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Revisiting the “High Low Navy”

July 16, 2009
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Six Pegasus class hydrofoils underway.

Six Pegasus class hydrofoils underway.

The Need for High-Low Ships

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr. (not to be confused with the budget-breaking DDG-1000 destroyer, which is his namesake but far from his legacy) was extremely prescient in designing the High-Low Navy concept in the early 1970’s. Whereas famed naval strategist Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan knew how to create American naval supremacy as espoused in his equally famous books on the subject, Zumwalt knew how to maintain supremacy.

The Zumwalt naval plans of the late Cold War might just be the Navy’s salvation, if recalled to mind and placed into practice. His ideas would change the battleship only mentality (replaced now by the aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and super missile escorts) to counter the rising asymmetrical threats from China and Third World opponents. The High-Low concept recognized that no country, not even the USA could build such vessels only of exquisite cost and large size for long, as he wrote in his memoirs:

An all-High Navy would be so expensive that it would not have enough ships to control the seas. An all-Low Navy would not have the capability to meet certain kinds of threats or perform certain kinds of missions. In order to have both enough ships and good enough ships there had to be a mix of High and Low.

Realizing then that the High-end portion of the fleet was usually needed for times of crisis or war, it would be more sensible and economical to send low-end warships to manage the day-to-day gunboat diplomacy required of a peacetime fleet. In time of war such craft could perform commerce protection and convoy duties, guard ports, or operate with amphibious forces. Zumwalt goes on to explain:

In a wartime situation the positions of the two carriers would be reversed: the big powerful ones would fight their way into the most dangerous waters, destroying opposition beyond cruise missile range with their planes, and the Sea Control Ships would serve in mid-ocean.

The Low Navy

During Zumwalt’s tenure as Chief of Naval Operations (1970-1974), he oversaw the procurement of many new and advanced warships, which interestingly still make up the bulk of the Navy today. These include the Ticonderoga class Aegis anti-missile cruisers, eventually totaling 27 ships, the first of the Nimitz class now at 10 vessels strong, the Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarines of an amazing 51 ships, 30 Spruance class destroyers now all gone, and the giant Tarawa class amphibious aircraft carriers of 5 ships. Including these extremely capable and technologically advanced wonder ships, the CNO proposed to construct a Low End Navy to ensure that numbers as well as capability survived in the future fleet. These include the following, some of which saw fulfillment, and some which didn’t:

  • Pegasus class Patrol Hydrofoil (PHM)-The intent was a class of ships shared with NATO of potentially 100. They were meant to operate in low threat areas such as the Mediterranean or the Gulf, but was misused exclusively in the Caribbean in anti-drug smuggling patrols(where the equally novel M80 Stiletto stealth boat has been exiled). Without mothership support the 6 Pegasus class that eventually got built never had a chance to prove their potential to the fullest. They were well armed for their size at 255 tons with a 76mm cannon (larger than that on the much bigger LCS) and Harpoon missiles. Speeds of 48 knots could be reached using her foils. The last of these gunboats was decommissioned in 1993.
  • Oliver Hazard Perry Class Frigate-Originally known as the Patrol Frigate, or FFG-7, this class of 51 (with numerous others built for allies) was the most successful of the High-Low concept and the only one to enter full rate production. Original cost was $50 million each, or about half as much as a new destroyer. Though at 3400 tons she was smaller than a high-end Spruance class DD, the Perry’s were as heavily armed with Harpoon missiles, a 76 mm cannon and two ASW helicopters. Though not intended as a carrier escort, they often operate in this function. 30 are still surviving today with plans to upgrade them for future service under debate. After over 30 years of service, apparently the Navy has found these ships irreplaceable.
  • Sea Control Ship (Air Capable Ship)-Intended as a 17,000 ton supplement to larger carriers, allowing them to stay out of harm’s way for sundry duties such as showing the flag and presence operations near to shore. None were ever built but it was estimated that 8 could be bought for the price of a single giant nuclear aircraft carrier. They would carry helicopters and the new Harrier V/STOL planes then entering service with the US Marines. The SCS would have filled a gap left by the mass retirement of the Essex class ASW carriers in the 1970s.
  • Surface Effect Ship-A 3000 ton advanced hull-form, the SES frigate was planned as an 80 knot vessel which would revolutionize warfare. Plans were for it to be a premier ASW hunter due to its high speed, which might also make it a mini-aircraft carrier since it wouldn’t need a catapult to launch a fighter. Some tests were performed on small SES hulls, but the whole idea was shelved in 1974. Even more intriguing was a study done by Admiral Zumwalt’s staff which estimated 35 such ships could ferry 2 US division to Europe in 3 days!

