builders trials.
“The amphibious assault ship America (LHA 6), built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS, sails the Gulf of Mexico on
builder’s sea trials, Nov. 7-9, 2013″
Built without a floodable well dock like the 8 LHDs that came before her, or even the Tarawa class LHAs, the America is a strait
aviation-only ship. She’s similar in concept to the old 15,000-ton USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) amphibious assault ships of the 1960s– just nearly three times as large.
The LHA6 class is optimized to operate a couple squadrons of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, making the ship basically an aircraft carrier when not jam packed full of a Marine Battalion Landing Team and its attached MAU of helicopters and CV-22 aircraft. The Navy wants 11 of these to replace the LHAs and LHDs currently in service. This class investment means the F-35C variant *has* to be built as these ships would recover their fixed wing birds (AV-8, F-35, CV-22) by vertical landing only.
Lets compare 1944 with 2014
Essex class fleet carrier
- 36,960-ton full load
- 888-feet overall
- 147.5 feet of beam at widest point of deck (only 94 at the waterline)
- 27.5 feet max draft
- 150,000 shp to make 32.7kts at full speed/20,000 knot range at 15 on boiler-fired steam turbines
- 2170 ships crew, 870 airwing
- 90 WWII propeller driven aircraft, 40-modern jets in 1960s/70s.
America class LHA
- 45,693-ton full load
- 844 feet overall
- 106-feet of beam (at waterline, no figure for widest point of deck)
- 70,000 shp to make ’20+’ knots on gas turbines. Range undisclosed but thought to be 9500nm+ at 20kts.
- 1060 ships crew, upto 1600 marines or airwing embarked
- 22-31 modern aircraft
Still, this ‘ambib’ is a more capable aircraft carrier than just about any other ship outside of a NATO navy. It should be noted that
the only other purposely built warship named USS America ever completed was CV-66, commissioned in 1965 and decommissioned in 1996,– was a KittyHawk-class attack carrier.
Admiral FDR and his Good Neighbor Cruise in 1936
I found several pages of very neat original Pre-WWII orders from the USS Indianapolis recently.
Yes, that USS Indianapolis.
As a young man named Francis wrote in this 1936 letter home to his mother on Election Night, “We have received word that the President will probably take a cruise on us to South America but the itinerary has not been published. Nothing is definite but in order not to be caught short we are making preparations.” Here is his very interesting letter. I especially love the part about how he took his (sister?) to the Penn State-Navy game and said, “Navy was beaten which is not unusual for them.”
He was correct about the President. On November 19, just two weeks after the letter, the young man’s ship, USS Indianapolis (CA-35) sailed from Charleston South Carolina. Aboard was her 629-man crew of officers, enlisted and marines, as well as one Franklin Delano Roosevelt. You see, if he had been born into any other family, FDR would have been a naval officer. As a young man, he kept a copy of Mahan’s Influence of Sea Power on History by his bedside and wrote several naval essays. During World War 1, he had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was taking the Indy on a three week “Good Neighbor Cruise” to South America.
Here is the memorandum to the hands detailing the stops in Trinidad, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. It is signed at the bottom by the ship’s executive officer. This was Oscar Charles Badger II.
Badger came from a naval legacy; he was the grandson of Civil War Commodore Oscar C. Badger, and the son of WWI era Admiral Charles J. Badger. He lived up to this legacy and right out of Annapolis, he received the Medal of Honor while serving as an Ensign at Vera Cruz, Mexico, on April 21-22, 1914. After he left the Indy, he went on to command the new battleship USS North Carolina during the first years of World War 2. This led to his leadership of BATDIV7 (Battleship Division 7) by the end of the war. He retired a full Admiral.
FDR was no stranger to the Indy. In 1934, she served as the viewing platform for the Naval Review off New York City in which the President enjoyed the new fleet with his old boss, WWI Secretary of the Navy Joe Daniels. NH 968 above shows, “President Franklin D. Roosevelt (center) Enjoys a joke with Ambassador to Mexico (and former Secretary of the Navy) Josephus Daniels, at right, and Secretary of the Navy Claude A. Swanson, during the fleet review off New York City, 31 May 1934. They are standing immediately in front of the second eight-inch gun turret of USS Indianapolis (CA-35). U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
On the way to South America in 1936, they crossed the equator and held, in time honored tradition, the Court of Davy Jones etc. to inspect and judge all of the pollywogs crossing the line, passing judgment upon each.
