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LCS Alternative Weekly

April 14, 2010
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A Fairmile B motor launch at D-Day, 1944.

LCS Alternative-No Name Boats

A couple firsts for the weekly post–We lead with the LCS Alternative, and this particular warship substitute is no longer in existence, save in a museum! I am speaking of the Fairmiles, the tiny motor launches classified only by number, designed by Fairmile Marine in Britain, used by the Royal Navy, Canada, and the USN. Here is Lorna Inness at the Chronicle Herald with the fascinating details:

When the first convoys to Britain sailed from Halifax in September 1939, it was clear that more escort ships would be required as merchant ships headed out across the Atlantic where German U-boats roamed in increasing numbers. In the rush of a stepped-up building program to turn out warships, even small shipyards used to constructing fishing boats and pleasure craft became involved. Corvettes were one answer but there was still a role for something smaller, yet effective, something that could be built quickly without tying up for months the yards needed for larger warships.
Across the Atlantic, in Cobham, Surrey, Noel Macklin, a former naval officer, had designed a small vessel that was speedy (its design borrowed to some extent from a destroyer’s hull), and parts of which could be prefabricated and shipped for assembly to small shipyards. Macklin called his company, established in 1939, Fairmile Marine, from which the little ships took their name.

The rest being history. Over 650 were built during the war. 80 Fairmiles were constructed in Canada by some 13 shipyards. Interesting is her wood construction, hardly unique for the times, it would be deemed unthinkable today. The argument often goes that thin-skinned warships, mostly today constructed of aluminum, are considered too light and cheap for modern war. Yet, in the midst of full scale global conflict, many warships were constructed of a material which was readily available and cheap, but also thinly protected, and easily more flammable than aluminum. The decks of aircraft carriers were built mainly of wood, and other all-wooden warcraft including PT Boats, and minesweepers, also used in the construction of modern Mine Countermeasures Ships into the 21st Century.

Here are the specs for the Type B version used by Canada:

  • Length-34 meters
  • Beam- 5 to 6 meters
  • Draft-1.47 meters
  • Displacement-85 tons
  • Speed-20 knots
  • Range-1500 miles at 12 knts
  • Crew-16 at least
  • Armament- 1 x 3-pdr Mk I gun
    1 x twin 0.303 in machine guns
    12 depth charges
    Asdic (Sonar)

Comparing these to modern high end frigates, they might appear wanting. This would be like comparing apples to oranges though, since the two should complement, not so much replace. As the large and capable frigates, with their amazing weaponry, some with Aegis, plus long range helos and UAVs, are becoming the motherships we need, they can no longer provide us with the numbers required for global patrolling. This is why the pirates are able to distract the few large warships in the Gulf, while the hijacking and holding for ransom of merchant ships goes on unimpeded. In fact it is expanding.

The small boats then would be required to work alongside the new frigate motherships, filling in these gaps, working in conjunction with the larger vessels’ high powered sonar, radar, and airborne assets. The small picket patrols would keep suicide threats away from the Bigger Ships, but also perform essential seizures and boardings, plus presence in littoral waters which a 5000-10,000 ton guided missile warship isn’t required. They would act as the “cop on the beat” of the sealanes. As Lorna pointed out in the article concerning the Fairmiles:

They could take the place of larger warships that were still too few in numbers for the tasks demanded of them.

A final point to consider–today we are essentially using the world’s most powerful and expensive warships, our guided missile cruisers, destroyers, and frigates plus giant amphibs against a far less capable foe, pirates and smugglers in speedboats, than the wood constructed Fairmiles faced. These light and tiny craft would be maligned by today’s battleship focused navies, yet they once faced a dire threat to civilization in their day, the Nazi-manned U-boats of the vaunted Kriegsmarine, and won.

*****

UAVs versus Helos

This is good commentary on the future of vertical warfare at sea. From Strategypage:

Recently, a U.S. Navy frigate, operating in the eastern Pacific, used its MQ-8B helicopter UAV to detect a high speed cocaine smuggling boat. After tracking the smuggler for three hours, the fast boat halted alongside a fishing boat and refueled. A Coast Guard boarding team, from the frigate, then closed in and made arrests. They seized 60 kg (132 pounds) of cocaine, and witnessed the smugglers tossing another 200 kg (440 pounds) overboard. A manned helicopter would not have had the endurance to carry out this kind of operation.

