Stealth Zumwalt destroyers will be first US Navy warships armed with hypersonic missiles, top admiral says

Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) participates in U.S. Pacific Fleet's Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21, April 21
Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor during US Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem 21, April 21

  • The first Navy warships to carry hypersonic missiles will be the Zumwalt destroyers.
  • Initial expectations were the weapon’s deployment would start with Virginia-class submarines.
  • The Navy is expected to start fielding it aboard its vessels in 2025, the Navy’s top officer says.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The first US Navy warfighting vessels to be armed with hypersonic missiles will be the stealth Zumwalt-class destroyers, the service’s top admiral said, according to USNI News.

Although the Navy was expected to field hypersonic weaponry on its cruise-missile submarines first, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said at a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments event Tuesday that the service intends to start with the Zumwalts.

“Our biggest [research and development] effort is in hypersonics – to deliver that capability in 2025 on a surface ship and then on Block V [Virginia-class] submarines,” Gilday said, adding that fielding hypersonic weaponry aboard the Zumwalt-class destroyers will be an “important move” toward turning these ships into strike platforms.

The Zumwalt-class destroyers were designed to fight in littoral waters, carrying out land-attack and naval-fire support missions. Their primary weapon was to be the Advanced Gun System, consisting of a pair of 155 mm guns.

But a reduction in the size of the class from a few dozen ships to just three caused the cost of the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile to jump to almost $1 million a round, forcing the Navy to reevaluate its armaments and missions.

The Navy’s three Zumwalt-class destroyers – the USS Zumwalt, USS Michael Monsoor, and the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson – are expected to be blue-water surface-warfare and naval-strike platforms instead.

The hypersonic missile that the Navy is currently developing is the Conventional Prompt Strike weapon, which uses the Common Hypersonic Glide Body that the Army and Navy are working together to develop.

The military successfully flight tested the glide body in March 2020.

A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time, March 19, 2020, during a Department of Defense flight experiment.
A common hypersonic glide body launches during a Department of Defense flight experiment at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii March 19, 2020.

A hypersonic glide body is the part of a hypersonic weapon that carries the warhead. Launched using a conventional rocket booster, the glide body will eventually separate from the rocket and continues on to the target.

After separation, the glide body is no longer able to accelerate, but it retains the ability to maneuver.

While hypersonic weapons have the ability to fly at speeds of at least Mach 5, it is their maneuverability that makes them particularly dangerous. Modern air- and missile-defense systems are not designed to counter this type of threat.

Because these weapons are difficult to defeat, hypersonic missiles have become a key area of strategic competition between the US and rivals China and Russia.

Before the Navy can arm its Zumwalt-class destroyers with these weapons, it needs to not only finish developing the weapon but also figure out how to integrate them onto the destroyers, which don’t currently vertical-launch-system cells large enough for them.

The Navy sent out a solicitation in mid-March asking industry partners for solutions on how the Zumwalts could be reconfigured to carry the larger hypersonic missiles. The sources-sought notice is looking at an advanced payload module capable of carrying hypersonic missiles in a “three-pack configuration.”

Speaking Tuesday, Gilday also expressed interest in using the substantial power-generation capabilities of the Zumwalt-class destroyers to support directed-energy weaponry for defense against emerging threats.

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The apparent sinking of an Indonesian submarine with 53 people on board is among history’s worst submarine disasters

The Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala 402
The Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala 402

  • The Indonesian navy has declared that its missing submarine KRI Nanggala-402 is presumed sunk.
  • The submarine was carrying 53 passengers when it disappeared several days ago.
  • The apparent loss of the submarine and its crew puts this among the worst submarine disasters.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The apparent sinking of an Indonesian naval submarine and loss of dozens of lives this week puts the incident among some of the worst submarine catastrophes.

Indonesia’s diesel-powered submarine KRI Nanggala-402 disappeared during a training exercise Wednesday with 53 people on board. Indonesian and international search-and-rescue assets have been desperately looking for the submarine for days in hopes of finding it and saving the crew.

Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402 during a ceremony honoring the 72nd anniversary of the country's Armed Forces Day at Cilegon, Banten province, Indonesia
Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402 during a 2017 ceremony

What they found instead appears to be evidence of a worst-case scenario. Search-and-rescue teams found items, such as prayer rugs, a grease bottle, part of a coolant pipe, and a torpedo component believed to be from the submarine. These items would only be in the water if the sub had broken apart.

Together with the oil slick, a possible sign of a fuel tank rupture which was found early in the search near the point of the submarine’s final dive, the debris is evidence the submarine has sunk, the Indonesian navy said.

“With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the ‘sub miss’ phase to ‘sub sunk,'” Indonesian Navy Chief Yudo Margono said at a press conference Saturday. All passengers are presumed dead, the AP reported.

