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LCS Alternative Weekly

June 30, 2010

What Would Jefferson do?

Often when discussing the need for adding numbers to the fleet, and advocating small warships for this purpose, advocates of the all-battleship navy like to point to the failure of gunboats purchased by President Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s. I will let radio host Chet Nagle at the Daily Caller explain:

President Obama is emulating President Jefferson. Strapped for money, Jefferson cut the navy by two-thirds and built small gunboats instead, saying they “are the only water defense which can be useful to us, and protect us from the ruinous folly of a navy.” What were the results of Jefferson’s version of a low cost ‘policy of restraint?’ Britain’s navy brushed the gunboats aside and burned the White House in 1814.

Fortunately, the British superpower of 1814 did not have an air force, a strategic missile force, or a large amphibious Marine Corps. If they had, they would have burned the Declaration of Independence, too.

First of all, warfare has changed a lot since 1814. Now ships are not propelled by oars or sails but by the internal combustion engine, so small warships are faster, more sea-worthy, more lethal than ever. But the cuts in the Navy doesn’t take away from the conventional power of the USN, as Secretary Gates pointed to us of the practice in overkill the present fleet indulges in his speech before the Navy League in May:

  • The U.S. operates 11 large carriers, all nuclear powered.  In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.
  • The U.S. Navy has 10 large-deck amphibious ships that can operate as sea bases for helicopters and vertical-takeoff jets.  No other navy has more than three, and all of those navies belong to pur allies or friends.  Our Navy can carry twice as many aircraft at sea as all the rest of the world combined.
  • The U.S. has 57 nuclear-powered attack and cruise missile submarines – again, more than the rest of the world combined.
  • Seventy-nine Aegis-equipped combatants carry roughly 8,000 vertical-launch missile cells.  In terms of total missile firepower, the U.S. arguably outmatches the next 20 largest navies.
  • All told, the displacement of the U.S. battle fleet – a proxy for overall fleet capabilities – exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined, of which 11 are our allies or partners.
  • And, at 202,000 strong, the Marine Corps is the largest military force of its kind in the world and exceeds the size of most world armies.

Believing that only high end, exquisite warships can manage modern problems of sea power, and that a few large ships can do everything from shallow water patrol to space warfare, hasn’t tempered the increasing panic the Navy is feeling toward its falling numbers. The admirals previously proposed a “1000 ship navy” hoping to outsource maritime security to other countries, so they can continue to build supercarriers, super-destroyers and supersubs. But what is needed is hulls in the water, and current building practices are failing us.

So the new gunboats would not be less capable, as often contended, but spreading capability which the Navy currently has concentrated in fewer, less flexible packages. Individually greats ships, but we need also a great navy for all our global commitments.

Jefferson didn’t need to worry over terrorists smuggling WMD’s into our many ports, or suicide boats that can disable our most powerful warships. Neither was there a drug smuggling problem which we now send space-age destroyers to manage, at tremendous cost and far below their abilities. The writer of the above mentioned Declaration was also aware how handy small warships were contending with pirates, when the largest frigates could be disabled in shallow seas, used as a prize by the enemy.

What the small warship brings is something we can never get from the all battleship navy–numbers and adequate presence. But we don’t need all-gunboats as Jefferson was seeking, any more than all or even mostly large warships in the fleet.

*****

Pirate-Busting on a Budget

Speaking of pirates, the media have been all abuzz about the Dutch sending a diesel submarine to contend with the modern buccaneers. Here is one take from Matt Gurney at the National Post:

As awesome as warships are, is there maybe a cheaper way of handling this problem? Is it necessary to send the best of NATO to take on drugged-out gunmen with speedboats? Unless they have some Death Star-esque laser cannon, why send the quietest submarine available…why deploy billions of dollars in military hardware halfway around the world to take on speedboats? There are much better, cheaper solutions…

Here are Matt’s ideas which aren’t bad ones:

- Convoys. Maritime captains are typically a fairly independent-minded bunch and schedules are firm, so they dislike waiting around for a convoy to assemble, but, frankly, too bad. If NATO or the UN or whomever could constitute a workable convoy system, requiring a relative handful of warships, insurance companies should strip any vessel that goes it alone of its insurance. Merchant captains weren’t eager to join convoys at the start of both world wars, either, but get what? It worked. And what was good for the Kriegsmarine is more than good enough for pirates.

