Skip to content

This Ship Could Save the Navy

July 31, 2008

As a replacement for the USN’s canceled Zumwalt super-destroyer, we would suggest the 88 ft. long Stiletto stealth craft. Advantages are obvious, specifically the cost. For one $5 billion DDG-1000 destroyer the Navy could purchase over 800 of the $6 million each stealth boats. For one $2 billion Arleigh Burke DDG, the planned replacement for the Zumwalt, over 300 of the 51 knot swift boats can be bought, significantly increasing the size and fighting capability of our  fleet.

We think such small and difficult to spot warships are a more than adequate substitute for larger missile battleships. Today, Big Ships can only survive in the age of supersonic missiles and nearly undetectable submarines by equipping themselves with highly advanced and complicated anti-missile systems like Aegis. Ironically, such sophisticated defenses greatly magnify the radar signature of surface warships, increasing rather than reducing their vulnerability to modern weapons.

Stiletto would take the opposite strategy. Smooth sides, while riding low in the water, plus high speed and maneuverability would give the tiny attack craft an edge which giant battleships can’t match. With the ability to fire most of the same weaponry, such as cruise missiles, SAMs, rockets, and UAVs, they would be formidable in their own right in a sea fight.

Great strength would come in numbers, something the present stretched-thin navy lacks. Utilizing swarming tactics, scores of the missile boats could converge against the smaller number of Big Ships, overwhelming the latter’s’ defenses with a mass weapons strike.

If my theory of the demise of the heavy surface combatant proves premature, this in no way negates the worth of the Stiletto. Such craft are desperately needed in the littorals, with the small vessel able to perform much of the same functions of the new 1/2 billion dollar USS Freedom class littoral combat ship (LCS). Like the larger 3000 ton LCS, she can sail into shallow seas to flush out terrorist pirates. She can also launch SEAL teams from a well deck in the rear of the boat. In an amphibious role, a flotilla of Stilettos would have the ability to launch a Marine regiment on a hostile shore,

Other functions would include mine laying/sweeping, reconnaissance, anti-sub warfare, and almost any role currently relegated to expensive and vulnerable Big Ships. To compensate for the small craft’s short range (500 nautical miles), they would operate with “motherships“, whether a converted merchantman, amphibious ships, or even the newer LCS, which could at least keep up with Stiletto in a littoral environment.

For more:

Stiletto specifications.

Stilletto’s builder.

A real littoral combat ship goes to sea with an Army crew-Eaglespeak

24 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2014 11:56 pm

    Thiss is the perfect web site for everyone who would like to find out about this topic.
    You know so much its almost tough to argue with you
    (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a new sppin on a topic
    which has been written about for a long time. Great stuff, just wonderful!

  2. Pat Jones permalink
    October 29, 2013 11:55 pm

    I have to say, I served on a DDG-22 in the mid 1970’s, and I had an amazing history and memory from that. Yet looking at the DDG-1000’s, I would happily re-enlist in the Navy to be a part of the crew that will be fortunate to serve on. These ships are historical before they even officially serve the US at sea.

  3. June 6, 2012 3:07 pm

    Your kidding right, if they were actually serious about this 800 mini-ship idea then they are not as smart as we all like to think. A DDG-1000 class would smoke 200 of these things out of the water. Your mini-ships would be good for coastal defense and that is it. What is going to guard the 100,000 ton carriers, small ships that do not have enough firepower to block a modern corvette from taking the shot. A old Pauk class Frigate is what we could be looking at in weapons, but it is still a blue ocean ship not a brown water fleet. And I do not think the American people would not stand for it. Can someone say that the current navy thought if this 800 ships of limited size goes into production that the people would see this as a further waste of there money. Buy the more capable ship in the DDG-1000, or compared to this a Sherman class destroyer would be better than that of gnats.

  4. charbookguy permalink
    August 4, 2008 9:07 am

    I wasn’t thinking along that line, but you may be right. The Tender would need some self-defense, considering the increased threat from robot weapons.

  5. Distiller permalink
    August 4, 2008 1:58 am

    I guess there is a difference between a “mothership” and a tender (like the old seaplane tenders). I see the “mothership” as having some capability to area-defend its ducklings and act as a C4ISR central for its ops area, whereas the tender is just a floating workshop.

    The reason I can’t see a commercial hull as “mothership” is, that it should be capabile to operate in a warzone, incl taking damage by enemy fire. Thus not being built/operated to commercial standards (otherwise it could well be outsourced – float-me-by-the-hour).

  6. charbookguy permalink
    August 2, 2008 10:00 am

    I imagine the M80 could perform the same function currently expected of the larger amd more costly LCS. Maybe a few others we haven’t considered.

    I agree that the mothership need not be a warship.

  7. leesea permalink
    August 1, 2008 11:58 pm

    What is mission is the M80 suppose to perform?

    One must first answer the question: Does a mothership have to be a warship. Is it a logistics/transportation mission, or is it the core or a combat operation. From that one can determine what kind of ship best fits the role, sealift ship or amphibious ship.

    I am no fan of LPD17 class either, mostly due to cost and over-done technical aspects not so much for mission intended. Its tough keeping older gators going they have been rode hard and put away wet. I know I have served on them and worked on them for conversion.

  8. charbookguy permalink
    August 1, 2008 2:31 pm

    The links that I added should answer most of your questions concerning endurance, ect, Smitty. Concerning the weight, 60 tons is whats in the water. Like the Austal ferries, the bulk of the ship is above water, recalling it is also 80 something feet, about the size of a low endurance cutter, but far faster.