At this point, the submarine has likely run out of oxygen, as it was only equipped with about 72 hours of air, according to the Indonesian military.

The Indonesian navy has said it believes that the submarine, a 1,400-ton vessel made by Germany in the late 1970s and refitted in 2012, may have sunk to a depth of 2,000 feet, putting the vessel likely well past the point where the hull could withstand the crushing pressure of the water around it.

Bryan Clark, a former US Navy submarine officer and current defense expert at the Hudson Institute, told Insider “if a small diesel submarine like this Indonesian one goes down in 2000 feet of water, it is unlikely to survive.”

As KRI Nanggala 402 has not yet been found, it is still not clear what exactly happened to the submarine, but if the vessel has indeed sunk with all 53 passengers, it would put this terrible tragedy among some of the worst submarine disasters.

Submarine ARA San Juan navigates for an expedition after the mid-life upgrade reparation at Tandanor shypyard on June 02, 2014 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Submarine ARA San Juan navigates for an expedition after the mid-life upgrade reparation at Tandanor shipyard on June 02, 2014 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

ARA San Juan

On November 15, 2017, the Argentine Navy diesel-electric submarine ARA San Juan disappeared while on patrol with 44 crew members on board. The navy later determined that an anomalous noise detected shortly after the submarine’s last transmission was “consistent with an explosion.”

The submarine was eventually found a year later at a depth of 3,000 feet in the South Atlantic.

361

In 2003, a Chinese diesel-electric submarine with hull number 361 suffered a serious mechanical malfunction during a training exercise that led to the deaths of 70 sailors. The crew is said to have suffocated, though details are limited.

This picture, dated March 1995, shows Russian submarine 'Kursk' at its base in Vidyayevo
This picture, dated March 1995, shows Russian submarine ‘Kursk’ at its base in Vidyayevo

K-141 Kursk

On August 12, 2000, the Russian nuclear-powered submarine K-141 Kursk vanished in the Barents Sea. Russian authorities later determined the vessel sank after a torpedo on board unexpectedly exploded. The first blast then triggered the explosion of several other warheads.

The Russian naval vessel went down with 118 sailors on board. Although twenty-three Russian sailors are believed to have survived the initial catastrophe, the Russian navy was not able to rescue them in time.

Undated picture taken in St. Petersburg showing the nuclear-powered submarine Komsomolets
Undated picture taken in St. Petersburg showing the nuclear-powered submarine Komsomolets

K-278 Komsomolets

On April 7, 1989, the Soviet nuclear-powered attack submarine K-278 Komsomolets sank in the Norwegian Sea after a devastating fire broke out.

Forty-two of the submarine’s 69 crew members died in this accident. Some perished aboard the ship. Others that made it out died of exposure to the frigid waters before they could be rescued.

K-8

On April 8, 1970, a fire crippled the Soviet nuclear-powered submarine K-8, forcing the crew of 52 sailors to abandon the vessel. When a rescue ship arrived on scene, the crew returned to the submarine, but while the ship was under tow in the Bay of Biscay, it sank in rough seas with all hands lost.

The submarine 'Eurydice' in the harbor of Toulon, France, February 9, 1968
The submarine Eurydice in the harbor in Toulon, France on February 9, 1968.

Eurydice

On March 4, 1970, the French diesel-electric submarine was lost in the Mediterranean while diving off Cape Camarot. The French defense ministry assessed that the vessel sank along with its entire crew of 57 sailors after receiving reports of an explosion. Fuel and other debris were found floating on the surface.

USS Scorpion
USS Scorpion

USS Scorpion

The American nuclear-powered submarine USS Scorpion mysteriously vanished in the Atlantic Ocean with 99 sailors on May 22, 1968. No one knows exactly what happened to the Scorpion. It was found five months later 400 miles southwest of the Azores at a depth of 10,000 feet.

The Scorpion was one of four submarines that were weirdly lost in 1968.

K-129

On March 8, 1968, the Soviet diesel-electric ballistic missile submarine sank in the Pacific Ocean with 98 sailors on board. The US found the submarine six years later at 16,000 feet and covertly recovered part of the vessel.

Undated photo of the "Minerve", a "Daphne" class submersible during an exercise
Undated photo of the “Minerve”, a “Daphne” class submersible, during an exercise

Minerve

On January 27, 1968, the French diesel-electric submarine Minerve and its crew of 52 sailors disappeared in bad weather while returning to port.

The submarine was found in 2019 off the French port city of Toulon at 7,800 feet.

INS Dakar

Just a few days prior to the sinking of the Minerve, the Israeli diesel-electric submarine INS Dakar inexplicably sank in the Mediterranean, resulting in the death of 69 sailors. The Israeli submarine was found in 1999 at 9,500 feet, but the exact cause of the disaster remains unknown.

