In the main forge of American officers fleet - at the Naval Academy in Annapolis - the ceremony of changing the commander of the US Navy took place. Admiral Jonathan Grinert, the chief of naval operations — who retired after reaching the age of 62 — was replaced by Admiral John Richardson, who had previously led the Directorate of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.
Of course, the place for the ceremony of changing the guard was not chosen by chance. Both Greenerte and Richardson are graduates of the academy in Annapolis. The first finished alma mater in 1975, and the second in 1982. However, it is not only this that unites two admirals in the highest post of the US Navy. Indeed, among the officers of the American fleet the overwhelming majority are former students of this institution of higher education. Greenert and Richardson are professional submariners. And their specialization at the academy was the same - “control of nuclear power plants”.
As commander of the electromechanical warhead, Jonathan Grinert began service on the Flying Fish nuclear submarine (SSN-673) of the Sturgeon type, then continued it on the Tautog submarine (SSN-639) of the same type, which became famous for its collision on the way to the Avacha bay XNUM X 23 with the Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker K-1970 of the 108 project. That incident was fatal for then-Tautog commander Bjula Balderston, who had a swift career in the submarine fleet. He was sure that he had sunk the Soviet submarine (which, fortunately, did not happen), and this circumstance put enormous moral burden on him. He left the service and became a Baptist preacher.
On board the submarine, Admiral Jonathan Grinert always felt more comfortable than in the Pentagon’s office.
Otherwise it happened with Jonathan Greenert. Fortune smiled at him, and he replied - this beautiful lady. Americans generally decided to demonstrate consistently good mood and optimism. However, Greenert in this regard can be considered a benchmark. The smile from ear to ear rarely left his face. Having started on the wings of the “Flying Fish” (as the name of the Flying Fish submarine translates), “the man who laughs” quickly rose through the ranks. This does not mean that Grinert just turned out to be a pet and darling of fate. He was certainly a competent and enterprising officer, respected colleagues.
When he was transferred to the position of engineer-officer of the top-secret deep-sea low-tonnage submarine NR-1, this meant that the command had special confidence in the young submariner. From the tight compartments of the NR-1, Greenert moved to one of the largest American submarines - Michigan SSBNs (SSBN-727) of the Ohio type, where he became a senior assistant to the commander. Having studied the practice of navigation and the art of controlling an underwater missile carrier, Greenert, with 1991, already commanded the Honolulu multi-purpose submarine (SSN-718) of the Los Angeles type, making her crew one of the best in the fleet.
Jonathan Greenert had a good relationship with the PLA Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Wu Shengli.
From this moment Grinert’s career acquired jet acceleration. At first he was appointed to command the submarine squadron of 11, then the commander of the submarine forces of the Pacific. Naturally, the corresponding ranks alternated: junior rear admiral, rear admiral, and in the rank of vice admiral in 2004, he already headed the 7 th operational fleet. After assigning the full admiral rank dashing submariner September 23 2011, took the post of head of naval operations.
He seemed to be still full of optimism. On that, it seems, there were all bases. During his stay at the highest level of naval power in the United States, nothing particularly dramatic happened in the US Navy. However, the smile increasingly began to descend from the face of the admiral. The rapidly changing world eluded the dense guardianship of the United States. And the fleet, as one of the main instruments of Washington’s foreign policy, due to the huge budget deficit and other economic problems, received less and less appropriations. That is why, just during Grinert’s tenure as chief of naval operations, there was a noticeable collapse in the numerical strength of the US Navy.
Both Jonathan Greenert and John Richardson in various years commanded the Honolulu nuclear submarine.
