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Navy versus the Bigger Fleet

February 7, 2010

Has there ever been a fleet in all history where it was the Admirals themselves who were the greatest obstacle to increasing ship numbers? Welcome to the modern age where Western fleets build only the biggest, baddest, and subsequently often “too big to fail” ship programs, then use them for fighting pirates, smugglers, or disaster relief. In wartime giant ships aren’t overly useful either, since they can’t leave port without escort from smaller warships, recalling the tin cans, destroyer escorts, frigates, and corvettes of the World Wars, and the famed PC’s of Vietnam.

David Axe talks about small warships, especially Sea Fighter above and links to a New Wars post in this article titled “USA Should Have a Bigger Small-Ship Navy“:

An experimental catamaran dubbed Sea Fighter, currently owned by the Office of Naval Research, has the potential to make an effective, affordable littoral warship. But the four-year-old vessel, built at a cost of just $60 million, has been deliberately buried under artificial restrictions by admirals and their political supporters, who prefer costlier and frankly riskier solutions to the Navy’s problems…

In 2007, [Congressman Duncan] Hunter had overseen legislation requiring the Navy to spend $22 million adding weapons to Sea Fighter, so that the vessel might be commissioned into the combat fleet and sent out on operations. The Navy “fails to take full advantage of the capabilities of this vessel,” the legislation asserted. Without weapons, the ship would never deploy.

But the Navy refused to abide by the law, and today Sea Fighter remains unarmed and unavailable for combat taskings. Senior Navy leaders effectively blocked Sea Fighter’s development, apparently in order to protect further production of its Cold War-era Burke-class destroyers and the controversial Littoral Combat Ship. The Burkes are 9,000-ton, multi-mission destroyers optimized for air- and missile-defense and deep-water warfare. A single Burke costs more than $1 billion and sails with at least 250 crew.

A scathing indictment of ongoing obstructionism from the Navy. Before this it was the Cyclone Patrol Craft which they have consistently tried to foster off to the Coast Guard or foreign navies. They exile Stiletto to the Caribbean where small ship programs go to die. Then it was the high speed vessels which they could have purchased in large numbers a decade ago instead of LCS . Now we are stuck with the expensive and essentially worthless LCS (pretty as she is), yet the Navy feels the need for more JHSV’s in the new budget.

The Admirals claim they want a bigger fleet, yet no one wants to cut a particular battleship program. The Navy Aviation has its battleships with the carriers, the subsurface folk must have only 8000 ton nuclear subs, the surface community has the 10,000 tons Burkes in perpetuity. Even the Marines has a new $3 billion amphib which oddly enough doesn’t have a well-deck for troops! And apparently the $600-$700 million LCS is the new battleship for Navy coastal warfare advocates.

It is the Navy they want, not the Navy they need. A larger fleet of Sea Fighters, light carriers, conventional subs, Stilettos, JHSV’s, corvettes, Absalon motherships, old fashioned mine ships, would be cheaper to build and operate than buying only billion dollar plus wonder ships which can do everything except be in more than one place at a time. They would use less fuel individually and need fewer personnel to operate. It would be a bigger, better navy than one we have today, more relevant to the times than the steadily shrinking all-battleship fleet we have.

I don’t mind battleship types, which are still needed, but that is ALL they are building. Incredible, when in the post-Soviet era, you don’t even require a “mostly battleship Navy”, but a Cadre of such vessels for the rare Big Wars. Even the large ships they build could be constructed cheaper and somewhat smaller, taking advantage of new technology (as we talked about here and here), but apparently they don’t even want to increase the number of Big Ships! It’s a death spiral and no one responsible is at the helm.

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  9. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 5:41 pm

    leesea said : “The exception is that there are many good second tier shipyards in the US which could do a good job building a foreign designed ship (and have done so) without corporate overseers!”

    Amen to that !

    leesea said : “And YES COTS and NDI works. I have seen it work. The problem is that NAVSEA does not know how to make such acquistion rules work. The USCG success in several cutter and aircraft projects proves the point.”

    Amen again !

    leesea speaks with big medicine here ! Certainly something for all the naysayers to ponder big time !

  10. leesea permalink
    February 9, 2010 5:34 pm

    Let get real here about which US shipyards can build what and how competitively. First off there is NO such thing as real competition amongst shipbuilders when they are bidding on a small production run (say 3 hulls or less) of a ship built to NVR. Their is not enough time for production efficiency. The shipyards corporate overseers will lay on all that overhead and cause the resultant bids to be over-blown. Secondly the ONLY reason a congressional type would call for “competition” is IF they have a backyard shipyard who fill the cc’s coffers. The Congress for the most part now does not give a damn about the future of the US Navy but rather the future of voter’s jobs in their district.

    To repeat my experience, there was congressional influence every one about 2 dozen ship conversions and building projects, for better mostly for worse.

    THE problem is PEOPLE!

    The exception is that there are many good second tier shipyards in the US which could do a good job building a foreign designed ship (and have done so) without corporate overseers!

    And YES COTS and NDI works. I have seen it work. The problem is that NAVSEA does not know how to make such acquistion rules work. The USCG success in several cutter and aircraft projects proves the point.

  11. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:28 pm

    Let’s be honest now : the main barrier against the termination of the failed LCS program is the ego of some individuals that sit pretty high in the food chain.