Nuclear-powered submarine the 'USS Thresher' steers through the sea, early 1960s.
The nuclear-powered submarine the USS Thresher steers through the sea in the early 1960s.

USS Thresher

On April 10, 1963, the US Navy experienced its most devastating submarine disaster when the nuclear-powered submarine USS Thresher sank in the Atlantic Ocean and imploded. All 129 American personnel on board were killed in the deadly accident.

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15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

Marine Corps vehicle radio convoy Pendleton
A Marine motor transport operator talks to vehicle commanders during convoy training at Camp Pendleton, California, January 16, 2019.

1. ‘Balls to the walls’ (also, ‘Going balls out’)

common

Meaning: To go as fast as one possibly can.

From military aviation where pilots would need to get their aircraft flying as fast as possible. Their control levers had balls on the end. Pushing the accelerator all the way out (“balls out”), would put the ball of the lever against the firewall in the cockpit (“balls to the wall”).

When a pilot really needed to zoom away, they’d also push the control stick all the way forward, sending it into a dive. Obviously, this would put the ball of the control stick all the way out from the pilot and against the firewall.

2. ‘Bite the bullet’

Meaning: To endure pain or discomfort without crying out

Fighters on both sides of the American Civil War used the term “bite the bullet,” but it appears they may have stolen it from the British.

British Army Capt. Francis Grose published the book, “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” in 1811 and used “chew the bullet” to explain how proud soldiers stayed silent while being whipped.

3. ‘Boots on the ground’

Air Force boots shoes
US airmen at a change of command ceremony, August 17, 2019.

Meaning: Ground troops engaged in an operation

Credited to Army Gen. Volney Warner, “boots on the ground” is used to mean troops in a combat area or potential combat area.

After the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the term saw wide use and has ceased to refer exclusively to military operations. It can now be used to refer to any persons sent out to walk the ground in an area. It’s been employed in reference to police officers as well as political canvassers.

4. ‘Bought the farm’

Meaning: To die

Thought to date back to 1950s jet pilots, the phrase quickly spread to civilian circles. There is no clear agreement on exactly how the phrase came about.

It could be from war widows being able to pay off the family farm with life insurance payments, or farmers paying off their farms with the damage payout they’d receive when a pilot crashed on their land, or the pilots who wanted to buy a farm after they retired being said to “buy the farm early” when they died.

5. ‘Caught a lot of flak’

Meaning: To be criticized, especially harshly

Flak is actually an acronym for German air defense cannons. The Germans called the guns Fliegerabwehrkanonen. Flieger means flyer, abwehr means defense, and kanonen means cannon.

Airmen in World War II would have to fly through dangerous clouds of shrapnel created by flak. The phrase progressed in meaning until it became equated with abusive criticism.

6. ‘FUBAR’/’SNAFU’/’TARFU’

Meaning: Everything about the current situation sucks

All three words are acronyms. FUBAR stands for “F—ed up beyond all recognition,” SNAFU is “Situation normal, all f—ed up,” and TARFU is “Things are really f—ed up.” FUBAR and SNAFU have made it into the civilian lexicon, though the F-word in each is often changed to “fouled” to keep from offending listeners.

The Army actually used SNAFU for the name of a cartoon character in World War II propaganda and instructional videos. Pvt. Snafu and his brothers Tarfu and Fubar were voiced by Mel Blanc of Bugs Bunny and Porky the Pig fame.

7. ‘Geronimo’

Usage: Yelled when jumping off of something

“Geronimo” is yelled by jumpers leaping from a great height, but it has military origins.

Paratroopers with the original test platoon at Fort Benning, Georgia yelled the name of the famous Native American chief on their first mass jump. The exclamation became part of airborne culture and the battalion adopted it as their motto.

8. ‘Got your six’

Meaning: Watching your back

Military members commonly describe direction using the hours of a clock. Whichever direction the vehicle, unit, or individual is moving is the 12 o’clock position, so the six o’clock position is to the rear.

“Got your six” and the related “watch your six” come from service members telling each other that their rear is covered or that they need to watch out for an enemy attacking from behind.

9. ‘In the trenches’

trenches

Meaning: Stuck in a drawn out, tough fight.

Troops defending a position will dig trenches to use as cover during an enemy attack, reducing the chance they’ll be injured by shrapnel or enemy rounds.

In World War I, most of the war occurred along a series of trenches that would flip ownership as one army attacked another. So, someone engaged in fierce fighting, even metaphorical fighting, is “in the trenches.”

10. ‘No man’s land’

Meaning: Dangerous ground or a topic that it is dangerous to discuss

“No man’s land” was widely used by soldiers to describe the area between opposing armies in their trenches in World War I. It was then morphed to describe any area that it was dangerous to stray into or even topics of conversation that could anger another speaker.

