Saving the Navy Through Austerity
Now yours truly has advocated building smaller warships to add ship numbers to the fleet. My reasoning here is that while the US Military prefers the baddest and the best weapons ( which might also be described as the least affordable and way-too-complicated) we consider that quantity has a quality all its own. If you don’t believe us, just ask the German Werhmacht and the Japanese Kido Butai in the World War. Now Eagle1 has a proposal to get the USN back in the war-fighting business quickly and cheaply:
- Take $250 million dollars and put it aside;
- Of that $250 million, use $100 million to buy or lease 50 to 100 offshore crew boats as currently used in the offshore oil industry (many of them are reaching the end of their expected useful life in the industry – you might be able to pick up some bargains).
- Invest $50 million in refurbishing the boats and in getting weapons for their decks. Turn them into “navalized” vessels. Make 22 knots the minimum acceptable speed.
- Do not try to make these low cost littoral combat ships into battleships for all conditions. Talk to the LCDRs who will be squadron commanders and the LTs who will be the commanding officers about what they would need to provide a presence, fight in a low threat environment against modestly armed pirates and the like, support occasional missions ashore and interdict drug smuggler semi-submersibles. Give them what they need in terms of state of the art comms using COTS (heck, load put a communication van on board if so that no time is wasted trying to rewire the little ships more than needed). Put in some comfortable berthing suited for the sea states in which these things (I call them Special Purpose Vessels or SPVs) will operate.
We consider such basic light craft as the future of warfare, with the ability to return choice to shipbuilding. Even if Eagle1’s or any of my own proposals for small attack craft fail to pan out, we good easily move on to something that does work. Multi-billion dollar surface combatants that are so hard to build, afford, and maintain are bankrupting the budget, not to mention getting us into a creative rut. It’s time for some desperate measures even as the future administration plans to defeat our current modernization plans with cuts to procurement. We can do this!