    I named two of these individuals earlier : Mike Mullen and Bob Work, both of them having invested an awful lot of credibility to support this program.

    On a sidenote, Bob Work was also, back when he was working for the CSBA, one of the most vocal supporters of the LPD-17, which he wanted to use as a basis of almost everything : LSD(X), Command Ship, Hospital Ship, BMD cruiser, NSFS platform, etc…

    As Mrs. Davis repeats quite often, people, or more precisely their ego, is the name of the problem.

  12. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:22 pm

    B. Smitty said : “They will want an open, competitive development and procurement process.”

    I’m all for playing by the rules, in a free-market environment.

    As far as playing by the rules is concerned, let’s start with this :

    1) LCS was supposed to cost somewhere between $150 million (objective) and $220 million (threshold) for the seaframe.

    2) Based on the lastest 30-year shipbuilding plan, the LCS seaframe is going to cost an average $636 million per unit, i.e. ~4 times the objective and ~3 times the threshold.

    3) Without the *transformational* accounting set up for the LCS program, such a massive cost overrun (the biggest one among the most recent shipbuilding programs examined by the GAO) clearly falls under the Nunn-McCurdy Amendment, whereby a program whose total cost grew by more than 25% over the original estimate should be terminated, unless the Secretary of Defense submits a detailed explanation certifying that the program is essential to the national security, that no suitable alternative of lesser cost is available, that new estimates of total program costs are reasonable, and that the management structure is (or has been made) adequate to control costs.

    4) So let’s have the SECDEF explain why a 40 knots Überspeedboat is essential to the national security, let’s have the SECDEF demonstrate that no suitable alternative of lesser cost is available (based on an independent AoA), etc…

    Let’s play by the rules. Shall we ?

  13. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:02 pm

    B. Smitty said : “They will need studies that conclude the Absalon is the right choice, if for nothing else than to cover their *sses.”

    I’m all for such a study to be made, as long as the study is conducted by an organization that’s independent of NAVSEA and the SECNAV, as well as any person or organization within the DoD that might have a connection with the failed LCS program (so that obviously includes Bob Work, Mike Mullen, and consorts).

    Besides, the US Navy has already completed some internal studies on ABSALON, and gathered quite a lot of documentation, so it’s merely a matter of putting everything together.

    Let’s go for it. The sooner, the better.

  14. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 3:53 pm

    B. Smitty said : “M777 is a new system and is a joint procurement between the US Army and USMC. The EFSS is a USMC-only, custom system. Stryker and the UH-72 are based on existing systems, but are HEAVILY modified.”

    M777 began as VSEL’s UFH long before the USMC JORD of June 1995 was formulated.

    EFSS is a 120mm rifled mortar based on Thomson-Brandt’s (now part of Thales) MO-120-RT-61 which has been around since the 1960s.

    Mechanically speaking, Stryker is fairly close to the Canadian LAV-III. The Protector M151 RWS is COTS.

    UH-72 is a militarized Eurocopter EC-145. The US Army merely happened to be the first curtomer for the militarized EC-145, which had been on the drawing board LONG before 2004.

    And you know that there’s more that could be added to the list, don’t you ? Like :

    * US Army M120 120mm smoothbore mortar : developped by Soltam Systems of Israel

    * US Army / USMC M252 81mm smoothbore mortar : British L16 81mm mortar

    * US Army / USMC M240 7.62mm machine gun : FN MAG-58 by FN Herstal of Belgium

    * US Army / USMC M249 5.56mm SAW : FN Minimi by FN Herstal of Belgium

    Etc, etc, etc…

  15. B.Smitty permalink
    February 9, 2010 2:59 pm

    Scott B: “Are you trying to suggest that there’s only one shipyard in the US that could build an Absalon ?

    No. I’m suggesting that they would want a competition for designs, not just for production.

    Scott B: “The USMC does it (LAV-25, M777 howitzer, EFSS… with MPV to follow the same path apparently)

    The US Army does it (Stryker, UH-72 Lakota,…)

    The US Coast Guard does it (Fast Response Cutter, with the Offshore Patrol Cutter to follow the same path apparently)

    M777 is a new system and is a joint procurement between the US Army and USMC. The EFSS is a USMC-only, custom system. Stryker and the UH-72 are based on existing systems, but are HEAVILY modified.

    These are not COTS systems

    Scott B: “The Mk92 used on the Perrys is a derivative of the Dutch HSA’s WM-28.

    The ICMS used on LCS-2 is a derivative of the Franco-Dutch Thales TACTICOS.

    But all of the sudden, when it comes to the Absalon and their Danish Terma C-Flex / T-Core, historical precedence no longer exists and everything becomes impossible…

    The key term is “derivative”.

    My point is, I don’t think the USN, Congress or DoD would stand for having a foreign ship, designed for a foreign navy’s requirements, rammed down their throats with little or no say in the matter. They will need studies that conclude the Absalon is the right choice, if for nothing else than to cover their *sses. They will need to satisfy requirements based on an analysis of needs and threats. They will want an open, competitive development and procurement process.

  16. B.Smitty permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:59 pm

    Sorry Scott, I didn’t see your responses. Disregard last.