- Private security contractors should sail on most of these ships. The costs of hiring them should be offset by reduced insurance premiums. Such contractors have already proven their worth.

- Send in Special Operations forces to take some of the incentive out of piracy. Yes, I know what happened the last time SpecOps went into Somalia, but still. An idea worth considering.

- Go Russian on ‘em.

Or all of the above, he says. I’m surprised the convoy idea hasn’t been more popular, since it is a historical solution to cruisers preying on commerce. Just let the pirates start sinking the ships, but of course that would cut into their profits. Their greedy, not stupid.

*****

“Think Small”!

Thats David Axe’s advice, from War is Boring, and we think it sound:

The new Chinese Fast Attack Craft took the world by surprise. In 2004, Western naval observers spotted an unusual, catamaran warship in Qiuxin Shipyard in Shanghai. Over the next six years, as many as 40 identical vessels emerged from Chinese yards. The FACs, dubbed the Type 022 or Houbei class, began participating in People’s Liberation Army Navy training events.

Today, the U.S. Navy is mulling how to defeat the new vessel.

One hundred and forty feet long and displacing around 225 tons, the Type 022s are capable of at least 36 knots. Armament includes eight, 135-mile-range C803 Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles plus a Gatling gun for point defense. The crew is small: just a dozen sailors. The Type 022 is based on a ferry design produced by AMD Marine Consulting in Australia.

America also experimented, and actually led the way in the deployment of catamaran vessels for military service, recalling the use of the HSV Joint Venture, Spearhead and others. Instead of seeking to place many small ships for service in the war on terror, they went with a traditional Blue Water design called—well you know.

The result is, the Chinese have 40 potent warships ready for service, while the USN has only a single counter whose main armament is a flop, and so probably would have to run away from a type 022 in a standup fight.

*****

LCS versus World War 2 Destroyer

CDR Salamander makes the comparison, and this doesn’t bode well for the newer ship:

Yes, LCS is larger than a WWII-Vietnam era destroyer. Of course, NLOS is vapor-ware. The Army has CANX it. Still not proven on land or at sea.

I am glad that the LCS is fast – because it better run away fast from the cutting edge of 1940-60s technology. That’s ok though. It will run out of fuel fast enough that in our time-warp sea battle – the dash would find her and the DD could stand off at a respectful distance and plunk away with its six 5″/38s. It will only take a hit or two.

Oh, we’ll even give the LCS a helo. Good luck getting close to MANSFIELD. Those 5″/38s have quite a track record against sub-200 knots targets. That one 57mm might break or jam after awhile – and it can’t shoot aft … that would be bad.

Here is a fun fact; the widdle LCS’s 57mm has a max range of 9 mn – about 1,000 yds more than the standard load for the 5″/38. At that range – it takes a round about a minute to reach the target. Both ships are very maneuverable. On top of that – LCS cannot fire from the stern and would have to turn and close the MANSFIELD. Optically guided, ahem, or even if it was fully online – you will not get hits at max range.

My favorite quote is this:

How many hits from a 5″/38 HE rounds could LCS take? I vote one.

I don’t mind a ship being mediocre, since it can make it for its lack of armament with numbers and a small crew. Plus they’re  good enough for the likes of smugglers and pirates. Get a mediocre 3000 ton warship with likely 100 crew when the mission modules are in place, and you have mediocrity plus a gold plate price. Not a good combination.

*****

Planning Canada’s Littoral Navy
The Canadian-American Strategic Review has an interesting alternative to do it all, nothing well multi-mission warships which get fewer in number and often not built. Yet when they do enter service, perform in missions far below their immense capabilities are worth. In contrast, focused mission ships, cheap, and sometimes off the shelf, are called on for functions far exceeding their presumed abilities, the old Flower class corvettes coming to mind. Here is the proposal:

Limited as an icebreaker, critics have disparaged AOPS as ‘slush breakers’ of  limited utility. As offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), AOPS are burdened with the vast weight of  icebreaking hulls unnecessary for that role. Carrying that extra bulk around in temperate seas mean that AOPS will be relatively slow while fuel costs and similar operating expenses are very high.

How to address disparate requirements for Arctic and offshore patrol? An obvious solution is to split the AOPS program budget between ships dedicated to the specific tasks – that is, give $1.5B to Arctic icebreaking and  $1.6B to offshore patrol of  Canada’s temperate waters.

