China can build whatever it wants on its islands in the South China Sea, a senior Chinese official said on Monday, rejecting proposals ahead of a key regional meeting to freeze any activity that may raise tensions in disputed waters there.
Since the Chinese consider these to be new Chinese territory, they claim the 200 mile EEZ around them, which is most problematic for the Philippines as Scarborough Shoal is not just claimed by the Philippines, it is well within the Philippines' EEZ, only 150 miles from Luzon and has been part of the Philippines since the Spanish organized the islands against the Sulu jihadists in the 1500s. When, after the US annexed the islands, the Philippinoes voted for and were granted independence from the US, Scarborough shoal was explicitly included by the US in the deal.
While the plane continues to be missing and Russia annexes the Crimea, another crisis seems to be brewing in the Philippines.
Some years ago the Chinese set up a military outpost on and laid claim to "Mischief Reef', a tiny coral outcropping in the Spratley islands off the coast of one of the main Philippine islands (Palawan).
China then cartographically stuck it's tounge out at all its southern neighbors claiming pretty much the entire South China Sea and in particular the Spratelys are Chinese territory.
The technical diplomatic term for this is "jackassery".
The Philippines, which is not exactly a world power, could not evict the squatters without risking war and so responded by setting up an outpost on another of the rocks to confirm their sovereignty. The outpost is the Philippine transport ship Sierra Madre which has been grounded on Aungin reef and is the Phillipinel government administrative office for the Spratelys.
This outpost would probably not be near the top of my duty requests.
The ship is now classified as a government building and is staffed mainly with marines to prevent the Chinese from running the Philippines off from their own island and assert that the islands are not relinquished.
That's why China fully support Russia in Ukraine: Ukraine is Russian Taiwan. The biggest thing that prevented their cooperation in U.N. was the common border and disputed islands in the Amur river. They spent some effort to have it all settled out back in early 2000s. Giving up on Damansky Island was well worth the ability to tag team The Great Satan on every question.
Eaglespeak has been covering the mystery of the MV Arctic Sea for several days now.
Cliffs Notes version: The Moter Vessel Arctic Sea, a Maltese ship with a Russian crew was siezed by pirates posing as marine police in the...BALTIC SEA. After transiting into the Atlantic all the vessels transponders wee shut off...no one knows where the ship is. Though there have been at least 2 reported sightings one just last night, both are a bit sketchy at best.
See herehere and here. There is a bit of analysis at Information Dissemination here.
We can begin to fix this...starting NOW
There is a proposal to name the upcoming carrier CVN79 the USS Barry Goldwater.
Now I'm a Goldwater Republican and as our statesmen go Senator (and General) Goldwater is a better choice than most, but....no. We need to end this now. One of the most irritating and downright offensive military developments in the last few decades has been the habit of naming United States capital ships after politicians. This is reminiscent of the former Soviet Union and corrupt third world nations. With the possible exception of George Washington himself, we really do not need to be naming our fighting ships after elected officials. Frankly, I'd find an alpha numeric system preferable to this.
Carriers, were initially to be given names of famous battles and previous Naval vessels with especially distinguished careers. With this in mind there is a counter proposal for the naming of CVN 79 and it is an august name indeed....
Few ships have been as pivotal to world history as the Enterprise of 1775 as that vessels actions on Lake Champlain may well have changed the course of the Revolutionary War. The seventh ship to bear that name was, for several months during the Pacific War, the ONLY allied carrier in the Pacific. Holding the line against nigh impossible odds, the "Big E" won 20 out of a possible 21 battle stars and was absolutely pivotal in winning that terrible war. The eighth ship graced with that name is still in service. The first nuclear carrier in the world, her record of movements reads like the history of the US Navy after 1961. Now approaching her 50th year, Enterprise the oldest ship in the fleet by a wide margin, and is due to retire before CVN79 is commissioned. There are few more appropriate names for a US Navy warship.
Whereas the namesake ENTERPRISE has been proudly borne by two combat aircraft carriers of the United States Navy;Whereas
the first USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) (seventh ship to bear this name) and
her embarked airwing and crew gallantly fought in every major battle in
the Pacific during World War Two, including the signatory battle at
Midway when vastly outnumbered by the ships and planes of the Imperial
Japanese Navyâ€™s Combined Fleet, ENTERPRISE, with YORKTOWN and HORNET
struck a mortal blow, sinking four enemy aircraft carriers and turning
the tide of the war in the Pacific;Whereas
the same ENTERPRISE concluded that war as the most decorated warship in
the United States Navy with 20 battle stars, a Presidential Unit
Citation, a British Admiralty Pennant, Navy Unit Commendation,
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, and Task Force 16 Citation among
many other accolades;Whereas
the second United States Navy aircraft carrier to be named ENTERPRISE
(CVAN/CVN-65) was the first such ship of her class in the world to be
that ENTERPRISE, the eighth ship to bear that name in the United States
Navy is concluding a half-century of service to this nation and has
honorably served in every theater of operations from leading the naval
quarantine off Cuba in 1962 to conducting the first strikes following
the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11th, 2001;Be It ResolvedThat
the next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed (CVN-79) should
bear the name USS ENTERPRISE in recognition and honor of the fighting
men and women of the United States navy who have sailed in her
namesakes through the centuries.We The Undersigned:Call
upon the Congress of the United States to remand H. CON. RES. 83 and
replace it with a resolution supporting the naming of CVN-79 or the
next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed, the USS ENTERPRISE.Call
upon the Secretary of the Navy to support this petition of the
tax-paying people of these United States and name the next nuclear
aircraft carrier to be constructed the USS ENTERPRISE
Has the USN run out of actual presidents to name ships after than they're down to presidential candidates? What next, USS Walter Mondale, USS Bob Dole?