Too good for the Navy to ignore, who has initially led, then fallen behind the deployment and use of unmanned vehicles. It is a cost efficient and practical way to deploy naval air at sea, with manned helos and fast jet programs sagging, producing fewer, too exquisite platforms. I love the following line, concerning LCS:

The MQ-8B was originally developed for use on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), and was due to enter service last year. But the LCS is behind schedule and the Fire Scout isn’t, so the navy assigned the Fire Scout to other ships.

Proving you don’t need smart platforms to deploy the smart weapons so prevalent in modern warfare. The Navy has yet to see this change, which could potentially save the amazing shrinking fleet.

*****

Streetfighter Reborn?

Here is something which caught yours truly by surprise. Apparently the USN is still in the small warship business, with plans for cooperating with Baltic navies on a new fast attack craft design. This story is from the Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in English:

Finland, Germany, and the United States have launched a joint research project in the design of surface battle vessels. This will be the first time that the Finnish Navy will work together with the US Navy on both an exchange of information and naval research.

Finland is supplying two small missile boats for the experiments:

Two missile boats that have been taken out of commission, the Turku and the Helsinki are to be used in the experiments.
      The aluminum hulls of the vessels are seen to provide an exceptionally good opportunity to study questions of structural aging and the effects of weapons.
      “The Turku will be used in technical experiments measuring how a vessel reacts to stimulation by various explosives and arms”, says Commodore Pekka Kannari of the Finnish Naval Research Institute.
      In practice, the researchers will measure what kind of an effect depth charges and other explosives will have on the vessel’s hull.

To me, this sounds like some of the same anti-IED experiments the land forces use in designing their new armored vehicles. Very curious that the navies are thinking of the threat from small underwater explosives, with most interest in the cruise missile attacks on warship the past several decades. But more USN ships have been harmed by mines than missiles in the same time period.

*****

Taiwan Joins Speedboat Craze

Apparently Iran isn’t the only navy who thinks a speedboat can sink a carrier. From an AFP story, Defense News reveals “Taiwan Displays Plans For Missile-Carrying Corvette

A computerized graphic of the 1,000-ton “carrier killer,” which has so far been kept secret from the public, has gone on display at Taipei’s military museum, run by the defense ministry.
The vessel will be capable of cruising at speeds of up to 34 miles (55 kilometers) per hour and boast technologies helping it to evade radar detection, the Taipei-based Apple Daily reported, citing military officials.
The Taiwanese Navy hopes to arm the corvette with Taiwan’s home-grown Hsiungfeng III supersonic ship-to-ship missile, according to the report.

I think this is a much better way to go than trying to match the Reds in numbers, or even surpassing them in the quality of Blue Water warships. Sink a carrier? I’m not sure, but require the Mainland to expend exorbitant resources to counter small missile boats, you betcha!

*****

So Much for “Littoral” Ships

The headline from Defense Daily (subscr. only) says it all:

Navy Shows Freedom Can Successfully Operate With Carrier Strike Group

Which is what they wanted all along, another Blue Water aircraft carrier escort to replace the Perry class frigates, with a secondary mission sailing close to shore. Further proof they have little understanding or interest in controlling the Brown/Green Water environment. Has the Navy conceded the narrow waters to the speedboat navies, which the costly and fast LCS Freedom is designed to run away from if attacked?

*****

Modular Trouble

Several of you sent me this link on the GAO Report titled “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” . The following is from the section discussing the LCS Module packages:

The Navy has accepted delivery of two partially capable MCM mission packages; however, the program has delayed the procurement of the fiscal year 2009-funded package due to technical issues and the resulting operational test delays. Four MCM systems—the Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), Unmanned Sweep System (USS), Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (OASIS), and Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS)—have not yet been demonstrated in a realistic environment, and two others—the Airborne LaserMine Detection System (ALMDS) and Remote Minehunting System (RMS)—cannot meet system requirements. ALMDS has been unable to meet its mine detection requirements at its maximum depth or its mine detection and classification requirements at surface depths. RMS demonstrated poor system reliability, availability, and maintainability in a September 2008 operational assessment, and program officials report the system is currently undergoing a series of tests to try to improve its reliability. Program officials also reported that the cable used to tow certain airborne MCM systems had to be redesigned following test failures with two systems.