It is quite interesting reading and I have the scans here:
The young ensign who signed on the last page was none other than John Duncan Bulkeley. This young man would go on to become a Vice Admiral in United States Navy and was one of the most decorated naval officers of World War 2. As skipper of a PT boat in the “They Were Expendable” plywood navy, he evacuated General Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor in the Philippines in 1942. He later led torpedo boats and minesweepers in clearing the lanes to Utah Beach in Normandy and fought a pitched battle with a pair of German corvettes during the Dragoon landings. This forgotten action was the Battle of La Ciotat and Bulkeley sent to German ships to Davey Jones locker while only suffering a single casualty. He, like OC Badger, was a MOH precipitant.
The President took part in the ceremonies as shown in these pictures from the Navy Historical Society.
Ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Henry Kent Hewitt, USN, (left), hears “Davy Jones” read the message from “King Neptune,” as the ship crosses the Equator in late November 1936. She was then conveying President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his party on a “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America. Commander Oscar C. Badger is looking on, at right.”… (Captain Hewitt was a veteran of the old Great White Fleet and cut his teeth commanding the USS Eagle before winning the Navy Cross fighting the Kaisers U-boats in the Great War. After leaving Indy, he made flag rank and was the United States Navy commander of amphibious operations in north Africa and southern Europe through World War II including the Torch, Anvil, and Dragoon landings. He later chaired the Pearl Harbor investigation.)
James Roosevelt (center), son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Receives some of the punishment due a “Pollywog” at the hands of “Shellbacks,” during Neptune Ceremonies on board USS Indianapolis (CA-35), as she crosses the Equator in late November 1936. Indianapolis was then carrying the President and his party on a “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN. (James at the time was a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps and served his father as a military aide. In World War 2, he resigned his colonel’s commission, took one as a captain, and fought with the Marine Raiders (as XO under Carlson) at Makin Island, winning a Navy Cross.)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (center) Pleads his case before the Royal Court of “Shellbacks” as his “defense attorney” listens intently at left, during Neptune Ceremonies on board USS Indianapolis (CA-35), as she crosses the Equator in late November 1936. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, collection of Rear Admiral Paul H. Bastedo, USN.
Scene in the ship’s pilothouse, late November 1936, as she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his “Good Neighbor” cruise to South America. Indianapolis’ Commanding Officer, Captain Henry Kent Hewitt, is seated in left center.
Sadly, the Indy had a very hard life during the coming world war, but in November 1936, she was the brightest ship in the fleet
The picture above shows soldiers of the 64th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division of the US Army Expeditionary Force in France celebrate at the stroke of the 11th Hour, of the 11th Day of November 1918. This is when the ceasefire armistice went into effect between all of the Allies and the Germans in what was then known as the Great War. They are happy because the survived. For them, the war, with its mustard gas, machine-guns, artillery, and trench warfare was over and it did not claim their mortal vessel.
Today we think of this day as Veterans Day but in 1918 it was Armistice Day. In no less than 70 countries around the world, this day is remembered with somber introspection. Over 37-million lost their lives in that war, including no less than 117,465 Americans.
In fact, the war was so bitter, so ghastly, so abominable, that it led to the Kellogg-Briand Pact ten years later in which in effect, bans all wars. This led, in turn, to the Great War being then known as the “War to End all Wars”.
Although we have lost our last Great War veteran of what we call now World War One, we will still have to mourn new warriors lost in war every year for a foreseeable future.
To them, those hardy Doughboys in 1918, and all those who have fallen and served before and since, we remember.
To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coastguardsmen, and Marines of today, we toast.
Back in the early 1970s, the US Navy needed a replacement for the old FRAM’d WWII era Sumner and Gearing leftovers from the 1940s and 50s in the fleet. These were small, 3500-4000 ton ships that carried a 8-cell ASROC launcher, 4 5-inch/58 guns in twin mounts, and two triple Mk32 ASW torpedo launchers. They were sitting ducks to anti-ship missiles, could not carry helicopters, and packed almost 400 sailors into a tin can made to all the best specs of 1942.