One thing I've always wondered is why the USN uses full names for their ships (USS John F Kennedy- why not just USS Kennedy?)
Posted by: Andy Janes at Sun Aug 2 03:42:01 2009 (lNf10)
Andy, they've been naming carriers after lesser politicians longer than they've been naming them after presidents. Forrestal was named after the last full Secretary of the Navy before they folded that department into Defense and Carl Vinson was named after a powerful House chairman.
And hey, there really isn't any tradition of naming nuclear supercarriers after anything other than politicians, excepting the Big E itself. And I'm sort of looking forward to the Big Hill. ^_^
Posted by: Mitch H. at Tue Aug 4 11:52:18 2009 (jwKxK)
Now I'm wondering about the naming of the "Hornet" and the "Wasp?"
Posted by: toadold at Tue Aug 4 16:17:42 2009 (B/37X)
They were both traditional ship names in the US Navy. Wasp was the eighth of its name, and the Hornet was the seventh. Every fleet carrier between the USS Langley and more than half-way through the Essex class (USS Oriskany, maybe?) were christened with legacy names, although a lot of them were just recycled cargo-ship tags.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Fri Aug 7 09:39:38 2009 (jwKxK)
Mitch H: Thankee
For some reason that got me to thinking about the escort carriers, CVEs.
One of the things that was cool about that site was they had a photo of the USS Alabama with a deck load
of USAAF fighter planes.
They also have a brief of the battle of the Samar Sea, destroyers and escort carriers charge Japanese heavies.
Posted by: toadold at Fri Aug 7 19:18:45 2009 (UvMYT)
I'm with you. The final straw for me was naming an attack sub after Jimmy Carter. (It fills with with revulsion to even type that.)
Posted by: Toren at Fri Aug 7 23:37:01 2009 (T8y65)
I know Carter served, and was a nuc engineer, but.... But. He was a gutless, clueless dork who almost ruined the country, and has spent the rest of his miserable life sucking up to dictators. And despite knowing very well how safe nuclear power is, he almost single-handedly destroyed the US program (by killing the Savannah recycling plant, among other things) for political reasons. I'd rather see an carrier named after Reagan than a attack sub named after Carter, when you look at their record as presidents.
Posted by: Toren at Sat Aug 8 03:28:10 2009 (T8y65)
Well, we named a CVN after Harry Truman, who almost killed the Navy (And most of the other parts of the Armed Forces.). At least with Carl Vinson, the ship was named after a strong proponent and advocate of the Fleet [See Vinson Plans - which represented the expansion of the US Navy prior to 1940 in the run up to Pearl Harbor - and which was reponsible for ENTERPRISE and YORKTOWN, among others.].
The lack of HORNET I can understand, since it would be confusing with the F/A-18. And remember, both LEXINGTON and SARATOGA were not names simply given to carriers - they were inherited from the battlecruisers under construction whose hulls were later used for carriers. And of course, you have USS SHANGRI-LA.
And to be honest, I am not terribly fond of naming ships AMERICA or UNITED STATES. It is similar to asking for trouble as naming a ship INVINCIBLE.
I do remember 10 years ago, there was a movement in the US Senate to name a CVN after the recently decommissioned LEXINGTON. But there you get the problem, as examplified by Hyman Rickover when he went to naming the 688 boats after cities- "Fish don't vote!"
And considering how the Navy now spreads out the home ports of various ships, and even the case of the IOWA-class when they were built (Where FDR issued an executive order mandating the BBs be named after states whose name had not been used for the longest time in the US Navy - in no small part due to the incessant lobbying of Harry Truman.), that explains it all.
Posted by: cxt217 at Sat Aug 8 09:16:44 2009 (bXncS)
CVN76, USS Reagan was originally to be named the USS United States. While national names are generally discouraged, the USS United States was one of the first 6 frigates and had an exceptionally distinguished ~70 year career (comparable to USS Constitution) until her loss during the Civil War. This is a vessel that the USN has tried to honor with a front line ship 3 times now, first a CC (battlecruiser) the huge CV that was canceled and replaced with the smaller vessel that became Forrestal and finally the CVN 76.
Regards Carter, he did give honorable service as a submariner and Steven Den Beste is right, there is a tenuous tradition of naming subs after submariners.
Well before the Rickover, and Carter the first US submarine was named after its inventor John P. Holland. The next submarine was to be named Fulton after the inventor and submariner (who designed the first practical military submarine) but it's purchase was canceled. After that the navy went with fish and reptile names until the Wilson administration switched to a European style alphanumeric system for no readily discernable reason. In the 19teens, fleet subs were briefly given the names of Navy heroes (like destroyers) because it was expected they would be used as submersible destroyers. Later they switched back to marine life and reptiles and started using spanish and Polynesian names when the naming comittee exausted their pocket naturalist. With a few exceptions this persisted through the 50s. Then, with the boomers, they just went clean off the rails.
At least one naval blogger has suggested that naming the ship Carter might inspire the crew to greatness...much like The Boy Named Sue.
Well, another of the Original Six Frigates was named CONGRESS. Not surprisingly, it had an undistinguished career.
I do not disagree with the tradition of the UNITED STATES, but the name really should not be used for a ship of war - that is asking for too much trouble in terms of propaganda value if it went down.
And in terms of strange, take a look at the history of the surviving Union monitors from the Civil War. Most of them were renamed using classical names of mythology in the late 1860s by the Secretary of the Navy of the time - and most of those were renamed a few weeks later back to their original names.
