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Galrahn’s Fantasy Shipbuilding

August 25, 2008

Updated:see below

Here is my own proposed shipbuilding budget, in contrast to the Navy’s which produces far fewer and less essential warcraft. Inspired, of course, by this post at Information Dissemination:

FY10-4 Virginia class (SSN) (4 x 2.0)=$8 billion
5 Joint High Speed Vessels (5 x .2)=$1 billion
10 Sea Fighters (10 x .3)=$3 billion
100 Stilletto FAC (100 x .01 ?)=$1 billion
Totals-119 ships@ $13 billion

FY11-4 Virginia class (SSN) (4 x 2.0)=$8 billion
5 Joint High Speed Vessels (5 x .2)=$1 billion
10 Sea Fighters (10 x .3)=$3 billion
100 Stilletto FAC (100 x .01 ?)=$1 billion
Totals-119 ships@ $13 billion

FY12-4 Virginia class (SSN) (4 x 2.0)=$8 billion
5 Joint High Speed Vessels (5 x .2)=$1 billion
10 Sea Fighters (10 x .3)=$3 billion
2 Large Medium-Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off (LMSR) (2 x .5)=$1 billion
Totals-21 ships@ $13 billion

FY13-4 Virginia class (SSN) (4 x 2.0)=$8 billion
5 Joint High Speed Vessels (5 x .2)=$1 billion
10 Sea Fighters (10 x .3)=$3 billion
2 Large Medium-Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off (LMSR) (2 x .5)=$1 billion
Totals-21 ships@ $13 billion

FY14-4 Virginia class (SSN) (4 x 2.0)=$8 billion
5 Joint High Speed Vessels (5 x .2)=$1 billion
10 Sea Fighters (10 x .3)=$3 billion
2 Large Medium-Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off (LMSR) (2 x .5)=$1 billion
Totals-21 ships@ $13 billion

All Totals-301 ships@ $65 billion (That’s better than Reagan did!)

Notice my emphasis on littoral warships, which I think is where the Navy needs to be for now. A total freeze on Big Ship production would ensue with FY10, and several classes would be delayed or canceled outright. None of the poorly defended and too costly DDG-1000s would ever hit the water in my budget. Ever!

Stilettos were not mentioned in Galrahn’s post. We estimated their cost at about $10 million with weapons loaded. These would be essential for rooting out pirates in Third World sealanes, and utilizing swarm tactics, theoretically could be a menace to major combatants.

We increased the number of Roll On/Roll Off ships and JHSVs to replace amphibious type warships not ordered.

Also notice no billion dollar warships other than submarines would be ordered in this budget, which is where we are will all major combatants and amphibious ships, mostly surpassing this cost. We consider submarines as the new battleships and coupled with advanced cruise missiles can handle the sea control mission just fine, and supported by land base airpower, can manage threats on land with equal and deadly efficiency. Eventual goal would be 40-50 new Virginia’s in hope that a smaller and less expensive version would come late in the decade (conventional AIP?).

Update-Forgive my math, which I fixed!

More-The problem I have with some of the other shipbuilding plans, is it is more of the same “playing it safe” of building large platforms which are increasingly unafordable and maybe too vulnerable in a war of attrition. The crippling cost of high tech is affecting all the services but is most noticeable in the USAF and USN. The Navy has managed to deal with the age issue of cold War type ships, by dramatically reducing the fleet size since the early 1990s, from almost 600 to less than 300 today. On the Admiral’s “to do list” are grand plans to grow the fleet to 330 vessels, but this is where the real fantasy comes in. We can no longer afford to build warships that cost many billions and are completely useless in our current conflict against Third World radicalism.

This is not to say my own plan is perfect, but I do think ordering a large number of smaller type craft, the Stilettos, perhaps more Cyclone patrol ships or even some Coast Guard low endurance 88ft cutters, equipped with new robot weapons, missiles, uuvs, uavs, someone mentioned NETFIRES. As many hulls in the water as possible and they need not be revolutionary, especially when we are forced to trade high tech for small numbers, as in the current Navy budget.

More Fantasy Posts:

Moose at Theory on Everything


9 Comments leave one →
  1. charbookguy permalink
    August 27, 2008 8:13 am

    You were the only one who noticed the absence of LCS and I’m glad you asked. The LCS at 3000 tons and $1/2 billion is just a glorified frigate. I consider frigates obsolete in modern war which I’ve written about before. This is why I went straight to the corvette/FAC type which seems to be the future of surface warfare.