However, this is one case where civilians borrowed a military phrase that the military had stolen from civilians. “No man’s land” was popularized in the trenches of the Great War, but it dates back to the 14th-century England when it was used on maps to denote a burial ground.

11. ‘Nuclear option’

Meaning: A choice to destroy everything rather than give in on a debate or contest

Used most publicly while discussing fillibusters in the Senate, the nuclear option has its roots in – what else – nuclear warfare.

In the Cold War, military leaders would give the commander-in-chief options for the deployment and use of nuclear weapons from nuclear artillery to thermonuclear bombs.

In the era of brinksmanship, use of nuclear weapons by the Soviets or the US would likely have ended in widespread destruction across both nations.

12. ‘On the double’

Army Special Forces Green Berets
Candidates at the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School carry a telephone pole on a ruck march as part of Special Forces Assessment and Selection, March 12, 2020.

Meaning: Quickly, as fast as possible

Anyone who has run in a military formation will recognize the background of “on the double.”

“Quick time” is the standard marching pace for troops, and “double time” is twice that pace, meaning the service member is running. Doing something “on the double” is moving at twice the normal speed while completing the task.

13. ‘On the frontlines’

Meaning: In the thick of a fight, argument, or movement

Like nuclear option, this one is pretty apparent. The front line of a military force is made up of the military units closest to a potential or current fight.

Troops on the frontline spend most days defending against or attacking enemy forces. People who are “on the frontlines” of other struggles like political movements or court trials are fighting against the other side every day.

This is similar in usage and origin to “in the trenches” above.

14. ‘Roger that’

Meaning: Yes

This one is pretty common knowledge, though not all civilians may know why the military says, “Roger that,” rather than “yes.” Under the old NATO phonetic alphabet, the letter R was pronounced, “Roger” on the radio.

Radio operators would say, “Roger,” to mean that a message had been properly received. The meaning evolved until “roger” meant “yes.” Today, the NATO phonetic alphabet says, “Romeo,” in place of R, but “roger” is still used to mean a message was received.

15. ‘Screw the pooch’

US Army soldiers RPG rocket propelled grenade
US soldiers conduct foreign weapons training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, October 25, 2017.

Meaning: To bungle something badly

“Screw the pooch” was originally an even racier phrase, f-ck the dog. It meant to loaf around or procrastinate. However, by 1962 it was also being used to mean that a person had bungled something.

Now, it is more commonly used with the latter definition.

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The US Navy’s giving a stealth Zumwalt destroyer control of drone ships and aircraft for a future naval combat experiment

USS Michael Monsoor
USS Michael Monsoor

  • A Zumwalt-class destroyer will command manned and unmanned assets in an exercise next month.
  • The unmanned assets will include UAVs like the MQ-9 and Fire Scout, as well as surface vessels.
  • The Navy will use the Fleet Battle Problem exercise to explore possibilities for the future force.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US Navy will give one of its advanced Zumwalt-class destroyers control of multiple unmanned systems during an upcoming exercise exploring possibilities for future naval warfare.

During next month’s Fleet Battle Problem exercise in the Pacific, the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) will command both unmanned surface vessels and aircraft as the Navy looks at which elements of a potential future force “will have the greatest impact on increasing the fleet’s lethality,” a Navy official said in a statement first reported by USNI News.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Tim Pietrack, citing the demands of the Unmanned Campaign Framework, said that “it is imperative that we understand what our future force will need to operate both in day-to-day competition as well as high-end combat.”

The exercise, which will take place in the 3rd Fleet area of responsibility under the supervision of US Pacific Fleet, “will incorporate many unmanned capabilities and unmanned capability enablers,” Pietrack said.

He said that during the exercise, the Michael Monsoor “will use the ship’s unique capabilities to command and control manned and unmanned forces to conduct long-range, multi-domain fires.”

The unmanned assets expected to participate in the complex exercise include the unmanned surface vessels Sea Hunter and Sea Hawk and the MQ-8B Fire Scout and MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles.

Sea Hunter, an entirely new class of unmanned sea surface vehicle developed in partnership between the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Sea Hunter, an entirely new class of unmanned sea surface vehicle developed in partnership between the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

The MQ-9 Sea Guardian drone serves as a scout aircraft, as well as an anti-submarine warfare asset, while the Fire Scout, an unmanned helicopter that will operate from a Littoral Combat Ship during the exercise, can conduct both reconnaissance and strike missions.

During next month’s exercise, the Sea Hunter, which has participated in past exercises, and the newer Sea Hawk will support manned units in an anti-submarine role while also providing maritime domain awareness.