Posted by: cxt217 at Sat Aug 8 17:09:47 2009 (bXncS)
Why isn't there any Perry or Lawrence? Sheesh, there's some names that shouldn't be let lie.
Posted by: Maureen at Tue Aug 11 17:30:10 2009 (L7Y6r)
Vikings VS Pirates: Round 1
Round one goes to the VIKINGS! (HT Eaglespeak)
Early this morning, suspected pirates attacked a Greek Bulk Carrier
in the Gulf of Aden. The pirates fired upon the ship with small arms
and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). A distress call was picked up by
the EU NAVFOR Swedish warship HSwMS MALMO which immediately proceeded
to the area.
HSwMS MALMO made visual contact with the attacking
skiff and fired warning shots and flares. The skiff stopped after
pursuit and was boarded by a VPD (Vessel Protection Detachment).
Weapons, GPS equipment, grappling hooks and barrels of fuel were found
on board the skiff. 7 suspected pirates were captured and are at
present being held for further investigation........
Swedes have stationed two Stockholm class corvettes in the area since
last year. The tiny vessels are supported by a tender.
Stockholm and Malmo with their tender
Stockholm class are interesting. These little ships are intended to
operate in the Swedish archipelagos as coast defence craft.Their stats
via World Navies Today are as follows:
Displacement: 335 tons full load Dimensions: 50.5 x 7.5 x 2 meters/165.7 x 24.6 x 6.6 feet Propulsion: 3 shafts; 2 cruise diesels, 4190 bhp, 20 knots;
1 boost gas turbine, 6,000 shp, 32 knots Crew: 30 Radar: Sea Giraffe 50HC air/surf search Sonar: SS304 Spira hull mounted, TSM 2642 MF VDS Fire Control: 9LV 300 missile control EW: EWS-095 intercept, Philax decoy RL Armament: 8 RBS-15 SSM, 1 57mm/70cal DP, 1 40 mm AA, 2 21 inch
torpedo tubes, 4 LLS-920 ASW RL
numbers are a few years old. They have recently had their ASW
capability upgraded with a big variable depth sonar and several 40cm
ASW torpedoes in place of the 21 inchers . In any event it is very
likely they have landed most heavy weapons for this deployment. This
would make them very economical to operate in comparison with any other
full fledged warships. In theory quarters normally used by the
technicians for the heavy weapons could be utilized by boarding teams.
The fact that a tender supported vessel of this size is meeting success
on the other side of the world goes a long way to validating some of
Admiral Cebrowski's Streetfighter concepts.
slightly larger vessel able to be fitted with with ASROC or ( perhaps
more realistically) and some light AAA weapons like Evolved Seasparrow
or RAM might very well be a good fit for the USN.
heavy weapons removed they would be fairly cheap to operate in "warm
war" operations like this but they might be quickly fitted with their
variable depth sonar and ASW weapons (presumably attended to by
reservists) so they would act as sub chasers in a hot war Such a
vessel would be much closer to the original "Streetfighter" concept
than the LCS it eventually evolved into.
The closest to this idea is actually the often mentioned FLYVEFISKEN class in service with Denmark. It's easy to see something like this fitted with the the Franco-Italian MILAS ASW missile
in lieu of their Harpoons acting as sub chaser in a hot war. It would
be a comparatively efficient little gunboat in warm ones. The broad
work deck could be used for various cargoes such as relief supplies or
the drones the LCS prototypes are now testing....In Coast Guard service
such a vessel might also tend bouys.
Vessels able to act as
tenders for these vessels already exist. Some of the 'gator navy'
amphibious vessels could be modifid to do so and most could provide
helicopters as well.
Politicians can give away what fighting men achieve. I won't really consider this event a "success" until after we hear what happens to those 7 pirates. If they get their hands slapped, and are returned to Somalia, then I would rank it as a failure.
The real problem right now with fighting the Somalian pirates isn't available equipment, it's the ROE. Congratulations to the Swedish navy, of course, but no fighting man can win if his leaders don't want him to.
A group of Somali Pirates attacked a tanker off the horn of Africa several hours ago. This would be sad but not remarkable as the piracy in the area has been bad for years and exploded in the last few months. However the tanker they attempted to board was the FGS Spessart, a German Navy supply ship.
The German sailors returned fire and pursued the skiff while also
calling in for support. Several naval ships â€” including a Greek and a
Dutch frigate, a Spanish warship and the USS Boxer â€” sped to the area
while a Spanish marine aircraft and two U.S. Marine Cobra helicopters
joined the pursuit. Five hours later, Greek sailors reached the pirate skiff, boarded it
and seized the seven suspects and their weapons, including assault
rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the Greek navy said. The suspects
were disarmed and transferred for questioning to the German frigate
Rheinland-Pfalz where they remain Monday, pending a decision on whether
they will be legally prosecuted, Christensen said.
Man, there was one picture of it at Bahrain which makes it look like the sail is bent to starboard by a good 5 degrees.
Really lucky they didn't spring a leak! But how in hell do you repair something like that? Somehow I doubt they'll be repairing it in Bahrain, except minimal patching. Looks like that sub's going to have to go back to Electric Boat for some serious work.
This blog post has some discussion in comments. They suggest it's possible the boat may not get repaired. Instead it would be pushed to the top of the line of LA boats to be retired and replaced by a Virginia.
More Ideas for Naval Numbers on a Budget
As has been mentioned here before, the combination of increasing unit costs, aging hulls in need of replacement an increase in the numbers of units needed and the unforced budget debacle facing the treasury has created a procurement conundrum for the US Navy and Coast Guard.
