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Royal Navy’s 6000 ton Patrol Boat

September 23, 2009
Future Surface Combatant by LordJedcjt via Photobucket

Future Surface Combatant by LordJedcjt via Photobucket

Dissapointing but not unexpected, is the British Royal Navy’s future plans for a Type 23 and Type 22 frigate replacement. We get details from Jane’s:

A model unveiled at the show by BVT Surface Fleet has provided an initial indication of the key characteristics of the C1 variant of the Future Surface Combatant (FSC), intended to begin replacing the RN’s current Type 22 Batch 3 and Type 23 frigates from around 2020. And while officials caution that the model represents only an “early visualisation” of the C1 design concept, it nevertheless highlights some of the key attributes of flexibility, modularity and open architecture desired by the FSC programme… The result is a baseline monohull platform, displacing in the region of 6,000 tonnes, equipped for anti-submarine warfare, naval fires, special forces support and possibly precision land attack.

The stretched-thin and shrinking service seems to have bought into the conclusion that “bigger is better” and somehow high price means more capable. While these concepts might be true on occasion, not so much when the West’s naval forces are steadily shrinking and the threats continue to mount. The type of missions expected of the FCS are those currently conducted by the Type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke, which we have posted on recently:

The Type 23 frigates were themselves built for another conflict, against a Soviet Navy long gone. Yet like America’s Burke’s she is forced to soldier on until Western Navies come to grasp with the new enemies we are facing, not one of missile battleships and supercarriers, but suicide bombers, or old-fashioned economic warfare with piracy. Such asymmetrical tactics at sea aren’t so flashy, or as expensive as our futuristic armadas, but seem to be equally effective.

BVT Surface Fleet also constructed the HMS Clyde, a improved River Class frigate we see as perfect for the type of missions needed of the Future Surface Combatant in this present era:

We think her seakeeping abilities make this class stand out. Their spacious landing deck would also give it room to launch either a UAV or increase its weapon’s load for use in threat areas. While an OPV isn’t something you could send to a major war zone without protection, the numbers you could build for the price of a heavy frigate would enhance its survivability and usefulness. Each vessel costs £60m, making it very cost effective for the type of low intensity operations against pirates and smugglers which the High Tech Navy has little time for. Very many of these vessels could halt the downward slope of the Royal Navy, while enhancing its presence worldwide.

We continue to raise the banner for a bigger fleet, not bigger ships. The study of war at sea conclusively proves this recurring lesson, that the small ships are some of the most important vessels, and least appreciated until you actually need them, and they are always in short supply. The great American  Admiral Zumwalt, one of the architects of the 600 ship Navy, would understand this, as he saw his precious fleet decline from the world’s largest to second place. While the naval leadership obsessed over supercarriers, nuclear submarines, and new guided missile escorts, the always-on-demand greyhounds, frigates, and small ASW carriers were retired with few if any replacements. He was mostly successful in his campaign to build a High Low Navy, but with the demise of the Soviet Threat, the small ships were again discarded in favor of exquisite and economical battle force ships.

I disagree with the notion that battleships should make up the entire fleet, or even most of the fleet. With large surface ships and naval aircraft now so much more capable than in the last century you only need a handful, while the low end operating forces you can’t have enough of. In the US Naval Institute Proceedings magazine, Captain R. B. Watts, USCG  writes on what could certainly apply to the Royal Navy as well:

The Navy has not effectively deployed a new class of ship to deal with anything but conventional large-scale fleet combat for years. Blue-water combatants, carriers, and nuclear-powered submarines remain the focus of our shipbuilding efforts, and training remains focused on defeating an equally capable blue-water opponent. The limited use of these assets against asymmetric enemies is either rationalized in vague strategic terms or simply ignored.

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89 Comments leave one →
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  6. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 30, 2009 3:59 pm

    Alex, they do love their bells and whistles don’t they? And the sailors suffer doing multiple deployments on shrinking assets.

  7. Alex. (the new'un) permalink
    September 30, 2009 1:11 pm

    Large heavy hull does not necessarily make it expensive but it does make it expensive to operate, Diesel(maybe), maintenance, etc. and then theres the political element, politicos will see 2 classes one with bells and whistles at £400m/unit and one on the same hull with nothing but the ships bell at £200m/unit, scrap the first one and call it streamlining.

  8. Jed permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:06 pm

    Alex

    I know all the stuff on the FSC programme, not that its called that any more is it ?,

    What I did not make clear in my previous posts this morning was that I was playing devils advocate ! Apologies for that………

    If you look back through the thread there is a discussion about high – low mix, and that low capability does not nesc. mean small hull, and that large hull does not nesc. mean expensive, hence my ruminating on same hull but different capabilities for C1 and C2 variants.

    Unfortunately I am not hopeful for the RN whatever government wins the next election and takes the reigns of the strategic defense review.

    On the subject of C3 – my first ship was HMS Hermione, which had just been re-commissioned in Chatham as SeaWolf Leander – just under 3500 tonnes, with 996/997, SeaWolf, 4 x Exocet, 5 x single 20mm, two x triple torpedo tubes, big flight deck and a Lynx helo and hull mounted T2016 sonar(which was state of the art at the time). That was a lot of ‘stuff’ crammed into a small hull, plus a crew of over 200 ! Of course I don’t expect today Matelot’s to put up with the conditions we had in 3 Lima messdeck….. :-)

    However it does make the C3 sometimes look just a little ‘under-armed’ !!

  9. Alex. (the new'un) permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:19 am

    C1 won’t be in the $1bn class, the RN aren’t going to fit expensive sophisticated radar arrays to an ASW/Land attack vessel, it wont get Sampson, S1850, Aster missiles etc, the price of T45 is already down below £400m without those items, T2087, Artisan radars and probably CAMM systems(take into account we’re looking at the best part of 20 years before T23s are retired) will be removed from retiring T23s and added to C1/C2s being built(there will be some new radars and missile suites but alot of C1 and C2 will be refurbished old units but there will be no new T2087 so who’s idea was it for 10 C1s? for 8 T2087 TAS units?)

    If C2 is the same hull as C1 then we reach the same problem we have now of having lots of warships that are far too expensive to deploy around the world, C2 needs hangar for EH-101, 8 VLS cells (32CAMM), Artisan, FFBNW TAS, organic mine hunting capabilities, room and support for a modest EMF (40?) unit cost can NOT exceed £200m(2009) (C1 will be roughly twice this figure compared with £550-600m for T45) so anything in the same class and weight as FREMM is out straight away.

    C3. Been done to the death, replaces mine hunters, survey ships and OPVs; no more than 3500t fully laden, cheap on sensors, fully electric propulsion with only diesel generators, top speed 25-26kts; as for weapons seaRAM, mk.8 and DS30 turrets. Accommodation for 100; complement of around 60-70, containerised work deck aft, flight deck for EH-101 but no hangar… £100m/unit… the RN is doing something wrong if C3 ends up more expensive than that.

    something else to note is that C3 is likely to be procured under a PFI rather than purchased outright.

    - Alex.

  10. Jed permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:06 am

    Fair points Mike – but I am not really caring about USN – whether you get 50 plus crappy LCS of one type or another, the poor old RN is being reduced to ‘Coast Guard’ status…….

    Mind you, having said that, look at the cost increases in the National Security Cutter – we probably could not even afford some of them !

    However what we really disagree on is green water ops, I would rather have large (but relatively cheap, due to lack of gold plated capabilities) platform that can carry boats and helos, because they are the real capability. I don’t think the RN needs a 1500 tonne corvette for ‘street fighting’ in the Littorals. Yes I know 80 to 90% of the worlds population lives in the littorals, etc etc, but what Britain’s politicians should be thinking about is the fact that 90% of our trade is done on the oceans that constitute the global commons, and that includes food and energy supplies – and they have to pass through quite a small number of choke points.

    So, you can goo all out expeditionary warfare and buy lots of small warships for littoral warfare as required, but I would rather see, ‘large but cheap(ish)’ “escorts” for the RN, because thats a better geopolitical strategic fit (IMHO).

  11. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 30, 2009 9:36 am

    New Alex said”Sorry but I’m in the school that advocates C1 as a large warship,”

    Thats OK, I get that alot. And also in answer to Jed:

    I think large, high endurance warships are great, and think every fleet should have some. But when your entire navy consists of large, high end, exquisite ships, and trust me the closer you get to $1 billion pounds or dollars, thats exquisite, what will do the myriad low tech functions such as anti-mine, or anti-piracy, or anti-smuggling? You have large, old, and expensive to operate ships like the Iron Duke or the US Perry’s, indispensable warships near-impossible to replace, certainly not in like numbers, because we can’t get beyond the exquisite requirement of plenty of armament, plenty of stores and ammo, plenty of room for helos.

