US Navy’s aging surface fleet struggles to keep ships up to spec, report shows

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s aging surface fleet is getting harder to maintain, and overall is showing declining health in several key areas, such as its main propulsion systems, electrical systems and Aegis combat systems, according to an annual report of the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey submitted to Congress earlier this year.

The so-called INSURV inspections found that over five years, the surface fleet found big dips in the main propulsion systems — the plants that produce the power to push the ship through the water — as well as in the electrical systems and aviation systems. The Aegis systems, a collection of sensors and software that protects the ship primarily from air threats, has also shown some signs of slipping over the last half-decade.

The declining trend comes after years of intense focus on readiness inside the Defense Department, but the Navy says that recent changes to how the Navy conducts the notoriously intrusive INSURV inspections are making the fleet more ready. Still, the slipping scores do raise questions about whether the Navy’s much-in-demand surface combatants are getting adequate time in maintenance.

The US Navy’s vaunted deployment plan is showing cracks everywhere

For INSURV, ships are graded across a wide variety of systems, with scores adding up to a “figure of merit” where perfect equals 1.0. Over more than 30 surface ship inspections in 2019, the Navy tracked a 20 percent drop in scores between 2014 and 2019 in the main propulsion plant and another 20 percent drop in scores for the ships’ electrical systems.

Aegis, which is the beating heart of the combat systems on cruisers and destroyers, saw a slight but concerning drop from a figure of merit of 0.88 in 2017 to 0.77 in 2019. Aviation systems, the systems concerned with launching and recovering

Longhorns plan to continue drill tackling after defensive struggles in win over Texas Tech

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Here are three takeaways from Tom Herman’s appearance on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference.

Tackling work starts now

Texas defensive coordinator Chris Ash’s return to Big 12 play quickly turned into a long day at the office. The Longhorn defense allowed 441 total yards in Saturday’s win over Texas Tech. Poor tackling in the second half allowed the Red Raiders to storm in front late in the fourth quarter.

Herman said that whatever number of missed tackles they had Saturday, it was too many.

“You just practice,” Herman said. “You go through all your tackling drills, you add more into your body of practice. But in 2020 it’s not like we’re going to be lining up against our offense and running full-speed scrimmages just to get better at tackling. So we’ve got to find a way to do it in drill work.”

Ash’s reintroduction to Big 12 offenses didn’t go as planned, but Herman said that he and the defense are committed to improvement.

“Chris and I had been together at Iowa State, so it wasn’t exactly his first go-around in the Big 12,” Herman said. “I think Chris is well aware of the challenges, also well aware of how poorly we played at times in that game against Texas Tech.”

Running back highs and lows

Herman has made clear that the running back room is “by committee,” but junior Keaontay Ingram had the hot hand Saturday.

Ingram carried the ball 12 times for 89 yards and looked comfortable when called on in the second half. Sophomore Roschon Johnson recorded 16 carries, but racked up just 44 yards.

“I did think he adjusted well throughout the game,” Herman said. “Their nose guard is a really good player. … It took us a little bit to kind of figure out how