We need ships, lots of ships in a decade or less but given the economy we are likely to have have very little money
Given the high tempo 'medical diplomacy' operations pioneered by the Bush administration as well as the need to respond to disasters such as typhoons, volcanoes, plagues and tsunamis at least some of the vessels we build ought to have some sort of cargo capacity and a larger than average medical facility.
A converted or redesigned merchant design would seem to be the logical choice but if these are to replace the FFGs then it is important to ensure that such a vessel be capable of providing something in the event of a hot war other than terrible ways for bluejackets to die.
This is not unheard of. The Flower class sloops of world war one were built to commercial standards, had a modest cargo capacity and were intended to serve as minesweepers, troopers, escorts, picket vessels, gunboats and light replenishment ships. They were not frontline ships but they were not helpless either and provided sterling service as convoy escorts and on gunboat duties between the wars.
The challenges of modern warfare mean that an electronics fit is needed of course so such a ship will bear no relation in cost to whatever merchant ship it is designed from, but it might cost something akin to a modern corvette.
Lets take a standard American containership design, the Philidelphia Class, and assume the aft deck is used for helicopter operation and the aft holds are used as a flex deck for small craft and Littoral combat ship modules. The holds forward of the bridge have ample room for containers that can contain everything from food to hospital or war supplies. I'd use the midships below decks space (where pitching would be minimized )for a big hospital and a secondary helipad (if only to directly service the hospital). This would not have the capability of the Mercy or Comfort but it could conceivably approach that of the LHAs and could do a LOT of good on mercy missions. It might be less threatening as well. Note that while such a vessel would not be a hospital ship, and would therefore be targetable by law, most people we are likely to lock horns with are unpersuaded by appeals to human decency anyway. Forward of the hospital area, even 2-400 containers would be an impressive ammount of relief supplies in peacetime and still leave room for 16-32 VLS cells for ESSM. The large helideck would give a decent helicopter borne ASW and possibly even minesweeping capability in wartime especially if during a major war something like SCADS or the old ARAPAHO concept were put into place along the lines of this....
We might be able to build a dozen or more of these in commercial yards over the next few years. This would have the added benefit of propping up and stimulating our shipyard capacity during dark economic times in a way that dog parks in California are unlikely to do. Such a program might appeal to the current leadership in ways a more conventional naval procurement would not.
These would probably not able to be procured in the same numbers that 600 ton corvettes might but they could ad a considerable complementary capability to the low end of the hi/lo mix.
At any rate it may bear considering. Any thoughts?
UPDATE: In the comments James Rummel takes the time to comment at length about the idea and makes some lucid points but also indicates that I may have been unclear about as few things. These are not replacemtnts for our cruisers and destroyers, but a low end complement. If they replace anything they might best replace part of the production run of the LCS vessels.... IF they can be procured more economically and IF they would be a net improvement in capability . These are indeed big "IFs". There are certainly all sorts of issues with this concept
both political and practical. However, I am of the opinion that, if
built, these would be warships with peacetime duties similar to a 19th
century gunboat but with much greater utility to assist the main force.
Mr Rummel makes another comment that deserves mention.
You suggest that this is only a temporary change until economic
conditions improve. But anyone interested in military procurement will
tell you in a heartbeat that it would be almost impossible to get
Congress to pony up for actual, very expensive warships after a decade
of building cheaper cargo ships. Once the change is made, there is no
This is a very real concern.
It is probably one reason the navy doesn't
build some smaller carriers to increase survivability through numbers.
This was tried in the 70s ant the congress made it plain that it would
ONLY buy the smaller carriers and not increase numbers...thereby
gutting the navy but giving the impression that congress was providing
It does not always work out that way though.
In the 1880's the UKs shipbuilding program was terribly screwed up,
with problems that included cost overruns, excessively long build
times, ships massively over budget as well as overdue, quality control
issues, problems integrating new technologies and simple corruption
(sound familiar?). The response was to, for a time, order only second
line vessels such as gunboats and auxiliaries as well as a few
experimental technology test beds such as experimental high speed craft
(the torpedo boats).
These were often ordered outside the usual defense procurement clique.
In the meantime the procurement system was overhauled, investment was
made in physical plant improvements at the shipyards and the
procurement system was reformed, Concurrently, a determination of what
sort of vessels were needed was made. Then rational, attainable
requirements for the various types of vessels were drawn up that
matched the then current technologies, the national strategy of the
time as well as the gamut of potential scenarios.
After several years of building gunboats and finishing the dubious
vessels that were already ordered, the Royal Navy began building ships
under the Naval Defence Act.
William Whites design team produced the finest ships that had been
built up to that time and for nearly two decades, every subsequent
class was an improvement on their design predecessor in some way.
I really enjoy your blog Brickmuppet, there are very few places where you can read about ships while looking at cute anime girls! The specifics of your proposal have been intensely debated for years with the Falkland campaign cited by both sides: The necessity of logistic support vs survivability and recoverability. The loss of Atlantic Conveyer in the face of all the brits efforts and all the handicaps argentina had to overcome shows that defences alone are not the answer. On the other hand S&R principles and merchant ship construction are not totally incompatible (ref. the ww2 exploit of the tanker Ohio in the relief of Malta). If we accept that our ship is going into harms way we can modify the design for fire main capacity and access, critical system seperation and redundancy, compartmentilization, etc. These changes coupled with a large well trained crew would give our ship a fighting chance. As for equipping, have you considered drop in modules for the container wells? many possibilities there.
Posted by: Larry Schumacher at Sun Mar 22 23:13:26 2009 (jBw+d)
Well, the whole ship procurement program has become totally broken due in large part to political corruption, primarily on the part of Congress critters. The rest is due to contractors and Naval "gold plating." Until that procurement process gets repaired, somehow, we are screwed. For and example look what happened to the super and stealthy rail gunned destroyer project. Pretty much looks like it is going to be two ships as tech demos since on cost as much as a fleet of Arleigh B's. It's bad enough, that I'd suggest purchasing warships from Korean yards or course that won't happen because things have to be built in the US.