As we mentioned, except for the FFG-7 Patrol Frigate, few of Zumwalt’s Low Navy survived politicians and admirals dedicated to constructing a much smaller fleet of High-only warships. The fallout of the failure is with us today, with Navy ships and crews overworked, thanks to less than half the 600 ship fleet of the 1980s. Despite so many wondrous capabilities on our powerful warships, today we are suffering through a presence deficit thanks to the rise of new naval powers, especially in Asia but also myriad threats from rogue terrorist groups, pirates, and their supporters.

Return to the High-Low Navy

What is remarkable about Zumwalt’s 30 year old concept, is many of the designs which he proposed for the Navy of the 1970s are similar in concept to proposals now emanating from bloggers and strategists hoping to restore the USN to its glory, or at least keep it from falling further. In the Patrol Frigate and the Pegasus hydrofoils, we see future plans for small littoral ships, which can sail into shallow seas too dangerous for giant High-End warships, and as planned in Zumwalt’s day, restore vital numbers to the fleet which were  lost because of careless neglect by the Navy leadership and ship obsolescence. With the Sea Control ship, we see smaller vessels able to carry V/STOL aircraft, or better still, new versions of unmanned combat air vehicles which have proved so useful in recent wars on land. Thanks to the power of new precision weapons, such craft once scorned as “less capable” are much more effective, transforming warfare as we know it, helping us to do more missions at less cost.

Finally, in the older SES frigate, we can see the ancestor of high speed vessels currently in USN and Army service with experimental craft as the HSV Spearhead and the HSV Swift 2. Such unique off the shelf warships first saw civilian service, though are not as fast as Zumwalt’s revolutionary SES. At the very least it has been proposed for such vessels to be used as fast amphibious craft, with older traditional amphibious ships being pushed future out to sea because of the rise in shallow water threats. High speed transports can then race into the landing area, off-load her Marine cargo, and race away ahead of danger.

The US Navy Littoral Surface Craft-Experimental SEA FIGHTER (FSF-1), passes the Perry Class Frigate USS RENTZ (FFG 46).

The US Navy Littoral Surface Craft-Experimental SEA FIGHTER (FSF-1), passes the Perry Class Frigate USS RENTZ (FFG 46).

We hope then our proposals, based on the life lessons of a great CNO Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, might still see the light of day. The Navy’s current answer to mounting threats, shrinking inventories, and over-worked crews seems to be business as usual and obviously is a failure. Any dramatic change in warship design usually is preceded by war, much to our regret. As much as we hate to see this, it will likely take such an unthinkable circumstance of a major sea war to bring any change, much as it took the Army to come near-to defeat in Iraq before it would accept proven principles of fighting a counter-insurgency.

43 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 3:20 pm

    Thanks Jolly, and I agree that the PHM’s didn’t stand a chance before the High End obsessed Navy. Exiled to the Carib or backwaters i believe, like all innovative hulls including the M80 Stiletto and the HSV Swift.

  2. Jolly permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:04 pm

    As one who served on PHM-1 they had been a very capable platform, the problem was application of this technology into and along side conventional fleet warfare doctrine. PHM2-5 hulls should have been retained and received PHM2 ISAR radar upgrades and JOTS II systems. The PHM platform proved outstanding for the then new imaging radar for over the horizon targeting and with a lightweight CCC package these platforms could have really come out on their own. But Bush (1) and finally Clinton drastic budget cuts doomed the PHM like many other programs. The PHM had a higher mission commitment ratio than the fleet, they also spent longer time at sea overall. Given the advancement in technologies today the hydrofoil platform should be considered IMOA. PHM’s did have a high success rate on LEO missions, forcing cartels to use overland routes.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 1, 2009 11:18 am

    Mark those are great. Thanks!

  4. Mark Caldwell permalink
    August 31, 2009 11:52 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/40677385@N04/

    here are3 the snaps i got in may and as of 8-31 09 am the FSF 1 is still here in Portland Oregon.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 22, 2009 4:49 am

    Thanks Mark! Any chance you posted the pics on Flickr so could see them?