    Ships like this, 3000 tons or larger, are starting to get into the mothership role and aren’t real fighters for the shallow seas. I’m not sure how the Danes did it, but the USN isn’t going to build a ship this size for less than a billion $$$. Build a shallow water warship for less than 1500 tons, and they will have to concentrate on the essentials. Just what is necesary, not a “perfect” vessel.

    Here is the antidote for this: fight pirates with something a little better. Fight FAC’s with something a little bigger. Nothing fancy, just give us hulls in the water and plenty of them. Let the battleships fight other battleships, but build new low tech cruisers to combat these new enemy cruiser navies which they create off-the-shelf, and which are surprisingly effective despite their lack of everything we think a warship should be.

  12. Jed permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:20 am

    To take Alex’s posting above ref the RN Future Surface Combatant C1, C2 and C3 variants and link it to the earlier posts about high – low capability mix not necessarily being the same as a large – small mix, plus the discussion on how the Danes managed to build the Absalon’s for the price they did, how about:

    C1 x 10: Absalon class hull, including ability to stern launch boats, plus the facilities for the towed array. Hangers for two EH101 size ASW helo, plus lift down to the flex deck where additional UAV could be kept. You can also carry USV (based on RHIB’s with Sonar) for MCM and littoral ASW. If you want real ‘high end’ capability make the main sensors the same as the T45 – Samson and SMART-L, plus Astor and ‘land attack’ missiles (Tomahawk, or much shorter range NSM3 which doubles up as anti-ship missile). Take the 4.5 inch guns off the retiring T22B3 and T23 frigates. Although this would not have or need the full size flex deck of the Danish ships, and gas turbine-electric powerplant as per the T45 would be good if it would fit. You end up with a hybrid somewhere between the Absalon Support Ships and their Patrol Ship cousins.

    C2 x 10: Same hull as above, after all it has been noted that hull steel is cheap, but much less capability. Still got a big hanger and large helo deck, can still carry internal RHIB’s and launch them over the stern. However sensor and weapons fit much cheaper. I can’t remember the name but I think Thales have a radar which is basically an evolution of the 996 – that would probably do, no volume air search radar required. Diesel electric propulsion, good for underwarter stealth and endurance. Fitted for but not with towed array. Again, main gun lifted of a frigate it is replacing. How about two SeaRAM launchers as the only anti-air capability until CAAM is ready, and Harpoons also lifted from retiring frigates. I am hoping the commonality could stretch the value for money and get two more ships…… Big, mostly empty ships with lots of capability expansion possibilities – just like the Spruance class.

    C3 – if the money ever becomes available, just buy more of the C2′s. If the USN can have a 3000 tonne speedboat in the LCS, why cant the RN have 6000 tonne “patrol vessel’ ?

  13. Alex. (the new'un) permalink
    September 29, 2009 8:20 pm

    Sorry but I’m in the school that advocates C1 as a large warship, C.1 is to be ASW/Land Attack frigate/cruiser. Something to remember is that C.1 and C.2 aren’t a like for like replacement for T22′s and T23′s, 4 T22′s and 13 T23′s are to be replaced by 10 C.1′s and 8 C.2′s with C.2 being a cheap GP frigate.

    C1 should boast T2087 TAS, Land attack missiles, room for 3-4 Large ASW rotaries(paying for such a luxury is another question), flag capabilities, room for a more than modest EMF… you get the picture, I might even go as far as saying that project planners are looking on the small side

    C2 However! will not feature any of the above (well room for a modest EMF but that goes without saying), my main beef with what head shed are looking at for this requirement is more or less a stripped down C.1 hull, the closest I’ve seen to the ideal base for this design is the DCNS FM400 ( http://www.dcnsgroup.com/files/pdf/FM%20400.pdf ) albeit with British sensors and weapons systems (what makes this design so attractive is the design features in the aft work deck)

    main problem with the programme is the numbering 10 C1′s when theres only 8 T2087 T23′s and no new ones will be built… 8 C1 and 12 C2 and LOTS of C3 would be a far better division of numbers

    C2 is much closer to T23 than C1 is.

    Then there is C3… BMT Venator is more or less on the button but theres too many knobs and whistles, too expensive to get enough numbers.

    a High-Low Navy has to have some high as well as some low!

    - Alex.

  14. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 26, 2009 6:37 pm

    I’m a fan of Ocean. Two more and Britain is good to go as far as naval airpower.

  15. William permalink
    September 26, 2009 6:26 pm

    “I agree John, and since you can afford more of them, you can be more places at once. For a global navy that greatly enhances your presence.”

    Hms Ocean, 22,000 tons cost £154 million. Granted she doesn’t have a ski-jump and a heat treated deck but she could have done.

  16. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 26, 2009 9:41 am

    “small carriers like the ones used by the British are much more capable that their predecessors”

    I agree John, and since you can afford more of them, you can be more places at once. For a global navy that greatly enhances your presence.

  17. John Tuttle permalink
    September 25, 2009 5:43 pm

    Nowadays small cruisers like the ones used by the British are much more capable that their predecessors, thanks to the F-35b, which is much more capable than the Sea Harrier. An excellent example is the Cavour, she is a small carrier that could easily take on any other carrier in the world with the exception of the Nimitz.

  18. Anonymous permalink
    September 25, 2009 4:40 pm

    The definitive work IMHO on the carrier war down soith is “Sea Harrier over the Falklands.” Commander Ward theorises that due to sea conditions conventional carriers would have been a disadvantage thanks to the Harrier’s capabilities. (AEW not withstanding……)

    Type 42 batch 1 & 2 were poor ships. My “favourite” cost saving the MoD(N) employed in their design was the single anchor; heck what a saving!!!

  19. Jed permalink
    September 25, 2009 12:22 pm

    Ref RN in Falklands, Mike said: “I thought they lost those because they were at war. Thats what happens in war”

    That is very true, but what decisions lead to those losses when you examine the details, and where some of them preventable ?

    1. Strategic decisions – replacement of “proper” carriers with Through-deck cruisers. If the RN had the Ark Royal with a squadron of F4 for air defence (backed up by Gannet AEW) and Buccaneers for attack, Argentina may not have gone ahead with the invasion in the first place. Retirement of Albion and Bulwark as ‘commando carriers’ etc…

    2. Tactical decisions – e.g. building shorter cheaper type 42′s with less space and weight for future add on’s, or considering short range guns were no use for air defence against Soviet Naval Aviation throwing bus sized anti-ship missiles at you. Not replacing SeaCat with Phalanx for budgetary reasons. Not to mention forgetting ‘lessons learned’ from past conflicts – dressing sailors in hard wearing but incredibly flammable battle dress, mess decks full of flammable materials etc.

    So we are doing it again. No one for saw the Falklands War, where is the next war we will be pulled into ? Rightly or wrongly the RN has been run down to the point where it would now be impossible to launch the operations of 1982. So does the RN need lots (relatively) of small (relatively – 2500 to 3000 tonnes) cheaper vessels which is fine because it will never fight a major maritime action (by itself) ever again, or does it need CVF and force of ocean going AAW / ASW surface combatants “just in case” ? Coast guard or Navy – its the politicians call !

  20. Anonymous permalink
    September 25, 2009 11:26 am

    My last comment sounded a bit terse re CB90. Sorry.

  21. Anonymous permalink
    September 25, 2009 6:57 am

    “BTW #2 there are several weapons fits available for CB90s go look at what other countries have. The USN RCB has a .50 RWS.”

    And I know this too! The CB90 primary purpose is to deliver a squad to shore; the weapons are primarily for fire support.

    I just think something designed to maximise arcs of fire and bigger (not too big) weapon would be useful to compliment the trooper.

  22. Anonymous permalink
    September 25, 2009 6:54 am

    “Speaking as someone who has lifted MANY boats on several different types of ships, I can say the putting CB90 sized boats ondeck of a warship is easier said then done!. Personaly I like stern ramps but that mean more hull length and weight.”

    Yes I know this. I am old fashioned and I just think proper ships’ boats are better than RIBs.

  23. Chuck Hill permalink
    September 24, 2009 11:10 pm

    It happens when you are not properly prepared for war. When you are properly prepared frequently you don’t have to fight them.

    There are many ways to fight wars and some are preferable to others.

    Defeating your enemy with out firing a shot is best.

  24. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 24, 2009 9:20 pm

    Chuck said “The Brits lost four “destroyer types” in the Falklands because they did not have enough fighters to achieve air superiority”

    I thought they lost those because they were at war. Thats what happens in war.

  25. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 7:07 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “We need Big and small warships”

    No, we don’t need small warships.

    We might need Low and High, which is entirely different.

  26. Chuck Hill permalink
    September 24, 2009 7:07 pm

    The Brits lost four “destroyer types” in the Falklands because they did not have enough fighters to achieve air superiority. Seven ships total. That is a price comparable to Okinawa given the relative size of the fleets.