Maybe we could get the Koreans to build a yard in an "Open Shop" state.
Posted by: toadold at Mon Mar 23 00:45:30 2009 (zcbXo)
I want to make sure that I understand your proposal.
If I'm reading you correctly, you are suggesting that the Navy pretty much assign building dedicated warships a lower priority. Instead, they should throw their clout behind acquiring the type of vessels you discuss above.
Again, if I understand correctly, you are saying that this is simply acknowledging basic reality. Ships are becoming so old that they must be retired anyway, redesigned civilian cargo carriers would fill a great many more roles than dedicated warships, and the most common type of mission the Navy is tasked with today is humanitarian.
Besides, at least this way there would be some active ships around, instead of a steadily shrinking number of aging warships.
This is a sub optimum solution to be sure, but the situation, both financial and political is pretty messed up. We are broke and our obligations are not going to obligingly taper off while we get our house in order.
We have a fair number of underage first rate destroyers and a dozen or more of the Ticos can probably soldier on at least a decade. I would hope that very low rate destroyer production would continue to make up for aging and attrition. These vessels have lots of missile tubes and with Aegis the ability to use them quite effectively. We have no shortage of tubes, but we need more hulls.
What we need is a successor to the FFG7s ( frigates) and something to augment the 2 overworked hospital ships. Assault ships can do the latter but they are expensive to operate, a little threatening, and the gator navy is being used already.
Note that I don't advocate flying jump jets off of these despite the diagram above. It was the only ARAPAHO graphic I could find. Several helicopters, a few being flying cranes to offload humanitarian containers, would be adequate. I wouldn't want the electronic suite to be much more than a modern version of what the Perrys have.
Brickmuppet your hospital tasking is one of areas in which I see LCS1 as being useful. Her nimble shallow draft hull enables her to get into small ports. State would rent a warehouse on the quay while LCS would bring in equip. and materiels in her hold. Additional personel would be flown in by V22. These units would set up clinics in the warehouse as well as classrooms for health and hygine ed. I have done this on a small scale in mexico and have seen great results; a few inexpensive basic items and an afternoon of instruction can make a huge difference in sombodys life. While all this is going on in addition to basic support the ship could host an NOAA survey crew to update the chart info for the area; such info is always valuable.
Posted by: Larry Schumacher at Mon Mar 23 10:14:49 2009 (jBw+d)
<i>"...the situation, both financial and political is pretty messed up. We are
broke and our obligations are not going to obligingly taper off while
we get our house in order."</i>
The problem, as I see it, is that you have completely ignored the only real reason why the Navy exists in the first place. What is worse is that you are ignoring the reason people seek out a career there.
You see, the Navy exists to make war against America's enemies. That's it. Nothing else.
Every single ship under Navy command was planned, purchased, budgeted, and operates to conduct combat operations, or to support the ships that do. Even prototypes are purchased to test new technology that might go in to a warship, not so we can develop designs to bring medical aid to 3rd World nations.
It is true that some humanitarian missions have gotten some press lately, but the idea is to support combat operations through PR work. Hearts and minds. Get a hospital or aid station set up in equatorial Africa so the locals are less likely to join al Queda. After all, if the Navy's purpose was to bring medical services to those who needed it, you would see them setting up clinics in Canada, where socialized medicine has caused huge waiting periods for even basic care. But you don't.
Your scheme calls for the Navy to throw all of their resources, budget and political, into building nothing more than support ships. What is worse is that these ships won't be supporting warships conducting combat operations, since you propose simply retiring an entire class of ships.
So how do you think our professional fighting sailors would view the change?
It would be seen as complete submission and defeat. The Navy to which they devoted their lives, making some extreme sacrifices so far as raising a family and enjoying watching their children grow up, would be changed into some sort of shipping concern.
You suggest that this is only a temporary change until economic conditions improve. But anyone interested in military procurement will tell you in a heartbeat that it would be almost impossible to get Congress to pony up for actual, very expensive warships after a decade of building cheaper cargo ships. Once the change is made, there is no going back.
Another thing you failed to take in to account is what the Marines would have to say. One of the big debates that rage amingst military circles is how the Navy has ignored ship designs with guns, in favor of missiles and anti-submarine capability. The idea is that the Navy is not interested in supporting amphibious landings, even though that is one of the more likely operations we will be forced to use if there is ever another serious shooting war.
But, lack of big guns or not, at least most warships have a gun of some kind. They can still support landings, just not in the style to which the Marines were accustomed in WWII.
That isn't true with the ships you propose. They have an extremely limited self defense capability, but really can't do anything to add to the firepower being brought down on trouble spots. And yes, I am counting the VLS pod you mentioned in your post. A few dozen cruise missiles simply can't take the place of thousands of artillery shells that a single warship can fire off, not to mention the VLS pods that the warship would also have available.
I think that, should your scheme be adopted, we would see a migration of talented, dedicated people who would find other work after their term of enlistment expired. Smart, dedicated warriors who we need to keep our 1st class warfighting capability intact would fade away, and we wouldn't see too many of their ilk stepping up to enlist and replace them. What warrior would be interested in making the sacrifices of spending all that time away from homw and family, hust to serve on board a cargo vessel that is helpless to any submarine that happens along?
This is a terrible idea! Lucky thing that just about everyone with a military background would laugh it into the ground just as soon as they heard of it.
Mr. Rummel, I think you are seeing things that are not there...