  6. Mark Caldwell permalink
    August 21, 2009 8:13 pm

    Hello Mike sorry about the late comment but i saw that the FSF 1 is in Portland, Oregon harbor high and dry for some kind of refit… ( early May 2009) took some pictures and spent a few days trying to figure out what it was.
    that is how i found your site. good work here by the way. and yes too bad the navy will not pay attention to what it actually needs. instead they will get what they want whether it fits the mission or not. let me know if you would like to see the pictures … and i can get more as well.
    take care
    73′
    mark

  7. Scott B. permalink
    July 18, 2009 1:47 pm

    B. Smitty said : “Problem is, how well does it do at loiter/patrol speeds? How about at USV/UUV/RHIB launch and recovery speeds?”

    What Bill said.

    Plus : LCS-1 has no bow thruster to help with maneuvering / station keeping.

  8. Scott B. permalink
    July 18, 2009 12:06 pm

    Bill said : “or some cats..or an SES.”

    Or an ABSALON-type Station Wagon ;)

  9. Bill permalink
    July 18, 2009 8:58 am

    B. Smitty;

    For that low speed stuff..thats when you would be much happier with the LCS-2..or some cats..or an SES.

  10. B.Smitty permalink
    July 17, 2009 9:39 pm

    Problem is, how well does it do at loiter/patrol speeds? How about at USV/UUV/RHIB launch and recovery speeds?

  11. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 17, 2009 9:03 pm

    Thanks Bill. I’m not much on the technical specifics, but good to see it does work!

  12. Bill permalink
    July 17, 2009 3:43 pm

    “The sailors on LCS Freedom I talked to recently said the faster they sailed the smoother it got.”

    A well-known trait of deadrise planing hulls, Mike..they pick up stability from planing lift, and several key partial derviatives thereof, that they do not otherwise have at lower speeds..sometimes quite dramatically so. Ever been on any of Wynne’s hulls (pick any one..Donzi,,Cigarette..Formula..Rampone..)? At rest or at low speeds, their lack of roll/list stability can be downright scary..at speed on plane, they are rocks.

    Not sure if it s factor or not in the anecdotal report you refer to ( it should be…) but the active transom inteceptors used for roll and , to a lesser extent, pitch damping on LCS-1 are only effective at speeds toward the highest end of her operating envelope..but should be quite effective when they are operating in that speed region.

    Cannot extrapolate the planing stability effect to other hull forms directly..especially those that do not plane. ;-)

  13. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 17, 2009 3:31 pm

    The sailors on LCS Freedom I talked to recently said the faster they sailed the smoother it got.

  14. Scott B. permalink
    July 17, 2009 10:27 am

    leesea said : “I seems to me that was a logical use of shallow draft craft with the speed to get there quickly?”

    In addition to high speed, excellent seakeeping in heavy weather and shallow draft, the SES MCMVs also provide other benefits like lower acoustic and magnetic signatures, higher tolerances to underwater explosions, improved sonar conditions, higher strength-to-weight ratios, precise maneuvering,…

  15. Bill permalink
    July 17, 2009 9:36 am

    What Scott said.

    And given the current love affair with the various catamrans in present and future TSV/HSV/JHSV roles, the truth has yet to be fully realized that the current crop has stupendously bad seakeeping behavior in only moderately high seas..at any speed. (Read: Sea states in which they are expected to handle..routinely). In particular pitch motions (and attendant vertical accelerations forward of amidship and bow slamming) can be and often are ‘brutal’ on both vessel and crew.

    McCauley and others are ‘studying’ the problem once again and wavepiercing hull advocates are scratching their heads in apparent confusion and dismay (what?..wavepiercers don’t pierce waves? ((Actually they do..quite effectively; fully in to the backside of a wave at the bitter end of a wild resonant pitch cycle…) ) ..but the reality is that a huge body of work exists that clearly defined these human factors issues for HSV types and how it should be applied to HSV design. It was, most of it, work done during the 2K and 3K SES programs. Knowledge certainly does have a finite shelf life in the USN.

  16. Scott B. permalink
    July 17, 2009 9:06 am

    Ortmann said : “It’s only about sea worthiness ability, no matter at what speed.”