Pietrack said that “through operational scenarios, what we learn from this event will provide pertinent and timely input to the Naval Research Enterprise and the acquisition community to better inform unmanned system development moving forward.”

The Navy has shown increasing interest in unmanned systems, which are expected to be a critical part of the future fleet.

Looking at the competition with China, which has the world’s largest naval force, the Pentagon proposed in October a 500-ship Navy consisting of as many as 240 unmanned or optionally-manned vessels, both surface ships and undersea assets, that could conduct resupply, surveillance, mine, and strike missions, among other operations.

It remains to be seen if such a force will become reality, but the interest in using unmanned systems to augment the force is there.

For the Michael Monsoor, the second of the three stealthy Zumwalt-class destroyers, the upcoming Navy exercise is an opportunity to explore some potential options for the class amid uncertainty about the role the advanced vessels might play in combat.

Commanding multiple unmanned systems in an exercise of this scale will be a first for the ship.

uss zumwalt

The Navy commissioned the Zumwalt, the first of a new class of destroyers, in 2016, but the warship was not delivered to the service with a working combat system until April.

Among problems like cost overruns and major delays, a big problem with the Zumwalt was the two 155 mm guns of the Advanced Gun System.

When the Navy reduced its order for Zumwalt-class ships from roughly three dozen to just three, the cost of the rounds for the guns shot up. A single Long-Range Land Attack Projectile was going to cost almost $1 million.

The unacceptable price of the gun’s ammunition was just one of the problems with the guns that forced the Navy to reevaluate the combat system and shift the ship’s mission from a naval fire support role to maritime strike.

The Zumwalt fired its 30 mm Mk 46 MOD 2 Gun Weapon System for the first time in May and first launched a SM-2 missile from its Mk 57 Vertical Launching System in October.

More recently, there have been discussions about eventually arming the vessels with hypersonic missiles.

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US Army reservist charged in Capitol riot was a Nazi sympathizer who sported a ‘Hitler mustache’ to work, federal prosecutors reveal

US Capitol riot
Riots at the US Capitol Building.

  • Court documents published by Politico offer an insight into a Capitol rioter’s white supremacist ties.
  • Hale-Cusanelli worked at a New Jersey naval facility where he held secret-level security clearance.
  • Investigators found that Hale-Cusanelli’s coworkers could recall numerous incidents of racist behavior.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A US Army reservist who is charged with taking part in the Capitol riot was well-known by his co-workers as a “white supremacist,” according to new evidence from federal prosecutors.

Among many other revelations, court documents first published by Politico also reveal that Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was a Holocaust denier who shaved his beard into a “Hitler mustache” and regularly praised the Nazis.

The evidence against Hale-Cusanelli resulted from an extensive investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

NCIS special agents interviewed 44 members of the NWS Earle Security Forces, where Hale-Cusanelli worked and held a secret-level security clearance, in a bid to keep him in prison while he awaits trial following his January 15 arrest.

Of the 44 people interviewed, a majority – 34 – agreed with the description of Hale-Cusanelli as “having extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women,” according to the court documents.

An unnamed Navy Petty Officer stated that the Capitol rioter had said that “Hitler should have finished the job.”

One Navy Seamen said that Hale-Cusanelli had once said that “babies born with any deformities or disabilities should be shot in the forehead.” He also recalled an incident where he said that if he were a Nazi, he would “kill all the Jews and eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

A supervisor told investigators that she once had to discipline Hale-Cusanelli for wearing a “Hitler mustache” to work.

The results of these interviews were published as was a rebuttal to a letter of support from Sgt. John Getz. Hale-Cusanelli’s supervisor wrote a letter to the court urging them to release him on bond, adding that he was “appalled at how he [Hale-Cusanelli] was slandered in the press in regards to him being a white supremacist.”

Prosecutors, however, pointed out that previous statements from Getz contradicted this assertion. He had previously said that Hale-Cusanelli was a “Nazi sympathizer” and a “Holocaust denier.”

The Capitol rioter’s lawyer argued that his client should not be detained pending trial. He told the court that Hale-Cusanelli is not charged with a crime of violence and is not a Nazi sympathizer, according to the court documents.

Prosecutors dismissed these claims, citing photographic evidence of Hale-Cusanelli sporting a Hitler mustache, numerous racist photos saved on his phone, and a now-deleted YouTube channel of his in which he expressed hateful views.

Hale-Cusanelli is one of the many insurrectionists believed to have been a white supremacist. Groups in and around the Capitol wore regalia associated with far-right, racist, and extremist groups on January 6, Insider’s Susie Neilson and Morgan McFall-Johnsen previously reported.