The problem, as I see it, is that you have completely ignored the only
real reason why the Navy exists in the first place. What is worse is
that you are ignoring the reason people seek out a career there.
You see, the Navy exists to make war against America's enemies. That's it. Nothing else.
I agree completely that the purpose of the USN is to make war against Americas enemies. Nothing I have said here would indicate that I don't appreciate that.
However, you also wrote:
It is true that some humanitarian missions have gotten some press
lately, but the idea is to support combat operations through PR work.
Hearts and minds. Get a hospital or aid station set up in equatorial
Africa so the locals are less likely to join al Queda
...and it seems you think that might be a worthy goal. Weaken the current enemy by reducing his ability to recruit.
Your scheme calls for the Navy to throw all of their resources, budget
and political, into building nothing more than support ships. What is
worse is that these ships won't be supporting warships conducting
combat operations, since you propose simply retiring an entire class of
I do not propse the navy put ALL of its rescources into this. This is intended to provide additional low end hulls at a minimum of sacrifice in frontline production.
I don't propose retiring an entire class of ship.
I do point out that the FFG7s are at the end of their useful lives.
Note that the projected replacement, the LCS is very lightly armed and quite expensive. It is also built to basically commercial standards. This vessel might be a better fit for many missions.
As I pointed out in the follow up comment the navy has many destroyers and cruisers to fight with. It has aircraft carriers and submarines. However, for duties like we are asking the navy to do now (hunting pirates, show the flag and the humanitarian missions) the navy needs larger numbers than we have. We can't afford to build all the needed hulls as destroyers. Additionally, it is a waste of materiel to use an AEGIS cruiser to hunt pirates and give out water packets. Those vessels need to focus on drilling for a hot war.....killing enemies and breaking their ships.
One proposal is to build lots of vessels like the navies Cyclone class patrol boats....but those would be basically useless in any sort of hot war.
As to the utter uselessness of these vessels lets look at what I actually said
....and still leave room for 16-32 VLS cells for ESSM. The large helideck
would give a decent helicopter borne ASW and possibly even
minesweeping capability in wartime especially if during a major war
something like SCADS or the old ARAPAHO concept were put into place along the lines of this...
32 VLS cells equals 128 Evolved Seasparow missiles. This is not a defenseless ship, though being built to civilian standards it might not be terribly survivable if it were hit.
The ASW and minesweeping helicopters would be very useful in supporting the fleet.
A fleet that would then be better able to make war against Americas enemies.
With 3 times as many AAA missiles and 4 times as many helicopters, one of these vessels would be a fine replacement for the Perry class frigates in convoy escort. One of the greatest threats the navy faces right now is cheap quiet diesel boats. This is a possible way to deal with that problem.
Just to clarify: by "deal with" I mean sink.
The hull I proposed using is an off the shelf comercial design...but it is 23000 tons. There is no reason that it could not be fitted with the same gun as a 9000 ton destroyer, and carry enough ammunition to exhaust the barrel life of said gun (7000 rounds for the 5" 62) before reloading. However, not every ship needs to be able to conduct fire support ops.
You suggest that by buying ships that have some support capability that the Navy would not get recruits. Well the Navy has oilers, repair ships, water barges, hospital ships, combat stores ships, survey vessels and torpedo recovery ships now. Those sailors are not going to fail to reenlist because they got a billet not on a destroyer.
Sea Services...What Should we Build? What CAN we Build?
So what sort of ships should we be building the Navy, Coast Guard and Army Transport command to meet their future challenges?
This has been a point of interest on this blog off and on for some time, but the circumstances we are in and the challenges we face have both changed for the worse in the last month.
While I think the Bush administration gets a bit of a bum rap on many things, one area where they certainly did not cover themselves in glory is in the realm of military procurement, particularly on the shipbuilding front. Focused on the various awful conundrums and unpalatable choices the administration was presented with, they chose to leave the shipbuilding policies virtually rudderless in shoalwaters for 8 years, with the predictable result that the surface shipbuilding program is now on the rocks.
This is exacerbated by the fact that the US is in a rapidly deepening financial crisis. With the US having the worst January since the Panic of '96 (That's 1896 btw). Whatever optimism about a short recovery period there may have been dashed...just as we are now saddled with an ill-conceived orgy of spending that will stretch our budget terribly, the challenges facing the current administration in this area are considerable. Money is tight, so tight that the repairs to a cruiser after a recent grounding may affect the preventive maintenance of many other ships.
But wait! There's more! The development of the EMALS catapult system is reportedly in doubt this actually jeopardizes the whole carrier program right now. Other new ships are massively over budget and riddled with quality control problems. The congress wants to saddle the Navy with insanely expensive nuclear escorts that not only cannot be built in any numbers in the best of times, but are problematic from public relations and diplomatic standpoint, as they have a difficult time doing goodwill port calls as they will likely attract luddite green protesters like flies.
All this adds up to the fact that the most vexing questions facing the military may well be not what ought we to be buying...but what can we afford?
We may have to cease carrier procurement for a decade if the 25% defense budget cut desired by many in congress is passed. Hell, destroyers may be off the table too (though that is not as big an issue near term as we have quite a few first class underage units).
Minesweeping, antisubmarine warfare, inshore work, antipiracy operations as well as various subsidiary duties are currently slated to be performed by the Littoral Combat Ships. These ships are designed to be fast, and are fitted to take a mission pack dedicated to whatever mission the ship is assigned at any one time. This was intended to make them cheap enough that a large number (70+) could be bought.
