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The Navy After Next Pt 2

September 22, 2009

Now for my version of the Navy After Next. What then will be the future of seapower? Will supersonic and hypersonic missiles, perhaps lasers and satellite weapons drive the traditional surface ship from the world’s ocean? In mind that the need for navies will not decline drastically in the near-future, around 2050, again we present theirs and ours:

The USN:

Honestly, I haven’t a clue, though with their continued obsession with high tech and ever larger platforms I suspect it will be

  • 2 mega carriers-200,000 tons (one for each coast)
  • 1 heavy superfighter-bomber (which they will share with the USAF!)
  • 1 Amphibious Assault Guided Missile Escort Submarine Littoral Combat Ship-100,000 tons (Sorry! We can only afford one of these multi-mission wonders!)

Back to reality, here then is my Navy After Next:

  • 300 common platform corvettes for-aviation, missile, patrol. There may be a need to build high-end vessels of about 2500 tons due to the demise of large, exquisite missile battleships, but the bulk of surface combatants would consist of low-end 1500 ton vessels.
  • 50 minesweepers on corvette hull. Mines being a greatly underestimated threat.
  • 100 catamaran HSVs, variant sizes also for sealift
  • 150 AIP Submarines, variant sizes, no larger than 3000 tons
  • 35  motherships-for logistics support of corvettes and small submarines. Also may carry aviation assets.
  • 12-18 Aegis motherships.
  • 12-18 arsenal ships (missile barge on commercial hull for cruiser/destroyer replacement)
  • No large deck aircraft carriers or manned fixed-wing combat aircraft. UAV’s on corvettes, motherships. Every ship an aircraft carrier with either missiles or UAVs. Fixed wing aircraft obsolete, except for transport planes. Helicopters still manned, used only for logistics and transport.
  • This is a Hi-Lo Navy, with the Lo End Fleet greatly outnumbering battleships, as is logical.
  • If missiles prove as deadly as some predict, the surface fleet numbers would fall while the submarine rises in strength.

There you have it. Note that with my smaller fleet, no vessel above 20,000 tons light, you could keep costs in the hundreds of millions while operating numbers would rise dramatically. The construction of small, spartan warships are much maligned in today’s Navy, but the very type  vessel needed for most of the missions we do. Cheaper warships also means you can build more of them, as well as concentrate production and precious R & D funds on newer smart munitions and robot weapons like UAVs. Building only exquisite yet increasingly obsolete platforms takes away from the real revolutions in modern warfare, as the USAF learned with its stealth superfighter the F-22 Raptor, 25 years in development while the rest of the force died from old age.

By taking Aegis out of warships and placing it on a few specialized vessels, you also produce savings, as you don’t require Aegis for every mission. A few arsenal ships on a half-billion dollar merchant type hull could offer enormous firepower while taking the place of our 80+, $2 billion dollar Ticonderoga and Burke missile battleships. This is a savings and capability which the stretched thin, over-worked Navy can’t afford to ignore. The corvettes, HSVs, mine ships, small subs and motherships would combine in forward deployed Influence Squadrons in peacetime, and during war or a crisis be joined by these arsenal ships, submarines and Aegis vessels. A 700 ship Navy not stretched thin, easy to replace ships when they are worn out, and sailors not overworked through multiple deployments.

Some might balk at the great number of smaller ships, and the lack of battleships or their modern equivalent. With modern weapons like cruise missiles, smaller vessels can do power projection as well. Already our missile firing mid-size warships like destroyers and attack submarines have a land attack role not dissimilar from that of naval aircraft, and we think further along we can reduce the size of even these combatants into more compact and less costly hulls.  Give me a gunboat on the scene anyday over a supercarrier where half of the handful any nation can afford is in dry dock at any given time.

Within the comments, feel free to add your own Navy After Next. In fact I encourage it!

39 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    September 24, 2009 3:31 pm

    Mike, I’m not denying that there are problems with our current carrier-centric force structure. I think we’re way over-capacity in terms of our 10-11 carrier strike groups in relation to our current low-end threats. We could probably get away with ~8 CSGs, and maybe shift that savings to actual gunboats (decidedly not LCS).

    In terms of an enemy playing to our weaknesses and going for a long fight, I maintain your fleet has decidedly more weaknesses and less staying power than the current fleet.