    As I said before, I’m sure they were missing the Ark Royal.

  27. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 7:04 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “I thought the RN might know better after their Falklands experience.”

    At the risk of repeating what I explained back in July :

    “The Falklands War is a great example of the type of conflicts for which the mythical 1,000-ton corvette would have been GROSSLY inadequate, if not ENTIRELY inappropriate, due to her lack of endurance, poor seakeeping, austere crew comfort and limited survivability (among other factors).”

  28. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 6:59 pm

    John Tuttle said : “However, with small ships, you can afford more,”

    At the risk of re-quoting Dr. Friedman :

    “One interesting question remains. Is there any point in buying smaller ships, say, of frigate displacement? They may not be much cheaper to run (wavemaking resistance falls with length, so the larger ship may not require much more power for cruising speed), they may not have significantly smaller crews, and they may actually be noisier (and worse sonar platforms). They may require less manpower, but creative approaches to ship operation and maintenance (as in DD 21) may well shrink that advantage dramatically. Their main advantage may be political: those buying the ships may imagine they are a better deal. They will be wrong. The larger ships are likely to be far more capable, not too much more expensive to run, and much easier both to fit out and to modernize.

    And

    “There is also a role for patrol craft. They are far less expensive, both to buy and to operate, than frigates or larger surface combatants. It is important to understand why. It is not that they are so small, but rather that they carry so little in the way of weaponry and command/control. Ship steel is cheap; it might well be argued that under many circumstances it would not be too much more expensive to build a larger patrol vessel with much the same armament and equipment on board. Such a vessel might be a much better sea-keeper, and that might make a substantial difference to her crew’s efficiency. It is certainly possible to envisage a fleet of patrol craft large enough so that they would be worth converting to frigates in an emergency.”

    There may be some *niches* where *smaller is better*. For instance, my conviction is that a small dedicated MCM force will remain necessary, no matter what.

    However, for a Navy meant to deploy globally, bigger is better most of the times, and may not be much more expensive than the überexquisite corvettes than get so much attention here and there.

  29. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 24, 2009 6:41 pm

    John, well said. We need Big and small warships. Both the USN and RN seem to think it is an “either or issue”. How they reached this conclusion if baffling, but I suspect it is because we haven’t had a major war at sea in decades. I thought the RN might know better after their Falklands experience.

  30. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 6:34 pm

    Chuck Hill said : “Scott B, what is on the “weapons deck?””

    That’s the dark blue area amidships (between the foremast and the main mast), where they put the Flex containers (with either SeaSparrow/ESSM or Harpoons).

    Here is a pic showing what it looks like :
    http://www.navalhistory.dk/images/Pressebilleder/ABSL_Vaabendaek.jpg

  31. John Tuttle permalink
    September 24, 2009 5:55 pm

    I believe that both big and small ships are needed. Lets face it, larger ships have the range, weaponry, and sea keeping abilities that smaller ships simply can’t match. However, with small ships, you can afford more, and thus can spread your assets and as it is called in the financial world reduce your risk. Both are necessary and both should be used in the Royal Navy of the future. The proposed 6000 C1 should be a good ship if it comes on time, and its large deck should mean it can carry UAVs, which are part of the future of combat. Other ships that could meet the requirements would be modified ships of the MEKO series or something like the Formidable class frigate used by Singapore. These should be used in conjunction with smaller ships. In fact, BVT Surface Fleets makes some of the best corvettes and patrol vessels in the world for many navies, like the new Khareef Class that will see service in the navy of Oman. There is no one-size fits all solution here, so lets not try to act like their is one.

  32. Chuck Hill permalink
    September 24, 2009 5:53 pm

    Scott B, what is on the “weapons deck?”

    (I find having all the personnel spaces (berthing/offices/etc) concentrated in one section a bit disturbing. )

  33. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 5:25 pm

    Because one image is often better than a thousand words, here is a drawing that pretty much illustrates what I just said on the Absalons :

    ABSALON cutaway profile

  34. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 5:16 pm

    Jed said : “Big hull, but not necessarily “full” of capability, until you need it.”

    That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make.

    The large hull is intrinsically superior to the small hull most of the time, but not necessarily more expensive.

    As Dr. Friedman pointed out, the key is to resist the temptation to fill the large hull with more equipment than what’s needed.

    The solution suggested by Dr. Friedman is to fill empty spaces with vertical launcher cells which cost very little when empty.

    The Danes further refined this logic with their ABSALON.

    Here’s something I tried to explain (in vain) over at this other place :

    *********************************************************************************
    With the Absalons, the Danes seem to have found the way to keep a relatively large warship affordable, by (among other things) preventing vacant area on the deck or volume within the larger hull to become a magnet for expensive additions :

    1. A fair amount of deck area is either dedicated to :

    * the flight deck (~850 m2),

    * the hangar (~495 m2),

    * the weapons deck (~400 m2).

    2. A fair amount of internal volume is either dedicated to :

    * the RO/RO deck (~915 m2, with a height extending over two decks, i.e. ~4.5 meters),

    * the cargo hole right below the RO/RO deck (~140 m2, about one deck high),

    * permanent accomodation designed for 170 (crew of 100 plus up to 70 additional personnel) and galley / personnel facilities designed for up to 300.

    Scott B. | 03.26.09 – 8:52 am |
    *********************************************************************************

  35. Jed permalink
    September 24, 2009 2:55 pm

    Scott B: ooops sorry mate, my bad !

    Scot said:

    “Jed said : “Once again why do we need to polarize the argument into big versus small, as noted above the “high / low” mix has been successfully implemented in the past and we can do it again.”

    You’ve just implicitly suggested that a *high/low* mix was necessarily a *big/small* mix, which is exactly the reason why this entire discussion on big vs small that we’ve had for some time now is absolutely crucial.”

    I did not mean to conflate the issues actually, but your right I did do so. I was thinking high / low mix in terms of capabilities, and maybe cost, but not size. However I screwed that up by my condescension with respects to Mike’s “patrol gunboat”.

    But Scott, just to be clear, I understand the point your making. I am sure in real terms the early Hunt class plastic MCMV with its state of the art (at the time) kit, was possibly pound (weight) for pound (sterling) a very expensive ship even though it only displaced 660 tons.

    To me the key is modularity and ability to provide effects. I remember a photo of a model of a Vosper design based on the Omani OPV, it had a Lynx size hanger and flight deck, but a very large ‘working deck’ aft, which in the graphic showed a stern slip way and 4 large RHIB’s (plus smaller ones on each waist), so a Lynx and a total of 6 RHIB,s would be great for anti-piracy / anti-drug “policing” – but how quickly could they be replaced by active / passive towed array and anti-torpedo systems for open ocean ASW ? Or by 8 x Harpoons, or containerized land attack rocket / missile (LockMart P44?).

    However your right that size is a limiting factor in such a design, but in my opinion its the size of the hanger, flight deck, and most of all the air weapons magazine. If you have the flexibility to carry a MQ8 FireScout, a Lynx, or Merlin depending on the mission, plus everything from machine guns, to torpedo’s to anti-ship missiles to hang from them, then that is true flexibility.

    Galrahn et al over at Information Dissemination have waxed lyrical in the past about the LCS, and how flexible it truly is (lets not get into the speed question), so why not indeed have a “big” Absalon type hull, with its modular weapons bays carying only a medium calibre gun, and over the stern launch of CB90′s, plus one medium helo for pilot chasing – but the same hull, with a 5 inch gun, Aster/NSSM/Standard, plus CIWS, Remote surface vehicles for persistent sonar dipping in the litoral, or MCM etc etc. Big hull, but not necessarily “full” of capability, until you need it.

  36. Anonymous permalink
    September 24, 2009 2:31 pm

    Cruise ships, tankers, merchant vessels are stretched quite often. Yes and even some naval vessels…

    The key is to have a symmetrical hull section about midships. Of course whether this is good idea is dependent on many factors. The least not being whether the new ship works.

    Of course in the UK we occasionally have the reverse where steel is cut from a design to save money. The classic example being the Batch 1&2 Type 42s with their stumpy bows that lead to salt caked launchers, a “rough ride” for both crew and sensors, and a loss in performance. It is odd when you visit a bath 3 and get to the Sea Dart magazine and there is all this space………

  37. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 2:29 pm

    Conclusions

    (bold emphasis added)

    “What is a medium-size navy to do, then? It will probably rely mainly or completely on surface combatants. To make them truly effective it needs to connect them to some kind of wide-area sensing system. Its sensors need not be space-based; there will probably be alternatives effective in the navy’s home area of operations. The most important tactical implication of carrier-less operation will be the lack of airborne early warning (land-based aircraft probably cannot operate continuously over ships well out to sea). It will be essential, then, for the ships to have some sort of highly capable quick-reaction air defence system, simply to overcome possible attacks. Even given such a system, it will have to be accepted that ships will suffer some hits. Passive survivability will be extremely important, even more so than in a fleet enjoying organic air protection (in which case ships still need considerable survivability).

