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The Navy’s Immunity Syndrome

March 25, 2010

I thought the following quote from Navy Times, taken from Admiral Mullen at recent Congressional hearings just astounding:

If there are “tradeoffs” between the new submarine and existing ship programs, Mullen — a former chief of naval operations — said, aircraft carriers and big-deck amphibious ships typically are immune from such discussions.

Considering they are the most expensive, and for the new warfare at sea, the most nonessential vessels. In a real war involving the launching of guided missiles, they likely will be the first vessels targeted, their giant bulk so much fodder for stealthy subs. Historically though, the most money in peacetime is spent on weapons useless in war.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    March 26, 2010 2:43 pm

    Historically though, the most money in peacetime is spent on weapons useless in war.

    We are in an era where weapons are proving (and have proven) to be quite useful through many different battlefield eras. B-52’s, Iowa-class battleships, Essex and Midway class a/c carriers, KC-135’s, etc., have all experienced many different current and/or past lives, to channel from Sylvia Browne for a moment.

    If you want to argue that the US Navy should maintain more “cap room” with which to respond to new innovations, then that is a plausible argument. But all-encompassing blanket statements like A/C carriers are nonessential vessels and most money in peacetime is spent on weapons useless in war sound more simplistic than they do sage.

  2. leesea permalink
    March 26, 2010 4:47 am

    RIre is very right and to that I would add most amphib formations are inadequately defended as virtually NO sealift ship convoys are covered to include many MPS movements. Wonder what the Marines will do with those sunk or damaged?

  3. March 25, 2010 7:52 pm

    A few days bacl I was look at the pic’ of that Daring making a figure of 8 with her wash. And I thought back to RN operations in the Mediterranean during WW2 how vigorously ships had to be conned. And then I thought about corvettes and sloops depth-charging U-boats in the Atlantic. Suddenly I realised that this would never happen again. Missiles (both offensive and defensive) would move that quickly that ship handler couldn’t keep up, perhaps can’t keep up. And the idea of a modern escort chasing down an SSN is silly, can’t happen. As for SSKs well they would be outpaced by helicopters. As long as the propeller is moderately quiet and the ship can keep up a cruising speed 20kts of knots that is all that is needed. I bet most modern fast ferries already mean those two requirements. I think what Matt says is that when it comes to specially designed warships their really is only the carrier left. Everything else is a box to carry stuff…………

  4. Matt permalink
    March 25, 2010 7:49 pm

    “Historically though, the most money in peacetime is spent on weapons useless in war.”

    Can you cite an example for this assertion? As I stated in my earlier email, most of the core hardware the US used in WW2 was designed and fielded prior to 1941.

  5. March 25, 2010 7:42 pm

    Carriers are enablers. Controlling vast areas of sea allows simpler naval (and civilian) ships to operate.

  6. Matt permalink
    March 25, 2010 6:36 pm

    Carriers are non-essential? Take a look around at major crises over the last 10-15 years, where ordnance was dropped. Carrier aircraft provided 75% of the strike sorties in Afghanistan in 2001 — because the air farce couldn’t get basing.

    Carriers are vulnerable? Carriers are big, but the ocean is a heck of a lot bigger. It’s not to say they can’t be sunk when found — but finding a carrier is an awful lot harder than you think. We have a hard enough time doing it day to day in peacetime ops when its got its radar blazing and TACAN on. Once it’s been found, catching and targetting it with a 5-10 kt stealthy diesel sub is no mean feat.

    If we’re talking relevence, I’d argue that the surface community are the ones to be worried. They lob a few tomahawks now and then, and spend their time fruitlessly chasing pirates, and occassionally running their ships aground.

    I’d also take slight exception to your comment about historical relevance of peacetime systems in wartime. Consider this list: B-17, B-24, P-51, P-47, P-38, Sherman tank, Fletcher destroyer, Essex carrier, Gato submarine, and M-1 rifle. All designed, produced, tested and fielded prior to Dec 7th, 1941.

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 25, 2010 5:58 pm

    “Our present escort screens are woefully inadequate and make each CVN/LHD a mighty tempting target.”

    Instead of a balanced fleet, the cost of one pulls against the other. The good news, modern technology will provide away out as it has in the past.

  8. RhodeIslander permalink
    March 25, 2010 5:45 pm

    CVN’s don’t look so large while underway in the middle of an ocean!

    And I’ll bet they appear extremely small from a pilot’s eyes at 15,000 feet altitude.

    As long as we have built our Navy around them, we might as well provide decent quantities of good escorts to surround each CVN (and LHD) at all times.

    At least 3 dedicated surface escorts in front of each CVN / LHD just for ASW searching and protection. Plus additional CG/DDG for area defense around each capital ship.

    Our present escort screens are woefully inadequate and make each CVN/LHD a mighty tempting target. Either escort them properly, or don’t deploy the centerpieces of our Naval Fleet.

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