By the end of the year the Navy will deliver a mine warfare (MIW) plan to Congress that will double as congressionally-mandated certification the service is ready to replace its legacy capabilities, a Navy official said Tuesday.
In previous defense authorization bills, Congress required the Secretary of the Navy to certify replacement capabilities before moving on to new approaches.
“SecNav is under a congressional mandate and he has to certify the replacement capabilities before we can divest in the legacy capability. With his new approach, that’s become amazingly complex to do because we’re not replacing individual capabilities, we’re replacing what we have now with a whole mosaic of expeditionary capabilities,” Vice Adm. William Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems (OPNAV N9), said at a Mine Warfare Association event.
Rather than separate out the mine warfare plan from the certification, “we thought it best to just tell the whole story on how we’re going to go forward and that’ll be in a report to Congress by the end of the year. And this will be the certification for the mine warfare next.”
Mine warfare next is a term for the broader effort to improve the Navy’s mine warfare capabilities. The Navy plans to replace its Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships with mine countermeasure mission packages posted on Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) and other vessels of opportunity.
The MIW plan was first announced by Maj. Gen. David Coffman, director of Expeditionary Warfare (N95), last October. The plan aims to provide more coherence and top-down guidance to the Navy’s MIW capabilities and developments going forward (Defense Daily, Oct. 31).
Merz also noted the incoming new Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Bill Moran, is committed to advancing mine warfare and countermeasures capabilities, having written a letter directing a reorganization of the service’s mine warfare programs.
“He actually signed out the letter that directed this refocus. So I think we’re going to be in a good place for the next three years and get traction on this,” Merz added.