Brilliant idea! A prime criticism against the American LCS is it tries to be too many ships in one, probably the reason for its huge cost increase, and why we will never have enough for all their disparate functions. The solution for Canada will come from its own shipyards. What’s not to love?
The Government of Canada has announced plans for a highly capable new Arctic icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard –  the future CCGS John G. Diefenbaker. Taking $1.5B from the AOPS budget would allow for the construction of two follow-on Diefenbaker-type ships –  true Arctic icebreakers.
And the patrol vessels:

Of the budget for AOPS, the remaining $1.6B would be dedicated to acquisition of specialist offshore patrol vessels designed for use in temperate seas. A Canadian-designed example is the PV85 OPV from STX Marine Canada  –  a firm involved  in the AOPS program.  PV85 is a highly-automated but reasonably-priced design.  A $1.6B OPV program should be sufficient to acquire four coast guard vessels (replacing the CCG’s current, mixed fleet of  4 OPVs) and 6-to-8 identical ships for the Navy as corvettes (to fulfill naval domestic patrol obligations).

Hardening AOPS to Ice Class 5 provides little added utility for substantially higher material and operating costs. A dedicated OPV, like the PV85, offers a lower acquisition price as well as reduced operating costs (due to lower crew demands and much-improved  fuel economy). What is surrendered with the PV85 is full Arctic ice capability – but PV85s are ice-protected.

The New Zealand Project Protector OPV (Otago) is a PV85 class, and here are her specs:

  • Displacement: 1600 tonnes
  • Length: 85 meters
  • Beam: 14 meters
  • Draft: 3.6 meters
  • Speed: 22 knots
  • Range: 6000nm
  • Complement: 35 + 10 flight personnel + 4 personnel from Government agencies
  • Armament: 1 × remote controlled MSI DS25 Stabilized Naval Gun with 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannon
    2 × .50 caliber machine guns
    Small arms
    Aircraft carried: 1 × SH-2 Seasprite helicopter.

*****

Time for Canada’s Corvettes

As we mentioned the Flower corvettes above, from the same article the CASR opines over why the venerable but still useful class of warship is needed in Canadian service once again:

In this, the anniversary year of  Canada’s Navy, there will be many recountings of the deeds of  the Flower class corvettes during the Battle of the Atlantic. Since WWII, the debate has raged over the value of  putting corvettes back into Canadian service. The time is now right.

Today,  the Canadian Navy finds itself  pressed  for both recruits and operating funds. In a recent, ill-considered manoeuvre, the Chief of Maritime Staff threatened to tie-up half of the Kingston class patrol ships and ‘restrict’ major warships to domestic, offshore duties. There was a simpler and more politically-palatable solution available to the hard-pressed CMS.

With corvettes, the Navy gains vessels able to fulfill its domestic waters patrol mandate far more economically than its current major warships.  The PV85 has a core ships company of 35, the Halifax class frigate requires a crew of 180. And crew costs are a major operating cost for naval vessels. Other operating costs for warships are rarely revealed. It stands to reason though, that the frigate with a hull almost twice as long and displacing 2.5 times as much as the OPV design will be substantially more expensive to operate than a PV85-based corvette.

And really, the type of missions most warships are called on to do these days do not call for a billion-dollar supership, which can do many wonderful things, save be in more places than once. Disaster relief, anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, coastal patrol, all these important functions of sea control are being performed by frigates, destroyers, and now submarines built to fight a Soviet Navy that no longer exists.

Last year, New Wars proposed the exact same idea in a couple posts:

Bring Back Canada’s Fighting Corvettes Pt 1

Bring Back Canada’s Fighting Corvettes Pt 2

*****

Project Protector OPV

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew permalink
    January 23, 2012 2:20 am

    Hello Scott B

    I was hoping you could recommend a few online sources for information regarding the Chinese 022 fast missile attack craft. As I am having a bit of a debate determining how high tech or crude it is.

  2. B.Smitty permalink
    July 3, 2010 5:35 pm

    Thanks. :)

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 3, 2010 4:22 pm

    Very creative Smitty!