    You cannot disconnect seakeeping from speed, since seakeeping is measured as the ability to meet certain performance criteria (roll angle, pitch angle, vertical acceleration, lateral acceleration, tipping incidents per minute, deck wetness, slams per hour,…) under specific combinations of parameters (e.g. speed / heading / significant wave height).

  17. Scott B. permalink
    July 17, 2009 7:08 am

    Ortmann said : “Why do you care about the speed at poor sea states?”

    The ability to sustain high speed in rough sea states was central in the hydrofoil concepts of the 1970s.

  18. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 17, 2009 6:47 am

    Even the old PT boats weren’t that successful as HSV’s, despite what you may see in the movies. Their engines soon became worn out from much use and most would chug along from mission to mission. Interestingly this did not inhibit their usefulness so much because as shallow water vessels they were superb, and often would attack in ambush, or using their natural stealth to sneak up on an adversary. A vessel running at full speed is not stealthy.

  19. leessea permalink
    July 17, 2009 2:05 am

    I was alway enamoured of the hovercraft mineships designs and just saw some photos over on Seariders website. I seems to me that was a logical use of shallow draft craft with the speed to get there quickly?

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    HSVs in their current cat and trimaran hull forms have to me developed a lot further than hovercraft of old and mayb even beyond hydrofoils.

    But that is just a non-engineers perspective~~

    The other good thing about hovercraft and SES is that one can land them on a Flo/Flos cargo deck. Think big parking garage at sea. The Flo/Flo would lift them to theater and hold until needed. They could refuel, maybe even change loads? Its called force enabler yano?~

    P.S. the HSV WestPac Express was originally chartered to go 11oo nmi at 33 kts with a full load of 985 troops and 300 tons cargo. She of course refueled in Naha and Guam.

  20. Distiller permalink
    July 17, 2009 12:57 am

    The Soviets also seem to have learned from SES, and liked it – the Russian Bora class is still the largest hovercat in military service.

    Both the Bora and the Skjolds can sail through higher sea states faster than any monohull, while at the same time having the interesting characteristic of an almost flat fuel consumption curve over speed when hoverborne, which as far as I remember results for Skjold in longer endurance at higher speed, at least in some regimes.

  21. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 16, 2009 10:06 pm

    I see the High Speed vessels as the logical heirs of the old SES design. Fighting submarines in the future, we may wish we had some 80-100 knot vessels, but for now, I am intrigued by the concept that we can load cargo and troops on these very versatile shallow water craft In them I see the future of amphibious warfare, not in a few slow moving, lumbering giants. With numbers the HSV would be more survivable and her greater speeds make her more flexible.

  22. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 9:35 pm

    Last I checked, FACs operate in small groups together..or even alone, not in or with ‘task forces’. The ones I have worked on need their maximum possible capability in relatively high sea sates since their primary mission is coastal area defense/denial..denial of much larger and hence theoretically much more sea-capable adversaries.

  23. July 16, 2009 8:30 pm

    Why do you care about the speed at poor sea states?

    Speed is of marginal importance in such a situation. It’s in fact generally of little importance since about 1943.
    It’s only about sea worthiness ability, no matter at what speed.

    Warships rarely need to move faster than 18-20 kts anyway, their top speed is not very important. This is especially true if they move in a task force – the slowest ship defines the TF’s speed.

    The PHM made only 12 kts in displacement hull mode – slower than usual warship and even cargo ship cruise speed! It was actually unacceptably SLOW 95% of the time.

    Typ 143A has a 21 cell RAM launcher while Pegasus was defenseless against air attack because 76mm is quite worthless against almost every aerial threat.

    Keep also in mind that the PHM – exactly like LCS – was overengineered and overpriced almost exclusively because of the high speed design.
    It’s simply not worth the price.

  24. Scott B. permalink
    July 16, 2009 7:39 pm

    Ortmann said : “I found this: “1,225 nautical miles @ 38 knots” That’s a mere 32 hrs.

    1) Foilborne range for the PHM was ~700NM @ 40 knots

    2) Range for the Type 143A is ~600NM @ 30 knots

    3) I very much doubt that the Type 143A can sustain 30 knots beyond SS3 (and I am probably generous)

    4) Having had many opportunities to observe the Type 143 and Type 148 over the years (and for the last time not so long ago), I doubt they can do much more than reduce to survival speed & heading in SS6.