    The Influence Squadrons you postulate would likely have a hard time against a 90’s era DDG, let alone a regional power like China or India in 2050. Your concept isn’t much different from what the Navy currently plan to do with LCS. The key difference is that an LCS Influence Squadron will operate knowing that there’s high-end capability which can rapidly respond should things heat up (e.g. a CSG or two). With your force, I just don’t see any kind of credible retaliation.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 24, 2009 1:56 pm

    What if the future enemy chooses not to play to our strengths and make it a long drawn out fight, Matt? They did it to Britain in the Great War, and in the Second knocked out our battlefleet strategy in the first blow. Either way those handful of giant ships aren’t going to last very long and what will take their place?

  3. Matt permalink
    September 24, 2009 1:13 pm

    Mike – I’d rather have 2-3 carriers and a healthy number of medium-capability escorts (Arleigh Burkes) than your 300 gunboats. I think your force would be next to useless in an open-ocean fight.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 9:02 pm

    Matt- those 26,250 billets would crew 5 aircraft carriers. I’d rather have them all spread out among the fleet and around the world in corvettes than a handful of increasingly vulnerable giant flattops!

  5. September 23, 2009 8:30 pm

    Two questions: is there any on going submarine design out there that is considered experimental? What is the max depth at which AIP can work and for what length of time? Are there new generations of nuclear propulsion coming into view? Believe we have enough behemoths but not convinced nuclear navy is finished. Carriers for sure. Also believe we have to have a major upgrade of our littoral defense. A missile dropped onto Hanford, Washington would destroy a substantial part of the Northwest overnight. I view it is as the single greatest vulnerability we have.

  6. Matt permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:31 pm

    Mike – you’re overlooking perhaps the #1 cost driver associated with today’s defense budget: manpower. The plan you propose is essentially economies of scale in reverese.

    – The total afloat manning for all current 107 current surface combatants (DDG/CG/FFG/LCS) at ~27,000.

    – Examining only the 350 corvettes & minesweepers in your force and assuming each has on average 75 crewman (same as LCS), that’s ~26,250 billets just to man these low-end gunboats!

    If LCS is any indication, these folks would likely be of significantly higher paygrade than what you’d see on a typical DDG. A crewman on an LCS has to be a jack-of-all-trade and operate with minimal oversight or supervision. The more you increase automation, the smarter and more experienced your folks have to be. (I think I read somehwhere that there was no one below E-5 on LCS-1 – might be apocryphal but it is pretty close to the truth.)

  7. Hokie_1997 permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:27 pm

    Graham – I think you missed my point. I’m saying that there might not have even been a Battle of the Atlantic (WWI) if the Imperial German Navy hadn’t perceived and acted upon a weakness in the Royal Navy’s force structure and posture.

    In the early 1900s, the RN spent a lot of its budget on building and maintaining light cruisers and gunboats to police the Empire. In contrast, the IGN spent its budget on R&D and production of battleships that were qualitatively superior to anything the Brits had. The RN tried to defend everywhere and thus was strong nowhere, whereas the IGN was designed with the sole purpose of beating the Brits on the North Sea (or at least giving them a bloody nose).

    Jackie Fisher recognized the threat posed by the IGN and got the RN to shift its priorities. It takes a long time to build ships — by the time he got the RN going in the right direction (by scrapping all these ships that were “too weak to fight and too slow to run away”) the IGN perceived that it had a reasonable chance of running the Brits out of the North Sea.

    (The IGN adapted to submarine commerce warfare only as a recourse. The submarine as a commerce raider was a game changer that hardly anyone one saw coming. The Germans didn’t lose the Battle of the Atlantic due to any operational or doctrinal flaw – the technology just wasn’t mature.)

    Lesson – a lot of what a navy contributes is simply in its perception a credible deterrent. The LO-HI force that Mike postulates runs the risk of being perceived as a slide into mediocrity, and thus inviting more competition from peer competitors.

  8. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 3:23 pm

    Michael Mac said “your plan will never work”

    Thats 2 votes for Extinction! If not mine them somebody else’s because the present Navy plan is failing Big Time! Read this:

    Also Micheal, if the Aegis battleships were relieved of anti-piracy duty by small ships, then we’d have plenty of them for the really big jobs such vessels are meant to do.