  17. Bill permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:59 pm

    Just for clarification if it offers any: The realtionship between USN and ABS is by definition and agreement a very flexible and fluid one with respect to building naval vessels under ABS (HSNC or NVR) rules. It was set up that way from day one and continues that way. LEts los not forget that Se Fighter was the ‘trial horse’ for classing under HSNC..and of course LCS the trial horse for NVR.

    A key ‘feature’ of the ABS/USN ‘partnership’ has been that the USN SDM effectively has the authority to issue waivers (or request their issuance from higher up) for ABS requirements.

    From what I’ve seen..the whole ‘what hath NVR wrought’ as it might have affected the LCS-1 and LCS-2 building costs has been overly simplified by some who might feel a need to cast blame. I’m much more familiar with the HSNC rules than with NVR simply because those are the ones I am intimately working with…but after 25 years of working to DnV, RINA, GL, etc..there is nothing..literally nothing…onerous, excessive or out of wack with what ABS has developed and applied to thes kinds of ships and craft. If I knew for certain that the same was the case pretty much for the NVR situation..I would be shouting ‘red herring’….

    Another odd tidbit that I ran across when reviewing my project notes from the early LCS days before construction contracts wer awarded…I was reminded how many NAVSEA and MIL specs for naval shipbuilding were called out, anticipating the imposition of the yet-to-be-defined NVR.

  18. B.Smitty permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:53 pm

    Ok Scott,

    Maybe one of my four questions isn’t a major issue. What about the other three?

  19. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:46 pm

    B. Smitty : “Would any self respecting Senator allow the Navy to buy a vessel without a competitive bid process?”

    Are you trying to suggest that there’s only one shipyard in the US that could build an Absalon ?

    B. Smitty : “Would the Navy buy a warship where they didn’t have significant input on the basic design?”

    The USMC does it (LAV-25, M777 howitzer, EFSS… with MPV to follow the same path apparently)

    The US Army does it (Stryker, UH-72 Lakota,…)

    The US Coast Guard does it (Fast Response Cutter, with the Offshore Patrol Cutter to follow the same path apparently)

    But I am supposed to believe that the US Navy cannot do it ? And shouldn’t do after the unprecedented serie of procurement failures (LCS, LPD-17,…) ?

    B. Smitty : “Would they let the combat systems as-specified for Absalon through without significant changes?”

    The Mk92 used on the Perrys is a derivative of the Dutch HSA’s WM-28.

    The ICMS used on LCS-2 is a derivative of the Franco-Dutch Thales TACTICOS.

    But all of the sudden, when it comes to the Absalon and their Danish Terma C-Flex / T-Core, historical precedence no longer exists and everything becomes impossible…

    Pleazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

  20. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:18 pm

    B. Smitty said : “Would they grant waivers for any US NVRs that Absalon couldn’t satisfy?”

    Questions :

    1) Is HDMS Absalon more vulnerable than any of the current LCS designs ?

    2) Are the differences between NVR and DNS rules for naval vessels likely likely to produce a huge cost impact ?

    3) Are there so many critical subsystems / components (diesel engines, drivetrain, firefighting system, cabling & piping, GENSET, Pumps,…) that would need to be replaced for Absalon to meet the NVR ?

    4) Are the NVR a convenient excuse used by LockMart to justify the inacceptable cost overruns experienced with their LCS design ?

    Answers :

    1) NO (it’s actually the other way around)

    2) NO

    3) NO

    4) YES

    Bottom Line :

    Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken !!!

  21. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:05 pm

    Sorry for the double post below. Please delete first post. Thanks.

  22. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:00 pm

    Raymond Pritchett said : “DDG-1000 may be an enormously expensive mess of a program, but that doesn’t mean the ships themselves won’t be amazing warships.”

    FLIP (Galrahn @ ID, March 2008)

    “We believe the way ahead requires the cancellation of the DDG-1000, because once the Navy loses its surface combatant of the future, they will design a new one that is more affordable. […] This approach to balancing the fleet first requires the cancellation of the DDG-1000, which is why we see this as great news.”

    FLOP (a href=”http://www.informationdissemination.net/2009/03/letter-to-secretary-gates-on-ddg-1000.html”>Galrahn @ ID, March 2009)

    “I know it is unpopular to say, but if it was me, I’d build at least 4 DDG-1000s while moving with all haste into designing a brand new 10,000 ton future surface combatant (FSC) and a CG(X) intended to provide theater BMD.”

  23. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 9, 2010 12:46 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position where my harshest critics are people I mostly agree with. The ones who don’t seem to mind my articles, are the ones I criticize the most, which is the Navy! They even publish many of my posts within their News Clips newsletter, for years now, which makes me think someone in authority is listening and there is still hope.

  24. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 12:42 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “One minute you are for reform, the next you say “it ain’t going to Happen so give it up”, as with Sunday’s post. One minute you are rightly chastising Admiral Harvey, the next day you call him the bestest admiral ever?”

    Mr. Flip-Flop in action !!!

  25. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 12:38 pm

    Raymond Pritchett said : “Every comment I have made on this blog for the last 9 months has resulted in ad hominem attacks by you.”

    Again, Pot Calling Kettle Black.

    Besides, there’s probably no need to remind you of this fairly accurate self-portrait you posted over at your own place back in May of 2008 :

    “The tactic out of game was for “Galrahn” to attack the honor of those who had it, and belittle the pride and accomplishment of those who thrived on such emotions. […] For two weeks Galrahn would spend time insulting the honor of the most honorable, attacking the pride and courage of the most proud and most courageous competitors of the game, not for spite, but rather as strategy.”

    So far, your behavior has been consistent with this self-portrait.

    And now that Mike is about to hit the 1/2 million mark, it’s his turn to be the victim of your denigrations.

    Shame on you !

  26. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 9, 2010 12:24 pm

    Galrahn said “I didn’t realize trying to talk to decision makers of the Navy was a bad thing”

    It’s not, more power to you. But please don’t lower your standards or demean the opinions of others. One minute you are for reform, the next you say “it ain’t going to Happen so give it up””, as with Sunday’s post. One minute you are rightly chastising Admiral Harvey, the next day you call him the bestest admiral ever?

    If you don’t want to help the reform movement, thats fine. You can blog whatever you want or talk to whomever. Just don’t hinder the rest of us. Please.

  27. February 9, 2010 12:14 pm

    Bill,

    I’ll post on it. The article is for subscribers only.

  28. February 9, 2010 12:08 pm

    Mike,

    I didn’t realize trying to talk to decision makers of the Navy was a bad thing – I thought we blogged because we want them to listen. I also didn’t know that “not” being a “serious blog” was your objective.

    Alternative ideas are a good thing, and hell yes the Navy needs more of them… but some of the statements in this post are not accurate – as I have highlighted already. If we don’t get the facts right our arguments for reform will never resonate as right.

    And yes, I do care a great deal about the credibility of the larger Navy ecosystem online. We are part of a growing community online no other service has, and credibility of the pieces increases the credibility of the whole.

  29. February 9, 2010 12:04 pm

    Scott,

    Every comment I have made on this blog for the last 9 months has resulted in ad hominem attacks by you. Clearly I’m the problem…

    In a way, I think everyone in the Navy hopes that in some way what RADM Goddard comes true. There are important technologies on DDG-1000, DDG-51, and lessons to be learned from LCS that should indeed be looked at for whatever replaces the DDG-51s. Unmanned systems is the future and that is what LCS is for – the test bed for the mechanical, electrical, and deployment of those systems to sea. I think Mike’s tactical foundation for naval combat is built on unmanned systems, so I do think he sees the importance of testing this stuff.

    DDG-1000 may be an enormously expensive mess of a program, but that doesn’t mean the ships themselves won’t be amazing warships. We need to get guns right, integrated power right, and test new radar systems among many other things the DDG-1000 brings as a technology demonstrator program – which it is now that it has been truncated.

    The next 10 years may be the only time the Navy actually can have serious R&D at sea on platforms without global and regional peer competitors challenging. Using that time testing is important.

    And yes, I was very quietly pleased when Bob Work told all the reporters in San Diego that he sees the LCS “much like Raymond does” as a mothership for unmanned systems. Salamander and Springboard were both there as my witness…

    Meaning maybe I’m not out alone on an island as you claim.

  30. Bill permalink
    February 9, 2010 9:19 am

    “(go read Chris Cavas’s article again, there is a tip in there no one seems to have picked up), ”

    Anybody got a link to that article that works? ..if I had even found the article back then, and I do not recall that I did..I cannot find it now.

  31. B.Smitty permalink
    February 9, 2010 9:15 am

    Scott B,

    Of course the real problem with building Absalons in the US is not that components or labor is more expensive, it’s the procurement process.

    Would any self respecting Senator allow the Navy to buy a vessel without a competitive bid process? Would the Navy buy a warship where they didn’t have significant input on the basic design? Would they grant waivers for any US NVRs that Absalon couldn’t satisfy? Would they let the combat systems as-specified for Absalon through without significant changes?

    I have a feeling the answer to all of those questions is also ‘NO’.

  32. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 9, 2010 7:10 am

    Appreciate Mr Raymond Pritchett gracing our lowly blog. Personally, I like the Galrahn who is for reform, except when he is hanging around the Washington crowd. I get many of my ideas for reform from his blog, which ScottB and other’s chastise me quite often for doing. But I believe there is hope for anybody, especially the Navy which is why we blog.

    I hope I never become a “serious blog”, if I must demean other alternative ideas and trust in the fantasy shipbuilding numbers emanating from the Pentagon. They know their future plans are not serious, as does Congress, and you yourself have consistently written on the discrepancy.

  33. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 5:13 am

    Galrahn said : “I spoke with Navy leaders all week last week, not one of them framed the LCS like this. Do you have evidence to back your claim? Who are you quoting?”

    I’ll give you a couple, both of which you should know about :

    1) RADM Chuck Goddard, PEO Ships in this AFJ article from June 2007 :

    “For example, to maximize re-use of existing designs to reduce nonrecurring engineering and take advantage of the learning curve, a potential strategy for surface combatants is to derive the planned CG(X) cruiser from DDG 1000 and the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer replacement from LCS. Upgrading the radar on DDG 1000, and replacing the Advanced Gun System with additional vertical launch cells to create CG(X) would be similar to how the CG-47 Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser was derived from the DD 963 Spruance-class destroyer. Similarly, installing the multifunction radar on one of the LCS variants and retaining the modular mission packages would provide a replacement for DDG 51s.

    This article was posted several times over at your place in the comments section (the archives of which has now *conveniently* disappeared), but perhaps you were too busy at the time proclaiming that LCS was not a warship but an *unrated mini-mothership of the flotilla with C2 node capabilities* or some similar BS…

    2) And obviously, if you read some of the comments your mentor Bob Work posted over at your place last week or so, you might realize that the plan alluded to by RADM Goddard is still *floating around* :

    “As for survivability, both the FF and the LCS will be out of action with an ASCM or torpedo hit; the LCS will much more survivable than any mine warfare craft in the world. Moreover, if we need to, either hull has the margins to carry a SPY-IF, 8-16 strike length Mk-41 VLS cells (for 32-64 ESSMs); 8 Harpoons. That would make it the equal of the Nansen.”

    “A 8- to 16-cell LCS with a SPY-IF could carry up to 32-64 ESSMs, and be very effective in the local air defense role. Add in 8 Harpoons, 57mm, and SeaRam, and you’d have a handy frigate. By way of comparison, Norway’s Nasen has a SPY-IF, 8 VLS cells, 8 SSMs, 76mm, one helo (has the space and weight for another 8-cell module). Top speed: 26 kts. Range: 4500 at 16 kts. A LCS-derived frigate compares nicely.”

    So how about you jump off your high horse, stop confusing your self-proclaimed popularity with a credibility that you don’t have (and won’t have any time soon) and quit this despicable habit of systematically denigrate Mike ?

  34. Scott B. permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:42 am

    Raymond Pritchett said : “Does anyone seriously believe a US shipyard can build an inexpensive Absalon class?”

    Questions :

    1) Is steel more expensive in the US than Denmark ?

    2) Are MTU diesel engines more expensive in the US than Denmark ?

    3) Is the Renk drivetrain more expensive in the US than Denmark ?

    4) Are the 5″ Mark-45 Mod.4 gun, 35mm Millenium guns, Mark-48/56 GMVLS, Harpoon launchers or Terma DLS more expensive in the US than Denmark ?

    5) Are the Smart-S Mk2 3D radar, the CEROS-200 directors, the Scanter 2001 radar or the ASO 94-01 hull-mounted sonar more expensive in the US than Denmark ?

    6) Is Labor more expensive in the US than Denmark ?

    7) Are shipyards cost structures different in the US and in Denmark ?

    Answers :

    1) NO

    2) NO

    3) NO

    4) NO

    5) NO

    6) NO

    7) NO

    But you knew the answers already because every single point above (and much more) was discussed at length over at your own blog before you decided to started ad hominem attacks so as to kill any kind of discussion on this specific matter.

    Then you tried to get away with it and posted nonsense of a story, that doesn’t hold water in itself and is solely based on vague hearsay (or imaginary sources).

    And now you come to Mike’s place to proclaim with an arrogance second to none that Mike’s blog “is neither teaching nor learning anymore.”

    POT CALLING KETTLE BLACK !!!

    Who do you think you are ?

  35. February 9, 2010 2:16 am

    Has there ever been a fleet in all history where it was the Admirals themselves who were the greatest obstacle to increasing ship numbers? Welcome to the modern age where Western fleets build only the biggest, baddest, and subsequently often “too big to fail” ship programs

    You don’t know your history very well. The Royal Navy took the same approach in 1815 during peacetime and it took them a hell of a lot longer than it takes us to respond around the world. Considering 25 of the 50 ships in the 5 year plan are JHSV and LCS, I am not sure how you can claim “Western fleets build only the biggest, baddest, and subsequently often “too big to fail” ship programs.” Neither program fits that description, and when speaking of LCS we have canceled or cut as many as have been purchased to date, so failure apparently is an option.

    The Admirals claim they want a bigger fleet, yet no one wants to cut a particular battleship program.

    Guess we aren’t counting the DDG-1000. Or the CG(X). But otherwise you got it right?!?

    apparently the $600-$700 million LCS is the new battleship for Navy coastal warfare advocates.

    I spoke with Navy leaders all week last week, not one of them framed the LCS like this. Do you have evidence to back your claim? Who are you quoting?

    I don’t mind battleship types, which are still needed, but that is ALL they are building.

    The Obama administration has called for AEGIS BMD to be the near term ballistic missile defense for the US. The Navy is building 8 Burkes in response. Do you have an alternative suggestion?

    The budget I read showed 8 of 50 ships are Burkes, and that is “ALL they are building?” Can you point out which document you used as your source?

    A larger fleet of Sea Fighters, light carriers, conventional subs, Stilettos, JHSV’s, corvettes, Absalon motherships, old fashioned mine ships, would be cheaper to build and operate

    You have done cost analysis on the operation of these ships? I have seen cost analysis of operating large numbers of small ships, in particular the NNFM which has ships of sizes very similar, and operational costs are the problem with the plan. I presume you have data otherwise? Would this fleet be more capable than alternatives – like the fleet planned?

    How much will a SSK design from scratch, doctrine, training, and shore structure cost anyway? Do you expect that to ‘save’ costs? Do you seriously think ‘old fashioned mine ships’ are inexpensive? Do you even read the Navy’s own budget?

    Even the large ships they build could be constructed cheaper and somewhat smaller, taking advantage of new technology

    I guess the British, Spanish, Italians, and US are all incorrect, smaller carriers are actually cheaper? Nope, pretty sure you are inaccurate on this point. It should also be noted that on a per missile basis – which matters when you cannot reload at sea (damn tyranny of sea state) – larger VLS ships are less expensive to build, operate, and maintain than smaller ships. The two examples you cited are factually incorrect. Does anyone seriously believe a US shipyard can build an inexpensive Absalon class? Does anyone seriously believe Congress is going to allow ships to be built in Europe? I’d say no to both, meaning it is hard to take these ideas seriously no matter how often they are repeated.

    Is this a serious blog anymore, or a tabloid? It is getting increasingly difficult to tell.

    Do yourself a favor – look closer at the changes made to Sea Fighter and see what they did. Then ask yourself why they did it. Then ask yourself how much they really spent on Sea Fighter (go read Chris Cavas’s article again, there is a tip in there no one seems to have picked up), and whether you are still quoting anywhere near the right cost.

    You really need to ask more questions, because this blog is neither teaching nor learning anymore.

  36. Bill permalink
    February 8, 2010 3:09 pm

    “Next remember that the Sea Fighter was bought by ONR as a technology demonstrator. In point of fact Adm Cohen was a supporter of the ship type and its rather innovative construction methods. The Sea Fighter is NOT a commissioned ship, its a service craft in service.”

    It is certainly true that the program started out as simply a technology demonstrator build on a fairly small budget..but before she was launched it had grown well beyond that, with completion delays and a large budget increase specifically directed toward ‘fleet upgrades’ with the stated objetive of being ready to be commissioned and deployed very soon after delivery.

    And that was during the initial build program..nothing to do with the recent round of less expensive additional mods.

  37. leesea permalink
    February 8, 2010 1:17 pm

    Ok lets correct some technical errors. First it was the Asheville class PGs operating around Vietnam. Next remember that the Sea Fighter was bought by ONR as a technology demonstrator. In point of fact Adm Cohen was a supporter of the ship type and its rather innovative construction methods. The Sea Fighter is NOT a commissioned ship, its a service craft in service.

    You all know I am a big supporter of the Sea Fighter and Warboats.org colleagues have already developed a plan for weaponizing the ship. The semi-SWATH has potential. The JHSV is in production that should tell us something. BTW JHSV was fully developed over several years as a joint use transport. The program so far looks successfull because they stuck to a core set of rqmts usefull by more than one service in several POE. I find it curious that every Navy website I go to categorizes the JHSV differently (which goes to CBDs point?) . To me its tactical sealift ship but hell that’s just my eyes. To others like Bob Work its a potential APD. Who knows what next?

    BUT the blue water navy myopia did not see SeaFighter as needed in the green waters. Until and unless the US Navy comes to a better understand of the ships needed in green waters for (to some) less important missions like MIO and MSO, we are spinning our wheels here. Not that I like the situation. Just that’s the way it is IMHO~~

  38. Bill permalink
    February 8, 2010 9:03 am

    To the hull form questions: Scott pointed out, correctly, that the FSF-1 hull is considered a ‘semi-SWATH’ design. That term does not really have any NA parameters that directly define it..although Stenna would perhaps beg to differ and won their long-standing suit agains Austal’s supposed ‘infringement’ on the Stenna patent for their version of what has become nicknamed over time ‘semi-SWATH’.

    All of these ‘semi-SWATH’ cats are characterized by a very fine and reduced volume forward hull with very ‘SWATH-like’ variation in waterplane area as a function of immersion. The afterbody lines, on the other hand, range from ”barely SWATH-like’ (re. Stenna HSS) to ‘not SWATH-like at all’..(re. Austal JHSV and Sea Fighter).

    The end result is kind of mixed. On the one hand, a ‘semi-SWATH cat’, is more controllable, often much more so, in pitch than a conventional cat. With a suitable stabilization system fittted, such cats can be – and often are – superb seakeeping machines at higher speeds.

    But at lower speeds, the lack of forward bouyancy and restoring moments can create problems and motions can be quite bad under some conditions going ‘slow’ ,where they would otherwise be very acceptable if the crew could put the hammer down and go.

  39. Bill permalink
    February 8, 2010 8:50 am

    “While we’re going; I still think that an LCAC based Littoral Combat Ship wouldn’t be a bad investment for working along the coast of Africa.”

    Ugh. Being intimately familiar with those craft, having been inolved in the construction and trials for some years too, I can state with certainty that the LCACs are good for only one thing..what they are now used for: amphibious (welldeck)-ship-to-shore lift capability, about 60 tons per load.

    Extremely noisy (both near-field and far-field..you can hear one LCAC coming and going for miles distant), expensive to operate, very short range and cannot be refueled ‘underway’ no accomodation for any ‘extra crew’ other than the little space available in the uncomfortable P&E module..not possible to have anyone on deck when underway…very low sea-state operational limit…etc..etc..

