Unleash the TLAM Warships Pt 3
In no case can we exercise control by battleships alone. Their specialization has rendered them unfit for the work, and has made them too costly ever to be numerous enough. Even, therefore, if our enemy had no battle-fleet we could not make control effective with battleships alone. We should still require cruisers specialized for the work and in sufficient numbers to cover the necessary ground. But the converse is not true. We could exercise control with cruisers alone if the enemy had no battle-fleet to interfere with them.
Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, by Julian Stafford Corbett
America’s fleet of large deck aircraft carriers, along with the ballistic missile submarines, are the most powerful naval weapons ever devised. A single vessel of the Nimitz class possesses more firepower than many nation’s entire air forces, and there are 10 such nautical marvels in service. Though many countries deploy aircraft carriers or plan such useful craft in the near future, none match in capabilities or numbers the USN’s sea-going flattop armada.
We think with such unparalleled command of the Blue Water ocean, the Navy could safely disperse its equally powerful and unmatched fleet of Tomahawk missile equipped-Aegis warships. Without any cost or expansion, our naval presence could immediately be enhanced worldwide by taking advantage of the accuracy and flexibility of this 10,000 missile arsenal. In all recent conflicts of late, these TLAM warships have been at the forefront. When some rogue dictator like those in North Korea threatens the peace with long-range missiles, it isn’t the carriers who are called on but out fleet of BMD “shooters”, our cruisers and destroyers.
As Corbett has stated concerning the battleship, today in the form of the aircraft carrier, they can’t be everywhere at once or available for every crisis. Their great expense and inevitable small numbers prohibit such a wasteful strategy. In absence of enemy carriers, the fleet screen of cruisers, destroyers, and attack submarines can act as battleships in their place due to their large numbers and the enhanced reach of the Tomahawk. An example of this played out when the destroyer USS McFaul sailed into a Georgian port with relief supplies and as a show of support after its recent invasion by Russia. Such an action is reminiscent of the battleship USS Missouri cruising into a Turkish port to deter Russian aggression at the dawn of the Cold War.
As noted in our first post, the range, precision, and power of naval aircraft on large decks superseded the short gun-range and slow speeds of the surface battleship in World War 2. Today the cruise missile has restored much of the surface warship’s edge, with range and firepower duplicating the carrier mission, while in a more compact and affordable package. Where the Big Deck still reigns supreme is in persistence, the ability to conduct numerous strikes indefinitely, but a new weapon may be a rival for this traditional role. During the first Gulf War the Iowa class battleships deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to spot shot from their humongous 16 inch cannon and also for surveillance purposes. A future requirement for all TLAM ships should be the deployment of drones onboard. With proven attack and loitering abilities in our land wars, the UAVs will restore the preeminent and independent position of the surface ship lost during the last world war.
Concluded tomorrow with lessons from Lord Fisher.