  4. B.Smitty permalink
    July 3, 2010 2:09 pm

    In my copious spare time, and following Scott B’s motto “THINK BIG, not small”, I toyed around with a large littoral combatant based on the Gibbs and Cox entrant for the Australian AWD program. Here is my modified Littoral Warfare Destroyer (LWD),

    http://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0ByVQu4lA4SjvY2E1YjBhNTAtNTBjYy00M2Q1LThkNDktMzBiODk5ODc1M2Vj&hl=en&authkey=CK2m3rYL

    Here is the original G&C AWD version for reference,

    http://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0ByVQu4lA4SjvM2QzODA2NzgtNTVhYi00YWYyLWJmMzktYmM5ZmZiNmNlMzA0&authkey=CMv7te0G&hl=en

    The major differences from the AWD design are,
    – SPY-3/COMBATSS-21 instead of SPY-1D(V)/AEGIS
    – 32 cell VLS instead of 64 cell VLS
    – Multi-mission bay.
    – Lengthened flight deck.
    – 57mm Mk 110 instead of an aft CIWS
    – Integrated Electric Propulsion instead of Diesel/Turbine

    Pros and Cons vs the LCS designs,

    Pros,
    – Level III warship design standards
    – State of the art local area air defense (not just point defense)
    – State of the art EW system including radar-jamming.
    – Integrated USW suite (modules provide additional capability)
    – Greater range and endurance
    – Based on a proven design
    – NGFS capability

    Cons,
    – Higher cost per square meter/ton of mission module space
    – Lower top speed
    – Deeper draft (do we believe the 5.9m draft figure from the G&C AWD?)

    The biggest variable is cost. I imagine the LWD would be less expensive than the Australian AWD entry, but still significantly more expensive than either LCS design. It will also have a larger crew and life cycle costs than the LCS designs.

  5. Chuck Hill permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:25 pm

    The New Zealand’s Otaga Class PV85s OPVs prove only that steel and air, flight deck and hanger are cheap.

    They offer no improvement over the almost 30 year old 270 ft Bear Class Coast Guard Cutters except for a smaller crew and approx 2.5 knot speed advantage, and lack the Cutters’ medium caliber gun.

  6. Ben Turley permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:54 pm

    Chuck Hill said
    “The protector has only a 25 mm and two .50 cal. If anything they have sacrifice speed and armament for seakeeping and they have a helo deck.

    You’re losing the bubble.”

    also like to point out that although our protectors are cheap we may have pushed the penny pinching too far on these ones. The two opvs were over 2 years late, are over weight (so theres very little margin for future equipment upgrades as it would make the ice strengthening invalid) and both broke down on their maiden voyage out of the shipyard (think one of them did twice actually).

    on top of this i have yet to see either of them move from the naval base where they are now based. On a positive note except for a few minor problems the other project protector ships are are pulling their weight perfectly.

  7. WTH permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:40 pm

    Several points here:

    – Scott, not sure if you were making a joke if not, Craig Hooper=NEXTNAVY=Springboard. If so, disregard.

    – For those of you bringing up WWII era destroyers, that is serious apples to oranges. The differences in, power requirements (RADAR, comms…), associated power generation, and propulsion are legion, and we haven’t even started talking habitability. A legitimate issue though is that there are very capable modern warships in the equivalent 3500 ton range, see Singapore’s Formidable class. The Formidable class is interesting because it is an evolution of the French La Fayette class which was designed primarily as a low intensity presence ship able to support the low intensity missions but able to operate effectively with the main naval forces.

    – Mike, aviation assets from surface ships are more than enhancers, or even multipliers. The things a ship can do with a modern helo and will be able to do as we refine UAVs is a massive advantage, you might even say exponential. It all boils down to the area a ship can see and influence, aviation assets linked to ships increase this vital component MASSIVELY. As has been mentioned before here, the smaller a ship gets the smaller it’s effective surveillance area and associated area of influence gets. Further space for aviation is the ultimate in modularity, in fact aircraft carriers could be pointed to as the first modular warships with fighting capability able to be upgraded relatively cheaply without having to upgrade the whole ship.

    – If you want to keep costs down, it’s not the size of the ship that you need to control as Scott so often points out. It’s what you cram into a ship that costs the most, insisting on small size to artificially limit this is counterproductive because it allows for far less flexibility over the course of a ship’s life. The Spruance class is a good example here, folks complained at the start of their life that they were vastly under-armed for their size. By the end of their lives they were some of the most heavily armed warships we had. Size allows for flexibility and cost effective upgrades down the line. The negative example are the mine assets in the USN, it got to the point where strict weight control measures had to be put into effect to prevent stability being compromised by adding on the latest thought. Appetite control is what is needed, not arbitrary size/tonnage limits.

  8. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:07 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Obviously the Vikings are set to take the mantle of seapower from the USN, but until then we have to work with what we have.”