    Leesea, I despise the LPD-17 boondoggle which my friend Galrahn is enamored with. I think most modern warships are too costly for the insurgency wars we fight, and thanks to modern weapons, too vulnerable for the Big conventional battles we plan for.

    I had something in mind like the older Austin class, which I think we are planning to dispose of anyway.

  9. leesea permalink
    August 1, 2008 12:15 pm

    More hulls are usually better than less. Mix is always better. Platforms choice is always an judgment call.

    Skjold would be a great new FAC to add to the equation. SeaFighter is a good plarform for several missions and should be made operational. NECC is already working riverine and coastal boats into current exercises and operations.

    Its tough to put a 50ft CB90 now designated RCB on most FACs.

    Motherships do not need to be billion dollar amphib warships. Start wtih WW2 APDs and then go on to Brownwater Navy AGPs. Throw in many modern offshore support ships of commercial design.

  10. B.Smitty permalink
    August 1, 2008 9:58 am

    Almost everything on the m-ship site leans towards riverine or littoral use, they only allude to m-hulled cargo ships.

    IMHO, the hullform is completely unproven. We don’t know how it will react in the open-ocean.

    Regardless of the hullform though, the fact that it’s only 60 tons means it has to be extremely spartan. Livability is probably very low. Does it even have bunks? (let alone staterooms) How many days worth of provisions can it carry in addition to a useful weapons load and fuel? A 60-ish ton patrol boat might carry sufficient stores for 3-5 days. Is Stiletto similar? Will it have to take on stores every few days in addition to fuel on a trans-oceanic trip?

    IIRC, they list its range as 500nm at ~50kts. How far at 18kts? How would refueling work? I imagine it’s too small to use standard UNREP rigs. Would everyone have to stop mid-ocean, several times to refuel each boat? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

    I’m not against small ships, but I think there are reasonable minimums for ocean-capable vessels. I go back to Streetfighter, Sea Lance, and FSF-1 as representative possibilities, and look to the lower end of existing OPVs and FACs such as the Armidale as the smallest self-deployable ships we should consider.

    To be clear though, I do think there is a need for a suite of non-self-deployable patrol boats such USCG RB-M, the CB90, the Mark V, the Super Dvora, and so on, for the low-end of the conflict spectrum. We do need a brown water navy. I just think Stiletto is too big for this role.

  11. charbookguy permalink
    August 1, 2008 9:01 am

    As I said, Leesea, strength in numbers. “Can small subs replace larger ones?” Interesting proposal! And I do like the Sea fighter as well.

    As Distiller declares, lets try out everything and weed out what doesn’t work! It was like this in Vietnam where you had monitors, speed boats, gunboats, hovercraft, and converted amphibious ships for motherships.

  12. Distiller permalink
    August 1, 2008 4:53 am

    I guess for successful littoral warfare you need the full mix of systems. Autonomous underwater/surface/aerial crafts, a FAC/streetfighter (like a Skjold or a Stiletto) for up-close-and-personal work and commando insertion/extraction, a corvette type (like a Sa’ar 5) as ASW/MIW asset and carrier vehicle for the smaller autonomous systems, the “motherships” (like a LPD-17) for support and the larger autonomous systems (and aircraft carriers for the large UAVs). And finally a small AIP-SSK for manned underwater work.

    I also think that the riverine mission should be an integral part of the complex (e.g. putting a CB90 on the FAC). The littorals do not end on the beach, they extend into rivers as well.

  13. leesea permalink
    August 1, 2008 1:47 am

    Come on Mike! Small boats can’t do what big ships can and visa versa. Can small subs replace larger ones? The NSWG crowd gave up on the M80 so why do you think the Army is driving it! This boat is a hollow shell without organic weapons and an umproven hullform that’s only claimed advatanges are speed and low RCS.
    The Swedish CB90, which we are already buying, is a better coastal boat. Built in numbers and multi-mission.
    SeaFighter can be weaponized and used as a littoral mothership for UAVs.

  14. charbookguy permalink
    July 31, 2008 5:50 pm


    Certainly the Stiletto could only be useful in a littoral environment. I may not have been clear on that.

    If you follow some of the links I added, you can see due to the unique and stable hull design, she could cross the oceans on her own. The only problem would be the fuel issue, but that is where the motherships come in.

    I had the Street fighter design in mind when writing this post, seeing as how Cebrowski was the father of both these craft, plus the LCS.

  15. Distiller permalink
    July 31, 2008 3:21 pm

    I’m also quite convincedof the usefulness of small single-task crafts, but they have their limits.
    What about this

    or this?

    Even if a small ship can withstand the ocean’s fury, it can’t function as a weapons platform any more in condictions like the second video.

  16. B.Smitty permalink
    July 31, 2008 10:34 am

    How would we get those 800 patrol boats around the world to the fight? They would have to be carried by something. A lot of somethings. Are we going to buy 134 MLPs to carry all of them?

    IMHO, they are just too small to be used the way you are proposing.

    If we want Streetfighters, we should go back and look at the design work done by Cebrowski and Hughes. They suggested a ship in the 300 -1000 ton range, IIRC, not 60 tons. Such a ship could self-deploy, and operate for more than a couple days independently.


  1. USNI Blog » Blog Archive » The Caribbean: Where innovative ships go…die?
  2. Pirates+Terrorists=Trouble « New Wars
  3. LCS Pirate-Buster? Not So Fast… « New Wars
  4. Small Ships Needed to Counter Emerging Threats « New Wars
  5. Remaking the Gator Navy « New Wars
  6. Chinese Missiles and other Carrier Killers « New Wars
  7. The Terrorists Move to the Sea « New Wars
  8. Stiletto “Bat Boat” Nabs Drug Runners « New Wars

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: