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New Cruisers against the Pirates Pt 1

October 5, 2009
A visit, board, search, and seizure team from the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) patrols the Gulf of Aden near a suspected pirate vessel.

A visit, board, search, and seizure team from the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) patrols the Gulf of Aden near a suspected pirate vessel.

Cruisers Past & Present

On board the frigate HMS Kent in the Gulf,  Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart describes her experience on a vessel built to fight another type of war:

Launched in 1998, she cost £140 million to build and £14-16 million a year to run. She carries an array of weapons, from harpoon anti-ship missiles, to Stingray torpedoes and Vertical Launched Seawolf anti-air missiles, as well as carrying a helicopter.

Almost 200 officers and ratings are on board and I’m sure finding a bunk for five visitors wasn’t easy. It is hot and I mean hot. The water temperature is around 32C, but at least air-conditioning makes things easier on board. These ships were designed for anti- submarine warfare and intended to sail in cold Atlantic waters.There are some Marines on board – a reminder that the Navy isn’t just about sailors and the sea. The Navy plays its role on land, sea and air.

The Kent’s tasks are to participate in defence diplomacy, support the joint maritime operations, and provide an airborne asset, as well as supporting wider British interests. Some British interests in the region are more obvious than others. If the Straights of Hormuz are blocked, the entire world’s trade will suffer.

Piracy is back and it’s big business.

A few posts back we showed how today’s real cruisers are the destroyers, frigates, and submarines and how these rose from the flotilla of coastal warships before World War 2 to become essential combatants for modern navies. The traditional light and heavy cruisers which fought that war spent most of their time on the battleline or tied down as aircraft carrier escorts. After the war and over the decades they have disappeared as a type (though some have morphed in ASW helicopters carriers), their role in the fleet as screen, commerce protector and raider now taken by ASW escorts and subs.

The high cost of modern cruisers, easily surpassing the billions dollar (or pounds) are making them prohibitive in the escort role. Their enhanced abilities such as Aegis, PAAMS phased array radar, plus Tomahawk strategic and tactical missiles make them high end assets better suited for the battleline, as their war-era forebears. Even low-end frigates like the littoral combat ship are nearly as costly, ensuring that fewer will likely be bought, and these will be too precious to risk in shallow seas where they are needed the most.

Off the coast of Somalia on a US Navy Aegis destroyer, journalist David Axe reveals what happens when you have the wrong ship for the right mission:

I asked Commodore Steve Chick, the British head of the NATO counter-piracy flotilla, what he looked for in warships under his command. “The capabilities I want are a helicopter, a boat and a boarding party.” The U.S. Navy contribution to Chick’s group, the destroyer USS Donald Cook, has two boats and two boarding crews, but no helicopter. She has a flight deck, but no hangar, so the best she can do it accommodate some other ship’s chopper for a brief while. Nor does “DC” have the gear to support a Scan Eagle drone, like some other U.S. ships do.

Seeking the New Cruisers

Today’s modern naval combatants which were adequate dealing with their Soviet counterparts of 20 years hence, the deep diving nuclear boats, have been hard pressed to contain those most minor of nautical threats, the pirates and smugglers. Now they are faced with suicide boats foreshadowing the spread of radical jihad at sea. Though there have been some successes, such as the USS Bainbridge’s take-down of pirate kidnappers off Somalia, or HMS Iron Duke’s headline-making anti-drug patrols in the Caribbean, such vessels are too large, too costly, and too few to manage these missions and still contend with traditional roles should they arise. As we see with the growing ballistic missile threat, plus rising China and historically belligerent Russia, such vessels and their heightened abilities are of better use elsewhere than in the backwaters of the Third World.

In place of the useful but exquisite ship-types of the last century, the destroyers, frigates, and nuclear subs, we propose the navies of the West build smaller platforms. Corvettes, offshore patrol vessels, conventional submarines, backed by motherships would create a new escort flotilla, hearkening back to the world wars where it was discovered such easy to build in quantity ships were the right choice for then-modern threats. Smaller vessels would allow the Big Ships to stay out of the uncertain shallow seas, while concentrating on the rare but always possible conventional wars and crises which they are better suited for.

Sri Lankan Lessons

During Sri Lanka’s final showdown with the LTTE Tamil Tiger terrorists, they fought full scale war at sea which also involved examples of the modern cruiser warfare. The “Sea Tiger’s” utilized asymmetrical tactics at sea including fast smugglers and suicide boats. So called warfare ships secretly delivered the enemy with arms from overseas. With only a small coast defense fleet of ships, the Sri Lankan Navy was forced to improvise to interdict the flow of illegal weapons. From an interview with the Navy commander we read:

“We went near to Australian waters and whacked the last four vessels,” says Vice- Admiral Karannagoda. “Yet we are not a big navy; we had to improvise and use innovation and ingenuity to get our job done. The SLN does not possess any frigate-sized ships, so we used offshore patrol vessels and old tankers, merchant vessels and fishing trawlers as support vessels.”

Tomorrow-the New Cruiser threat at sea.

70 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2011 10:28 pm

    I have been seeing a guy, for a while now. He is not my boy friend but we spend a lot of time together.
    Problem is he refuses to kiss me. Don’t get me wrong we have done everything else but kiss.
    I’m 22 and he is 24, and he says he doesn’t kiss because he did it so much in high school that he got tired of it.
    How do people get tired of kissing. I’m desperate, we have had many arguments over the issue and I don’t want to just go ahead and kiss him cause he obviously doesn’t want to and I don’t want to feel like I’m disrespecting him.
    I feel we are in the movie pretty women except he’s the prostitute and I’m just the girl, since he won’t kiss.
    What can I do?????
    I mean is he just afraid of getting emotionally attached if he kisses me? or could he be BI.
    I mean a guy at his age should be more mature about things.
    Well please help this is really bothering me.

    Thanks.

  2. B.Smitty permalink
    October 12, 2009 2:00 pm

    Scott B,

    The USN would likely ask for many changes to the Absalon design to conform with existing practices and systems. (e.g. SPS-48E instead of SMART-S, SSDS/COMBATSS-21 instead of C-Flex, SRBOC/Nulka instead of Terma, AN/SLQ-32 instead of ES 3701, ramp boat launch/recover instead of crane).

    NVRs are the tip of the iceberg.

    It makes me wonder if designing a brand new hull in the “spirit of Absalon” wouldn’t be more cost-effective in the long run.

  3. Scott B. permalink
    October 9, 2009 10:12 am

    B. Smitty said : “IMHO, there is a potential for cost overruns if NVRs and/or survivability enhancements have to be applied to the existing design.”

    Short answer : don’t fix it if it ain’t broken !

    Long answer : whenever time permits !

  4. Scott B. permalink
    October 9, 2009 10:07 am

    (try again : part 3 of the reposts)

    ***************************************************************************
    What this quick overview shows is that :

    1) it’s really only in 2007 that CBO started to produce estimates showing that were significantly higher than the $370M threshold.

    2) the Navy remained BULLISH on its ability to keep the cost close enough to the $370M threshold at least until 2007.

    That people like Winter now suggest that *everybody knew LCS was going to cost what it costs today* is a FALLACY.

    The TRUTH is that most people (with a few notable exceptions) caught the hype up until early 2007, and were convinced that LCS was going to remain around $400M, including modules (or at least one module).

    The bill being introduced by McCain and Levin is MEANT to avoid EXACTLY this kind of situation :

    “Under the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act, when a weapon’s cost increases more than 25 percent, “we’re going to assume that the program is going to end,” said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3962153&c=AME&s=TOP

    And it’s no small coincidence that LCS is one of the examples of programs that are “out of control”.

    Because that’s been the case ever since the inception of this program.

    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 5:30 am |

  5. Scott B. permalink
    October 9, 2009 10:06 am

    (try again : part 2 of the reposts)

    ***************************************************************************
    4. In 2007 :

    “Excluding mission modules, the 55 LCSs in the Navy’s plan would cost an average of $450 million each, CBO estimates.

    page 18 of this report :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/83xx/doc8342/07-20-Shipbuilding_Testimony.pdf

    5. In 2008 :

    “Overall, CBO estimates that the LCSs in the Navy’s plan would cost about $550 million each, on average, excluding mission modules.”

    page 13 of this document :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/95xx/doc9571/07-31-Shipbuilding_Testimony.pdf

    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 5:10 am |

  6. Scott B. permalink
    October 9, 2009 10:05 am

    (try again : part 2 of the reposts)

    (Try again : part 1)

    Original Thread from Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s place can be found here :
    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/galrahn/1265789862677221052/#67713

    I’ve reproduced below some of the comments I made at the time :

    ***************************************************************************
    evenmorework said : “Eric Labs, who does cost estimating by lightship displacement, said from the very beginning that the LCS was going to come in somewhere between $500-$550.”

    I am afraid that’s just not the case :

    1. In 2003 :

    “CBO estimates the average cost of the LCS, with 1.25 mission modules per ship, at about $350 million apiece

    page 17 of this report :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/41xx/doc4130/Report.pdf

    On a sidenote, it’s interesting to note that, as early as 2003, Labs made a good guess on how many mission packages would be procured down the line.

    2. In 2005 :

    “The high level of purchases during that period reflects large numbers of littoral combat ships (LCSs)—small warships that are expected to be relatively inexpensive ($400 million apiece, including mission modules, compared with $1.2 billion for current-generation destroyers).”

    page 4 of this document :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/69xx/doc6985/12-16-NavyShipbuilding.pdf

    3. In 2006 :

    “Relying on the Navy’s budget submission, this report assumes that one LCS with two mission packages would cost an average of about $450 million.”

    page 17 of this document :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/72xx/doc7232/05-31-Navy.pdf

    Another quote from this report shows that the Navy was still BULLISH on its objective to keep the seaframe @ $220M (page 17) :

    “The Navy is determined to keep the costs of the littoral combat ship low so the service can procure them in large numbers. Specifically, it does not want the “truck” portion of the LCS system to cost more than $220 million apiece in 2005 dollars (or $235 million in 2007 dollars).”

    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 5:00 am |

  7. Scott B. permalink
    October 9, 2009 10:04 am

    (Try again : part 1 of the reposts)

    Original Thread from Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s place can be found here :
    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/galrahn/1265789862677221052/#67713

    I’ve reproduced below some of the comments I made at the time :

    ***************************************************************************
    evenmorework said : “Eric Labs, who does cost estimating by lightship displacement, said from the very beginning that the LCS was going to come in somewhere between $500-$550.”

    I am afraid that’s just not the case :

    1. In 2003 :

    “CBO estimates the average cost of the LCS, with 1.25 mission modules per ship, at about $350 million apiece

    page 17 of this report :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/41xx/doc4130/Report.pdf

    On a sidenote, it’s interesting to note that, as early as 2003, Labs made a good guess on how many mission packages would be procured down the line.

    2. In 2005 :

    “The high level of purchases during that period reflects large numbers of littoral combat ships (LCSs)—small warships that are expected to be relatively inexpensive ($400 million apiece, including mission modules, compared with $1.2 billion for current-generation destroyers).”

    page 4 of this document :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/69xx/doc6985/12-16-NavyShipbuilding.pdf

    3. In 2006 :

    “Relying on the Navy’s budget submission, this report assumes that one LCS with two mission packages would cost an average of about $450 million.”

    page 17 of this document :
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/72xx/doc7232/05-31-Navy.pdf

    Another quote from this report shows that the Navy was still BULLISH on its objective to keep the seaframe @ $220M (page 17) :

    “The Navy is determined to keep the costs of the littoral combat ship low so the service can procure them in large numbers. Specifically, it does not want the “truck” portion of the LCS system to cost more than $220 million apiece in 2005 dollars (or $235 million in 2007 dollars).”

    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 5:00 am |

  8. Scott B. permalink
    October 9, 2009 10:02 am

    (end of repost below)

    ***************************************************************************
    What this quick overview shows is that :

    1) it’s really only in 2007 that CBO started to produce estimates showing that were significantly higher than the $370M threshold.

    2) the Navy remained BULLISH on its ability to keep the cost close enough to the $370M threshold at least until 2007.

    That people like Winter now suggest that *everybody knew LCS was going to cost what it costs today* is a FALLACY.

    The TRUTH is that most people (with a few notable exceptions) caught the hype up until early 2007, and were convinced that LCS was going to remain around $400M, including modules (or at least one module).

    The bill being introduced by McCain and Levin is MEANT to avoid EXACTLY this kind of situation :

    “Under the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act, when a weapon’s cost increases more than 25 percent, “we’re going to assume that the program is going to end,” said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3962153&c=AME&s=TOP

    And it’s no small coincidence that LCS is one of the examples of programs that are “out of control”.

    Because that’s been the case ever since the inception of this program.

    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 5:30 am |

  9. Scott B. permalink
    October 9, 2009 9:45 am

    Al L. said : “I didn’t drink Galhran’s kool-aid, nor did he originate this stuff. It’s an accepted way to analyze ship bulding costs.”

    Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to post a detailed answer on the cost per LSW ton method promoted by Dr. Eric Labs.

    However, I posted something on the subject back in February 2009 over at Mr Raymond Pritchett’s place.

    I have copied some of the comments I made at the time in the post below. Note that the person using the screenname *evenmorework* is none other than the current Under SECNAV, Robert Work.

  10. Al L. permalink
    October 9, 2009 12:25 am

    Scott B.
    Thanks for the reference.
    The 700m was a suspect figure, so were the the ones I’ve seen for 100m +. Yours is the only first source reference I’ve seen.

    In regard to some of your and my earlier comments re: LCS here is what the CBO said in their report here http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/SPEF072407/Gilmore_Labs_Testimony072407.pdf
    “Experience had suggested that cost growth was likely to occur in the LCS program.In particular, historical cost-weight relationships—using the lead ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry class of frigates (FFG-7) as an analogy—indicated that the Navy’s original cost target for the LCS was optimistic. The first FFG-7, including its combat systems, cost a total of about $650 million (in 2008 dollars) to build, or about $235 million per thousand tons. Applying that per-ton estimate to the LCS
    program suggests that the lead ships would cost about $575 million apiece, including the cost of one mission module (to make them comparable to the FFG-7). In this case, looking at cost-weight relationships produced an estimate less than the apparent cost of the first two LCSs but substantially greater than the Navy’s original
    estimate.
    As of this writing, the Navy has not publicly released an estimate for the LCS program that incorporates the most recent cost growth, other than its request to raise the cost caps for the fifth and sixth ships. CBO estimates that with that growth included, the first two LCSs would cost about $630 million each, excluding mission modules but including outfitting, postdelivery, and various nonrecurring costs associated with the first ships of the class. As the program advances, with a settled design and higher annual rates of production, the average cost per ship is likely to decline. Excluding mission modules, the 55 LCSs in the Navy’s plan would cost an average of $450 million each, CBO estimates.”

    I didn’t drink Galhran’s kool-aid, nor did he originate this stuff. It’s an accepted way to analyze ship bulding costs.

  11. Scott B. permalink
    October 8, 2009 4:43 pm

    Al L. said : “Some of the figures I’ve seen would indicate a complete Absalon in 2009 could be near 700m dollars.”

    What is (are) your source(s) for this totally inaccurate figure ? Strategie & Technik, September 2008, p.58 perhaps ?

  12. Scott B. permalink
    October 8, 2009 4:36 pm

    Al L. said : “Lots of people like to site Absalon as an example of a littoral ship with a cheap price, but what is its price?”

    1) Cost for 2 Absalons is DKK 2.5 billion, i.e $235 million per ship based on current exchange rates.

    See page 2 of this Danish MoD document where it says in Danish :

    “Den samlede pris for de to skibe med udrustning er ca. 2.5 mia. kr. og skibene planlægges at være fuldt operative med udgangen af 2007.”

    Which means in English :

    “The overall price for the two ships complete with equipment is about DKK 2.5 billion and the ships are planned to become fully operational by the end of 2007.”

    2) Projected cost for three Ivar Huitfeldt-class frigates is DKK 4.7 billion, i.e. about $305 million per ship based on current exchange rates.

    See page 1 of this Danish MoD document where it says in Danish :

    “Prisen for tre fuldt udrustede fregatter er cirka 4,7 milliarder kroner.”

    Which means in English :

    “The price for three fully fitted-out frigates is about DKK 4.7 billion “

  13. Al L. permalink
    October 8, 2009 1:04 pm

    Scott B.
    Lots of people like to site Absalon as an example of a littoral ship with a cheap price, but what is its price? It was built in stages, initially without weapons or sensors, which were added later. Some of the equipment ,as I understand it, under Denmark’s system wasn’t even part of the ship program, they came out of other funds. In about 2 years of trying I’ve yet to find a reliable figure for the total program cost or a single complete ship cost for Absalon or its sister ship. Absalon was contracted in 2001 and in 2007 some of the equipment as designed was still being installed.
    Not only that but for a ship contracted over that period you have to figure out how to account for inflation which adds nearly 25% between 2001 and 2009, in order to get a true comparison.
    Some of the figures I’ve seen would indicate a complete Absalon in 2009 could be near 700m dollars. At 6000t, still a bargain compared to US ships. But that’s before it’s run through the U.S. political system and U.S. congressmen start asking “How many jobs for my district?”
    Denmark has 6 million people and is smaller than West Va. thats a lot different than the US.