    I find it hard to understand why you keep using this kind of reasoning when it comes to frigates, and systematically suggest that the US might become as competitive as the Europeans when it comes to corvettes and/or gators.

    E.g., here is what you wrote yesterday :

    “The cost each is, get this, $369 million USD, or about 10% of the USN latest amphib, the LHA-6 class America. In other words, you can deploy 8-9 Italian type 20,000 ton vessels for the cost of a single LHA-6. Any wonder the Navy continues to shrink?”

    “As I pointed out, if we buy smaller European types, we could ensure that the Marine fleet will not always be targets when the Navy is looking for savings”

    Maybe I simply fail to grasp the logic behind this apparent double standard, in which case I would very much appreciate further clarification.

    On a sidenote, the Nansens were built in Spain and the MEKO A200 in Germany, so it may not be just a Viking thing.

    All the more as the *Vikings* of Sweden, Norway and Finland have demonstrated they could also build EXQUISITE small ships with exorbitant pricetags…

  9. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 4:51 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “As Craig Hopper wrote a while back, the cost of the FFG-7 class from the 1970s is about the price of LCS today.”

    Whoever Mr Hopper might be (Craig who ?), this is the kind of very superficial analysis that completely misses quite a few marks, as explained back in January 2010 over at USNI.

    Apples and oranges, with much lemon zest as far as LCS is concerned !!!

  10. Chuck Hill permalink
    June 30, 2010 4:26 pm

    Mike said, “you will have ton for ton the most heavily armed ships in the world, which do not sacrifice armament for seakeeping. You see proof of this in the Protector class, as you point out, running in the tens of million dollars.”

    The protector has only a 25 mm and two .50 cal. If anything they have sacrifice speed and armament for seakeeping and they have a helo deck.

    You’re losing the bubble.

  11. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 30, 2010 4:15 pm

    Smitty wrote “The aviation-capable frigates on your warship cost page range from the $269 million Absalon (not exactly a frigate), to the $1.09 billion Type 124. So I don’t see how aviation alone causes high cost.”

    Unfortunately, American frigate prices nowhere near this, save in vague USN cost estimates, with the USS Freedom and her kin costing nearer $700 million. Obviously the Vikings are set to take the mantle of seapower from the USN, but until then we have to work with what we have.

    As Craig Hopper wrote a while back, the cost of the FFG-7 class from the 1970s is about the price of LCS today. The last few Perry’s from the 1980s were pricing about $250 million each or the cost of a Forrestal class supercarrier from the 1950s. With these price ongoing, this to me seems a recipe for obsolescence.

    The primary call for corvettes over frigates isn’t just cost but also focused missions, as I point out. Building ships which can keep up with USN carrier battle groups (even our carrier-less allies practice this and are often seen with the CVs), doesn’t take into account the need for ships able to operate in the littorals. Vessels like Absalon are very useful but would you use it as minesweeper, riverine vessels, shallow water patrol?

    The idea of building smaller ships also gets you away from ships which are excellent seakeepers, but can’t fight. Obviously the LCS is the poster-child for this mindset. But if you return to building ships like the Sumner, or preferably corvettes now in service, you will have ton for ton the most heavily armed ships in the world, which do not sacrifice armament for seakeeping. You see proof of this in the Protector class, as you point out, running in the tens of million dollars.

    The point being to return discipline to the shipbuilders and planners.

  12. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 3:13 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Planes are a force enhancer not a force multiplier”

    What’s that exactly supposed to mean in layman’s terms ???

  13. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:43 pm

    Smitty said : “Even the aviation-capable PV85 OPV you mentioned in your post only cost New Zealand around $60-70 million (USD) each.”

    Hey, but it’s MUCH LESS than the non-aviation-capable PV50 Hamina which costs over $100 million per unit ?!?!

    You’re on to something there…

    And yes, I’ve chosen Hamina because it was one of these 200-400 tons small attack crafts that Mike advocates as the most numerous surface combatant in his vision of the US Navy in 2050.

  14. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:29 pm

    (pls delete post below : wrong tags)

    Mike Burleson said : “1. Steadily shrinking assets since the 1960s, when helos were added to low end escorts? 2. Calls for traditional frigate navies like the USN and UK to give up essential roles? 3. Outsourcing maritime security to small warship navies? 4. Frigates approacing the price of destroyers?”

    1) The 1960s coincide with the advent of modern electronics and modern missiles in particular, so blaming cost increases on aviation facilities alone as you do is (at best) grossly inaccurate.