Following the Capitol siege, the FBI had to screen troops from the DC National Guard to ensure that they did not have ties to far-right ideologies. This put the Pentagon under increasing pressure to address white supremacist ties within the US military, Insider’s John Haitlwanger said.

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US Navy sailors have been battling a bed bug infestation aboard an attack submarine

The Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut
The Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut has been battling bed bugs.

  • One of the Navy’s most powerful attack submarines has been battling a bed bug infestation.
  • USS Connecticut sailors have been dealing with this since at least December, possibly longer.
  • The Navy says it responded quickly and effectively, but some sailors have said help came too late.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sailors aboard Seawolf-class submarine USS Connecticut, one of the US Navy’s most capable attack submarines, have been battling an bed bug infestation.

Naval Submarine Force Pacific told Insider that the Navy launched efforts to find and eliminate the difficult-to-kill bed bugs after the problem was first reported last December, explaining that the “physical presence of bed bugs” was found in February.

Sailors told Navy Times, which first reported the infestation, that the problem actually started last March while the submarine was participating in an Arctic training event. Family members of Connecticut sailors told the Kitsap Sun that the infestation has been an issue for about a year.

“People were getting eaten alive in their racks,” a petty officer assigned to the submarine told Navy Times. The sailor added that the situation got so bad sailors were sleeping in chairs or on the floor in the mess.

A sailor told Navy Times the outbreak negatively affected people’s sleep, a problem for sailors with a stressful job. “If someone’s sleep deprived because they’re in the rack getting eaten alive by bed bugs, he could fall asleep at (the controls) and run us into an underwater mountain,” the sailor said.

When the submarine returned to port, some sailors took to sleeping in cars to avoid their racks, the Kitsap Sun reported.

Bed bug feeding on human skin
Bed bug feeding on human skin

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown, blood-sucking insects that burrow into beds and other furniture, and they are exceptionally resilient. The bugs feed at night, often biting any exposed skin while people asleep. They do not fly but instead crawl quickly across floors, ceilings, and walls.

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center says that “immediate action should be taken if an infestation is discovered.”

Sailors told Navy Times that when they first raised concerns about bed bugs aboard the Connecticut, the command dismissed them because they “didn’t have proof.”

“Navy criteria for treating submarines or ships requires physical presence of bed bugs to establish existence,” Navy Submarine Force Pacific spokeswoman Cmdr. Cynthia Fields told Insider.

She said that multiple inspections of the submarine after reports of possible bed bugs came in last December produce “no evidence of bed bugs.” Even then, “the command continued to pursue resolution,” Fields said, adding that “the Navy takes the safety and health of Sailors very seriously.”

The spokeswoman told Insider that “daily inspections have occurred since the initial discovery of the insects” last month. “All berthing on board was searched, to include removing all bedding and thoroughly inspecting all mattress seams and folds.”

“All linens and privacy curtains were laundered or replaced to destroy the insects,” Fields said, explaining that bed bugs cannot survive the high temperatures of standard clothes dryers.

Mattresses in the affected areas were replaced, all clothes were laundered, and affected areas were thoroughly cleaned.

She said that the response to the infestation was overseen by Navy Preventative Medicine technicians and Navy entomologists, who directed the application of “deadly countermeasures.”

Fields said that pesticide was applied twice after an initial application of diatomaceous dust. The entomologists then took steps to seal off areas where the bugs might escape the pesticide before putting down more diatomaceous dust to draw out any remaining bed bugs.

The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut leaving port
The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut leaving port

During the extensive treatment process, living areas were set up pierside at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton for Connecticut sailors. Navy entomologists have since recommended that sailors return to their racks.

“All appropriate countermeasures have been taken with plans firmly in place to address further breakouts underway if they occur,” Fields said.

The Kitsap Sun, however, reported that the bed bugs have not yet been completely eradicated. Connecticut sailors told the Navy Times that they were being forced back into their racks, claiming that the command is “using us as live bait…to see if (the bed bugs) are still there.”

At least one sailor characterized the command response to the infestation as “employee abuse.”

The Navy did not answer Insider’s question of whether or not it will investigate allegations that the command reacted improperly to sailor concerns about an infestation aboard the Connecticut.

The service did say, though, that Navy Environmental and Preventative Medicine Unit personnel, Preventative Medicine Technicians, and the ship’s corpsman “addressed crew concerns” and repeated that “the Navy takes the safety and health of Sailors very seriously.”

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Warship captains told the skipper of a COVID-stricken aircraft carrier he was ‘doing what is right’ just before the Navy fired him, emails show

Capt. Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), gives remarks during an all-hands call
Capt. Brett Crozier, then the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), gives remarks during an all-hands call in Dec. 2019.