  9. michael Mac permalink
    September 23, 2009 1:52 pm

    your plan will never work- we need far more AEGIS ships since the O decided to base at least a squadron of AEGIS ships in the Black sea. Not to mention that the now canceled land based system also protected the EAST COAST of the US and the Black sea squadron does not. The cost of the sea based system will be higher, less effective, and strain our navy. We will need basing rights in the Black Sea as well(I am sure that will delight the Russians) and will probably be subject to veto or abrogation by the Russians.

  10. Graham Strouse permalink
    September 23, 2009 1:29 pm

    Er, Hokie, the Germans lost the Atlantic battle in WWI precisely because they TRIED to keep up with the RN & didn’t have sufficient U-boat assets. Granted, WWI subs were still in beta, but still…

    Then they made the same mistake (more disastrously & foolishly in WWII). Just sayin’…

  11. Hokie_1997 permalink
    September 23, 2009 1:04 pm

    We do have a significant logistics train associated with operating our strike groups. That’s a risk we can take because our Navy has (and continues to have) a significant qualitative edge over potential adversaries which allows us to exercise sea control. We’re so far ahead of any potential competitor’s navies that they’re dissuaded from even attempting to compete force-on-force, and instead concentrate on anti-access/area-denial capabilities.

    I think it’s important to realize that the force you’re postulating won’t be built overnight and won’t be built in a static environment. The enemy always has a vote, and a shift of this magnitude won’t go unnoticed. My concern is that if we choose to largely divest ourselves of high-end capabilities, what’s to stop a potential competitor from attempting to build a navy which can take us on force-to-force?

    Your proposed fleet strikes me as analogous to the Royal Navy in the early 20th Century. Quantity over quality. Lots of low-capability gunboats scattered from Africa to China, good for bombarding a recalcitrant sheik or landing a naval party to quell a disturbance. The bulk of the modern capital ships were kept in reserve in the Med and Home Fleets — just in case France or Russia tried something – but didn’t really see much action. This force structure/posture was good for policing an empire, but didn’t deter Germany from designing and construct a “giant-killer” fleet specifically to wrest control of the North Sea from the RN.

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 11:23 am

    “I’m pretty sure the allies targeted and sunk most of the Milch Cows by ‘43”

    Having command of the sea you can do things like this. As for self-sustainment, we do without this on our most important warships all the time, the aircraft carriers. Before them the battleships needed escort from small torpedo boats, which gave us the destroyer. Every ship has a different purpose in the fleet, and it is when you try to create a “perfect” warship you get gold-plate and smaller numbers. Probably the submarine is the only vessel that can currently fits this bill of near-total independence, but even they worked better in conjugation with aircraft and surface warships, as your lessons with the milch cow pointed out.

    Scott-Cebrowski’s original plan for LCS was a 800 ton corvette called “Streetfighter”. Unsure where it got lost along the way and we ended up with this blue water/green water hybrid that does neither function well enough.

  13. Hokie_1997 permalink
    September 23, 2009 10:38 am

    Quoting Mike B – “I disagree since what you lose such as fuels stocks and the aircraft hangar, you can gain with sensors and weapons. Such vessels would be more single purpose with the mothership acting in the role like the German “milch cows” allowing the ships to do what they do best, fight.”

    I’m pretty sure the allies targeted and sunk most of the Milch Cows by ’43.

    If you reduce self-sustainment capability and transfer the function to a mothership, then that mothership becomes the obvious target for an enemy.

  14. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 10:11 am

    Mike Burleson said : “As the saying goes “insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.”

    And this is exactly what’s happening with the mythical 1,000-ton corvette that gets so much attention : the same insanity that led to the LCS debacle will be repeated again, and produce the exact same result (it’ll probably be worse actually).

    It’ hardly a surprise if the most vocal champions of the 1,000-ton corvette boondoggle are the exact same Cebrowskists (e.g. Thomas Barnett, Raymond Pritchett) who were, back in the Rumsfeldian Transformation Era, the most vocal supporters of the LCS.

    There are the ones voting for Extinction, because they’ve chosen to live in denial and refuse the moral & programmatic bankruptcy that resulted from their past LCS utopia.

  15. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 9:56 am

    Scott, I take it you vote for Extinction then? There is no real change without procurement reform. As the saying goes “insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.

  16. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 9:30 am

    Mike Burleson said : “I disagree since what you lose such as fuels stocks and the aircraft hangar, you can gain with sensors and weapons.”