    4) Let’s take a quick look at your own warship costs page : are ABSALON / IVAR HUITFELDT / NANSEN / MEKO A200 approaching the price of destroyers ?

    About a month ago, I suggested the AAW Eurofrigates should be put together with the Type 45 destroyers in the DESTROYER category, and, whenever I read the kind of hasty generalization you’ve just made, I remain convinced that this is the way to go.

    2) and 3) What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China, i.e. the cost impact of aviation facilities on *low end* warships ?

    No offense intended but, if this is all you have to support your claim that *aviation assets is what makes low end warships just too expensive*, then you’ve indeed got next to nothing…

  15. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:28 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “1. Steadily shrinking assets since the 1960s, when helos were added to low end escorts? 2. Calls for traditional frigate navies like the USN and UK to give up essential roles? 3. Outsourcing maritime security to small warship navies? 4. Frigates approacing the price of destroyers?”

    1) The 1960s coincide with the advent of modern electronics and modern missiles in particular, so blaming cost increases on aviation facilities alone as you do is (at best) grossly inaccurate.

    4) Let’s take a quick look at your own warship costs page : are ABSALON / IVAR HUITFELDT / NANSEN / MEKO A200 approaching the price of destroyers ?

    About a month ago, I suggested the AAW Eurofrigates should be put together with the Type 45 destroyers in the DESTROYER category, and, whenever I read the kind of hasty generalization you’ve just made, I remain convinced that this is the way to go.

    2) and 3) What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China, i.e. the cost impact of aviation facilities on *low end* warships ?

    No offense intended but, if this is all you have to support your claim that *aviation assets is what makes low end warships just too expensive*, then you’ve indeed got next to nothing…

  16. Hudson permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:12 pm

    LCS is not much of a gun platform, but its helos armed with Penguin Mk3 missiles, could reach your WWII destroyer at 55km with over-the-horizon capability. You might get a lucky hit with a proximity shell. Chuck Hill’s upgrade might stop the missile with CIWS; the odds are against that. And with Knox class and Sea Sparrow, you’re getting pretty close to LCS technology.

    I like the old destroyers redux as gun/missile platforms to fight in the littorals between the LPDs and LHDs and shore, where stealth would play no factor in their design (allowing guns and missiles galore), and they would have air cover. LCS is really more of an LPD design than it is a destroyer or a frigate, which makes it an odd replacement for the Perry frigates, which themselves are a poor gun platform. The Navy has pretty much given up on major ship-to-shore firepower. Unfortunately, it has placed its best recent gun, the Advanced Gun System, on the hyper-expensive Zumwalt class of super destroyer. I chalk up confusion of categories to general confusion in the culture that has permeated the military.

  17. sid permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:09 pm

    Mike, the factors you cite do not rest solely on the inclusion of aviation facilities.

  18. B.Smitty permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:09 pm

    Mike B said, “Steadily shrinking assets since the 1960s, when helos were added to low end escorts? Calls for traditional frigate navies like the USN and UK to give up essential roles? Outsourcing maritime security to small warship navies? Frigates approacing the price of destroyers?
    Other than that I’ve got nothing.

    The aviation-capable frigates on your warship cost page range from the $269 million Absalon (not exactly a frigate), to the $1.09 billion Type 124. So I don’t see how aviation alone causes high cost. The big difference between the two is the combat systems installed.

    Even the aviation-capable PV85 OPV you mentioned in your post only cost New Zealand around $60-70 million (USD) each.

  19. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 30, 2010 1:36 pm

    ScottB asked “Do you have any kind of empirical evidence that would support this claim that aviation assets is what makes low end warships just *too expensive*.”

    Steadily shrinking assets since the 1960s, when helos were added to low end escorts? Calls for traditional frigate navies like the USN and UK to give up essential roles? Outsourcing maritime security to small warship navies? Frigates approacing the price of destroyers?

    Other than that I’ve got nothing.

  20. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 1:28 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “The problem with frigates, they are just too expensive, they were getting that way long before the Cold War ended. Thats the problem when you insist on placing aviation assets on even your low end warships.”

    Do you have any kind of empirical evidence that would support this claim that aviation assets is what makes low end warships just *too expensive*.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to remind you that DK Brown in his “Future British Surface Fleet”, pp. 140-143 (which you’ve mentioned many times in the past in support of your corvette advocacy) makes it clear that the Very Long Range corvette is much superior to the baseline variant because of increased range / endurance, better seakeeping qualities and aviation facilities, and insists upon the fact that all of these platform-centric attributes can be had for a very modest increase in costs.