    The ships’ real value will be offensive, using ship-launched missiles to gain the necessary range. Operating those missiles will require satellite links to provide targeting data. The efficacy of the ships as power projectors will depend on the number of weapons they can accommodate. Note that offensive operation includes covering amphibious ships as they move towards an objective area and as they land troops; and also providing those troops with covering fire, probably well inland. Covering fire may well have to include dealing with enemy armored counter-attacks, using missiles or long-range guns. That in turn requires the ships to be able to detect movements well beyond the horizon. Ships’ helicopters, properly equipped, ought to be able to accomplish this task. Note that the demand that the helicopter do much more than the usual anti-ship/ASW role probably implies a considerably larger helicopter and that in turn forces up the size of the ship operating it. The British will probably demand this sort of capability in the follow-on AEW radar to replace their current type.

    The power projection role naturally brings up important command/control issues. A medium-size navy is probably associated with a medium-size army, or at the least with medium-capacity amphibious lift. It would therefore seem essential that whatever ground forces are lifted are as efficient as possible, with minimum overhead. For example, a headquarters ashore requires substantial protection. This is much the same situation as with artillery. The more that can be kept afloat, in a relatively safe area offshore, the fewer valuable troops who need be wasted protecting a rear area. Because a medium-size navy can afford only a relatively small number of major warships, they must inevitably perform multiple tasks-one of which is likely to be to accommodate some headquarters functions during a power-projection operation, at least for a time. This role would seem to demand substantial volume on board the surface combatants, as well as computer capacity and communications capacity. There may also be an important role for helicopters or UAVs as ‘poor man’s satellite’ links for over-the-horizon use of standard line-of-sight tactical radios.

    The requirement for substantial armament, probably in vertical launchers, dictates substantial unit size, probably 8000 to 12000 tons. The same size offers serious anti-aircraft defence (while carrying a powerful surface missile armament), as well as good survivability and good seakeeping. Size also offers volume for command/control functions.

    Given a good enough anti-aircraft system, the ships envisaged can also cover other ships in a typical power projection or sea control mission. For example, the troop transports used for power projection are unlikely to have much in the way of organic air defences. Because the anti-air element of the ship’s electronic system will probably be by far the most expensive part, the ship’s cost will be little affected by her overall size and by the number of cruise missile launchers aboard. There is some experience to back this up. The European ‘Horizon’ frigate, which has no cruise missile capability, would have cost somewhat more than the roughly equivalent U.S. BURKE, which can carry cruise missiles in her rather larger vertical cells. There is another way to look at this. One might calculate the cost per missile, or the cost per launcher cell. The fixed cost of the electronics, most of it for air defence, is spread over those cells. The fewer cells, the higher the fixed cost, because the ship wrapped around the cells does not become too much more expensive as the number grows. Cutting the number of launch cells is not good economics.

    In accord with current practice, the ship needs a helicopter and hangar; again, larger size offers better seakeeping and hence the ability to operate the helicopter a larger fraction of the time. Quite aside from its use in ASW, the helicopter is valuable for dealing with light surface craft. Experience in the Gulf suggests that a helicopter is essential in any embargo, as ships’ boats often cannot operate in seas in which merchant ships easily steam past smaller warships. As noted above, if the main purpose of the fleet is often power projection, the helicopter becomes an essential element of power projection capability. For the future it may be possible to use UAVs instead, but one would have to suspect that the manned helicopter’s inherent flexibility will continue to be valued.

    One interesting question remains. Is there any point in buying smaller ships, say, of frigate displacement? They may not be much cheaper to run (wavemaking resistance falls with length, so the larger ship may not require much more power for cruising speed), they may not have significantly smaller crews, and they may actually be noisier (and worse sonar platforms). They may require less manpower, but creative approaches to ship operation and maintenance (as in DD 21) may well shrink that advantage dramatically. Their main advantage may be political: those buying the ships may imagine they are a better deal. They will be wrong. The larger ships are likely to be far more capable, not too much more expensive to run, and much easier both to fit out and to modernize. As evidence for this proposition, note that the U.S. Navy does not plan to replace its current frigate force when the ships are retired; instead, it is moving towards a homogenous force of large surface combatants such as the proposed DD 21. That has been the consistent conclusion of several studies conducted from 1989 on.

    The conclusion is that, absent aircraft carriers, the next best platform for the primary naval missions-for strike and for power projection-is a large surface combatant with substantial inherent capability, which can take care of itself and also of other ships under its protection. This is not a plea for particular ships (e.g. DD 21) or weapons (such as Tomahawk or a future gun system).

    That is not to say that a fleet should be restricted to large surface combatants. Other types of ships obviously have valuable contributions to make. For example, in a strike situation submarines can provide invaluable intelligence and warning information, thanks to their stealth. They may also be very valuable for their ability to attack with limited numbers of land-attack missiles from unexpected directions. However, they have important inherent limitations. They lack internal volume and weapons capacity, and they cannot be replenished at sea for sustained operations. They also lack continuous connectivity.

    There is also a role for patrol craft. They are far less expensive, both to buy and to operate, than frigates or larger surface combatants. It is important to understand why. It is not that they are so small, but rather that they carry so little in the way of weaponry and command/control. Ship steel is cheap; it might well be argued that under many circumstances it would not be too much more expensive to build a larger patrol vessel with much the same armament and equipment on board. Such a vessel might be a much better sea-keeper, and that might make a substantial difference to her crew’s efficiency. It is certainly possible to envisage a fleet of patrol craft large enough so that they would be worth converting to frigates in an emergency. That was, after all, an important theme in the recent proposal for the Malaysian-Australian OPV.

    In the end, though, medium means limited resources, which have to be spent carefully. Navies are valuable because they offer flexibility, and flexibility generally requires large hulls. Those hulls need not be bought fully-equipped, because if they are large enough they can accommodate what may be needed later on. However, the smaller the hull, the more difficult it will be to shoehorn in sophisticated capabilities, and the less such improvements will buy in terms of numbers of weapons on target-not to mention operating lifetime and survivability.

  38. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 2:19 pm

    Topic #4 : Economic Considerations

    (bold emphasis added)

    First, hull steel is relatively inexpensive. At least half the price of a warship goes into combat systems and weapons. It is possible to design and build a ship fitted ‘for but not with’ some combat system elements, which can be added later. The most prominent case in point is the U.S. SPRUANCE class, which began life essentially as empty boxes with the appropriate machinery and wiring. This choice was made because the U.S. Navy had wanted a pair of new classes, one a missile (AAW) destroyer and one an ASW destroyer. To save money, both were designed for the same hull-hull steel was cheap. Because the AAW mission required far more in the way of electronics and weapons, the hull had to be large; the ASW version, then, seemed empty. In subsequent years that empty space proved extremely useful. In effect, the ships were bought on the installment plan. As a more recent example, the Thai carrier CHAKRI NAREUBET was delivered without most of her electronics, which are still being bought.

    Second, manning (which is a real cost, and which is becoming more expensive) need not be proportional to hull size. The current U.S. goal, in DD 21, is a crew of 95 for a 12,000 ton ship. That is to be achieved partly by ‘smart ship’ initiatives (such as revising damage control organization) and partly by moving functions off the ship (thanks to reliable satellite communication). Improved computers and artificial intelligence are to reduce the numbers needed at sensor controls and in CIC. While many are skeptical about the success of this effort, there is little question that manning can be drastically reduced.

    Within electronic systems, the overwhelming fraction of development cost goes to software rather than hardware. That has an interesting potential consequence. Software is very easy to reproduce, albeit difficult to create and test. It would seem to follow that the fraction of development cost borne by any particular ship can fall if enough ships of identical type are built. As a variation on this theme, sufficiently modular software (applicable across a range of programs) offers similar benefits. Celsius has claimed exactly this advantage for the 9LV Mk 3 software used in the ANZAC class.

    Among electronic components, high-capability air defence systems are generally the dominant cost. It seems likely that a relatively small (frigate-size) ship equipped with such a system, or even re-equipped with one, will not cost too much less than a ship of twice the displacement equipped with the same system. In the past, warships have often been priced by the ton. It was not that steel was more expensive than it is now, but rather that, given a larger hull, naval staffs tended to fill it with more equipment. Now there is a solution to this temptation. The larger hull can be filled with vertical launcher cells. Empty, they cost very little. A navy can always opt not to fill them when it first buys the ship. Even if they are filled, that expense is generally easy to distinguish from shipbuilding costs.