Unfortunately, the new kit cost a lot to develop and the hulls, designed for speeds approaching 50 knots (!?) require very high levels of skill to manufacture. One result is that they cost 450 million apiece with the modules to provide their "teeth" still under development (all that innovative cost-savings doesn't come cheap). They are interesting vessels, not without utility, but they are probably too expensive to acquire in the numbers needed.
Those numbers are not entirely clear but they are fairly large, as all of these procurement calamities coincide with a vast expansion of the number of submarines being operated by nations more or less unfriendly to the US, plus a worldwide increase in piracy as well as an international situation which places a premium on soft power efforts such as disaster relief, "showing the flag" and operations like Continuing Promise and Pacific Partnership....the high tempo humanitarian/diplomacy operations pioneered by the Bush administration .
All of this requires a large number of ships...just as our budget is busted. With many of our vessels at the end of their lives, speed is also of the essence, so it is probably not a good idea to start designing a vessel from scratch or fitting it with groundbreaking technologies.
There seem to be two schools of though amongst navy types as to what sort of vessel we need. One school advocates something akin to a small frigate, another, a fast attack craft 5-600 tons. A proposal like the latter (inexplicably called Streetfighter) was the genesis of the Littoral Combat Ship, which, as mentioned, grew in both size and expense.What the FAC/Corvette advocates there fore are proposing is to do the LCS program again, but apply the lessons learned to get it right this time. The benefits perceived are as follows...
With a shallow draft, and small physical size, a FAC sized warship can, in theory, maneuver inshore easily. The physically smaller ship would be cheaper in theory, and because of this and its smaller crew could be more readily risked. For anti-piracy, ASW, patrol or minesweeping, 10 little vessels can be in 9 more places than 1 super-whamodyne Dreadnought. They would not be front line vessels but neither were the destroyer escorts of World War 2.
To be affordable in numbers, any vessel of this size will likely have to be given a rather more austere fit of weapons and sensors....which it is argued, should be fine for peacetime gunboat duties. If a helicopter hangar is not considered a necessity (a dubious notion IMHO) there have been numerous FAC designs from various countries over the years.
Italy in particular produced a family of light attack and patrol craft for export in the 70's and 80s of which the Ecuadoran Esmereldas , the high end of the series, is probably the most well known.
The ones presented here were never built but are included because all three are fairly austere but potentially useful.
They are also basically the same hull and thus show the potential of modular weapon and equipment swaps.
The rather precarious helicopter deck in the third design could just as easily be filled with ISO containers full of, relief supplies,some of the minesweeping or ASW modules intended for the LCS or....hospitals.
These are all 25-30 year old designs but still give a ballpark idea of what can be done on 5-600 tons.
The problem with this is that these 5-600 ton designs seem lightly equipped in comparison with their counterparts, particularly their Ecuadoran half sisters. This line of reasoning can lead to diminishing returns.
The temptation to add "stuff" is strong. AAA missiles are nice to have and some sort of antiship punch seems silly not to include. Also, a helicopter hangar is high on the want list. This line of thought can easily bring us to what is probably the most extensively equipped FAC design right now, the French Combattante BR 70 and BR71 (article in French but also see here).
French naval architects at CMN are justifiably proud of this most pimped out of FAC's. For 800 tons, these are impressive (if tight) designs, carrying a helicopter hangar, a 3 inch gun, up to 8 Exocet's, as many as 32 Evolved Seasparrow AAA missles and 21 RAM point defense missiles at over 32 knots. Note that this is an export design though...and as such is likely to stress visible features ( the armament of a frigate) over less obvious ones (habitability, maintenance, redundancy, durability, seaworthieness ect.). Note also that the Marine Nationale is not buying the design. This vessel has little if any space for the sort of cargo one would need for disaster relief and no ASW capability.
Finally, putting all these systems on a small hull is unlikely to involve any significant cost savings over a frigate sized vessel. The hull is the cheapest part of a warship. The missiles, fire control, C4I, ECM and ECCM systems all cost a lot and getting them to work on a small hull is problematic due both to having antennae mounted close together and the fact that a small hull pitches more. There are certain navies whose needs are met by such a tight design particularly if they use (like Sweden does) armored docking facilities, but for us, especially given the forced financial parsimony we face its probably better to go with a frigate sized vessel perhaps acting as a "leader"to carry helicopters and more elaborate systems.
One option is to modernize the remaining Oliver Hazzard Perry class, perhaps along the lines of the Australian's upgrade. This is potentially troublesome as the Perry's have been run very hard and likely have microcracks and other difficult to repair wear and tear. Also, the Australian upgrade has not been without problems, but at least the lessons have been learned. If an upgrade and refurbishment can be done cheaply then the vessels could have their life extended a decade or so which might get us over the financial hump. Reinstalling the MK 13 launcher would give the ability to 40 or so land attack versions of Harpoon and ESSM would take care of the AAA requirement.
As for new build frigates any such construction must have economies ferociously enforced as was done with the Perry (FFG7) class. Happily, there is actually a US design that is viewed favorably and while it has had some minor problems these have already been found out and are being fixed*. The Coast Guards National Security Cutter is extraordinarily seaworthy, reasonably fast and has very good helicopter facilities. It is lightly armed but there appears to be a space reserved for a VLS or something behind the 57mm gun....Put a VLS nest there. A 16 cell unit would look to be the maximum. That gives you 32 ESSM and 8 ASROC or 64 ESSM. As for sensors, on the high end, fit SPY1-K (an austere export version of AEGIS). Bolt on HARPOON or PENGUIN to taste.
Fit a towed array sonar in the area used for boat handling aft or modify it to a working deck for handling various mission kits and supplying the aforementioned little gunboats. Fit as hull sonar a development of the same sets on the old FFG7's or refurbished FFG7 sets.