In the meantime, previously only the threats identified have acquired very real outlines. The Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China is rapidly turning from coastal forces into ocean forces and in fact has thrown a glove on the supremacy of the US Navy in the World Ocean. We must pay tribute, Jonathan Greenert does not belong to the numerous squad of influential Americans who are calling for a tough confrontation between Beijing and the PLA Navy. On the contrary, he always advocated the development of partnership and cooperation between the fleets of the two countries. It was at the initiative of Greenert that the Chinese in 2014 were for the first time invited to participate in the largest RIMPAC exercises conducted in the Pacific under the auspices of the United States. Greenert and PLA Commander-in-Chief Admiral Wu Shengli formed, if not friendly, then quite benevolent relations. That, however, in no way affected the rivalry of the two fleets.
It is enough to refer to the recent events of September of this year to be convinced of this. On the eve of the official visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Washington, a whole series of American-Chinese incidents took place at sea and over the sea. They were not of any acute nature, but, nevertheless, very indicative, as they demonstrated the "painful points" of the US-China relationship. It all started with the fact that five ships of the PLA Navy, using the right of innocent passage, crossed the territorial waters of the United States near the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. And although there was no crime in terms of international law in this case, the Americans were shocked. The answer was not long in coming. According to the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, the American warship "deliberately violated the territorial waters" of the country in the area of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Beijing has officially protested. But the last word remained after all the Celestial Empire. The 15 of September, the American reconnaissance aircraft RC-135, patrolling over the sea near Taiwan, was taken "into the tongs" by two PLA Air Force JH-7 fighters. Everything went well, and the opposing sides dispersed, that is, they scattered peacefully, but the Americans were pretty nervous, because several years ago, Chinese fighters forced an American reconnaissance aircraft to land in China. The car was then returned, but it was gutted all over.
Admiral Richardson has long answered the difficult questions of the Senate Commission on the Affairs of the United States Armed Forces.
In other words, the US-China relations in practice were not at all the way admiral Grinert would like. Under the pressure of circumstances, he was forced to make major adjustments to the US naval strategy. A new version of it has gained a tougher and more aggressive character (see National Defense magazine No. 4 / 2015). However, for its implementation, the United States has clearly not enough forces and means. Apparently, Jonathan Greenert is clearly aware of this.
In this regard, it is impossible not to recall the construction for the US Navy of the so-called littoral warships (LBK). They were conceived as a universal means of combating surface, underwater and mine threats, as well as for the rapid delivery of special operations forces to the place of hostilities. Therefore, their equipment was assumed to be replaceable-modular. The use was foreseen against an adversary who was inferior in strength to the Navy. But in the end, things didn't work out with the modules. So far, none of the configurations has been officially adopted, and the LBK itself has turned out to be insanely expensive. And this is not to mention the fact that when they met in battle, say, with the same ships of the PLA Navy, they would have been completely useless and would have been sunk. The LBK construction program has been reduced from 55 units to 32. But with the rest you need to do something. Reclassifying them into frigates makes little difference.
Admiral Greenert was the first to congratulate Richardson on assuming the post of Chief of Naval Operations.
The submariner Grinert did not seem to immediately understand the “merits” of the LBK and initially supported this program in every way. He even openly advertised littoral warships to the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, when they met at the Pentagon in July 2013 (is this not why the Russian commander-in-chief received 20386 corvettes with a modular armament?). However, in the end I was disappointed in them. In an interview before his resignation, Jonathan Greenert called these ships "collective coffins" that he would never give the order to participate in operations in enemy coastal waters.
The construction program for super-destroyers of the Zumwalt type was limited to three units even before Greenert arrived at the Pentagon. But still, these monstrously expensive monsters ($ 4-5 billion per unit excluding R & D and R & D) “eat up” a significant part of the Navy budget and, like LBK, do not allow building the necessary ships to the fleet.
And only submarines so close to Greenert did not disappoint the American commander in chief. Multipurpose submarines of the Virginia type enter the fleet rhythmically - two units per year. Their modular design allows you to increase the combat potential of submarines with each new modification. Nuclear submarines are increasingly becoming universal. They are not only capable of sinking enemy ships and ships, laying mines and conducting reconnaissance, but also delivering massive strikes against coastal targets, carrying out sabotage missions, and also solving other tasks.
