Even Battleships Need Motherships
The following goes along with a debate we’ve been having in the comments about the utility of logistical motherships, and whether small ships with their smaller stores and weapons load are adequate for the rigors of sea duty. Well, according to journalist David Axe, embedded with the International Piracy Patrol off Somalia on the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook, such large multi-mission warships have their limitations as well:
The Navy’s Combat Logistics Force — the tankers and cargo ships that resupply warships at sea — doesn’t spend much time in the Gulf of Aden. So DC has to pull into port herself when she runs out of fruit and vegetables. Today she tied up to the pier in Djibouti, near a German frigate whose Lynx helicopter buzzed overhead…
DC’s experiences raise some important issues. Might a bigger logistics force be a better way to boost the Navy’s overall combat power than more warships? If 3,000-ton Littoral Combat Ships are eventually going to take over the counter-piracy mission, how will they manage, in light of their limited stores capacity? Naval operations in African waters are all about logistics, logistics, logistics. Are we taking the right steps to ensure we can feed and fuel a sustained presence?
This experience reinforces my belief on the need for more motherships, motherships, motherships deployed with the fleet, to ease our dependence on foreign resupply, and ensure ships can deploy longer under less strain. Obviously, if smaller spartan warships like corvettes and OPVs were utilized more, there would be less of a strain on the logistics chain. Besides this is the absurdity of using ships geared for high tech warfare, with Aegis ships like the USS Cook as the new battleships, for such low tech operations. For such sundry but important sea duty make the ships smaller, then use the savings to build more and back them up with motherships!