  25. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 5:12 pm

    “I found this: “1,225 nautical miles @ 38 knots” That’s a mere 32 hrs.

    a ‘mere’ 1,225 nm for 32 hours at 38 knots. And that compares unfavorably with..what else, exactly? Certainly not a Cyclone…

    I’ve conducted far too many sea trials on various ‘143-sized’ vessels in ss6 and beyond. I can speak to the differences..and some are radical. It was quite the interesting and enlightening experience to be in SS7+ off the Kattegat in a 35m SES ferry..making an average of 20 knots still..about 30 downhill and maybe 15 up… ;-)

  26. July 16, 2009 4:54 pm

    “What most people fail to realize is that the PHMs demonstrated they could operate at 40 knots in SS5, with a design maximum wave height of 5 meters.”

    SS5 means very poor weather for several days.
    A PHM ran quickly out of fuel @ 40 kts, right?

    I found this: “1,225 nautical miles @ 38 knots” That’s a mere 32 hrs.
    The utility of this kind of capability seems to be marginal if the boat consumes that much fuel for it.

    Typ 140, 141, 143, 143A and 148 were/are operational up to SS6.

  27. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 4:10 pm

    “Coincidentally, I flipped through this report less than one hour ago.”

    Rather unpopular conclusions. Similar ‘performance disparities’ held up the DNV issuance of their ‘comfort classification’ protocols and criteria..which were finally issued in a very watered down form to cut the catamarans a lot of slack.

  28. Scott B. permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:57 pm

    Bill said : “I have a copy of the report…which subsequently ‘disappeared’ when Marintek realized that they were peeing in their own rice bowl”

    Coincidentally, I flipped through this report less than one hour ago.

  29. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:54 pm

    “As for Robert, last I heard was that he was acting as deluxe consultant for some Asian company (Japanese or Korean ?).”

    Bob, and a couple other fellas you will likely recognize by only their first names, Walt B. and Al S., are all supporting directly a current Navy SES program..breathing down my neck once again. ;-) But I have to say, its damned refreshing to be working a naval SES program again after all these years..with folks that really know their stuff in charge of it. Faint hope springs eternal…

  30. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:51 pm

    Another little-known side-by-side trails program was conducted in 1988 or 89 by RNoN..a 35m passenger 150-ton SES (42+ knot service speed in calmish water) and one of their (now retired) ‘Storm’ class MTBs. The differences in capability were rather striking and led ultimately to Skjold’s development and build.

    Toward the end of the trials, conditions worsened to high SS5. As the passenger ferry blew past the Storm at better than 30 knots, the Storm had to bear off, reduce to survival speed and seek shelter..I have the video. (the two vessels were running ‘cross-video’ during the trials). It was not a planned demonstration but rather the overly-excited owner of the ferry, that created that rare photo op..but it was telling indeed and explains a lot about why the RNoN has built the FACs that they now have.

  31. Scott B. permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:49 pm

    Bill said : “And..believe it or not..both are ‘re-engaged’ as SMEs advising a certain Navy office in regard to an SES platform development effort.”

    I knew that Jack was still working on various high-speed projects at NSWC Carderock.

    As for Robert, last I heard was that he was acting as deluxe consultant ;) for some Asian company (Japanese or Korean ?).

  32. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:41 pm

    Correction: Marintek ‘side-by-side’ instrumented trails: The SES was 35m..the cat was 38m..but the SES still wupped it in every performance category. ;-)

  33. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:38 pm

    “And to produce less vertical accelerations under most wave height/speed/heading combinations, meaning a much reduced MSI.”

    As amply proven by true ‘side by side’ tests conducted by Marintek around 1990 with one each ‘then state of the art’ 38m SES and catamaran. I have a copy of the report…which subsequently ‘disappeared’ when Marintek realized that they were peeing in their own rice bowl by making the sorry performance of Norwegian cats public information while relying on Norwegian yards for consulting and model testing dollars.

  34. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:34 pm

    “After that, the SES technologies somehow survived in the US Navy thanks to people like Jack Offutt (in charge of the SES-200 from 1985 to 1990) or Robert Wilson (who retired from NSWC Carderock in 1996).”