  • The US Navy fired a carrier captain after he wrote a letter about a coronavirus outbreak that leaked.
  • After an investigation, the Navy stood by its decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of his command.
  • Emails show that fellow warship captains believed Crozier was “doing the right thing.”
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Warship captains showed strong support for the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, in emails sent just before the Navy fired him, Task & Purpose reported Friday.

A collection of 1,200 emails sent to and from Crozier’s email between March 25, 2020 and April 2, 2020 that were obtained by Task & Purpose and reported by Jeff Schogol reveal that Crozier had not only the support of his crew when he was relieved of his command, but also the support of fellow skippers.

The Navy publicly acknowledged that there was a COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt on March 24, 2020, revealing that three sailors had tested positive.

The number of coronavirus cases soared within a matter of days as the carrier was forced into port in Guam.

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group transits in formation Jan. 25, 2020. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific.
The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group transits in formation Jan. 25, 2020. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific.

On March 30, medical professionals aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt warned that sailors would die if they were not evacuated immediately. That same day, Crozier sent an urgent plea up the chain of command calling for the evacuation of the majority of the crew. “Sailors do not need to die,” he wrote.

“If there is ever a time to ask for help it is now regardless of the impact on my career,” Crozier wrote.

The letter, which was also sent to some Navy personnel outside Crozier’s chain of command, leaked to The San Francisco Chronicle and published in full on March 31, and on April 2, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly fired Crozier for “poor judgement.” Modly resigned a week later after a series of missteps, which included speaking ill of the captain to his crew.

“I read your letter yesterday in the SF Chronicle,” Capt. Matthew Paradise, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, wrote in an email to Crozier on April 1.

“I thought it was awesome and a textbook example of speaking truth to power and taking care of your troops,” he said.

Another email obtained by Task & Purpose was from Capt. Sean Bailey, then the commanding officer of the carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

“I know you are feeling an immense amount of heat and outside pressure from everything that is going on right now, but wanted to let you know that the people who matter still support you,” the captain wrote in an email sent on April 1.

“I admire your commitment to communicating candidly to leadership and I’m confident that the ‘leak’ to the SF Chronicle was someone else’s misdirected motivation,” Bailey said. “I know that you are doing what is right to take care of your Sailors and your ship.  Let me know if I can help.”

In a March 31 email to the captain, Cmdr. Patrick Eliason, then the skipper of the destroyer USS The Sullivans, thanked Crozier for “having the guts” to write the letter that ultimately derailed his career.

After he was relieved of his command, Crozier departed his ship, but he did so to the sound of his crew chanting his name. Modly was angered by videos of this send-off and flew to Guam afterwards to address the crew, a trip that would cost him job and taxpayers an estimated $243,000.

After a preliminary investigation, Navy leaders recommended late last April that Crozier be reinstated, but they changed their minds after a deeper investigation.

“Had I known then what I know today, I would not have made that recommendation to reinstate Capt. Crozier. Moreover, if Capt. Crozier were still command today, I would be relieving him,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said last June.

He argued that Crozier “fell well short of what we expect of those in command.”

The Navy battled the outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt for months and did end up eventually evacuating the majority of the crew as more than one thousand sailors tested positive for COVID-19. A number of sailors were hospitalized by the virus, and one sailor died.

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Chinese bombers simulated an attack on a US Navy aircraft carrier in the South China Sea

he Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) steams in formation while transiting the Pacific
he Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) steams in formation while transiting the Pacific

Chinese bombers recently simulated an attack on a US Navy aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, the US military said Friday, confirming earlier reporting from the Financial Times.

As the Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group sailed into the South China Sea this past Saturday, the Chinese military sent eight H-6K bombers, four J-16 fighter jets, and one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft flying past Taiwan and into the contested waterway.

Tracking data indicates the US carrier strike group entered the South China Sea by way of the Bashi Channel as the Chinese fighters flew through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

The next day, an unidentified mainland military analyst told China’s state-affiliated Global Times that the Chinese move may have been a training exercise intended to “boost the PLA’s combat capability against US aircraft carriers,” as the bombers could practice launching a saturation attack against the US ships.

Another analyst told the paper that the flights were “likely routine operations” that had nothing to do with the US vessels nearby.

A Chinese Air Force H-6K bomber
A Chinese Air Force H-6K bomber

The Financial Times, citing persons familiar with the US and allied intelligence, reported Friday that the Chinese bombers and fighters simulated an attack on the Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group. The Chinese bomber pilots were also reportedly overheard confirming naval strike orders and simulating the firing of anti-ship missiles.

US Indo-Pacific Command spokesperson Capt. Mike Kafka told Insider in an emailed statement that “the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group closely monitored all People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Air Force (PLAAF) activity, and at no time did they pose a threat to US Navy ships, aircraft, or Sailors.” 