  21. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 30, 2010 1:01 pm

    The problem with frigates, they are just too expensive, they were getting that way long before the Cold War ended. Thats the problem when you insist on placing aviation assets on even your low end warships. Planes are a force enhancer not a force multiplier and you don’t need too many to be effective. A single patrol bomber over a convoy in the world wars deterred/defeated a lot of attacks.

  22. Chuck Hill permalink
    June 30, 2010 12:08 pm

    Update the Sumner by replacing the three twin 5″/38s with three 5″/62 Mk 45s, replace the 40 mm and 20 mm with three CIWS, and replace the torpedo tubes with Harpoons. Give it a small flight deck and hanger similar to the FRAM for Scan Eagle. Replace the steam turbines with a CODAG power plant.

    It cuts the manning and increases the range.

    It gets to be too easy to take out a LCS.

  23. D. E. Reddick permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:58 am

    Heretic,

    Or, a poor old Knox class frigate would eat either LCS design given its weapons suite:

    Mk 42 5″/54 cal. gun;
    Mk 16 eight-cell ASROC launcher with two Harpoon AShM per loadout;
    Mk 25 BPDMS eight-cell launcher for Sea Sparrow.

  24. Heretic permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:51 am

    Got to agree with Salamander on this one. Who would want an LCS vs a Sumner-class destroyer?

  25. Juramentado permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:28 am

    Mr. Gurney’s comments in the National Post on Piracy show a significant lack of knowledge about the region and the basic statistics:

    Convoys – there’s something on the order of 70,000 transits of the Red Sea straits annually. For simplicity’s sake – consolidate the convoys into 7 ships each. That’s *10,000* sorties annually multiplied by an average of 48 hours to get from the Straits to any of the departure points of the IRTCs either south to the rest of Africa or east towards the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia. That’s 20,000 24-hour days. See the problem?

    Lethal force – so far, none of the merchant crews taken have been killed or maltreated. Change that dynamic and you’re well on your way to the slippery slope where the pirates may just choose to kill the crews outright. Then what? You can’t save all of them – do you think the merchant shipper industry is going to appreciate those odds? Let’s put it into monetary terms – the shipping industry paid somewhere on the order of up to $150 million dollars in ransoms in 2008. The order of magnitude that the shipping industry at large makes is in the trillions of dollars. So from a very cold-blooded calculation – it’s cheaper to pay the ransoms than it is to do anything else. The crews so far have been released unharmed so the humanitarian factor is not in question yet. To compare that – sustaining the various naval foces in the Horn of Africa region averages upward of $400-500 million dollars a year.

    Some other vital statistics that Mr. Gurney doesn’t seem to take into account – the search area to find pirates is 400,000 square miles – that’s the Somali coastline out to 200 miles into the Basin. You wonder why we can’t find them? That’s the search area that at the most, 50 naval ships (the totality of the various task forces and individual flagged vessels in the area) have to cover. So they get approximately 8,000 square miles to search. And your effective radar range to the horizon is perhaps 25 miles against large targets. Against small skiffs and motherships? Much lower range. The math becomes self-evident at that point.

  26. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:08 am

    David Axe said : “Today, the U.S. Navy is mulling how to defeat the new vessel.”

    LOL !!!

    Type 022 is a floating deathtrap, as stealthy as a pink elephant in high heels, as blind as a bat.

    IOW, the pinnacle of Chinese Junk, despite the fancy camo and hull form that seem to make soooo much impression in some western circles.

  27. Scott B. permalink
    June 30, 2010 7:51 am

    Mike Burleson said : “The U.S. operates 11 large carriers, all nuclear powered. In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.”

    Like I said yesterday, this kind of *argument*, made popular by such people as the current Under SECNAV, Robert Work, actually reveals a major flaw in the logic adopted by most reformers out there. Their flawed thinking goes like this :

    1) Our enemies don’t have this specific weapon system (e.g. DDGs, CV/CVNs, etc…), so we don’t need it either.

    2) Our enemies have plenty for this specific weapon system (e.g. FACs, etc…), so we need to have plenty of these as well.

    What most reformers actually propose is actually the best recipe for the US to lose its leadership, and become a follower instead.

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