    Overall, economics demand that warships be very durable, so that small numbers bought per year provide an adequately large force. Durability means combat survivability but it also means amenability to upgrade as technology changes. The likelihood or need that platforms be long-lasting should focus us on their long-term characteristics. An important question, then, is just what limits the effective lifetime of a ship (assuming it is not obsolescence)? Is it the lifetime of the piping? Fatigue in the hull? In a modern ship, is it insufficient capacity in data busses as computer speeds grow? These factors are as much limiters of useful life as are future growth stability margins and hull strength margins.

    If ship numbers are very limited, strategic mobility may become even more important than it currently is. Note that in many projections likely enemies are local rather than global, without access to open-ocean surveillance systems. A transiting ship can, therefore, afford to produce a considerable signature as the price of very high speed. In a war (hot or cold) against a major power, surveillance will likely be widespread.”

  39. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 2:09 pm

    Topic #3 : Adaptability

    “Since the end of World War II, the usual response to the emergence of new naval technology has been to rebuild existing ships to embody it. That is, the weapons and sensors changed much more quickly than the underlying fabric of ships or their powerplants. One can speculate that the major powerplant revolution, to gas turbines, was possible because it coincided with the end of the natural lifetimes of the mass of World War II-built ships which filled the world’s navies (and whose existence made reconstruction much more attractive than massive new construction). The main lesson of reconstruction after World War II was that larger ships were far more adaptable than smaller ones. For example, during World War II the Royal Navy built ships, category for category, which were much smaller than their American counterparts. British naval constructors argued that their designs were much more efficient. After the war, the British found that many of their ships were simply too small to accommodate new weapons. For example, plans to modify existing cruisers to accommodate surface-to-air missiles had to be abandoned as unfeasible.”

  40. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 2:07 pm

    Topic #2 : Survivability

    (bold emphasis added)

    Survivability against most kinds of missiles will depend on how well the vital elements of the ship have been spread out along her length. Ship volume can buy protection. Some major near-term possibilities are:

    * Insensitive munitions may make mass detonation of magazines virtually impossible

    * Electric drive (unified propulsion and auxiliaries) makes it easier to split the prime mover up, so that it is impossible to immobilize the ship by disabling one powerplant. Too, propeller shafts, which are subject to whipping, can be eliminated, by placing motors adjacent to the propellers. In an extreme version of this concept, tractor propellers can be added to the usual ones at the stern, so that the ship can continue even if her stern is blown off. Eliminating long propeller shafts also allows better use to be made of the internal volume of the ship. A unified powerplant is planned for the projected U.S. DD21. There are, of course, difficulties. Electric drive is generally a good deal heavier than geared shafting. It is difficult to unify prime mover and auxiliary plants because each has a very different demand cycle. Finally, spreading gas turbine generators through a ship entails complex ducting, which may be difficult to fit into a small hull. Even so, particularly with the advent of compact high-power electric motors, spreading out the powerplant would seem to offer important advantages in survivability.

    * Elements of an active-array radar can be spread around a ship’s superstructure rather than being concentrated, as now; in that case no single hit will be able to knock out the ship’s entire radar system. In any case, a properly designed array radar will keep working even if some of the elements of the array have been destroyed.

    All of this means that it is possible to design a surface warship which can keep fighting even after taking one or more missile hits.

    The other main threat to surface warships is underwater attack. The worst threat is an under-the-keel explosion, which can break a ship’s back. Most current torpedoes (and many mines) are designed specifically to inflict under-the-keel damage The explosion creates a gas bubble, which rises to bounce against the keel, actually lifting the ship out of the water. The bubble contracts, the ship comes back down, and then it expands, rises, and hits again. Two or three bounces can snap a ship in half. At the least the ship suffers very severe shock damage. Paradoxically, this is much worse than if the torpedo actually hits the ship, in which case it destroys the hull over a limited length.

    If a ship is large enough, she can be designed with a soft keel and with substantial strength in her sides. Instead of pressing against the keel (and lifting the ship), the bubble breaks through the soft keel and vents into the ship. Clearly this is not a happy situation, but it is better than allowing the ship to break up. To limit the effect of venting, the ship must be compartmented, and her vital systems duplicated and spread out. At some lesser degree of strengthening (and overall ship size), the ‘box’ under the keel in which a torpedo or mine must explode to do fatal damage can be drastically reduced. That in turn can impose considerable difficulties on the torpedo seeker and exploder or on the mine exploder.”

  41. Scott B. permalink
    September 24, 2009 2:02 pm

    Jed said : “Once again why do we need to polarize the argument into big versus small, as noted above the “high / low” mix has been successfully implemented in the past and we can do it again.”

    You’ve just implicitely suggested that a *high/low* mix was necessarily a *big/small* mix, which is exactly the reason why this entire discussion on big vs small that we’ve had for some time now is absolutely crucial.

    Instead of repeating what I’ve tried to explain again and again in the past, it might be worth offering some quotes from a 1999 paper by Norman Friedman entitled New Technology and Medium Navies :

    Topic #1 : Endurance

    (bold emphasis added)

    “The fleet’s reach is a trade-off between underway support and the inherent endurance of its ships. Given the downward pressure on personnel numbers, and the fact that manning is by no means proportional to the size of a ship, it would seem that there will be intense pressure to minimize the number of afloat support ships by increasing the unit size (hence endurance) of the major fleet combatants. Here endurance applies not only to fuel but also to ordnance; current underway replenishment ships carry weapons. Most surface combatants have very small missile load-outs: only forty weapons, for example, in a missile destroyer or a frigate. Even these missiles are difficult to transfer at sea. There are, it would seem, considerable advantages in adopting vertical launchers, which carry more weapons in the same volume as current rail launchers, even though they cannot be replenished at sea. Again, larger is better, because a larger ship carrying more weapons can probably avoid weapons replenishment altogether.

    There is also the issue of mobile support-tenders. Typically tenders are used to turn a sheltered bay into a usable fleet base with maintenance facilities. The alternative is to build permanent bases. The issue is just how flexible fleet operation must be. If the fleet normally operates in concentrated fashion, then a concentrated base is worthwhile. It can be argued that if the fleet must shift frequently from (say) coast to coast, then it is worthwhile to maintain a fleet train which can move the base as needed. However, that is expensive. Again, a larger ship may be better able to maintain itself. For example, in U.S. practice destroyers needed tenders; cruisers did not (this no longer holds true, as both types are now more or less equivalent). The larger ships did still sometimes need outside assistance, in the form of repair ships or floating drydocks, but on a much smaller and less expensive scale than the small ones. One might argue, then, that there is a trade-off between unit ship size and support cost.

    There is, to be sure, a rub. In order to be truly self-supporting, a ship must accommodate fair numbers of technicians. If the ship is not really self-supporting at all, then she can make do with a much smaller complement; the technicians can be concentrated ashore. This argument was the rationale for the British practice of using mobile maintenance teams for Type 23 frigates (the team can be flown out to wherever the ship makes port, every so many weeks). Another approach would be to enlarge the ship to the point where most important equipment was redundant. The ship could, therefore, operate for a protracted period with neither technicians nor base support. This concept may become more attractive as electronics continue to become more reliable, and in view of the high reliability of standard gas turbine powerplants.”

  42. Jed permalink
    September 24, 2009 10:31 am

    Once again why do we need to polarize the argument into big versus small, as noted above the “high / low” mix has been successfully implemented in the past and we can do it again. However the RN probably can’t – because the RN is hamstrung by the UK’s political classes.

    Yes lets have Mikes ‘gunboats’ – what the various surface combatant projects have called the ‘C3′ – lets even base in on an a slightly enlarged River class, and lets build loads of them ! Not going to to happen…..

    Lets build a derivative of the Absalon as the C1 ! Cheap and quick to build – not going to happen…….

    Bascially, and I don’t see a prospective new conservative government improving the situation, the RN, (as well as the other forces) has been screwed over by the government and will never again have enough vessels to actually do all that is asked of it. At least now that I leave in Canada we have our own oil and can grow most of our own food…………. don’t even get me started on the Canadian navy!

    Ref postings on the accommodation – have you seen the 4 man ‘cabins’ for junior rates on the Type 45 ! Luxury !! I went to sea on Leander class, Type 42 DDG, Hunt Class MCMV, a survey ship and as part of a Naval Party on an RFA – on the RFA I had a two man cabin, it was great to be treat like a ‘grown up’. If you want today’s “youth” to deploy for six months, then laptop power supply and even unclas ethernet networking is a must. Having said that, I did time in the Army too (TA) so I know that the poor old squaddies in the sandpit would think that their Naval counterparts were living in luxury even if they were still hot bunking !

