Fast Boat Destroyers
The military will tell you the best defense against a tank is another tank; a fighter another fighter; a submarine another submarine. Against fast attack boats in shallow waters, however, only a helicopter will do? Here is Graham Warwick at the Ares blog:
According to ONR the inshore threat to Navy ships ranges from tens of RPG-armed raiders on jet skis to a handful of fast attack boats carrying short-range cruise missiles. A helicopter launched to defend the ship – whether a manned MH-60 or AH-1 or unmanned Fire Scout – must be able to spot the threat among other boats in the area, pick the most threatening, and rapidly engage them. The Navy does not want a repeat of the 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Aden.
The problem we see with the ONR’s strategy is some small boat navies, notably Iran, practice swarming tactics which might overwhelm the handful of choppers our rapidly shrinking fleet will be able to deploy, unless of course you plan to have a carrier with you at all times. Raymond Pritchett makes an interesting theory here in his Population of the Sea article:
If the intent is to build partnerships, preferably by avoiding the destruction of the folks we are not fighting, how will the helicopter or UAV know which fishing boat to sink and which fishing boat not to sink?
We can only conclude that to make a permanent effort against small boat threats, you would need a more sustainable platform to defend against and to launch strikes against them as well. We are thinking something along the line of torpedo boats destroyers of the early last century, which were just a little larger, faster, and more heavily armed than their torpedo-armed antagonists, which some navies were building in many hundreds as a threat to the battleship.
Some of you know where I am going with this and I of course mean the 1000 ton corvette. Such craft possess enough shallow draft to operate in waters where small ships linger. Their ability to sustain contact with any fast boats is greater than that of the helicopter, and some can be equipped with aircraft themselves, preferably the Fire Scout UAV which can be armed with Hellfire.
This scenario is not unprecedented as we learned from last year’s Georgian crisis. Russian missile corvettes escorting the giant cruiser Moskva, engaged the Georgian Navy’s missile boats. Here again is Raymond:
The Moskva was apparently damaged in the attack and disengaged. She is certainly capable of destroying big ships, but the battle appears to highlight a weakness against small ships. The battle also tends to add credibility to what many have said, it is best to fight small ships at sea with small ships at sea.
How did the Georgian Navy boats hit Moskva? They swarmed her! It was the escorting Russian small missile corvettes which eventually saved the day.