  40. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 7, 2010 8:01 pm

    To refresh all of us here at New Wars regarding the status of Sea Fighter, here are some older threads from New Wars which particularly refer to her:

    Sea Fighter to Haiti?
    2010 January 14

    https://newwars.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/sea-fighter-to-haiti/

    Sea Fighter Mystery Looms
    2009 December 10

    https://newwars.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/sea-fighter-mystery-looms/

    Navy-Sea Fighter Not Ready for Combat
    2009 November 24

    https://newwars.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/navy-sea-fighter-not-ready-for-combat/

    Sea Fighter’s New Look
    2009 November 21

    https://newwars.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/sea-fighters-new-look/

  41. ShockwaveLover permalink
    February 7, 2010 7:20 pm

    While we’re going; I still think that an LCAC based Littoral Combat Ship wouldn’t be a bad investment for working along the coast of Africa.

  42. ShockwaveLover permalink
    February 7, 2010 7:18 pm

    I love the Seafighter, and wish that someone with a bit of sense would give it a chance to prove itself.

  43. Scott B. permalink
    February 7, 2010 4:38 pm

    Bill said : “Sea Fighter Captured by Haitian Pirates”

    LOL.

    Now, on a more serious note, given Bob Work’s desire to use the JHSV as a *low-end* LCS, we might pretty soon end up with that sort of headlines.

  44. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 7, 2010 4:32 pm

    Scott,

    I stand corrected regarding the exact nature of Sea Fighter’s hullform. ModCAT? Sounds like an acquisition program for Caterpillar equipment from the British Ministry of Defence…

    Are there any overhead or aerial views of Sea Fighter since her rebuild? I’m wondering whether that higher panel surrounding her flight deck is simply meant as a stealth enhancement to conceal UAV operations. Perhaps that raised panel precludes helo operations (or not), but still allow for UAV takeoffs and landings.

  45. Scott B. permalink
    February 7, 2010 4:06 pm

    D.E. Reddick said : “FSF-1 Sea Fighter is not a catamaran. Rather, it’s a SWATH hullform.”

    Sea Fighter is a semi-SWATH catamaran (I seem to recall that the folks of NGA called the hull form ModCAT or something like that).

    Compared with a traditional catamaran, a semi-SWATH design is supposed to produce better seakeeping qualities (in particular, a significant reduction in vertical acceleration in high sea states) and lower speed losses in waves.

    I’m sure Bill will be able to explain all the subtleties involved, and much more (especially on boring snowy Sunday afternoon). ;-)

  46. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 7, 2010 3:19 pm

    Joe K.,

    FSF-1 Sea Fighter is not a catamaran. Rather, it’s a SWATH hullform. They are two very different hullform designs which simply share the concept of twin hulls that pierce the surface of the sea. Otherwise, their interfaces with the sea are quite different.

    “Sea Fighter’s hull is of a SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) design, constructed out of aluminum. The SWATH design gives Sea Fighter exceptional stability, even in high seas. This is accomplished by placing most of the ship’s displacement below the level of the waves (like a submarine) where all the kinetic energy of the sea surface is located. Conversely, ships with traditional hull designs have most of their displacement in the wave level of the sea, causing them to roll and pitch in the waves.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fsf-1

    Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull

    “SWATH is an acronym – the letters stand for Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull. It is a twin-hull ship design that minimizes hull cross section area at the sea’s surface. By minimizing the ship’s volume near the surface area of the sea, where wave energy is located, a vessel’s stability is maximized, even in high seas and at high speeds. The bulk of the displacement necessary to keep the ship afloat is located beneath the waves, where it is less affected by wave action. Wave excitation drops exponentially as depth increases (Deeply submerged submarines are not affected by wave action at all). Placing the majority of a ship’s displacement under the waves is similar in concept to creating a ship that rides atop twin submarines.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWATH

    Examine the following graphic which compares a catamaran hullform with a SWATH hullform. The differences in approach as to how to interact with the sea surface are clearly shown (think of the submarine analogy, as provided above).

  47. Matthew S. permalink
    February 7, 2010 1:58 pm

    “Proving, once again, the problem is people not platforms.”

    Of course its about platforms. There are over 80 cruisers (DDG-51s are cruisers, 9000 tons!) in the USN and 30 old, under armed frigates. Their replacements will be patrol craft armed LCS which are corvette/transport/mission specific awkward hybrids. Theres no hi-lo mix, just hi-hi.

  48. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 7, 2010 1:25 pm

    YNSN-I appreciate your thoughts. Like you I think the Coast Guard could easily handle this problem of piracy, except, this is what we have a Navy for. the USCG are excellent in support of USN missions, but they should not lead the way. If the navy cannot guarantee the freedom of the Seas, at least reasonably so, then what should its purpose be? I don’t think we get to choose the threats we must face, but always be ready to rise to the challenge. Historically, it was the small wars that helped define the Navy and Marine Corps, also providing vital experience for future leaders in future Big Wars. I don’t think these lessons should be so easily scorned by our unmatched Fleet which we pump so many billions into.

  49. YNSN permalink
    February 7, 2010 1:16 pm

    I think the biggest question is what weapons are we talking about with the 22 million invested?

    What about then commissioning her? Deciding what the crew breakdown will be required, ect ect, to get to total ownership cost? I think it is awesome, but symbolic of the Congressmen to try to enact that law.