    For anon – I used to like the top bunk ! Just make sure you go for a peeee before you get your head down… :-)

    In summary, big C1 is required, lots of smaller C3 are required, more SSN’s are required, actual aircraft for new carriers are required, but don’t hold your breath for any of them.

  43. leesea permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:47 pm

    Speaking as someone who has lifted MANY boats on several different types of ships, I can say the putting CB90 sized boats ondeck of a warship is easier said then done!. Personaly I like stern ramps but that mean more hull length and weight. The size of boats capable of using a stern ramp is probably limited to 45-50 ft range (like USCG RB-M or Navy RCB aka CB90). Otherwise one needs a serious davit system or comparable compensated crane.

    Ok what does that mean? It means a bigger ship is necessary for multiple boats, and it means the M&R spaces and accomodations for boat crew must be taken into account.

    BTW I am NOT convinced the USN stern ramps systems on the LCS or Seafigther are all that good. Note that the USCG has NOT gone with comparable bending frames on their cutters.

    BTW #2 there are several weapons fits available for CB90s go look at what other countries have. The USN RCB has a .50 RWS.

    All that having been said Mike, I can tell you an OPV is NOT a corvette or a frigate type warship. You are mixing ship types again.

  44. Chuck Hill permalink
    September 23, 2009 6:11 pm

    I have to go with Scott B. on this. Once a ship has been made you can never stretch it. Steel and air are cheap. It is the weapons, electronic, etc that are expensive and manpower intensive.

    Tale of a ship class: When the Coast Guard 327 foot cutters were built they displaced 40% more than their predecessors, were 77 feet longer, and 4 knots faster. In displacement, they were larger than most of the destroyers of the time.

    When WWII came their armament was changed to meet the ASW mission. Their extra space and weight-moment allowed them to carry huge loads of depth charges. They were the first US ships to be equipped with HFDF. They became the most successful class of US escort vessel in WWII. The class of seven sinking four U-boats (Campbell’s U-boat shared with the Polish DD Burza) and serving as escort group flagships. They might have sunk more, but they were adapted again to a new role long before the Battle of the Atlantic was over. They became amphibious force flag ships. After peace came, they were adapted again to new roles. They did ocean station and later drug enforcement. They outlived the more compact and crowded 255 foot class that was finished eight years after them by almost ten years.

    We got our money’s worth out of these ships. because they were not overcrowded and they were adaptable.

  45. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 5:36 pm

    “To clear any possible misinterpretation, we (as in Me, Myself and I) appreciate Mike B. quite a lot, and believe he can actually be reasoned out of the *Smalla’ is Mo’ Betta’* fallacy.”

    Super. I like it here.

  46. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 5:33 pm

    “Anon, crew do not sleep on the mess decks. The sleep in berthing spaces, each of which has it’s own showers and heads (bathrooms for you landlubbers), and a small but efficient recreation room. Granted, the “racks” or “coffins are small, but storage space aboard a warship is always at a premium. And you’d be amazed at the places that sailors will find to store their gear. I’ve run across a space where the members of the Chief Petty Officers used to store their medicinal spirits. And usually their spirits needed some medicine every time they came off watch, went to their lounge, got some popcorn from the popcorn machine, and watched an Arnold kill-’em-all DVD on the big flatscreen.”

    I need to brush up on my USN navy terminology. In the RN the cabin/space where ratings are accommodated are called messdecks. They sleep in pits (what you call a rack, what a civi’ would call bunk.) Messdecks have a recreation space called a square; seating is arranged the bulkheads (in the old navy this was where meals were consumed.)

    Confusingly embarked marines call their messdecks barracks (though this usage seems to be dying out.)

    One more note. In the RN you visit the heads, while the USN visit the head.

    Wrens are accommodated in the Wrennery; I apologise for being old fashioned.

    I have only been accommodated in a senior rates’ mess once. Most of visits to HM ships I have been accorded the privilege of Wardroom membership.

  47. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 5:32 pm

    Scott B. said “C) A decently-sized vessel with all of these attributes can be made affordable : the Danes, with labor costs among the highest in the world, managed to resolve this equation with their ABSALON, which costs less than $250 million a copy.”

    It just makes me wonder if the RN would be better off building their C1 ships to ABSALON construction standards, which still look pretty good.

    For the £500 or 600 million the C1 is likely to cost, you could build a much larger “through deck” design capable of carrying multiple helicopters, boats (and F35B) equipped with the C1 sensor fit that would make it a much more capable ASW vessel, and much more capable in general. JMO.

  48. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 5:21 pm

    Anonymous said : “I don’t want to start any flame wars;”

    To clear any possible misinterpretation, we (as in Me, Myself and I) appreciate Mike B. quite a lot, and believe he can actually be reasoned out of the *Smalla’ is Mo’ Betta’* fallacy.

    In fact, we’re hoping that this picture showing what a real HI/LO mix for the US Navy should look like, will become New Wars’s banner in a not-so-distant future !!!

  49. Byron permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:36 pm

    Anon, crew do not sleep on the mess decks. The sleep in berthing spaces, each of which has it’s own showers and heads (bathrooms for you landlubbers), and a small but efficient recreation room. Granted, the “racks” or “coffins are small, but storage space aboard a warship is always at a premium. And you’d be amazed at the places that sailors will find to store their gear. I’ve run across a space where the members of the Chief Petty Officers used to store their medicinal spirits. And usually their spirits needed some medicine every time they came off watch, went to their lounge, got some popcorn from the popcorn machine, and watched an Arnold kill-’em-all DVD on the big flatscreen.

    Life does not suck as bad as you would think for modern sailors. Now, Submarines? At least they don’t hot rack any more :)

  50. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:12 pm

    “Yes something like that. I would use two of these plus two CB90s for William’s impressive design.”

    Disclosure: Its not my design, it belongs to somebody on the Warships1 blog, but I do like it, which is why I keep posting it.

    But it does highlight the debate of what size warships we should be building. Sorry, I’m eating my dinner at the moment…

  51. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:11 pm

    Anonymous said :“The MoD seems obsessed with making everything Chinook friendly, rightly or wrongly.”

    Did I ever mentioned the following bit of ABSALON factoid :

    “The helicopter hangar can accommodate two EH101 helicopters. The 850m² flight deck, which is rated for take-off and landings of helicopters up to 20t such as the Boeing CH-47D Chinook”

  52. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:05 pm

    “Dockstavarvet has a patrol boat variant of the CB90 called the IC 16 M which might be closer to what you want.”

    Yes something like that. I would use two of these plus two CB90s for William’s impressive design.

  53. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:04 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Scott is a marathon poster”

    People paying attention will quickly realize that I am merely making the same comments / asking the same questions / raising the same objections from one thread to the other.

    In essence, what I am saying is this :

    A) Critical attributes for a low-end warship meant to operate as part of a Global Navy like the US Navy are :

    1. endurance : the ability to operate at sea for an extended time without replenishment or service.

    2. seakeeping : the ability to operate in or transit rough waters while maintaining not only safety, but also operational effectiveness.

    3. versatility : the ability to solve several different tasks in differing circumstances.

    4. adaptability : the ability to reconfigure the ship’s capabilities in order to meet changing circumstances.

    5. air defense : not only for self-defense

    6. interoperability : including C3I and replenishment at sea

    7. survivability : being able to take a hit from a RPG or even a SSM, without undue casualties and while remaining not only afloat but also able to operate.

    8. crew comfort : quite important during extended deployments, especially with an all-volunteer crew.

    9. free spaces : for additional elements, functions or equipment.

    10. and at least one medium-sized embarked helicopter.

    B) These attributes require a decently-sized vessel (5,000 tons or more nowadays) and cannot, I repeat will never, be had on a 2,000-ton displacement, let alone on the mythical 1,000-ton corvette. NEVER.

    C) A decently-sized vessel with all of these attributes can be made affordable : the Danes, with labor costs among the highest in the world, managed to resolve this equation with their ABSALON, which costs less than $250 million a copy.

  54. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:02 pm

    “US Navy DOES use chill water systems for their fan coil units and coiling coil units, and also to cool down electronics. You wouldn’t refrigerant in EVERY space would you? Kinda dangerous. Best to keep it in the aux machinery spaces.”

    I am out of touch. You people have inspired me to revise and relearn. It was something I half recalled. Thanks.

  55. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 4:00 pm

    “But Mike B. decided that crew comfort was merely a *leisurely peacetime requirement*.”

    I don’t want to start any flame wars; I like coming here and reading all your differing point of views. For the record I like good sea boats, good high endurance, and I am very fond of good size guns (which isn’t to say I know we live in a missile world!) And I am a bit old fashioned, but recognise some things aren’t worth preserving.

    I like naval social history (more actually than the battles) and when you visit ships like HMS Belfast and HMS Victory I am always struck by how the accommodation is exactly the same. Of course wood is exchanged for metal but they are the same. And perhaps today’s youngsters are softer (I don’t know.)