To replace these old boats, the Spruance class, a mighty 31 destroyers, were built between 1972-1983, all at Ingalls shipbuilding in Pascagoula. As a kid I used to sit at the old Point on Beach Boulevard and watch these sleek 563-foot long greyhounds birthed for Poseidon’s fox hunts.
They were called the “Love Boats” back then, since they were the size of WWII light cruisers (8000-tons), yet only carried a pair of 5-inch guns (Mk45 rapid fire jobs that provided more firepower than twice as many of the old Sumner‘s 5-inch/58s), twin triple ASW tubes, and an 8-cell ASROC launcher. In their defense, most were funded by the bankrupt Carter military and their armament suite was superior to the destroyers they were supposed to replace. In addition, they had a twin helicopter hangar that could support a pair of sub-busting choppers, a battle implement that the WWII destroyers never dreamed of.
Over the 1980s and 90s, they were increasingly armed with other weapons systems. Some 24 ships of the class swapped out their ASROC launcher for a 61-cell Mk41 VLS system like on the Ticonderoga class cruisers (which were based on the Spruances hull). All ships also gained an 8-pack of Harpoon SSMs, a 8-cell NATO Sea Sparrow SAM launcher (also capable of being used against surface ships), and a pair of 20mm CIWS R2D2 guns for swatting away incoming missiles. Ten more of these had a 21 cell RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile launcher mounted on the starboard fantail to further protect these ships from more modern anti-ship missiles. Several of those that weren’t converted to VLS were given quadruple ABL Mark 43 Tomahawk missile launchers like on the recommissioned Iowa class battleships.
They proved the backbone of fleet operations throughout the last decade of the Cold War, the sordid engagements in the Persian Gulf, and the Navy’s part in the war on drugs. Their long legs (6000+ nm at 20 knots on two turbines), allowed them to self-deploy away from the battle group and a lot of the flag waving done in foreign ports during the Regan-Bush-Clinton years was done by Spruances operating alone.
Then, starting in 1998, these hardy destroyers that were at the top of their game, began to retire.
When the Spruance‘s left the Navy, they took with them 1494 Mk41 VLS cells which carried mainly Tomahawk cruise missiles along with a smattering of ASROC subbusters. They also faded away with 62 5-inch guns, 62 CIWS guns, 249 Harpoon anti-ship missile launch spots, 62 LAMPS helicopter hangar spots, 249 Sea Sparrow missile launcher cells, 210 RAM missile cells, and 186 Mk32 ASW Torpedo tubes. Those 7 hulls that were not equipped with VLS retained their ASROC launchers which gave the fleet another 56 of those weapons.
In 1989, the US Navy had 63 Knox/Brooke/Garcia-class frigates, 51 OHP type guided missile frigates, 31 Spruances, 4 Kidd-Class DDGs (Mk-26/SM-2 armed Spurances) 27 Ticonderoga class CGs, 23 older Charles Adams-class DDGs, 10 Farragut-class DDGs, six nuclear CGNs, 19 Belknap/Truxtun/Leheay-class CGs, four huge Iowa-class Battleships, and the 15,000-ton cruiser Long Beach as large surface combatants. This is a total of 239 surface warships capable of blue water operations.
Today they have in commission: 22 remaining Ticos, 12 OHPs (that are largely disarmed and rapidly retiring), 4 (unproven) LCS’s, and 62 Burke class destroyers, the first of which was laid down on 16 September 1989. That’s an even 100-ships, or a reduction by about 58% from the late 1980s. Granted, the US Navy doesn’t have to go to war with the Soviets anymore ala-Red Storm Rising, but there is still a global need for surface combatants from the South China Sea to the HOA to the Med and the Persian Gulf. A hundred surface ships cant be everywhere at once.