    At the risk of repeating what I said less than a week ago : what you forget is that *motherships* or forward basing aren’t cheap, as noted by the much regretted D.K. Brown in his now classical Future British Surface Fleet, e.g. page 142 :

    “Since WW2, warships have relied on replenishment at sea to keep their fuel tanks, store rooms and magazine topped up. This is a demanding and expensive operation which takes the ship off station for a considerable time. […]

    There would be considerable overall savings in eliminating not only the AOR but also the need for its escorts.”

  17. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 6:31 am

    Jonathan, as I mentioned the sub numbers could be increased if necessary. These would also be various types for littoral operations and others for Blue Water warfare at 3000 tons. Large submarines would probably need escorting as they reached closer to shore by coastal types. I think nuclear power is probably on the way out because of the expense, not just for the cost of reactors, but the need to keep expertise around. So you have to build a $2 billion boat every year whether you need it or not or lose vital knowledge? This is just dumb and wasteful when a conventional sub can do the same mission, and with AIP will also have enough of the endurance to suffice.

    The only good thing I see giving our nuke carriers to China is they would be forced to gut their surface fleet as well spending precious naval funds on High End warships, specialized catapult fighters, and equally costly missile escorts. With their fleet bogged down trying to field a giant conventional arm, we could perform asymmetric warfare at sea against their mercantile economy. Unless they wise up and think of doing the same to us first.

    Matt said “These corvettes could’t pack much in the way of off-board sensors or stand-off ASW weapons”

    I disagree since what you lose such as fuels stocks and the aircraft hangar, you can gain with sensors and weapons. Such vessels would be more single purpose with the mothership acting in the role like the German “milch cows” allowing the ships to do what they do best, fight. Vessels able to “be all and do all” are why they are so much more expensive these days, harder to build, and we can’t afford enough of them for our many needs.

    Concerning UAVs as ASW platforms, recall the DASH in service with small US destroyers in the 1960s, scrapped because of technicals difficulties (my friend Bon Stoner might also say apathy from the Navy), not because it wasn’t useful and because the technology was in its infancy. The Japanese used DASH quite well, so I have high hopes for the Fire Scout and her future kindred in this role and many others.

  18. September 22, 2009 11:38 pm

    I assume as you do that the size of the oceans is not changing. Therefore domination of the sea lanes and deep coastal defense remains principal naval tasks. Also assume that Guam will be made a state as we will have withdrawn from Asia — the land not the ocean. Will we have basing rights with India? Sea lanes will be scrutinized by satellites which will have laser weaponry. Large surface ships definitely on the way out. We should give China several of our nuclear aircraft carriers. Agree small littoral ships will be of great importance but real control of the oceans will be underwater. This poses serious challenge as invisible requires imagination which people do not possess in large amounts. Would like to know if there is any place where theorizing about underwater hull shapes is taking place. Are there any ideas out there for different kinds of submersibles? Do not know if 150 subs will be sufficient. My comment about Guam is not stated lightly. America is a Pacific power and staking Guam on our flag is a simple constitutional statement of America’s intention to be, well America. Thankfully we are forced to shed the crippling nonsense of World’s Sole Superpower but we remain a world power around the globe. It is our destiny and nature.

  19. September 22, 2009 10:16 pm

    “Oh, ‘scuse me, Hudson”

    As in: “Oh, Please- excuse- my- manners- Hudson,- when- I -was- adressing -Leesea,-I- did- not- mean- to- neglect- your- own inquiry- about- the- thickness -of airships- skins,-and-so-must-double-comment– F0llows- is an- explanation,” etc. etc. etc…………

  20. Matt permalink
    September 22, 2009 9:39 pm

    I see this force you postulated as LO-LO with respect to ASW. Some observations:

    – Corvettes? At 1,500 tons we’re talking less than 1/2 the displacment of an OHP Frigate. These corvettes couldn’t pack much in the way of off-board sensors or stand-off ASW weapons – at best they’d be ASW point-defense or torpedo sponges. I also see a relative large number of high value units (arsenal ships, HSVs, Aegis, mother-ships) which are in the end just targets.

    – An all AIP force? To put it lightly, an all AIP sub force would be a monumental step backward in ASW — particularly in the open-ocean against an adversary with SSNs. We’re talking a slow midget with athsma versus an NBA power forward.

    – Helos only for transportation/logistics? Big gap since helos are currently the primary ASW prosecution asset for CRUDES. I’m assuming you’d fill this with UAVs of some fashion. Personally I’m not convinced a UAV will every be able to do ASW as well as a helo or an MPA.