    But you have to remember society and its expectation’s change. And I am believer in that giving even a rating their own cabin (or perhaps sharing) is a step forward. If it keeps them happier it keeps them in the service. It cuts down a lot of the social tension too. As you know there is nothing worse than the disruptive element in a mess (the worst case being the thief.)

    Why should sailors sleep in mess decks when prisoners sleep two to a cell? During WW2 it recognised enclosed bridges that kept sailors warm keeping them alert. Also you have to consider the nature of the work has changed. Remember in the old navies ratings engaged in heavy manual work (some of it manufactured to keep hands busy!) When completing a watch they were extremely fatigued sleep was welcome. Now ratings use their heads which engenders a different fatigue that finds relief in peace and quiet. Further ratings need to study more and we have to allow for that as well. Also consider some of the stupid spaces given to Marines who were expected to live away from ship.

    I have rambled on. But decent accommodation (and decent food) is important.

  56. B.Smitty permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:58 pm

    Dockstavarvet has a patrol boat variant of the CB90 called the IC 16 M which might be closer to what you want.

    http://www.dockstavarvet.se/Products/Combat_patrol_boats/IC_16_M.aspx

  57. Byron permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:57 pm

    Sailors would love two man staterooms. But since the only two officers aboard a US warship that have staterooms are the CO and XO, they’ll have to suck it up for a while in racks. At least they don’t use hammocks any more ;)

    US Navy DOES use chill water systems for their fan coil units and coiling coil units, and also to cool down electronics. You wouldn’t refrigerant in EVERY space would you? Kinda dangerous. Best to keep it in the aux machinery spaces.

    While I can understand adding some SSKs to the fleet, are we also going to get rid of the highly capable SSNs? How about the third leg of the nuclear deterence triad, the SSBNs?

    Mike, Gunboat Navy is just silly. Do we need some smaller ships to add to the force? Yes, I agree. Do I think they should replace the current ships? Not no, but hell no.

  58. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:35 pm

    “Based on a modified Bay Class hull (which cost £100 million).”

    Yes! I joined photobucket so I could see more of your super design when showed it in a previous comment thread. I know there is section there with other “what if” designs because I had it book marked for a while and like a fool I deleted. But I am unable to view the directory.

    This is a good design. Just one more big mount and it would be perfect! ;)

    I love CB90s too. But I would like to see a more gun orientated design of a similar size.

  59. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:30 pm

    Anonymous said : “One of the things that doesn’t seem to be mentioned above is crew accommodation.”

    Crew comfort is one of important notions I’ve been trying to explain here for some time now :

    For instance, here here :

    “Seakeeping and crew comfort are not just *leisurely peacetime requirements* as you suggest.”

    Or here :

    “The Falklands War is a great example of the type of conflicts for which the mythical 1,000-ton corvette would have been GROSSLY inadequate, if not ENTIRELY inappropriate, due to her lack of endurance, poor seakeeping, austere crew comfort and limited survivability (among other factors).”

    And here :

    crew comfort : quite important during extended deployments, especially with an all-volunteer crew. “

    And quite recently here :

    “Now, think of what you get with a bigger hull :

    * better seakeeping
    * better endurance
    * larger aviation facilities
    * reduced vulnerability
    * flexible deck (915 square meters on the Absalon)
    * improved crew comfort
    * bigger growth margins”

    But Mike B. decided that crew comfort was merely a *leisurely peacetime requirement*.

  60. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:02 pm

    “One of the things that doesn’t seem to be mentioned above is crew accommodation. These days young sailors are increasingly expecting civilian levels of accommodation. They do want the mass racks of previous generations where men fitted around the machinery, or even the more discrete curtained bays and mess squares of the current T23. No junior rates want one/two per cabin and a shared bathroom. Look at the accommodation on HMS Scott. Even for a small crew this will cause hulls to grow.”

    Based on a modified Bay Class hull (which cost £100 million).

    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/MSR01/Ship%20stuff/S2C2%20-%20C2%20cruiser%20designs/AboukirBaythrough-deckcruiser-MSR.gif

  61. B.Smitty permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:58 pm

    Anonymous said, “Scott is right. Big is better. Mike you are confusing complication for size. Twice the displacement doesn’t mean twice the length (or beam.)”

    More importantly, Mike is confusing big for expensive.

    Just MHO.

  62. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:55 pm

    “to provide power to chill water cooling”

    Your ships are different. I thought US ships didn’t go for chilling, I thought it was European ship designs that did this? US ships rely on unchilled water which means bigger pipes and a further driver on increasing hull size. Or am I wrong?

  63. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:41 pm

    One of the things that doesn’t seem to be mentioned above is crew accommodation. These days young sailors are increasingly expecting civilian levels of accommodation. They do want the mass racks of previous generations where men fitted around the machinery, or even the more discrete curtained bays and mess squares of the current T23. No junior rates want one/two per cabin and a shared bathroom. Look at the accommodation on HMS Scott. Even for a small crew this will cause hulls to grow.

    Scott is right. Big is better. Mike you are confusing complication for size. Twice the displacement doesn’t mean twice the length (or beam.)

    And yes the flightdeck is big on that project design. The MoD seems obsessed with making everything Chinook friendly, rightly or wrongly. A bit like how they like to quote how many MBT a vessel can carry. It is a useful but ultimately silly metric.

    {Has any body here been stupid like me and thought it was clever to pick the top rack out of three. And lived to regret when a visit to the heads was called for in the middle of the night? No? Thought not you are all to smart.}

  64. Anonymous permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:19 pm

    I like Bryons hypothetical small warship. BUT I would add a UAV pad and boat handling facility (either davit or ramp) plus accomdations for a small NSW det or extra boarding team.

    I think the size could be under 200 ft?

    Price estimation being what it is. I think less the $250 mil first unit is a good start point?

  65. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 1:37 pm

    Byron, Scott is a marathon poster and I can’t keep up! But we appreciate him and I count on you excellent readers to take up any deficiencies in myself. Just one man. In answer to your question, I wish we could get beyond the warship which can “do all and be all” the multi-mission vessel which is getting so heavenly capable it is of little earthly good. It is just a mindset i am trying to change and then we can fill in the details.

    Hokie said “what’s to stop a potential competitor from attempting to build a navy which can take us on force-to-force”

    Good point but there comes a time when you have to say “when”. When do we have enough and at what point are we not competing but practicing overkill? We have as many or more of each class of warship, except frigates, corvettes, and conventional submarines, than all the world combined. More carriers, more large missile combatants, attack submarines. I think it was Robert Work who said we have the fighting power of the next 13 navies combined, when the British Royal Navy at its height maintained only a 2 power standard. We now have plenty of battleships to dominate the Blue Water regions. Can we now start to consider warfare in the littorals, long promised since the end of the Cold War, though our procurement policies hardly reflect this.

  66. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 11:38 am

    Systems Addict from another blog reckons that the actual cost of the C1 will be £500 – 600 million ($1 billion) as opposed to the projected £400 million.

    For that price you can get a:

    Hyuga 16DDH

    or

    Juan Carlos LHD (fitted out with C1 systems)

    I know what I’d rather have.

    I think for the amount of money we’re spending on our HIGH end ships, we’re building too conventional, limited designs. For that amount of money (thereabouts) I think we’d be better off building “through deck” ships like the above or equivalent, that are much more flexible/capable.

  67. Byron permalink
    September 23, 2009 11:37 am

    I find it interesting that Mike cannot bring himself to answer Scotts questions. On the one hand, you have Scott, who has actually gotten his hands dirty in the design, test and aquisition side of warships, and the other, you have Mike, who wants Western navies to go back to the gunboat days.

    Mike, I asked you this before: Build a 1,000 ton boat with good seakeeping and and damage control ability, room for a crew to support: weapons (both gun and missile), ECM, sonar, the generation capacity to provide power to chill water cooling for all the electronics it takes to go to war today, space for reefers and dry provisions for your optimum crew level, fuel tanks, room for the main and auxillary engines, etc.

    When you get done, tell me how this ship will match up to the front line vessels of potential adversaries like the PLAN, the Indian Navy, what’s left of the Soviet Navy, the Turks, Greeks, French, etc.

  68. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 10:23 am

    That C1 flight deck is huge!

  69. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 9:23 am

    Mike Burleson said : “we need to go back to basics for warship design”

    Going back to basics for warship design entails acknowledging that you cannot have it all on a 1,000-ton vessel : pretending otherwise was the most essential mistakes of the Cebrowski’s utopia.

  70. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 9:19 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Yours isn’t the lessons of war at sea but 70 years of lacking a peer enemy.”

    The lessons of war at sea is that a surface combatant needs good endurance and seakeeping qualities.