  14. B.Smitty permalink
    October 7, 2009 1:07 pm

    Scott B said, “The design is mature, the costs (and their drivers) are known, there’s nothing exquisite in there : there’s no reason for cost over-runs to occur

    IMHO, there is a potential for cost overruns if NVRs and/or survivability enhancements have to be applied to the existing design.

  15. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 10:50 am

    On a somewhat related subject :

    New Littoral Ship Prices To Be Revealed

    I like this little gem in Chris’ article :

    “Landay said he hopes GD’s first ship, the Independence (LCS 2), is delivered before the end of this year.”

    So in July, GD said they were readying the ship for Navy Acceptance Trials later this summer.

    Then, GD issued a *stealthy* press release in which they said the ship was scheduled for handover to the Navy in the fall.

    And now, the PEO Ships hopes the ship will be delivered before the end of the year.

    Mike, have you considered starting a weekly LCS chronicle ? Cuz I’m telling ya’, there’ll be quite a lot of action on the LCS front pretty soon !!!

  16. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 10:08 am

    William said : “I’m sure Mike Burleson and perhaps some others will be sceptical, but allowing for cost over-runs,”

    The design is mature, the costs (and their drivers) are known, there’s nothing exquisite in there : there’s no reason for cost over-runs to occur.

    However, given a significant production run (anywhere between 40 and 75 ;-)), there are reasons to believe that economies of scale might bring the price further down.

  17. William permalink
    October 7, 2009 9:47 am

    “Identical systems, a lot of which are already made in the US (e.g. Mk45 5″ gun, Mk48 GMVLS, Harpoon launchers,…), available in the US (e.g. MTU Series 8000 diesel engines) or covered by existing license agreements (e.g. Thales SMART-S Mk2 radar for which ITT is the US licensee).”

    Well thats very interesting….

    I’m sure Mike Burleson and perhaps some others will be sceptical, but allowing for cost over-runs, even if it costs more than your estimate, I don’t think too many people would complain much as long as a US built ABASALON came in at less than $400 million.

    $300 million is the sweet spot though (smiley symbol).

  18. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 9:29 am

    William said : “Is that with the identical systems as used on the original Absalon, or using US equivalent systems?”

    Identical systems, a lot of which are already made in the US (e.g. Mk45 5″ gun, Mk48 GMVLS, Harpoon launchers,…), available in the US (e.g. MTU Series 8000 diesel engines) or covered by existing license agreements (e.g. Thales SMART-S Mk2 radar for which ITT is the US licensee).

  19. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 9:11 am

    Raymond Pritchett said : “Actually, I tend to think I am very well informed.”

    No comment

  20. William permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:46 am

    “A repeat Absalon built by a competent second-tier shipyard in the US, with no interference and non-productive overheads from such big guys as LockMart ?

    $300 million or less. Less than half the cost of LCS-1 / LCS-2 if you prefer.”

    Is that with the identical systems as used on the original Absalon, or using US equivalent systems?

  21. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:45 am

    Raymond Pritchett said : “LCS on the other hand isn’t a labor intensive ship”

    Does Mr. Raymond Pritchett even know how much production manhours were spent on either LCS-1 or LCS-2 and the subsequent ships under construction ? I don’t think so…

  22. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:40 am

    William said : “Scott, I like the ABSALON. What I don’t know is how much it would cost to build in a US shipyard?”

    A repeat Absalon built by a competent second-tier shipyard in the US, with no interference and non-productive overheads from such big guys as LockMart ?

    $300 million or less. Less than half the cost of LCS-1 / LCS-2 if you prefer.

  23. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:34 am

    Back to Mr. Raymond Pritchett.

    Here is another trick he resorts to quite frequently (using Colton as a human shield more often than not) :

    “Anytime you see someone making apples to apples cost comparisons of US Navy ships with US Shipbuilding and foreign ships with foreign shipbuilding, raise a red flag and question credibility. Tim Colton has made this clear many times, they simply aren’t apples to apples.”

    1) The NATO SLC study of 2004 has been discussed quite frequently at Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s website, and, since the link to the study was posted at the time, chances are that Mr. Raymond Pritchett has a copy of this study.

    2) Here is what it says on page 38 on the study :

    “The overall correlation of U.S. Coast Guard and Netherlands shipyard production costs (SWBS Group 100-700 inc.) is assessed to be good, as follows:

    Shipyard Production Cost
    Ship / Netherlands / U.S. Coast Guard
    600 SLC : 1.0 / 1.153
    2000 SLC : 1.0 / 1.024
    600 OPV : 1.0 / 1.093
    2000 OPV : 1.0 / 0.826
    Overall Correlation : 1.0 / 1.0394

    Netherlands shipyard administrative costs (SWBS Group 900) for OPVs were about half those estimated by the U.S. Coast Guard. This is judged to reflect the influence of lower cost commercial practices as U.S. shipyards primarily produce naval or Coast Guard ships both of which are similarly procured. Similarly, the Netherlands has also estimated lower design costs for OPVs.”

    So much for Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s *cost-structure-is-different-so-you-cannot-compare* mantra I guess…

  24. William permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:03 am

    Sorry, wrong link for the armed cruiser based on a modified Bay Class. Correct link is below:

  25. William permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:59 am

    Scott, I like the ABSALON.

    What I don’t know is how much it would cost to build in a US shipyard? I suspect it will cost substantially more unless they use the exact same systems that are on the original ABSALON.

    How much do you think, $500 – 600 million? Still substanstially cheaper than a DDG-51.

    But like I’ve said before I still like the idea of larger armed cruisers/motherships built to commercial standards, carrying smaller craft such as CB90’s and numerous helicopters, which would be also be cheap to build and very flexible. I’ve given this example of an armed cruiser based on a modified Bay Class before:

    https://newwars.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/new-cruisers-against-the-pirates-pt-1/#comments

    They’re not mutually exclusive and both have their place/roles.

  26. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:48 am

    Mike Burleson said : “but is a large ship something you want in the shallow seas?”

    At the risk of repeating the questions I asked you yesterday, and that you may not have noticed yet :

    What sort of shallow waters are you talking about, i.e. what depth in feet / meters ?

    What would be the corresponding maximum navigational draft of the vessel you envision ?

    Why is a naval vessel even needed ?

    ;-)

  27. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:42 am

    One month later, despite all the information regarding ABSALON posted at his blog, Mr. Raymond Pritchett continued to disseminate FUD like this :

    **********************************************************************************

    Lee,

    I’m sorry but you are incorrect. Absalon has SMART-S with 32 Mk41 cells for ESSM and Tomahawks. This ship is the high intensity naval warfare capability of Denmark.

    There are lots of interesting designs around the world, including Absalon, but if we built a ship like Absalon in the US it would be called the gold plated Ro/Ro. Neat? Sure, but it is a SMART-S, 32 cell MK41 VLS Ro/Ro built to a commercial standard for meeting the power projection demands of Denmark.

    Galrahn | Homepage | 02.25.09 – 12:18 pm | #

    **********************************************************************************

    Which prompted these replies :

    **********************************************************************************

    Galrahn said : “I’m sorry but you are incorrect. Absalon has SMART-S with 32 Mk41 cells for ESSM and Tomahawks. This ship is the high intensity naval warfare capability of Denmark.”

    You’re confusing Absalon (Combat Support Ship) with her near-sister aka the Patrol Ship.

    Absalon indeed has a SMART-S, but no Mark-41 VLS (Sea Sparrows / ESSM are used with Mark-56 GMVLS) and can therefore not fire Tomahawks :
    http://www.navalhistory.dk/engli…Class(2004) .htm

    The Patrol Ship use the same hull, but are faster (with 4 diesels instead of 2), have Mark-41 VLS combined with APAR + SMART-L radars, no Ro-Ro deck, and hanger for 1 helo (vs 2 for the Absalons) :
    http://www.navalhistory.dk/ engli…Patrolships.htm

    Galrahn said : “if we built a ship like Absalon in the US it would be called the gold plated Ro/Ro”.

    Gold-plated ? At less than half the price of an LCS ?
    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 12:41 pm | #

    **********************************************************************************

    Galrahn said : “Much more than %100. The ship is built to commercial spec. We would never put AEGIS on a ship without NVR Level III survivability.”

    Neither LCS-1 nor LCS-2 have AEGIS. And the Absalon as is already has A MUCH BETTER on-board sensor suite than both LCS-1 and LCS-2.

    Neither LCS-1 nor LCS-2 are Level III. And I suspect that the Absalon as is is alreadu LESS VULNERABLE than both LCS-1 and LCS-2.

    The Absalon cost about $250M, whereas both LCS-1 and LCS-2 cost over $600M.
    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 2:48 pm | #

    **********************************************************************************

    Galrahn said : “The ship is built to commercial spec.”

    This is a misconception :

    1. DNV (Det Norske Veritas) has a specific set of rules for navy ships (Part 5, Chapter 14).

    2. As noted by JJ Lok in his August 2004 article in Jane’s IDR, the Absalons have full NATO-standard shock protection (meeting STANAG 4142, 4137 and 4549), nuclear, biological and chemical protection (STANAG 4447) and vital area armor protection (STANAG 4569).

    3. And finally, as mentioned in the Naval Technology entry on the Absalons :

    “The ship design, with 16 watertight sections or compartments and two airtight bulkheads, incorporates survivability and damage limitation features including dual redundancy, automated damage control zones, damage detectors and smoke zones. The ship’s on-board battle damage and control system continuously monitors the status of the ship and incorporates a closed circuit television observation system with more than 50 cameras, fire fighting installations, sensors and alarms, a load and stability computer.”

    http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/absalon/
    Scott B. | 02.25.09 – 4:03 pm | #

  28. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 7, 2009 7:32 am

    I knew I’d wake Scott up! You guys have at it, I’m off to Florida! And thanks.

  29. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:32 am

    Below is something I posted at Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s website (Mike B. will love all the Newspeak words I used in these posts) :

    *********************************************************************************

    At the end of day, I believe there are two options in this affair :

    1) Build a *mothership* with a price tag of $300M per unit :

    * With this price-tag, you don’t drain an excessive amount of funding resources away from the high-end surface fleet.

    * If you don’t drain resources away from the high-end surface fleet, you might be able to build high-end surface combatants in sufficient numbers to deal with high-threat environments.

    * If you have enough high-end surface combatants, you don’t have to expose your $300M *mothership* in high-threat environments they aren’t made to cope with.

    2) Build a GP combatant that incorporates some mission modularity (e.g. for MIW), that offers Level 2 survivability and has significant offensive / defensive capabilities, with a price tag of $600M per unit :

    * With this price-tag, you’ll inevitably drain ressources away from the high-end surface fleet.

    * If you drain resources away from the high-end surface fleet, you won’t be able to build enough high-end surface combatants to deal with high-threat environments.

    * If you don’t have enough high-end surface combatants, you’ll inevitably committ your $600M GP combatant in high-threat environments.

    * Which is why the GP combatant needs improved survivability (Level 2) and increased defensive / offensive capabilities.

    There could be more options on the continuum between these two options, but the risk is that you may get *stuck in the middle* and end up with an LCS-like solution, i.e. a solution that has the capabilities of option 1 and the cost of option 2.
    Scott B. | 01.27.09 – 7:06 am | #

    *********************************************************************************

    Does a ship that can do everything an LCS can do for a unit cost of $300M exist ?

    Take a look at the Danish Absalons :

    * the 915 sq. meters flex deck and the weapons deck probably offers enough room to accomodate any of the existing mission LCS modules.

    * in addition, unlike any of the LCS designs, they possess decent self-defense capabilities ; for AAW : S-band 3D radar, up to four CEROS-200 directors, 36 x ESSM, 2 x Millennium 35mm CIWS; for ASW : Atlas hull-mounted sonar, 324mm torpedo tubes, fitted for but not with an active variable depth sonar (to be uplifted from the existing Standard Flex inventory or procured downstream).

    * Denmark, a country with wages 15% higher than the US, was able to produce two of these for about DKK 2,500M, i.e. $225M per unit.

    Here’s more :

    * Wanna do emergency disaster relief : the Absalons can be configured as hospital ships.

    * Wanna do global partnership stuff : the Absalons are prepared for Joint Task Group HQ staff.

    * Wanna do limited amphibious operations : the Absalons can load about 75% of an Army reconnaissance squadron minus logistics, container accommodation for an additional 130 forces personnel can be installed on the flex deck.

    * Wanna do NSFS : the Absalons have one 5″ Mark-45 Mod.4 gun and I suspect you could develop a flex container for land attack rockets such as the Isaeli NAVLAR.

    * Wanna do sealift : the Absalons have 250m of parking lanes, with an reinforced deck can embark vehicles for up to 62t such as the Leopard II main battle tank.

    * Wanna do SOF insertion : the Absalons are equipped for insertion of Special Operations Forces (SOF), with two 40ft SRC-90E insertion craft carried on the cargo deck.

    Here are some of the things the Absalons don’t have :

    * speed : you won’t be able to make 40 knots, but I have yet to see one valid justification for such excessive speeds.

    * survivability : they probably don’t achieve Level 2, but then neither do any of the LCS designs. They have some ballistic protection that LCS-1 doesn’t seem to have.

    Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that their survivability is at least as good, and probably better, than that of the current LCS designs.

    One could also point out such things as their draft, which is greater than that of the existing designs (20.7 feet, but then the LCS threshold was 20 feet IIRC) and various tidbits here and there.

    The Absalons may not the best thing since slice bread, however, they are, as Stuart Slade pointed out recently, exactly what the LCS should have been.

    Scott B. | 01.27.09 – 8:33 am | #

  30. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:27 am

    William said : “Galrahn gives his reason for not liking the ABASALON as an LCS on the Warships1 blog:”

    To be fair, Mr. Raymond Pritchett doesn’t specifically mention the ABSALON in his post.

    However, one of his favorite tricks to avoid any kind of discussion on what a valuable alternative for the failed LCS program could be is this :

    1) ABSALON is a 6,000-ton multi-purpose frigate.

    2) the US Navy will never build a 6,000-ton multi-purpose frigate without wanting AEGIS and SPY-1D.

    3) a 6,000-ton multi-purpose frigate with AEGIS and SPY-1D would cost at least $1 billion if built in the US.

    4) a 6,000-ton multi-purpose frigate with AEGIS and SPY-1D at $1 billion would compete for money with larger combatants like DDG-51.

    Running backwards, reality-check is this :

    Point #4 : true, but a $600+++ million LCS boondoggle will also compete for money with larger combatants like DDG-51, and in fact, already does.

    Point #3 : true, a 6,000-ton multi-purpose frigate with AEGIS and SPY-1D would probably cost $1+ billion if built in the US.

    Point #2 : false, the US Navy might want some multi-function radar for self-defense / local-area defense purposes on a 6,000-ton multi-purpose frigate, but such a multi-function radar doesn’t have to be a SPY-1D and doesn’t have to be as expensive as a SPY-1D

    Point #1 : blatantly false, as has been explained so many times over at Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s website (see next post).

  31. William permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:22 am

    “Small ships should fight other small ships, or you risk swarming, grounding, and insures your fleet stays small, with fewer assets to do sea control. This is where the Navy is now and we must do better.”

    But you could use a larger ship like a modified Bay Class as an example, built to commercial standards in the mothership role carrying smaller craft such as CB90, RHIB and numerous helicopters. Cheaper than an LCS.

  32. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 7, 2009 6:53 am

    William said “Galrahn gives his reason for not liking the ABASALON as an LCS”

    Agreed. The Absalon sounds like it would be a little better version of the USS Freedom class, but is a large ship something you want in the shallow seas? Small ships should fight other small ships, or you risk swarming, grounding, and insures your fleet stays small, with fewer assets to do sea control. This is where the Navy is now and we must do better.

  33. William permalink
    October 7, 2009 4:33 am

    Regarding above comment. As has been mentioned before, to build an ABSALON in a US yard at something close to ABSALON prices they would have to build it to the original ABSALON specification, most likely using the same systems and weapons that are on the original ABSALON.

  34. William permalink
    October 7, 2009 4:26 am

    Scott B. said “But, for some reasons, the Cebrowskists and other LCS cheerleaders (e.g. Mr. Raymond Pritchett) don’t like the ABSALON. Their cult of LCS is much too exclusive.”

    Galrahn gives his reason for not liking the ABASALON as an LCS on the Warships1 blog:

    “US shipbuilders cannot build a 6000 ton multi-purpose US Navy surface combatant for less than $1 billion, and just to reach ~$1 billion there would have to be several economies of scale annually to do it. The issue is systems and weapons, which on US Navy ships are incredibly expensive and blur the cost comparisons. It is why a FFG(X) doesn’t exist on the US Navy concept board; it would compete for money with larger, more capable combatants like DDG-51. In Congress a FFG(X) is seen almost exclusively from the point of view of shipyard labor hours, not with a strategic view. Their opinion matters.

    LCS on the other hand isn’t a labor intensive ship, and is barely a shipbuilding program at 3000 tons and very little systems/weapons payload in the halls of Congress. The module payloads are all on different accounts, so they get different attention in Congress. This helps explain why the acqusitiion program for LCS can change and nobody on Capitol Hill seems to care, and zero professional discussions emerge in newspaper editorials.”

    http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.com/topic/10662/t/In-Depth-FSC-article-on-Jane-s.html?page=3

  35. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 2:52 am

    Al L. said : “I believe the Navy has to have a 2500+ ton helicopter/boat carrier for irregular warfare and it fills the need as well as any other extant ship out there. So I like it.”

    There are real designs out there that can fill the need much better than LCS, fill needs that LCS would never be able to fill even in Jim Murdoch’s wildest dreams, and cost much less than any of the existing LCS designs. The Danish ABSALON for instance.

    But, for some reasons, the Cebrowskists and other LCS cheerleaders (e.g. Mr. Raymond Pritchett) don’t like the ABSALON. Their cult of LCS is much too exclusive.

  36. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 2:39 am

    Al L. said : “It probably should be powered to reach 40 knots max”

    What’s the need for a sprint speed of 40 knots again ?

  37. Scott B. permalink
    October 7, 2009 2:15 am

    Al L. said : “It should be able to be built for $450m or less(2008 dollars)”

    Right now :

    1) LCS-1 costs $640+ million just for the seaframe (and counting)

    2) LCS-2 costs $700+ million just for the seaframe (and counting)

    3) Here is a short abstract written by C. Cavas for DefenseNews, right after the FY2010 downselect decision was announced : (bold emphasis added)

    “Under the new acquisition plan, the Navy is canceling its request to Congress for three LCS ships in 2010. Those ships were subject to a congressional cost cap of $460 million each, and, while not revealing any figures, Stackley said neither shipbuilder was able to meet that mark.

    “Based on proposals received this summer, it was not possible to execute the LCS program under the current acquisition strategy,” Stackley said. “There was no reasonable basis to conclude” the cost cap could be met, he added.

    4) The Navy requested an extra $183 million in FY2011 and $718 million through FY2015, to cope with unfunded LCS *challenges*…

    So I am pretty impatient to find out how they are going to come even close to the $460 million cap.

    If this doesn’t happen, I nevertheless suspect the pro-LCS crowd will continue to minimize this disgusting LCS fiasco and call the boondoggle *affordable* as long as its cost remains less than $1 billion.

  38. Al L. permalink
    October 7, 2009 1:17 am

    Scott B. said:
    “You’ve already demonstrated your complete inability to listen in the past,…”

    Obviously I listen because I respond to your comments in a relevant way. As for buying your reasoning, I don’t.
    That’s not to say I haven’t learned anything by reading your comments, you often have good references, they just lead me to different inferences.
    The following is a good example:

    1) “As it was conceived, the LCS would be a simple “sea frame” that could be cheap compared to the $1 billion for current surface warships, because it would be built to nearly commercial shipbuilding standards.“

    2) “The ships also could be relatively cheap because they would not be built with the expensive Aegis combat systems of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers or Ticonderoga-class cruisers. “

    In relation to current surface warships, LCS fits Kreisher’s description to a T.(As would many of the world’s warships) That’s not to say its a perfect program.
    It should be able to be built for $450m or less(2008 dollars)
    It should have a much more flexible module plan.
    It probably should be powered to reach 40 knots max. and carry more fuel.
    It needs to fit more crew.
    I believe the Navy has to have a 2500+ ton helicopter/boat carrier for irregular warfare and it fills the need as well as any other extant ship out there. So I like it.

  39. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 10:58 pm

    Al L. said : “Find an example of a ship built for the Fed Gov’t not under Navy management to use as a starting point and I’ll listen.”

    You’ve already demonstrated your complete inability to listen in the past, and I could not care less if you fail once again this time.

    Commander Otto Kreisher, USN (ret.), in his January 2009 article entitled Checkered Past, Uncertain Future published in proceedings, pretty well explained what the original plans were :

    1) “As it was conceived, the LCS would be a simple “sea frame” that could be cheap compared to the $1 billion for current surface warships, because it would be built to nearly commercial shipbuilding standards.

    2) “The ships also could be relatively cheap because they would not be built with the expensive Aegis combat systems of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers or Ticonderoga-class cruisers. “

    The costs observed on such contracts as NGV Liamone ($80 million) and Aeolos Kenteris ($85 million) are perfectly illustrative of how cheap a simple seaframe built to commercial standards should have been : about $100 million per unit.

    Likewise, the aggregate cost estimated for a package comprising the CMS and the organic sensors / weapons suite is perfectly illustrative of how cheap a ship not built with Aegis should have been : about $100 million per unit.

    With a target cost of $220 million per unit, that would live (at least) some $20 million to pay for some of the stuff you usually don’t find on a commercial HSC, e.g. increased fuel bunkerage, crew accommodations for 75-100, watercraft handling equipment, hangar / flight deck equipment, RAS equipment,…

    The bottom line is that $220 million was a perfectly reasonable cost estimate for the concept originally envisioned when the program was launched in 2002.

  40. Al L. permalink
    October 6, 2009 8:42 pm

    Scott B,

    Comparing a ship built for a foreign private concern to one built under the strategic, political, bureaucratic and legal constraints of the U.S. Gov’t is comparing apples to oranges. Find an example of a ship built for the Fed Gov’t not under Navy management to use as a starting point and I’ll listen.

  41. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 7:45 pm

    One quick comment on Aeolos Kenteris.

    The Ship Technology website has an interesting paragraph on fuel consumption :

    “The Aeolos Kenteris has a service speed of more than 42kt assuming a 650t deadweight, with all main diesel engines running at 90% MCR and gas turbines running at 95% MCR. At this rate, the fuel consumption equates to 13.7t/hr (total power output of 56,200kW). The fuel tanks can store 360m³ of marine diesel.”

    Let’s calculate the range at sprint speed :

    * 360m³ of marine diesel ~ 306 tons
    * 306 tons divided by 13.7 ton/hr ~ 22.3 hours
    * 22.3 hours @ 42 knots ~ 938 NM

    The range at sprint speed required for LCS was 1,000 NM (threshold) / 1,500 NM (objective), with payload.

  42. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 6:54 pm

    Al L. said : “The historical cost data for prior ship classes doesn’t support that assertion.”

    Don’t believe everything you read on Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s website, in particular the apple-and-orange cost per ton pseudo-comparison you mention : this is just one BIG NONSENSE invented over there to cram the LCS boondoggle down the taxpayer throat !

    Take a quick look at the real world instead :

    1) back in 1998, the price paid by SNCM for the fast ferry NGV Liamone (a Corsaire 13000 monohull) was FF 422 million, i.e. about $80 million based on the FF/USD exchange rate at the time.

    2) back in 1999, the price paid by NEL Lines for the fast ferry Aeolos Kenteris (a Corsaire 14000 monohull) was €75 million, i.e. about $85 million based on the Euro/USD exchange rate at the time.

    Both NGV Liamone and Aeolos Kenteris might be considered representative of what a commercial monohull design with steel hull and aluminium superstructure might have cost at the beginning of the LCS program : let’s say about $100 million.

    Assuming a threshold cost of $220 million per unit for the seaframe meant at the time that you had about $120 million left for the combat management system and organic sensors/weapons, and for the seaframe modifications required to meet some of the critical design parameters (in terms of sustainement mostly, e.g. range without refuel, provisions, accommodations, RAS).

    Real world examples also suggest that for about $100 million (or less actually), you can get :
    * a combat management system for a corvette-sized vessel (TACTICOS, SENIT, 9LV, IPN-S,…)
    * a 3D radar (e.g. TRS-3D/16ES from EADS)
    * a navigation radar (e.g. Sperry Bridgemaster)
    * a stabilized EO/IR system (e.g. Sea Star SAFIRE III)
    * an ESM suite (e.g. WBR-2000)
    * a decoy launching system (e.g. SKWS)
    * a medium-caliber gun (e.g. Bofors 57mm)
    * a self-defense missile launcher (e.g. Mk-31 RAM)
    * various C4I gear (EHF / UHF Satcom, VHF / UFH LOS, HF, CDL, LINK 16, INMARSAT)

    That leaves at least $20 million to pay for such stuff as increased fuel bunkerage, crew accommodations for 75-100, watercraft handling equipment, hangar / flight deck equipment, RAS equipment,… that you don’t find in a commercial HSV design. Quite feasible actually.

    So why is it that they failed to meet the original $220 million threshold ? Simple answer is this : poor concept, poor execution.

    Look no further.

    And please, don’t try to tell me that LCS can be a cost effective replacement at $600+++ million a copy.

  43. Anonymous permalink
    October 6, 2009 2:28 pm

    “Want to change the situation and produce a low-end design that’s capable, versatile and affordable : change the software ! THINK BIG, not small.”

    If Mr Burleson’s reads DK Brown’s “Options for Medium Navies” he know this is true. Mr Brown discusses at length the advantages of Very Long Range design and how going for endurance brings other benefits such as more space for helicopters, better sea keeping, less hull fatigue, etc. etc.

    The trouble with the OPV is that is neither fish nor fowl. If we want a navy (our’s, your’s, whomever’s!) to chase pirates in tiny boats we need tiny boats and helicopters of our own. (Or even better carrier launched turbo props!) The OPV won’t carry enough helicopters, won’t carry capable sea boats (something with a cabins and self sustaining for at least a few days) and will be too large too expensive to be everywhere. I won’t bother explaining why an OPV can’t do a frigates a job as that here smacks of preaching to the choir.

    I am also keen to know why it the USN navy job’s to do all this police work. Surely our Greek and Norwegian friends have larger merchant fleets?

    Lastly again the question of small warships. This site’s favourite Danish design is 1000 tonnes larger than a T23.

    I like this website all these interesting opinions. Super.

  44. B.Smitty permalink
    October 6, 2009 2:05 pm

    Heretic wrote,”Which really makes you wonder … what is LCS “getting” for those extra 2k tons they’ve been padded out with? It certainly isn’t weaponry … or endurance”

    Mission modules.

    I don’t know what the current makeup of the various modules are, but at one point the MIW module looked something like this,

    1 MH-60S
    OASIS
    ALMDS
    AQS-20A
    RAMICS
    AMNS
    3 Fire Scout
    COBRA
    1 MMUSV
    OASIS
    2 RMS
    3 BPAUV
    3 SCULPIN
    1 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment

  45. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 6, 2009 11:54 am

    West, I’m trying my best!

  46. west_rhino permalink
    October 6, 2009 11:53 am

    So are we redefining LCS as Little Crappy Shi_?

  47. Al L. permalink
    October 6, 2009 11:47 am

    “$200-250M for the seaframe was a perfectly reasonable estimate at the time.”
    The historical cost data for prior ship classes doesn’t support that assertion. A look at the costs of the OHP, Avenger, Osprey and PC-1 classes reveals that just a little research would have shown a $80000+-per ton cost to be highly suspect even in 2002 when LCS was just a concept. Then that estimate was held up until 2006. In 2002 the estimate should have started at about 300M (based on PC-1 cost)with a possible high end of 450m (based on the OHP cost). And between 2002 and 2006 total inflation was about 12%. BY 2006 500m was very possible and reasonable.

    “Which really makes you wonder … what is LCS “getting” for those extra 2k tons they’ve been padded out with?”

    LCS has 2 helicopter capability and can support at least 2 33meter RHIBS. Apply the 1000t rule and 2500t is perfectly reasonable before other systems are accounted for.

  48. Heretic permalink
    October 6, 2009 10:43 am

    In designing carriers, given today’s aircraft, we have a rule of thumb that works really well. You can operate one aircraft for every 1,000 tons of displacement. It even works for frigates except you have to subtract the tonnage allocated to other roles (and you can work backwards as well).

    Thank you. This is indeed *useful* detail for laymen … and amazingly enough, does pretty much “fit” with what we already know about ships with aircraft (fixed, rotary or tilt-wing). Want to put 90 aircraft on a supercarrier? You’re looking at 90k tons before allocating for other functions … resulting in a 100k ton CVN.

    The important point here is that if you’re going to be carrying a helicopter on a corvette/frigate, which needs to self-deploy (ie. you need a helicopter hangar for repairs/maintenance and shelter), you really want to be somewhere in the 1400-2000 ton range. This sounds reasonable when doing back of the envelope math in the absence of shipbuilding CAD software (and the skills to use it).

    Which really makes you wonder … what is LCS “getting” for those extra 2k tons they’ve been padded out with? It certainly isn’t weaponry … or endurance … oh yeah, that’s right, they’re blue water speedboats!

  49. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 8:51 am

    Al L. said : “As for that $250m estimate for construction. The people who presented that and the people who bought it should have been fired.”

    $200-250M for the seaframe was a perfectly reasonable estimate at the time.

  50. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 8:48 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Logically for shallow seas you want a smaller shallow water vessel.”

    What sort of shallow waters are you talking about, i.e. what depth in feet / meters ?

    What would be the corresponding maximum navigational draft of the vessel you envision ?

    Why is a naval vessel even needed ?

  51. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 8:40 am

    Mike Burleson said : “time to throw the book away!” AND “thats for the naval engineers out there to sort out.”

    That’s how you start with a 400-ton Streetfighter and end up with a 3,000 tons LCS that cost $600+++ million !

    I hate to tell you again, but really, what these quotes taken together show is that what you’re trying to do is the re-run the fully bugged Cebrowskist software that led to the LCS disaster.

    Want to change the situation and produce a low-end design that’s capable, versatile and affordable : change the software ! THINK BIG, not small

  52. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 8:30 am

    Stuart Slade on the Nuclear Powered Hydrofoil Battleships :

    “In some ways Cebrowski is a sad case, he came up with one really good idea early in his Flag career and got marked as “the man with bright ideas”. The trouble is that the expectation is that he would keep producing bright ideas and he’s been trying to live up to the hype. This Mini-mini carrier isn’t a new idea of his at all, it first came up in 2000, as a thing called Corsair. This was held out as the absolute proof that if you give a crazy idea a sexy name, it suddenly becomes practical. In the Business we call ideas like this “The Nuclear-Powered Hydrofoil Battleship.”

    Way it works is this. Somebody says “Gee, what will happen if we have in the fleet a battleship with 12 18 inch guns, 300 cruise missiles, an AEGIS air defense system and armor three feet thick all on a hydrofoil hull that weighs no more than 100 tons, is nuclear-powered, can do sixty knots and is ****stealthy**** so nobody can see it.” They then do some wargames with the Nuclear Powered Hydrofoil Battleship and prove it will sweep the sea of everything before it.

    So they then write learned papers that state emphatically

    THE US NAVY MUST HAVE NUCLEAR POWERED HYDROFOIL BATTLESHIPS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ANYBODY WHO ARGUES IS A STUPID HIDEBOUND REACTIONARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    When somebody points out the Nuclear-powered Hydrofoil Battleship can’t be built, they say

    WE WILL SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEMS WITH TECHNOLOGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In the case of Corsair, bowing the design out of the water was very easy. We took a foot-print of the ship, took the foot-print of the planned aircraft and showed that its impossible to fit the aircraft on the hull. Not operate the aircraft from the hull, you can’t fit the aircraft on the hull.

    The Cebrowskites reply? Suggested the aircraft be stacked on top of eachother. I’m not joking, that’s true.

    In designing carriers, given today’s aircraft, we have a rule of thumb that works really well. You can operate one aircraft for every 1,000 tons of displacement. It even works for frigates except you have to subtract the tonnage allocated to other roles (and you can work backwards as well).

    If we want to change that relationship, we have to either dramatically change the technology of the aircraft or dramatically change the technology of the ship. Tinkering with either (and in this context, VSTOL is tinkering) won’t do it – we have to have something dramatic. And that dramatic change just isn’t even on the horizon yet.”

  53. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 8:27 am

    Stuart Slade on the LCS boondoggle :

    “It all started off with a guy called Wayne Hughes who proposed what he called “rebalancing” of the fleet, essentially replacing our existing force of combatants with a larger number of small craft. Esentially he was proposing the sort of FAC-M fleet that had already been discredited in the past. Boiled down to its simplest, what Hughes was suggesting was that future naval battles would consist of a single exchange of missiles. Any ship that was fired on would be hit and any ship that was hit would be sunk. Therefore what mattered was to have more ships than the other side so that some would be left afloat at the end of that single exchange.

    In reality what this meant was that instead of defending ships we should assume that they and their crews would be obliterated and accept the casualties involved. His theories weren’t taken that seriously and he got little attention until he teamed up with a guy called Cebrowski.

    Cebrowski had taken over as the head of the Naval War College and wanted to make his name. He picked up on Hughes’ theories and created a concept called Streetfighter. This was a 300 ton surface combatant capable of 60+ knots and armed with 8 anti-ship missiles etc etc. He then staged a series of war games that showed the Streetfighter devastating its opponent. That wasn’t surprising, the rules were that any ship fired upon by a Streetfighter would be sunk while the speed of the Streetfighter would prevent it being engaged effectively.

    When other simulations showed the Streetfighters being slaughtered by real warships under real conditions, he started a screaming campaign in the press, the usual nonsense about how his forward-thinking ideas were being suppressed by hide-bound admirals etc etc etc etc etc etc etc. He also came up with another idea to back up Streetfighter, a small aircraft carrier displacing 3,000 tons, capable of 60 knots also and equipped with an air group of 20 F-35Cs and 10 SH-60Js. Anothers eries of games showed this also devastating the opposition.

    The fact that the largest conceivable hull buildable on 3,000 tons couldn’t even carry that many aircraft let alone operate them was neither here nor there.

    Anyway, the whole Streetfighter concept got very popular with naval cadets, primarily because a fleet of small craft offers command opportunities at a much lower rank. Congresscritters got hold of the idea and started to press for Streetfighter construction.

    That’s when LCS got into the world (LCS standing for Let’s Castrate Streetfighter). It proposed a radical small surface combatant (intitally 500 – 1,000 tons) with a target speed to 50 plus knots. Various shipbuilders were asked what they could provide to meet that spec. There was much tooing and froing and much confused questioning, the Navy took a look at what it was offered (basically a PT boat), vomited in horror and laid down a decent spec. The contractors took one look at the spec and passed out with shock. After the administration of smelling salts and a liitle brandy, they chorused “You have got to be kidding”.

    The new spec was essentially that of a frigate, essentially a faster version of the FFG-7. So, LCS went up in size to frigate dimensions (roughly 4,000 tons) and the speed went down to more normal levels. That’s what is being built now.

    The whole point is not to build small combatants, they can’t defend themselves, lack range and seakeeping and are damned uncomfortable for the crews. So LCS has already suceeded; Streetfighter has been forgotten, people have moved on to other things now, with a little luck, LCS can be cancelled.”

    (…)

    “Patrick, this isn’t the point Mark was addressing. Remember, I also regard the LCS as being a criminal waste of money but that wasn’t the issue being raised. The primary concern was why LCS went from 300 to 4,000 tons.

    It had nothing to do with providing more room for subcontractors. What happened was that the Navy finally got control of the project – previously it had been driven by a handful of fanatics, some supporters in the media and a group of gullible politicians. When the Navy got control of it, the first thing they did was lay down a series of specifications. They demanded range figures, payload, crew levels, sensor outfits etc etc etc. All of these are things that had to be defined before the ship could be designed.

    What Mark showed you – very well if I may say so – was how unrealistic it was to fit those specifications into the originally-proposed hull. It wasn’t that the ship grew per se, it was that the Streetfighter supporters had dramatically understated the size of vessel needed to support the claims they were making. Put another way, LCS didn’t grow from 300 tons to 4,000, it was always a 4,000 ton ship, it was just that Cebrowski-Wayne et al knocked a zero of the displacement for public consumption.

    That doesn’t change the fact that the thing is a boondoggle, but it does tell us that there were sound design reasons for the apparent growth in ship size. Mark gave you one very good, well-argued example of that.”

  54. Scott B. permalink
    October 6, 2009 8:23 am

    Mike Burleson said : “As I often tell Scott “time to throw the book away!””

    That’s exactly what Cebrowski used to say and that’s one of the reasons why we ended up with that $600+++ million LCS boondoggle !

    Stuart Slade commented many times on the subject, so I’ll quote a couple of posts he made thereafter.

  55. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 6, 2009 6:03 am

    “The math does not support 1000t hulls as a primary vessel in “littoral” (translation: irregular) warfare.”

    As I often tell Scott “time to throw the book away!” Logically for shallow seas you want a smaller shallow water vessel. I can’t help but think the specs you give are still geared for peacetime, Blue Water sailing. Certainly large ships can operate in shallow seas but for any length of time these will be at risk from the same small boat threats we seem to minimize.

    Then we return to the numbers issue, as you can’t afford many large ships, and even these shouldn’t be wasted on low end threats such as anti-piracy and smuggling. Then, when your Big Ships are needed elsewhere, who will do these other functions? This is a problem the Navy its grappling with its stretched thin BMD ships, which are needed to watch the pirates, needed to watch Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, ect. You cannot maintain sea control with billion dollar warships, and with the LCS the USN proves it can’t build a 3000 ton vessel for much less than this.

    So we know quantity has a quality of its own, and if you spread capabilities around many smaller vessels, instead of a handful of multi-mission ships, you maintain your abilities, plus not suffer from a “presence deficit”. A cap on warship size will address most of our problems.

  56. Al L. permalink
    October 5, 2009 10:07 pm

    Mike B said: “As for the 1000 ton hull, this is about returning numbers, affordability, and practicality to the surface combatant.”

    Scott B said:”That’s exactly what Cebrowski used to say and that’s one of the reasons why we ended up with that $600+++ million LCS boondoggle.”

    Re: 1000 ton hull. One cannot ignore the fact that efficency must be considered in any endeavour. The math does not support 1000t hulls as a primary vessel in “littoral” (translation: irregular) warfare. Take a 2500t ship with 1 helicopter, 3 UAVS, and 2 boats. Draw a circle of influence around it based on the range and endurance of its assets. Compare it to 2 or 3 1000t ships which can’t support such a complement nor as much platform endurance and one can see that there is a minimum size needed for a modern “flotilla” ship. And that size is 2500t-4000t. A good program can get it near 2500 and a bad one 4000.

    Re:LCS boondoggle. The primary reason we ended up with a 600,000m ship is Congress.
    The fact is no matter how much one wishes otherwise the U.S. Congress will demand political concessions in any defense program. Thats why the U.S. can’t build any ship for under $150,000 per ton. And that number goes up the smaller the ship is because of all the overhead requirements in gov’t contracting. If LCS-1 is a 3400t ship at 600m, then it cost about about $176,000 per ton. Which is only about 17% off the floor.
    As for that $250m estimate for construction. The people who presented that and the people who bought it should have been fired. The first group is retired, the second group can be voted out.

  57. B.Smitty permalink
    October 5, 2009 9:56 pm

    There are plenty of inexpensive OPV designs armed better than fisheries patrol vessels. The Spanish BAMs have a 76mm and two 25mms along with an H-60-sized hangar and flight deck. (http://www.armada.mde.es/ArmadaPortal/page/Portal/ArmadaEspannola/conocenos_modernizacion/04_buq_accion_maritima)

  58. Scott B. permalink
    October 5, 2009 8:22 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Thats for the naval engineers out there to sort out.”

    That’s exactly what Cebrowski used to say and that’s one of the reasons why we ended up with that $600+++ million LCS boondoggle !

    I know I told you many times, but I’m going to repeat that once again : you’re simply trying to re-run the same software that led to the current disaster. Merely re-booting the system won’t get the bugs out : you’ll get a crash in the end !

    The only way to avoid another disaster is to THINK BIG, not small !

  59. west_rhino permalink
    October 5, 2009 7:34 pm

    So, at least in the counter-piracy TF, maybe a Perry, capable of operating perhaps four MH-6 little birds would do better than the existing detailed pocket battleship? Why not, it is closer to being the LCS, though not modular.

    Hmmm…

  60. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 5, 2009 7:02 pm

    Anonymous-I have some favorites but don’t pin me down on a single hull. Thats for the naval engineers out there to sort out. For me it is all about the return of the cruiser/flotilla role, as the USN are building high end missile battleships, mistakenly thinking these are adequate for the littoral work. They are also given confusing titles such as cruiser-destroyer-frigate, which have no meaning since they are all basically the same type high end missile escort.

    As for the 1000 ton hull, this is about returning numbers, affordability, and practicality to the surface combatant. The requirements we place on current warship design are unreasonable ones, IMHO, and are hurting us unnecessarily.

  61. Anonymous permalink
    October 5, 2009 5:26 pm

    “It might be worthwhile to look at the Japanese fleet as a model, particularly for the British. They have four destroyer “flotillas” of 8 ships each for operating at a distance, plus “district forces” of small escorts intended to operate with land based aircraft for defense of areas closer to shore.”

    The logic for the RN’s current organisation escapes me too. It would be nice to think we could manage 4 flotillas of say 6 (prefer 8) ships. One deployed, one working up, one just returned (self refit/training asset/light duties!) and one in refit. Further I would prefer a balance of 1 destroyer to 2 frigates. Even this modest requirement is nearly beyond our reach.

    “1. Need ships which are less costly, build them smaller.”

    You mean make them less capable. Steel is cheap, it is weapons that cost.

    “2. Need more hulls in the water, make them smaller.”

    The smaller you go the more reliant you are on AORs as ships loose bunker space and become less fuel efficient.

    “3. Needs ships with low manning issues, build them smaller (or put less extra sensors and radar on them, as with an arsenal ship.)”

    Well if Maersk et al can send ships to sea with crews of fifteen then why not? But consideration needs to be given to boarding parties etc.

    “4. Need ships which are easy to replace and not forced to serve decades longer than their hull is capable, make them smaller.”

    Oh dear! Bigger hulls are stronger and last longer and therefore are cheaper. Naval Architecture 101!!!

    “5. To increase the Navy’s presence worldwide, make ships smaller, then send them out to fight the pirates, smugglers, and watch the Iranians, Chinese, and North Koreans.”

    As I said above the problem with pirates and smugglers isn’t the platform, it is the restrictive rule of engagement. As it stands once the AK47s are subjected to a float test the pirates cease to be pirates. Perhaps the best way to fight the pirates would be to drop a NP onto a ship as she enters the danger and lift them off once she enters the upper reaches of the Red Sea. Unless governments are prepared to get tough this problem will linger. The logical of this will probably escape you but it cheaper to use what we have got while waiting for WW3 than decommission ships and build a whole new class. At present piracy just isn’t a big enough economic head ache to warrant proper stern action; we aren’t talking about the Kriegsmarine U-boat arm here.

    Lastly I don’t think I would like to be forward deployed to watch those named nations without weapons in little more than a fisheries patrol boat. This is just inviting renegade elements to take a pot shot at you. Aren’t their enough instances of this in USN post war history to convince you that is a bad idea? And without a decent sensor fit how are you going to watch them anyway?

    I would like to see give a basic description of your OPV/frigate/cruiser.

  62. NavHist permalink
    October 5, 2009 4:51 pm

    Scott B.
    Let me guess – Absalon.

  63. Scott B. permalink
    October 5, 2009 4:41 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “One final point on small warships: (snip)”

    OK, you’ve just explained why *low end* warships need to be affordable. Now why is it that they need to be small, if I may ask again ?

  64. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 5, 2009 3:58 pm

    One final point on small warships: The US Navy’s latest attempt to build an affordable surface combatant of a traditional size, the 3000 ton LCS, proved an abject failure when they couldn’t even keep the price below $1/2 billion each. And this on a vessel poorly armed for its size. In no way can the fleet afford to build only billion-dollar ships, which is why the desperate need for a revolution in warship procurement. Half-measures, updating last century designs to fit into the threats of today is no longer feasible, even as they can’t even raise ship numbers to the hardly grandiose plan of 313 ships.

    It is best we make these tough decisions now, and not wait for a war to force them on us.

  65. Chuck Hill permalink
    October 5, 2009 3:56 pm

    Basic question here is do we need more ships? Mike sees the fact that we are using DDGs for this mission as prima facie evidence that we do.

    It could be argued just as easily that it proves we have too many, if we can afford to waste these “exquisite” ships on so minor a mission, or it could be argued that the ships need to deploy to the area anyway to be on call. They aren’t doing anything better anyway so they might as well do this mission while they are waiting around, even if they are over qualified.

    Actually I also feel that we need more ships, but it is not based on a rigorous analysis, so I can’t say how many. I also feel we need at least a few smaller ships because they are great training platforms for the men who will one day captain our major ships and they can go places and do things the big ships cannot, including relating to the local navies.

    What I really think Mike sees correctly is that we need to reconstitute the flotillas which have disappeared.

    It might be worthwhile to look at the Japanese fleet as a model, particularly for the British. They have four destroyer “flotillas” of 8 ships each for operating at a distance, plus “district forces” of small escorts intended to operate with land based aircraft for defense of areas closer to shore.

    They make a whole range of destroyer types with 52 in service now ranging from 1,500 tons to 18,000 ton DDHs.

  66. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 5, 2009 2:51 pm

    “Promoting the adoption of smaller ships would cripple the fleet.”

    Several of you have insisted that only the current type of large frigate/destroyer is adequate for our present and future needs. I can’t imagine how business as usual will address the significant decline in the number of Western warships in the past few decades. Ships which are manpower intensive, as well as heavily armed, and of long endurance are certainly more capable that a low end corvette, but if your ship can’t be where it is needed in a crisis, it is as good as having no ships at all. The continued construction of 3000+ ton ships which are ever fewer in number as well as manpower intensive means these ships will have to work harder, and crews suffer abnormal deployment, because the threats aren’t going away, even as our fleet numbers decline.

    The British Commodore of the NATO counter-piracy flotilla in the Gulf recently stated what he needed most to fight the pirates. He declared ““The capabilities I want are a helicopter, a boat and a boarding party.” This requirement doesn’t call for a 4000 ton frigate, or 9000 ton destroyer. Just hulls in the water.

    So with this formula we have the answer to all the Navy’s warships woes:

    1. Need ships which are less costly, build them smaller.
    2. Need more hulls in the water, make them smaller.
    3. Needs ships with low manning issues, build them smaller (or put less extra sensors and radar on them, as with an arsenal ship.)
    4. Need ships which are easy to replace and not forced to serve decades longer than their hull is capable, make them smaller.
    5. To increase the Navy’s presence worldwide, make ships smaller, then send them out to fight the pirates, smugglers, and watch the Iranians, Chinese, and North Koreans.

    And if our fleets are so worn out and stretched thin dealing with these lowest of all threats, pirates and smugglers, plus Third World dictators, what will we do when the real war at sea comes, the conventional battles the Navy prepares for almost exclusively?

  67. Anonymous permalink
    October 5, 2009 2:15 pm

    “All I have seen here is a promotion of a more balanced fleet, giving up some (but not all) or the high end fleet in order to buy a bunch of smaller, cheaper, but all to plentiful smaller platforms.”

    Yes I know all about balanced fleets; hi/lo mixes. The US might be able to afford to give some of its 55 Burke’s and 22 Ticoderoga’s (without upsetting its offensive capability because of the carrier force) to supplement its 33 OHP’s, 12 Hamiltons (plus other large cutters.) But here in the UK we can’t afford ships to chase pirates and ships to chase submarines. And neither can the majority of other navies.

  68. NavHist permalink
    October 5, 2009 1:40 pm

    Anonymous,
    All I have seen here is a promotion of a more balanced fleet, giving up some (but not all) or the high end fleet in order to buy a bunch of smaller, cheaper, but all to plentiful smaller platforms. How many green water or coastal craft could you buy for the price of one Arleigh Burke, and how many places could you be, providing presence, with those ships that you could not be with your one Arleigh Burke. No one who advocates for the multi-mission platforms has yet to suggest a way around the tyranny of the budget that is constricting us towards a fleet of 200 ships.

  69. Al L. permalink
    October 5, 2009 1:39 pm

    The content of this post in contrast to FSF on the banner made me have to comment.
    This article gives a real world example of why ships like seafighter won’t work for the U.S. Navy. Here you have an example of a 9000t ship with no useful air capability, but the worlds most powerful ship born radar and what must the crew use to identify their potential targets? Binoculars, at a distance of no more than 5 miles. And what would improve with FSF? Less money spent but no more effectiveness.
    What controls ship effectiveness today in the littorals, maritime security and low end conflict is its ability to operate helicopters. Without adequate flight deck, hanger and maintainace space all any ship can do is burn up fuel trying to get within 5 miles or less of all those boats to identify them, and even then the most useful view ,from above, is unavailable.
    To provide a robust air capability a ship needs to operate either 2 helicopters or a helicopter and a UAV attachment. Thats the only way to do persistent reconnaissance AND interdiction from the air.
    Their is no way to fit that type of air capability, a boat, a VBSS crew, self protection capability, the support gear and crew on anything less than 2000 tons. And when you add in the need of the U.S. Navy to deploy across the world and keep a crew comfortable enough, and equipment fresh enough to do the job under a wide range of conditions 2500t is probably the minimum.
    Thats why I think the Navy needs to focus now on 2500 – 4000 t ships. Anything else is a waste of time until the Navy fills that hole. LCS is one solution, a WMSL variation could be another, a foreign design ship in that size could work also, but 1000t coastal corvettes/patrol boats won’t work and 6000 ton Eurofrigates would be a waste of resources until the 2500+ ton helicopter carrying role is filled.

  70. Anonymous permalink
    October 5, 2009 12:48 pm

    A few decades time when Chinese SSN are stalking the North Atlantic after having an easy passage via the melted polar caps will you be advocating a return to complex ASW escorts?

    The modern frigate is a country’s most flexible military asset being self sustaining, as capable as fighting in low intensive as it is capable in fighting high end traditional warfare. Admittedly a few modifications would make them more effective at the lower end: more mounts for smaller weapons, better ships boats, etc. But these are easily added. While it would be impossible to rebuild to a small corvette to be effective to conduct ASW (in the differing littoral and deep sea environments.)

    What perhaps you should consider is that hinders the navies of the world in dealing with piracy is ineffective ROE, a lack of political will, and a fear of collateral damage. The rights of the pirates outweigh the rights of sailors, shipowners etc. Politically correct thinking sprouts from socialist thinking. Perhaps the member for Edgbaston (as a socialist) should consider that and not the suitability of a certain naval platform to perform a task. Her party would happily denude this country of military (and sovereignty.)

    All a corvette is a small ship with little capability. A frigate can do the smaller platform’s work and a whole lot more. As I have said here before in the UK we are struggling to keep the escorts we have. Promoting the adoption of smaller ships would cripple the fleet.

    Primarily a navy’s job is to control or deny an area of sea space.

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