    If we had 20 Cyclones and an ARG (sans most of the marines, only air crews, FAST teams, and MPs) off the coast of Somalia I think the pirates wouldn’t be able to operate with us on their tracks the majority of the time.

    We really need almost like a hybrid of the Navy and Coast guard to cover the contingencies demanded of the QDR. You’re right, 9k ton DDGs can do that.
    There is to much of a performance gap from our blue Navy to the Green one we need.

    Call me a heretic, but I say give the job to the Coast Guard, they are the ones with the LEDETs any way, and they have more experience in littorals any way. Hell, they basically own the US littorals. At least put a suspense on the amount of time the Navy as to get its act together, before looking for a Coast Guard solution. As long as I’ve been in the Navy (almost 4 years) I’ve been told we are figuring it out, we’re getting ready to do this… And then the product just seems inadequate.

  50. Bill permalink
    February 7, 2010 12:58 pm

    On more ..hey, it s boring snowy Sundayafternoon.

    “has been deliberately buried under artificial restrictions by admirals and their political supporters, ”

    To be fair..there have been more thatn one of those admirals that took an interest in seeing the Sea Fighter deployed and gainfully employed. Their efforts were stymied by bad information, distorted or even outright false. From where, you then ask? From ‘those’ that would benefit the most from seeing the vessel remain crewed and employed exactly as it is.

    Shame on ‘them’, yes..but shame on the admirals who inquired for accepting that kind of story at face value in the first place. Is’s a akin to asking an E3 whether a new weapon sytem should be deployed on his ship. Or Not.

  51. Bill permalink
    February 7, 2010 12:41 pm

    Had to insert a ‘funny’. Got an email a couple days ago from one of the Sea Fighter tech support guys. He knows I often miss emails due to the large volume that comes in most days (read: lots of spam) so he made sure the email subject line would catch my attention. What was it?

    “Sea Fighter Captured by Haitian Pirates’

    LOL..it worked…I didn’t miss his email. ;-)

  52. Bill permalink
    February 7, 2010 12:25 pm

    Scott asked: “Why would you want to have both Sea Fighters and JHSVs ?”

    IMO..you wouldn’t. But when Sea Fighter was being built, JSHSV was not even an acronym yet. How many JHSVs are currently in service, btw?

    The issue – and the real question – was properly addressed: Why does the Navy own and operate a well-built and capable vessel like Sea Fighter but not use it for missions it is ideal for? I know the answers to that question and not one of them is based on solid technical rationale..as was alluded to, its all mainly political.

  53. Bill permalink
    February 7, 2010 12:16 pm

    “Hasn’t it already been established that catamarans are limited in their operational areas and aren’t even safe in those? ”

    ??. It’s been established that ALL vessels are limited in their design operational envelope. Catamarans certainly no more so than any other type. Exceed that and bad things can happen. If we want every naval platform to have a completely unrestricted EO..we better not build any more LCS, JHSV, TSV, HSV, PC, MSH, SOC Mk5, HSB, etc etc…ever.

  54. Mrs. Davis permalink
    February 7, 2010 11:39 am

    Proving, once again, the problem is people not platforms.

  55. CBD permalink
    February 7, 2010 11:14 am

    Mike,
    Forgot to close up my link. Could you patch that? Thanks!

  56. CBD permalink
    February 7, 2010 11:13 am

    Scott,
    I think it’s less about having JHSVs and Sea Fighters and Stillettos as ships more similar to these examples than to the current DDGs. The point being that none of these not even Absalons modified to a more Anglo-American purpose are given serious consideration.

    The obsession with the new looking like the old (size and form) if not functioning like it (in practicality, durability and low cost) has taken prominence over the demands of the core naval function.

    Unfortunately, an under-armed, poorly developed LCS is preferred to a minimally developed JHSV, which is more likely to be adopted as a model than a PC/Corvette of local design, which is more likely to be adopted than any useful large ship of foreign design (F100, Absalon).

    Under Secretary Work has taken the first step (filling in the weaknesses of the LCS with the idea of a modified JHSV). Other signs I also find inspiring: The developmental approach to new destroyer designs and the move toward real flexibility in systems.

    The decision to integrate new systems onto the existing Burkes through the rest of the Flt IIa models, developing a Flt III with an entirely new system architecture and a Flt IV which will place the new system model on an improved hull.

    Although the USN managed to take the useful STANFLEX system concept and royally screw it up with the LCS execution, Work is dedicated to pushing the original concept more pointedly throughout the fleet. Hope yet for the Absalon.

  57. Joe K. permalink
    February 7, 2010 9:41 am

    Hasn’t it already been established that catamarans are limited in their operational areas and aren’t even safe in those? Even that variable catamaran design showed a hefty vulnerability getting disabled by an ocean wave fairly close to shore. That means even if you fielded a new fleet of those catamarans you run the risk of having to tend to or rescue them in their intended operational areas because of the design’s flaws.

  58. Scott B. permalink
    February 7, 2010 8:01 am

    Mike Burleson said : “A larger fleet of Sea Fighters, light carriers, conventional subs, Stilettos, JHSV’s, corvettes, Absalon motherships, old fashioned mine ships, would be cheaper to build”

    Why would you want to have both Sea Fighters and JHSVs ?

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  1. links for 2010-02-08 « Budget Insight

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