    Check for instance, one of your favorite books, the Future British Surface Fleet by the much regretted D.K. Brown, pages 82-84 and 89-98.

  71. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 9:12 am

    Mike Burleson said : “You can’t build them fast enough”

    Quick reality check :

    HDMS Absalon : launched February 2004, delivered October 2004 = 8 months

    INS Eilat : launched February 1993, delivered May 1994 = 15 months

    USS Freedom : launched September 2006, delivered September 2008 = 24 months

    THINK BIG, not small !!!

  72. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:58 am

    Mike Burleson said : “So I think the corvettes built from off the shelf designs will win by default,”

    The mythical 1,000-ton corvette thingy is the new boondoggle that the Cebrowskists (e.g. Thomas Barnett, Raymond Pritchett) are trying to use to conceal the moral & programmatic failure of the Streetfighter lunacy that culminated with LCS.

    What these guys are pretending is that their fatally flawed software will work like a charm next time you run it and that simply re-booting the system is going to take all the bugs away.

    Ya right…..

    It’s not like the LCS boodoggle started with a less-than-1,000-ton vessel, is it ?

  73. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:47 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Scott, all this is good for peacetime sailing when you are seeking economy, but in wartime, such exquisite vessels would be a burden, not an asset.”

    Did you compare the price of an Absalon with the price of one of the 1,000-ton corvettes you’re advocating for ?

    Did you make a side-by-side comparison of the Danish Absalon and one of your mythical 1,000-ton corvette, with a focus on big ticket items like weapons / sensors / electronics and propulsion ?

    Has you done any of the above, you’d have come to the conclusion that the 1,000-ton corvette you’re adocating for is the EXQUISITE vessel, one that won’t survive the fight, assuming it can join the fight in the first place.

    At the risk of repeating myself : THINK BIG, not small !!!

    Otherwise, you’ll end up with yet another EXQUISITE fiasco like the LCS you supported so much back in the good ol’ days !!!

  74. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 8:21 am

    £100 million isn’t bad and if the LCS had come anywhere near original stated cost of $220 million US I might still be a backer and calling for much more than the 55 planned (I don’t even see that happening now as this over-priced patrol boats comes in a $700 million each). The up-side of this debacle is to get me thinking about my back to basics theory, ships a little bigger than the FACs used by rogue states like Iran and N Korea, but not too precious to waste in shallow waters just teaming with threats where a giant warship has no place to be.

    It’s the same with the other services as I saw the light fighters of the 1990s as adequate replacements for superfighters in some environments, but since they wouldn’t have it we have turned to the UAVs. On land, the Army could have bought tracked light tanks in time for the COIN wars Britain and the USA have fought this century, but they balked at this and had wheeled vehicles practically forced upon them.

    So I think the corvettes built from off the shelf designs will win by default, because of the budget crunch brought on by this all-battleship procurement policies. I think it will be forced on them as David Axe says “It Beats Extinction“!

    Scott said “You want all 4 attributes (range, seakeeping, sensors / weapons, survivability) in a single hull”

    Scott, all this is good for peacetime sailing when you are seeking economy, but in wartime, such exquisite vessels would be a burden, not an asset. You can’t build them fast enough and the ones you have are too costly to risk in threat areas. Yours isn’t the lessons of war at sea but 70 years of lacking a peer enemy. As we see with shrinking, stretched thin force structures in the West, such business as usual is no longer sustainable.

  75. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:21 am

    Mike Burleson said : “BVT Surface Fleet also constructed the HMS Clyde, a improved River Class frigate we see as perfect for the type of missions needed of the Future Surface Combatant in this present era”

    HMS Clyde and the rest of the River-class vessels are OPVs, and not frigates as you proclaim.

    Which leads us to another fundamental error you’re making :

    1. a 2,000-ton vessel might be able to offer some decent range & possess reasonable seakeeping qualities; this is your OPV.

    2. a 2,000-ton vessel might be able to have a decent sensors / weapons suite and some valuable passive survivability features; this is your surface combatant.

    3. HOWEVER, on a 2,000-ton vessel, you CANNOT have it all : range, seakeeping, weapons / sensors and survivability.

    You want all 4 attributes (range, seakeeping, sensors / weapons, survivability) in a single hull : you need something MUCH BIGGER than 2,000-ton (let alone 1,000-ton !) : THERE’S NO FREE LUNCH.

  76. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:07 am

    I do like the Absalon class too, as an example of an inexpensive ship.

  77. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:05 am

    “And they have the Type 45 so why build another large warship?”

    I would probably have used the Type 45 hull for ASW also. But the RN will need more than SIX ships for its high end role.

    We agree over the need for HIGH/LOW. The debate is over the numbers of each.

  78. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:03 am

    Mike Burleson said : “The stretched-thin and shrinking service seems to have bought into the conclusion that “bigger is better”

    One of the most fundmental error you’re making is to assume that *bigger* automatically means more expensive and *smaller* automatically means more affordable.

    LCS proves how wrong your *small is cheap* mantra really is. Conversely, the Danish Absalon demonstrates quite magisterialy that *big can be cheap*.

    Not so long ago, I suggested you to make a side-by-side comparison of the Danish Absalon and one of your mythical 1,000-ton corvette, with a focus on big ticket items like weapons / sensors / electronics and propulsion.

    Have you been through this comparison ?

  79. Scott B. permalink
    September 23, 2009 8:01 am

    Mike Burleson said : “The stretched-thin and shrinking service seems to have bought into the conclusion that “bigger is better”

    One of the most fundmental error you’re making is to assume that *bigger* automatically means more expensive and *smaller* automatically means more affordable.

    LCS proves how wrong your *small is cheap* mantra really is. Conversely, the Danish demonstrates quite magisterialy that *big can be cheap*.

    Not so long ago, I suggested you to make a side-by-side comparison of the Danish Absalon and one of your mythical 1,000-ton corvette, with a focus on big ticket items like weapons / sensors / electronics and propulsion.

    Have you been through this comparison ?

  80. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 7:54 am

    Mike, Sorry I caught you mid post, before you edited it.

    You might be right. But the other alternative is the HIGH/LOW navy, with in the RN’s case C1′s & C3′s. The good thing about the C3 is that they are cheap (circa £100 million) and have bags of room for upgrades.

    If you can get lots of C3 hulls in the water, in a General war situation they can have extra weapons added to them a lot quicker than it would take to build new hulls. This would effectively give you the corvettes that you are suggesting, but only when needed, as the extra weapons are not required for fighting pirates.

  81. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 7:54 am

    “They should be building MORE C3’s than they plan.”

    This is interesting and the RN and USN are so much a like. They only want high end warships and will only build a low end vessel grudgingly, often forced on them by the politicians. And they have the Type 45 so why build another large warship? We have 80 cruisers and destroyers for missile defense and they want even more!

    A few exquisite ships and lots of smaller general purpose vessels are a balanced fleet.

  82. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 7:44 am

    “Thats exactly what I am suggesting. You don’t need a missile battleship/amphibious ship/patrol ship to chase pirates and smugglers.”

    Exactly. You shouldn’t be using a C1 for that purpose. Thats what a C3 should be doing, but built in larger numbers. But C1′s are still needed for the High End Warfare.

    This is where I disagree with the RN (amongst other things). They should be building MORE C3′s than they plan.

  83. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 7:32 am

    Thats exactly what I am suggesting. You don’t need a missile battleship/amphibious ship/patrol ship to chase pirates and smugglers.

    William, I am convinced to restore numbers and affordabilty to warship construction, we need to go back to basics for warship design. If you go back to WW 2, the ships we won the conflict at sea with such as destroyers, frigates, and corvettes were about the size of ships like the River’s. Now imagine these same hulls but with modern weapons, sensors, ect onboard and you get where I think we need to be with a 21st century surface combatant.

    The other day I was half-joking when I posted on a future navy with one ship called a “guided missile destroyer escort submarine LCS”, but it is no joke we are building ships that are extremely expensive and capable, then using them to fight pirates in speedboats. We are stretched thin everywhere, and the Navy (US and British) have only themselves to blame, though the politicians usually go along with what the sailors ask for.

  84. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 7:24 am

    You’re not suggesting that the Type 23′s be replaced by River class sized ships, are you?

  85. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 7:15 am

    Mike, I think its because it has a cargo bay with stern ramp allowing boats and unmanned vehicles to be deployed.

  86. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 23, 2009 7:10 am

    I was speaking specifically about the C1 which was the only one mentioned in the article (and mentioned 4 times). The idea they are thinking this large ship for the type of missions it will do is baffling.

  87. William permalink
    September 23, 2009 6:56 am

    But this is the C1, the replacement for the Type 22 & 23′s. The C3 at 3000 tons is closer to, although not exactly what you envisage.

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