A defense official said that the Chinese aircraft did not come within 250 miles of the US Navy vessels, putting them outside the estimated range of the YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles carried by the H-6K. There was a simulated attack run though, the official said.

Kafka said in the INDOPACOM statement, “the PLA activities highlighted here, are the latest in a string of aggressive and destabilizing actions.”

The spokesman said that “these actions reflect a continued PLA attempt to use its military as a tool to intimidate or coerce those operating in international waters and airspace, to include their neighbors and those with competing territorial claims,” adding that the “United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, demonstrating resolve through our operational presence throughout the region.”

The US Navy said in a statement last Sunday that the Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group is on a routine deployment to the US 7th Fleet area of responsibility to conduct maritime security operations.

China objects to the regular presence of the US military in the South China Sea, even though it has operated in the area for decades.

“It does no good to regional peace and stability for the United States to frequently send military vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to show off its muscles,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a press briefing Monday.

The latest developments in the South China Sea highlight the challenges the new Biden administration will face as it deals with Beijing and China’s growing military power.

The new administration and China have already traded jabs over Taiwan. During Monday’s press briefing, Zhao told the US to “refrain from sending any wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces so as to avoid damaging China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” after the US State Department criticized China’s efforts to militarily, economically, and diplomatically pressure Taiwan.

Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman Wu Qian said Thursday that Chinese military activities near Taiwan are necessary and warned that it would mean war if Taiwan pursued independence from China.

Speaking at the first Department of Defense press briefing of the Biden administration, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby reaffirmed US support for Taiwan’s defense but said that tensions “need not lead to anything like confrontation.”

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Chinese sailors are suffering from serious psychological disorders aboard South China Sea submarines, a recent study found

The Jin-B Project 094B ballistic missile submarine takes part in a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of China's Navy, in the Yellow Sea
The Jin-B Project 094B ballistic missile submarine takes part in a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s Navy, in the Yellow Sea

  • A recent study by Chinese researchers found that Chinese submariners in the South China Sea are suffering from “serious” psychological disorders.
  • A little over one-fifth of surveyed sailors showed signs of mental health issues.
  • The operating environment, as well as the challenges of life aboard a submarine, put submariners at a higher risk for psychological issues.
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Chinese submariners patrolling the contested South China Sea are suffering from “serious” psychological disorders, according to a recently published study first reported by Stars and Stripes.

“One group of military personnel at high risk of mental health problems is the submarine force, especially in the South China Sea,” five Chinese researchers affiliated with the Institute of Military Health Management at Naval Medical University in Shanghai wrote in an article published earlier this month in Military Medicine.

108 out of 511 surveys of Chinese submariners in the South China Sea showed signs of psychological disorders ranging from depression and anxiety to hostility, the study found.

The results were compared to mental health norms among male service members across the Chinese armed forces and were found to be “significantly higher.”

“This study demonstrates for the first time that soldiers and officers in the submarine force in the South China Sea are facing mental health risks and suffering from serious psychological problems,” the researchers concluded.

China claims the vast majority of the disputed South China Sea, and it has increased its naval patrols of the waterway over the years to reinforce its sovereignty claims.

“Studies have demonstrated that military maneuvers can produce psychological and physiological stress,” the Chinese researchers explained, adding that life aboard a submarine can also lead to mental health issues.

They wrote that submariners, who tend to have higher rates of neuropsychiatric illness, “are confined to tiny living spaces and exposed to manufactured air and artificial light,” and “the submarine environment entails prolonged isolation, which can involve 60 to 90 days of submerged cruising.”

The study also found that sailors aboard nuclear submarines tended to be at a higher risk for psychological disorders.

Long overlooked in militaries around the world, mental health is an important part of determining the overall readiness of a force.

For China, psychological evaluations were not included as part of the military recruitment process until 2006, and mental health services for Chinese troops are still works in progress.

Recognizing that life aboard naval vessels can be challenging for sailors, the US Navy began embedding psychologists aboard aircraft carriers in the 1990s, and it saw a dramatic decrease in emergency evacuations and administrative separations for misbehavior.

This important program, known as the embedded Mental Health Program (eMHP), was later extended to additional surface vessels and appeared to be similarly effective.

An eMHP for the Navy’s submarine force was piloted in 2013 in Norfolk, Virginia and showed positive results, reducing annual unplanned losses from 22 to 2 by 2016, when the program was expanded to provide greater mental health support to the larger submarine force.

The Navy also set up eMHP services for Marines and the special operations forces as well.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, according to the latest Department of Defense assessment of the Chinese military, is the largest naval force in the world, but its capabilities still trail behind those of the US Navy.

The overall quality of the Chinese navy is improving though as China builds new classes of ships and submarines and pushes forward with efforts to build a world-class fighting force by the middle of this century.

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