    -Fixed-wing only for transport? MPA (P-3C / P-8A) is primary open-ocean ASW search-to-kill platfrom for USN. And the fleet you postulate would likely require a lot more off-board ASW capabilities, since it’s intrinsic ASW capabilities are a shell of the current USN.

  21. Matt permalink
    September 22, 2009 9:04 pm

    AIP subs are a great equalizer for smaller nations seeking to build up their coastal defenses, but probably a poor fit for the USN. (Hyman Rickover must be spinning in his grave!)

    There are inherent problems with operating and sustaining diesel-electric submarines (even AIPs) at extended ranges from homebase. An SSN can operate self-sustained, at top speed, indefinitely. The 35 motherships would a huge cue as to when/where are subs are operating, and the obvious target for any adversary.

    My vote is for a smaller class of SSN that can operate in the littorals. Investments in a smaller reactor compartments, increased automation to reduce crew sizes, etc.

  22. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 22, 2009 6:49 pm

    Campbell, I think I said the end of “manned fixed-wing combat aircraft” though you’d still need helos and cargo planes. I also mentioned “fixed wing” so lighter than air does not apply! And how about a Zeppelin mothership for UAV’s.

    elgatoso-I believe that was the third ship I mentioned on the Navy’s list!

  23. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 22, 2009 6:40 pm

    Concerning stealth, within the comments of another website arguing about the DDX a while back, someone mentioned that “don’t we already have stealth warships, called submarines?” This seemed so logical to me I could hardly argue the point. If you want true stealth at sea it must come as naturally as possible, i.e., make your ship small or submerge it!

  24. elgatoso permalink
    September 22, 2009 6:38 pm

    I think that the US Navy is going to all nuclear electric,in ships.The hydrogenation of CO2 to jet fuel gonna give the possibility to any ship to be a mothership for small UCAV,unmanned undersea vessels and unmanned surface vessels.The railgun will begin to take the place of naval artillery and in some case missiles>Free Electron Lasers will take the place of C-ram and Goalkeepper.Something like a new version of the Arsenal ship would be posible.Nuclear subs would have a variety of missions ,not only SSBN and attack.Some idea like SABR( a rail-gun BMD )could get real.The nuclear reactors will be 4gen reactors and not 1gen reactoers like today.And the airship could be the truck of the sea.NO DIESELS

  25. Hudson permalink
    September 22, 2009 2:38 pm

    Whew! Thanks for clearing that up, campbell. That sounds like really usefull “skin.” Maybe LL Bean should get a hold of it for its outerwear catalog.

  26. B.Smitty permalink
    September 22, 2009 1:29 pm

    Mrs Davis said, “The stealth value of submersibles is going to prove critical. There will be a wider variety of low diving submersibles capable of performaing most of the tasks of today’s surface fleet or the proposed corvette.”

    I too have recently wondered if a “submersible” or true submarine could be made cost effective to perform many of the tasks associated with smaller surface combatants, specifically those meant for the LCS (e.g. MIW, ASW, small-boat SUW, SPECOPS, VBSS, “Influence Squadron”)

    The advantages of having a “submersible warship” are obvious:

    – Immunity to non-nuclear AShMs, ASBMs and traditional (non-ASW) air attack while submerged. It may even retain significant immunity while at periscope depth or semi-submerged.
    – ASW is hard, and not many nations are good at it.
    – Covert employment of weapons, sensors, special forces and so on.

    There are a number of design challenges that come immediately to mind.

    1. Can you make a non-nuclear submarine/submersible fast enough to keep up with a CVBG/ESG? Perhaps it could revert to performing long-range transits on the surface, and only dive once in theater? (25-30kt surface speed?)
    2. How would it employ existing and near future UxV technology such as USVs and AN/WLD-1?
    3. Is it worthwhile to even consider adding helicopter or UAV capability? Some WWII submarines carried sea planes. Having a helicopter opens up a wide range of possibilities.
    4. Is there a hull form that provides decent surfaced sea keeping, speed, and efficiency while at the same time provides “useful” submerged performance and signature?

    I’m sure there are many more.

  27. September 22, 2009 1:18 pm

    Oh, ‘scuse me, Hudson:
    Umhmmm…..meter thick. Actually, (2) “skins”, each .007″ thick with meter of fine carbon/aerogel/matrix in between. (lots of room for RAM/shaping as needed) Weight is not an issue;depending upon volume of the airship, of course.
    Inner skin is gas rigid walled/gas tight. Outer skin is weather/water proof (amphibious), supports thin flim photovoltaics. A few other refinements tossed in the mix…….

