NavWeek: Grounded

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Retired Rear Adm. Terry McKnight must feel like a bit of a prophet.

Speaking earlier this month at the U.S Navy Amphibious Warship Forum sponsored by the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition, McKnight – the author of the 2012 book “Pirate Alley, Commanding Task Force 151 Off Somalia” and now vice president at Cobham, said of the ships the U.S. had in the Black Sea that could help with Winter Olympics security: “These are totally wrong warships.” Amphibious ships would fit the bill better, he said.

A day later, of course, one of the ships, the Mayport-based frigate FFG-50 USS Taylor, ran aground as it was preparing to moor in Samsun, Turkey.

Taylor was able to moor without further incident. There were no reported injuries, and the incident is currently under investigation.

The ship was “supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the Black Sea to establish and enhance cooperation, mutual training and interoperability with regional partner nations and allies,” the Navy says, adding the vessel is currently on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

“The USS Taylor is not available for tasking right now because of the grounding,” says Rear Adm. John Kirby, adding the ship was there for “a variety of missions.”

Kirby told reporters Feb. 20, “We're constantly taking a look at force laydown and posture throughout the region.  I'm not aware of any specific decisions to change that posture in the Black Sea. I'm not aware of any specific plans right now to replace the Taylor in the Black Sea.  And they're still assessing the damage right now, and I don't know how long it'll be before she can get back underway.”

Maybe they should consider an amphib or two. Or, if it’s shallow waters they’re worried about, there’s always a Littoral Combat Ship, providing they can make one available.

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