September 02, 2007
Via Danger Room comes this Ares post on an innovative sea-basing concept based on a trimaran hullform. The idea is to operate C-130 sized aircraft from a carrier on a regular basis! As pointed out in the article, the US Navy operated a C-130 off of USS Forestal in the 60s but wing clearance of the island was precarious and it pretty much required all other air ops to stop.
The trimaran would allow a much wider flight deck...even given the above deck hangars contemplated for the big planes. Another aspect of the hullform is that despite the larger deck dimensions, the ship would displace a little more than half what a Nimits class carrier does. A pdf of the powerpoint is here .
With a top speed of 35 knots, faster than a lot of surface warships, the ship makes a startling contrast to the fairly slow moving (but fricking GINORMOUS) modified oil rigs that have been mooted for the mobile offshore base concept over the past decade. (more on that here and here.)
The trimaran hullform is new but has been tested by the Brits and Aussies on various mid-sized commercial vessels...though nothing this big.
The propulsion seems to be a decision between commercial off the shelf diesels ( Sulzers) and a British designed nuclear plant.
Now, I like atomic power but the narrow beam of the individual hulls would seem to provide insufficient saftey separation from the sea unless a very innovative safe reactor design is chosen. Anyone with thoughts on this please comment.
According to the pdf, they are looking at having it being buildable at several US shipyards and are designing a structurally similar vessel for the merchant marine, initially with intercostal trailer transport in mind. Both these seem very wise, both to expand our currently declining shipyard base (or at least hold it steady) and have carriers be buildable at shipyards other than Newport News.
Building the ship to commercial specifications exites me less....there is a big difference in ruggedness and I have heard on navy related forums that HMS Ocean, which was built to commercial spescifications has had problems resulting from COTS design practices. I've not heard specifics though.
Certainly something needs to be done to bring down shipbuilding costs, however, steel...even HY 130, is a lot cheaper than electronics.
This option does however lend itself to economies in maintenance and yard time as well as (possibly) faster construction and repair (if most shipyard workers are familliar with the work).
Again, anyone with actual experience in this area please chime in.
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