  28. September 22, 2009 1:10 pm

    Well, obviously.
    “500 ton payload” is the aim of the Navy. That’s miles and miles away from what surface vessels can deliver. The question is, really, how fast can you get a delivery on station? (meaning, precisely where it’s needed, not in some port or airfield) Airships can deliver point to point, to ANY location on Earth… of a building, jungle, mountain gorge,
    sea ice…whatever. Again, how soon do you want (x)amount of critical material delivered? can we wait a few days? weeks? months? can C-17 deliver it? add in the fuel costs/refueling needs as well…..

    Airships are just one part of a whole….
    My own take?…keep the tonnage down to no more than 300 tons; with lots of smaller airships for different tasks…..Just make more craft.
    ( Huh…just realized, that’s Mike’s argument too! dang, it’s nice to be part of the right crowd! )

  29. Hudson permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:58 pm

    Airships might indeed be poised for a comeback (skins a meter thick??), though with much better point-defense than in times past. Also, satellite launched weapons and high endurance land-based uavs that can ride wind currents may well influence seapower by mid-century.

    You can watch videos on YouTube of land-based particle beam weapons vaporizing artillery shells, so that technology, with its aps. to ships, is already here.

  30. UndergradProgressive permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:21 pm

    150 AIP subs with no SSNs, SSGNs or SSBNs strikes me as problematic. The SSBNs are a key part of the US nuclear triad, and the SSNs give us flexibility in open ocean combat.

  31. Heretic permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:12 pm

    Four things are going to seriously change the shipbuilding picture for the 21st century:

    1. Air Independent Propulsion for conventional submarines
    2. In-situ production hydrocarbon fuel(s) from CO2 in seawater using shipborne nuclear power
    3. Free Electron Lasers of military power for line of sight offense/defense
    4. Railguns for non-line of sight engagement of hostiles

    The first is going to drive a transformation of how submarines get built and deployed. The second is going to bring about a “revolution” in naval logistics, with a lot more ships finding it “economical” to run on nuclear power (and consequently becoming refueling “nodes” for other vessels), which will in turn drive a push towards a “common” nuclear powerplant for submarines and surface vessels so as to realize economies of scale in construction and servicing. The third and fourth combined will usher in a renaissance of the surface gunship, with “guns” (both kinetic and directed energy) competing with missiles in a number of different roles and environmental conditions. Power requirements for FEL and railguns will drive the USN into a greater embrace of nuclear power for surface ships … which can also function as “fuel refineries” while at sea to support smaller ships that are conventionally powered.

    Meanwhile, guided munitions are only going to get “smarter” as time goes on. As soon as someone develops a cruise missile that has a “return to sender” feature for recovery and reuse, that’s going to be a killer app that will place greater pressure on manned platforms for the role of defeating anti-access and strategic targets.

  32. Anonymous permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:56 am

    50 minesweepers? :)

  33. Hudson permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:24 am

    By mid-century, the United States might resemble what it is today or be very different. Rising temperatures/seas could make coastal cities like NYC into Venice, which itself will have sunk into its lagoon. Mexico might have reclaimed California and the Southwest by then, and some Canadian provinces might join us–not a bad tradeoff if temeratures rise dramatically.

    The Navy would do well to maintain its triad force structure. By 2050 we will know if there is an effective defense against ASMs (lasers?) and whether blue-green lasers or other technologies have rendered the oceans visible to submarines. Already, helos are carrying experimental blue-green lasers to hunt subs. It is also possible that the Coast Guard might be more important relative to the Navy than it is today.

  34. leesea permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:19 am

    Ah Mike I see what you point is but you plan is just a big sausage. How can be be serious when they is so much hamburger in this sandwich? You must base force structure suggestions on realistic ship types and not subjective descriptions of classes. Sort of like the devil is in the details? Your details are a potpopurri of thoughts that need to be sorted out into more definitive suggestions. And cost must be part of any suggested fleet structure.

    In my area, HSV catamarans are ONLY small tactical sealift ships NOT the heavy tonnage ships that are needed. 95% of all materials go to war in large sealift ship bottoms. DS/S landed a millon tons of materials from sealift ships in six months time. Those numbers were matched over time with OIF. Put those kind of cargo lift numbers into your planning.