Under the influence of these factors, multipurpose nuclear submarines come to the fore in the practice of the American naval strategy, increasingly actively displacing aircraft carriers that have been relied on for many decades. Obviously, awareness of the primacy of the submarine forces in strengthening the defense capability of the United States and suggested the military-political leadership to appoint a submarine officer for the second time in a row to the post of head of naval operations.
Here it is impossible not to notice that in post-Soviet Russia, where submarines are declared as the main striking force of the Navy, not a single submariner became the commander-in-chief of the Navy. Admirals Felix Gromov, Vladimir Kuroyedov, Vladimir Masorin, Vladimir Vysotsky, and Viktor Chirkov are all naval leaders. Maybe that's why they like to speculate about future super-aircraft carriers, which Russia cannot afford to build, either now or in the foreseeable future, and in general about large surface ships that are unaffordable for the domestic shipbuilding industry?
Jonathan Greenert returned his "trademark" smile when he passed the post to his successor.
Admiral John Richardson received a more extensive education than Jonathan Greenert. He graduated not only from the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He also has degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Woodschall Oceanographic Institute and the Naval College, where senior officers of the American Navy are trained. Over his shoulders and the rich practice of scuba diving. He served on the Parche submarine (SSN-683), converted for spy missions, SSBN George C. Marshall (SSBN-654) such as Benjamin Franklin. Just like Jonathan Greenert, Richardson commanded the Honolulu submarine (SSN-718). He has an extensive list of command and staff posts. He happened to be the commander of the 12 th squadron of the nuclear submarine, deputy commander of the 6 th operational fleet, commander of submarine forces in the Atlantic zone.
The post of director of naval programs of nuclear power plants is considered especially honorable and extremely important in the United States. Once the agency was headed by Admiral Hymen Rikover, who is considered the "godfather" of the US nuclear submarine fleet. The Directorate is responsible for coordinating all activities related to ship-based NPUs, but in fact also directs the creation of nuclear submarines.
And now the United States is just starting to replace the Ohio 14-type SSBNs with the new-generation 12 strategic submarines. Ohio Replacement, or SSBN (X), is unprecedented in cost. It will cost $ 95,8 billion. That's why the position of the head of the Navy needed a man who could not be better known submarine shipbuilding.
The selection of candidates for the top military posts of the United States Armed Forces is a rather long and difficult process. The administration of the United States was nominated by John Richardson by Jonathan Greenert. After its approval by the White House, the future naval commander-in-chief was to be heard in Congress. And only after the verdict of the highest legislative power, he could be sure that he was appointed to the post.
Admiral John Richardson will have to solve difficult tasks.
In Congress, the candidacy of Richardson reacted in general very favorably. But he had to answer a large number of rather difficult questions about how he relates to a shipbuilding program, why the US Navy’s ship crews are declining from year to year, and so on. And finally, 5 August The Senate gave the green light to Richardson.
Ironically, on the same day, the US Navy imposed restrictions on the operation of three newest nuclear submarines of the Virginia type due to the identified deficiencies in their steam generators, that is, the problem arose just through the department led by John Richardson. The submarine actually had to withdraw from combat fleet. However, this unpleasant episode could not affect the decision of the Senate. The approval of the new chief of naval operations was launched and it was difficult to stop it.
At the ceremony of the changing of the guard at Annapolis, the speakers did not skimp on the praise of outgoing Jonathan Greenert, who was smiling again from ear to ear, clearly feeling the joy of the burden that had fallen from him, and gave remarks to John Richardson in such cases. Admiral Wu Shengli, commander of the PLA Navy, was one of the first to receive a new post from Richardson by video link. He invited the new chief of operations of the US Navy to visit China. Of course, the invitation was accepted. In turn, the US naval command invited the PLA Navy to take part in the RIMPAC 2016 maneuvers. That is, the exchange of courtesies took place.