    The JHSV catamarans would take over the mothership role of LCS, as such vessels were used successfully in this role, including the craft in the photo at top you mentioned. Its been done before during the early stages of Operation Iraq Freedom so I don’t see it unlikely as you imagine.

    JHSV is an off-the-shelf design, which I consider the solution, when coupled with new smart weapons, to bloated defense projects that take decades to produce and are often riddled with faults or obsolete by the time they reach service.

  2. August 26, 2008 11:42 pm

    Notice the picture of an Incat HSV at the top of your blog. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see no LCS in your prospective budgets, and 5 JHSV per year for 5 years, which not even the Navy is proposing. I think it is unlikely. Maybe 2 a year of the JHSV and 1 to 2 a year of the LCS with LM more likely to get those than GD/Austal. Aloha, Brad

  3. charbookguy permalink
    August 26, 2008 7:55 pm

    It is certainly a lesson that cries for continued study!

  4. Mrs. Davis permalink
    August 26, 2008 4:22 pm

    While one can’t deny the drama of Midway, the Silent Service was the sine qua non of the Pacific War.

  5. charbookguy permalink
    August 26, 2008 8:56 am

    Ken and Big D mention “visible presence”.
    I agree that this is important but it should never be a prerequisite. The primary mission for warships is to sink other warships, and though anything else is desirable it is not necessary. The “presence” of German battleships did Hitler little good except for tying down some of the British battlefleet, though his subs almost won the war. If a ship isn’t built to fight then we shouldn’t be wasting valuable and scarce shipbuildings funds on it.

    But some visible presence is needed, and this is where the Stilettos and Sea Fighters come in. These smaller littoral ships can also do much more than show the flag or scare the enemy, say in piratical waters, which is mostly what our Aegis battleships and amphibs have been doing off Somalia lately. The gunboats can actually follow the pirates into their shallow water haunts. And if there’s anything larger the small ships can’t handle, then they can expect the submarines with long range cruise missiles to back them up. This was basically the same strategy followed by the RN during the Victorian Age (their capital ships being ironclads, not subs of course), and I think the USN in its post Cold War strategy should take a second look at something that works.

    Still there’s no need to sink the flattops altogether, which isn’t what I’m proposing for the near term. We have 10 Nimitz class built or building which should do us fine for many years to come. Backed up with precision smart bombs and hopefully soon, UCAVs, these should suffice until something better comes along.

    And Galrahn, you know me too well!

  6. Big D permalink
    August 26, 2008 12:23 am

    Are the LMSRs supposed to be motherships for the M80s and FSF-1s, or more for general purpose sealift/Sea Base?

    Like Galrahn said, you’re very consistent. :) I do have to disagree WRT throwing carriers out with the bathwater. The problem with using subs to secure the sea lanes is that subs can only do one thing with floaty things… sink them. This may work in an all-out war, but the point is, we’re trying to avoid that, and having the capability to, via surface ships, do things *other* than sink targets (including on the high seas) is crucial in keeping things from getting to an all-out war in the first place. In addition, you need the carrier for strategic conventional capability and land attack–TLAM does *not* meet the full mission set of even a Bug. 10-15 years out, we can start talking about making mini-carriers actually work by using UCAVs; until then, let’s build another carrier or two.

    That said, I don’t have any real problem with the M80/FSF-1 combo, just concerns as to the particulars. The former needs a minimal flight deck to support (or be supported by) H-60-sized helos and UAVs. It also needs a decent (modular?) armament–I guess a light AC and NETFIRES as it stands might be enough for pirates, but for anything beyond that, you’d need Harpoons or some kind of GMLRS or NETFIRES-ER (my personal broken-record topic). The latter needs all of the above plus ESSM and a real cannon. Finally, the mothership supporting both of them needs hangar space for *several* helos/UAVs, lots of cargo space, and defensive armament of its own. I’d argue that LPD-17 with the VLS installed (ESSM) beats LMSR hands down, even at 3 times the price.

  7. August 25, 2008 11:28 pm

    Mike, you are so damn consistent I love it.

  8. August 25, 2008 9:45 pm

    Tough putt assigning sea control to submarines. I think they are extremely effective at denial of sea control, and at power projection, but it takes some visible presence to take actual control of an area.


  1. SmadaNek

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