You can argue that the 96-cell VLS equipped DDG-51 class destroyers replaced the Spru-cans, DDGs and retired CGs on a 2:3 basis, but the DDG-51 lacked the extra 5-inch mount, and, in early models, the aircraft capability. Instead of being crammed full of TLAMs, these new DDGs have to allocate most of their space to carrying surface to air missiles. Further, the ’51s are tasked increasingly with fleet air defense and (now) with ABM missions. All the while thier ASW, ASuW, and NGFS capability is being marginalized. Yes, the 51′s replaced the Spurances and the 1970s vintage CGNs of the South Carolina and Virgina-class in so much as AAW is concerned, but they did not fully replace their capability in ASW and NGFS. The Spruances, unlike the Burkes, were dedicated to ASW, ASuW, and land strike with both naval gunfire and cruise missiles. With the Burkes, its a side-job.
Surely the Spurances would now be long in the teeth, ranging from the 1975-commisoned DD-963 to the 1983-dated DD-997, they would all be over thirty years old. However the Ticonderoga-class cruisers are roughly the same age. In fact they use the same hull and below-deck machinery. In 2003, the newer 22 of the 27 ships (CG-52 to CG-73) in that class were upgraded to keep them combat-relevant, giving the ships a service life of at least 35 years each. Had a similar mechanical upgrade been given to the 24-VLS equipped Spurances, they would all still be in service. In fact, given that time line, DD-997 would only be expected to decommission in 2018. More on this ship below.
Instead, all 31 Spruances were rapidly decommissioned and mothballed between 1998 and 2005, when the ships were all in their 20′s. Instead of being refirbed to serve another decade or two, they were stricken from the Navy List. No sooner were they stricken then they were systematically sunk in a series of fleet training exercises, dismantled, or otherwise scrapped.
It can be guessed that since they were too close in design to the still very active Tico class cruisers, they were too sensitive to give away as military aid to the likes of Pakistan, Mexico, or Colombia. Just one of their number, the former USS Paul Foster, remains. She has been in use since 2004 as an unnamed and non-commissioned test ship for the US Navy as the Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS). In this role she is a remote control drone boat, used as a hard target for new weapons systems.
And so goes another wasted opportunity.
Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Navy Sailor from Submarine. Courtesy Video | U.S. Coast Guard District 11 PADET San Diego | Date: 10.11.2013. SAN DIEGO – An aircrew from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego approaches a submarine to medevac an injured Navy sailor 160 miles west of San Diego, Oct. 11, 2013. The 22-year-old man was transported to San Diego and transferred to emergency medical personnel for further care. U.S. Coast Guard video by Sector San Diego.
The Navy has gone through a lot of growth spurts for its Fire Scout Program. The program was born ten years ago to provide a remote control (unmanned) vertical takeoff & landing (VTOL) aircraft, with a payload capacity of 200 pounds, a range of 125 miles , an endurance on station of three hours at an altitude of 20,000 ft, and the ability to land on a ship in a 20-knot wind. The UAV was to fly 190 hours before planned maintenance.
They started off in 2002 with the RQ-8A, based on the Schweizer/Sikorsky 330, a 31-foot long, 1200-pound three person light helicopter. Then came the MQ-8B, based on the Sikorsky 333, and upgraded 330.
Now they have moved past that to the four-bladed, 41-foot long Bell Jet Ranger 407 (HH-57/OH-58) type helicopter. The much larger MQ-8C weighs 3 tons at max payload, has a 1,000 lb useful payload (Max hook capacity 2645 lbs), and has an endurance of up to 24 hours. It can be armed with AGM-175 Griffin missiles and APKWS II guided 70 mm rockets that the MQ-8B can carry, as well as heavier AGM-114 Hellfire missile. The Navy will buy a total of 96 Fire Scouts to deploy on both ships at sea and with expeditionary forces ashore.
And they have tested it in the air this week:
Point MUGU, Calif. (Oct. 31, 2013) An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu. The Navy’s newest variant of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter completed its first day of flying Oct. 31 with two flights reaching 500 feet altitude. The MQ-8C air vehicle upgrade will provide longer endurance, range and greater payload capability than the MQ-8B. Initial operating capability for the MQ-8C is planned for 2016, with the potential for an early deployment in 2014. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman/Released