    Both are good friends with whom I still maintain regular contact. And..believe it or not..both are ‘re-engaged’ as SMEs advising a certain Navy office in regard to an SES platform development effort. Small world..this funny boat stuff. ;-)

    Jack’s ability to keep the subject alive with the SES-200 (IX-515) was remarkable indeed. That poor old workshorse..we tortured many a varied configuration out of the original BH-110 from whence she came. The helm was still original…;-p

  35. Scott B. permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:20 pm

    Bill said : “SES’s cost more than catamarans…a cost to obtain higher speeds with lower fuel consumption.”

    And to produce less vertical accelerations under most wave height/speed/heading combinations, meaning a much reduced MSI.

  36. Scott B. permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:15 pm

    Bill said : “If one is comparing seakeeping ability, none were better than the PHMs..or even close.”

    Exactly.

    What most people fail to realize is that the PHMs demonstrated they could operate at 40 knots in SS5, with a design maximum wave height of 5 meters.

  37. Scott B. permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:08 pm

    Bill said : “USN shut the program down in brutal and rapid fashion, thus failing to capitilize on the huge sums spent on R&D”

    Over $400 million at the time, i.e. about $1.2 billion in today’s dollars.

  38. Scott B. permalink
    July 16, 2009 3:06 pm

    Bill said : “The technologies lived on only through the people that were involved, some of whom were fortunate enough to apply their knowledge elsewhere before retiring or leaving this world.”

    That’s especially true after the NAVSEA SES Program Office was disestablished in late 1984.

    After that, the SES technologies somehow survived in the US Navy thanks to people like Jack Offutt (in charge of the SES-200 from 1985 to 1990) or Robert Wilson (who retired from NSWC Carderock in 1996).

  39. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 1:25 pm

    “The hydrofoils were really overengineered and overpriced, a poor design.

    European powers had developed better fast attack craft.”

    ‘Better’ is a somewhat broad assertion, don’t you think? If one is comparing seakeeping ability, none were better than the PHMs..or even close. Of course with that came operating speed versus sea state limits that were rather abrupt.

    And yes, they were expensive by comparison with other types, for sure. But hten capapbility always costs money. SES’s cost more than catamarans…a cost to obtain higher speeds with lower fuel consumption.

  40. July 16, 2009 1:16 pm

    The hydrofoils were really overengineered and overpriced, a poor design.

    European powers had developed better fast attack craft.

    Compare the Typ 143A class, for example:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gepard_class_fast_attack_craft

    These boats were much cheaper.

  41. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 16, 2009 1:15 pm

    Thanks Bill! I had heard different dates but that was the one mentioned by Zumwalt in his book.

  42. turtleairships permalink
    July 16, 2009 11:39 am

    It was Wing-in-Ground-Effect (WIG) and it’s sister, the Surface Effect Ship (SES), that were the (cir. 1969) genesis of the TURTLE AIRSHIP.

    By building rigid shelled airships of aluminum and carbon fiber that are amphibious and retain a similar bottom hull configuration to SES, the marraige of a Lighter-than-Air capability with that of a WIG or SES can create new Navy craft that will bring huge advantages to the Navy. These craft can serve in brown,green, and blue waters; or, over ice fields, deserts, mountains, urban centers……

    There are multiple missions that such airships can be used for; whether as ASW, or “scouting”, or flying UCAV carrier, or logistics, etc. Currently the Navy is looking towards airships ranging from networked UAVs to 500 ton Logistics delivery vehicles.

    Airships can fly without range limitations, at less cost than other air assets; require minimal crew, and can be constructed at far less cost and far more quickly than traditional naval vessels.

  43. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2009 8:20 am

    A niggling point, perhaps, Mike..but the 3KSES 80-knot frigte (initially 2KSES) was actully cancelled in Dec 1979, with Rohr already in to early production. 1974 was when the program started forward in earnest.

    In its usual fashion, USN shut the program down in brutal and rapid fashion, thus failing to capitilize on the huge sums spent on R&D in any manner that would leave an intact technology base for any future naval developments. The technologies lived on only through the people that were involved, some of whom were fortunate enough to apply their knowledge elsewhere before retiring or leaving this world..Norway being one of those ‘beneficiaries’. The magnitude of that disconnect was amply illustrated when, less than a decade after the USN ‘forgot everything it ever knew’ about SES’, Navy 3-stars came a visting at the Norwegian yards to see the ‘novel and amazing craft’ that were being built there. [rollingeyes]

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