    Arsenal ship was a nice concept. They considered a fleet oiler as a test bed platform. Barges are NOT a baseline, large hulls were.

    All the UAVs in the world will not fly off the inevitably smaller corvette force. Maybe if you mentioned T-AKV I would have felt you were serious.

    Manned aircraft (not necessrily a lot of fighters) will be needed for the foreseeable future. Helos, COIN, airlifters etc must be in the mix.

    News flash: Subs cannot perform all the missions of the Navy – period. We don’t need hundreds of those expensive boats. Sure we can use some smaller advanced technology subs but get real – subs do NOT avoid any prescence.
    (I guess one would the difference between a gang and a mugger?)

    This is NOT the Hi-Lo mix that Adm Zumwalt envisioned – sorry. The mix needs to more 80% large ships and 20% small ships in terms of cost alone. That will get the Navy the numbers of hulls it needs to be warships, submarine, auxiliaries, and sealift ships.

    Campbell all the airships in the world can NOT haul the materials needed for sustainment of a land war! You can’t overcome physics.

  35. Scott B. permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:12 am

    Mike Burleson said : “again we present theirs and ours:”

    Slightly O/T, but there’s one question that’s been on my mind for some time now : who is *we* ?

  36. September 22, 2009 9:18 am

    Aw Mike, Mike!
    tsk tsk…and after I gave you a clue already, and then, following right after that “end of airpower” bit…..(sigh)
    Okay….got no trouble at all with the make-up of your surface fleet as you like it. not my turf. but…got to throw in some other things here. The smart money says we’ll end up with a very hot Persian Gulf sometime within the next (weeks?-10years). That means fuel goes out the window in costs. We have to start worrying about what we can field, really soon, that doesn’t require fuel.
    Nukes’ not much of an option; to much political fallout (pun not intended)

    Enter airships. Uh huh. Mind you, not blimps though and not the dirigibles of the 1930’s.

    The primary attraction of UAVs is their persistance. Cant’ come close to that of an airship. An airship can fly/float in the air for weeks on end; or, if amphibious, sit in the water for weeks waiting to fly. Airships have the hull size that allows them to be solar powered; no fuel concerns. A bit of biofuels as a side for dash purposes, and we’re in good shape.

    The Navy is looking towards logistics airships (payload 500 tons). They are coming. How they will be used is the only question. They are ideal for BMW. Or sub hunting.

    “end of airpower”???……Picture Akron and Macon, updated! Flying aircraft carriers, with UCAV’s. Stealth?….airplanes have only thin skins to hold stealth materials, which reduces spectrum they can hide within. Airships can have “skins” that are a meter thick….much more electromagnetic spectrum covered. While still worrying about stealth, airplanes must still be shaped aerodynamicly; airships can be any shape whatsoever.

    Even better…..progress on making Atmospheric Ion Propulsion means that airships can carry and use ACTIVE “plasma stealth”, which can cover ALL radar frequencies.

    Your surface fleet, yeah, okay…but throw in some airships, huh? Unless, (dare I say it?) you’d rather give this historic Navy fleet component…to the AIR FORCE???!!!!
    (I’m shocked, I tell you, Shocked!)

  37. Anonymous permalink
    September 22, 2009 9:04 am

    No ekranoplans to deliver marines at high speed from CONUS to hostile shores?

    What about unmanned underwater vehicles?

    I have played about with the idea of mega carriers using large concrete hulls with exchangeable engines on rafts. The rafts get refitted……..

    Something like this……

  38. Mrs. Davis permalink
    September 22, 2009 7:13 am

    The stealth value of submersibles is going to prove critical. There will be a wider variety of low diving submersibles capable of performaing most of the tasks of today’s surface fleet or the proposed corvette.

    No boomers? No attack nukes? I think not.

    This fleet will only be built in the event of war.

  39. Scott B. permalink
    September 22, 2009 6:42 am

    I see a *fleet* full of small guys with short legs and dubious seakeeping qualities, supported by even less auxiliaries (I suppose that’s what your *motherships* are for) than we have today.

    OTOH, I don’t see any nuclear deterrent.

    What you’re proposing here is an oversized Coast Guard, not a Navy.

    Might do the trick for a land power, but ain’t gonna work for a maritime power.

    That’s purely and simply suicidal

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