You then have a low end but still capable replacement for the FFG7s with more capability than they ever had.
And they'd be prettier too...even if they were grey.
Another even less expensive option for frigate/corvette sized vessels is to have the Navy involved in the design of the more austere **Offshore Patrol Cutters and, perhaps, subsidize their cost the way they did the old 110' cutters, possibly buying more than 25 of them. This might involve adding some shops and underway replenishment capability to tend smaller cutters and the modern version of the gunboats mentioned above. Pirate fighting as well as many 'short of war' activities are a good fit for the Coast Guard (as has been mentioned here before).
Having the operational replacements for the Perrys current duties manned by the USCG would free their rather large crews for less subsidiary duties and ensure that bare bones Offshore Patrol Vessels not be counted on the navy list as full frigates or destroyers as some congresscritter would be tempted to do.
There are larger systemic issues involving the expense of getting things built in US shipyards that range from the cost-plus contracting system to limited competetion. These are topics for another post, but one potential benefit of the small 5-800 ton vessels is that they might be built in many more shipyards, thereby encouraging some competition and further cost savings.
There is a lot of stuff we can't afford in the near future, but if we avoid letting the best be the enemy of the good we can likely muddle through this period without loosing to much capability.
At least I hope so....
*The 2 main issues that the cutters have had both were rather overblown and I am ashamed to admit that I fell for the hype.As I understand it now, the issues stemmed from the fact that the Coast Guard changed the requirements after construction had started. First they went to a multi crew arangement so the cutter could stay at sea much more often....which consequently increased wear and tear and reduced maintenance time. This meant that the fairly extreme 30 year lifespan might not be achievable with the original design. Subsequent cutters are being built with reinforced scantlings and the lead ship will be refitted in due course. The ship is currently sound structurally...the newer ones will be better. The other issue involves the fact that TEMPEST grade electronics were fitted to a vessel not initially designed for it. Bertolf's comm systems are as good or better than any other cutter save perhaps the ex navy PC's. Subsequent vessels will be built to TEMPEST standards. There is more on that here....money quote
TEMPEST is the most overrated problem in modern defense spending history, and it isn't close... and the facts prove it.
One quick question - are the helipad & hangar facilities on the NS Cutter big enough to support a Seahawk (UH-60), or are they designed around the Daulphin helicopters?
Posted by: UtahMan at Mon Mar 9 14:29:36 2009 (XvWju)
The NSC can carry Jay -Hawks in their hangar so yes it can certainly be equipped to carry Seahawks. Also, having the flight deck farther forward allows better helicopter handling in a seaway (less extreme pitching). ISTR reading that they are designed for helicopter ops in seastate 6...which is damned impressive if true.
CDR Salamander has a weekly feature called Full Bore Friday that deals with maritime heroism of both individuals and units. It's always worth a read. This week he focuses on the battleship USS Washington.
Washington saw more action than any other US Battleship in history and was for a time the only operational allied Battleship in the Pacific theater. CDR Salamander has fine overview as well as the after action report of the second battle of Savo Island where Washington sent the IJNS Kirishima to the bottom.
I visited Battleship Cove in Massachusetts. First I went on USS Lionfish, a WWII fleet submarine. Then I went on USS Joseph P. Kennedy, a 1950's era destroyer. Finally I went onto USS Massachusetts.
It is frankly astounding that anything that big made of steel can float, let alone steam as fast as it really was capable of moving. And if it could float and move, it seems incredible that anything could stop it, by sinking it. I know from my histories that it's possible, but I don't think I'm capable of imagine what kind of frightful violence would be needed, such as how big an explosion it would have to be.
Typically for him, it's also a dangerously sensible one, read the whole thing
Taking fast offshore workboats and crewboats and arming them as auxiliaries is a very reasonable idea. The vessels would serve the sort of niche the Royal Navy envisioned for the old Flower class corvettes of WW1. The broad cargo deck of the type of vessel he illustrates could handle secveral daughter craft or carry containerized disaster relief supplies.
As many of them are designed for oil rig supply and pollution response, they might make good cost effective tenders for the USCG too.....
That's OK ....The Coast Guard Will Find You
The Navy is good at damage control and creating explosions... ....navigating... not so much it would seem...
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 16, 2008 ) The amphibious transport dock ship USS
Mesa Verde (LPD 19) successfully completes its first of three shock
trials events off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David R. Quillen/Released)
The text stated that they were specifically invited to fish, first with a two fish limit, and then later without any specified limit. It still might not have been the wise thing to do, but at least it wasn't done without some consultation.
My take on things is that the Federales were called out to try and resolve the situation, and letting them board probably wouldn't have been a complete disaster, but you can never tell, a bribe probably would have been a given, and I've heard of far worse things happening once you start interacting with Mexican officials, staying on board and calling the USCG for help was definitely the smart move, but the situation doesn't strike me as quite as dire as they made it out to be.
Posted by: David at Tue Jul 29 16:06:59 2008 (khRGN)
If I was a coastie, I dunno if I'd want to be assigned there.
It's the most lethal area of ocean anywhere in the world, because the weather is horrible, and the crab is delicious, so those kinds of rescues are needed a lot of times per year. If you are part of a search-and-rescue squad, you'll get more business there than anywhere else.
But it's also a horrible and dangerous place to be doing rescues. I bet the Coast Guard has lost more men there than anywhere else.
Another thing about that post is that a lot of the time what they bring back is a corpse rather than a survivor. Even with the special suits that all the crab fishermen now wear, half-life of a man in the water there is less than half an hour because of hypothermia. Being a crab fisherman in the Bering Strait is reputed to be the most dangerous job there is.