 The Navy accepted delivery of one partially capable SUW mission package in July 2008. This package included two engineering development models for the 30 mm gun, but did not include the Non-Line-of- Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) launcher or missiles. Integration of the gun with LCS 1 was completed in January 2009. The gun module design appears stable with 100 percent of its drawings released to manufacturing. According to program officials, NLOS-LS was tested in August 2009, but was unable to fire due to a malfunctioning sensor and battery connector. The program expects delivery of the second SUW mission package in March 2010. It will include the 30 mm gun module and the NLOS-LS launcher, but no missiles.

The Navy accepted delivery of one partially capable ASW mission package in September 2008, but plans to reconfigure the content of future packages before procuring additional quantities. According to Navy officials, recent warfighting analyses showed that the baseline ASW package did not provide sufficient capability to meet the range of threats. The current package will undergo developmental testing and the results will inform future configuration decisions. The first package underwent end-to-end testing in April 2009 and will undergo developmental testing in fiscal year 2010. During the 2009 end-to-end test, the Navy found that the USV and its associated sensors will require reliability and interface improvements to support sustained undersea warfare.

 Without her mission modules, LCS is basically the world’s most expensive patrol boat, underarmed and over-sized as she is.

*****

A Lonely Combat Ship?

For the fourth time the USS Freedom LCS-1 has been involved in the take-down of drug runners in the Carib. Story from Philip Ewing at Navy Times:

The littoral combat ship Freedom nabbed its fourth group of suspected drug-runners March 31 after its helicopter stopped the smugglers’ speedboat with sniper shots, the Navy announced Monday.
Freedom’s sailors and Coast Guardsmen recovered almost a ton of cocaine and arrested four men in the interdiction in the Eastern Pacific, according to an announcement by Naval Surface Forces. There was no explanation why it had taken almost two weeks to release the news…

The March 31 seizure brings Freedom’s total haul to about five tons of cocaine in the shipments it has stopped since sailing Feb. 16 from Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

What I get from this is Freedom becoming a top drug-buster as opposed to the premature “pirate buster” title she received from the Press. Maybe that too eventually, the point being these ships will be kept quite busy, because you can’t buy enough of them. With this first vessel pricing at $637 million each, and future vessels hardly less, they will be forced into multiple deployments and consistent action, because the fleet is so small.

The problem isn’t that Freedom isn’t needed or useful, but the fact that she is and will remain a small class of warships in a very big pond. Needed for this anti-narcotics mission, she will also have to hunt pirates, escort carriers, hunt submarines, escort amphibious ships, clear mines, show the flag, and so on. Her 40 crewmen have their work cut out for them. Godspeed, they’ll need it.

*****

32 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2014 12:23 pm

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  3. Scott B. permalink
    April 19, 2010 6:12 pm

    leesea said : “You got anything other than what you read on paper?”

    If I do and I cannot prove it, will you take my word for granted. Probably not, and I wouldn’t take yours either…

    If you cannot read between the lines of Bob Work’s interview, I guess you’ll have to wait for him to explain why the Navy now intends to procure a total of 41 JHSVs over the next 30 year period.

    So stay tuned ;-))

  4. leesea permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:44 pm

    ScottB you are mis-reading the words on paper and apparently mine as well. Intra-theather transport are all terms of art. Thsoe are what are in the JHSV program documents. The SCN is not an operational plan is a funding expense/data document.

    Self-deployability is a ship design feature not an operational plan. It means the JHSV can go trans-oceanic (without being lifted on an ship). Operating areas are WITHIN a theater.

    I say again do you have any insights into the JHSV actual operations which are pertinent?

    I woud offer up the eight years or so of the HSV WestPac Express working in-theater hauling Marines around while homeported in Okinawa. That ship serves as good precedent and supports my opinion.

    You got anything other than what you read on paper?

  5. Scott B. permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:02 pm

    leesea said : “Do you have some first hand knowledge to the contray or what?”

    For instance, a couple of quotes from the latest 30-year shipbuilding plan submitted by the Navy :

    Page 3 : “With their modular payload bays, these versatile, self-deployable vessels are capable of supporting a wide range of naval missions.” (bold emphasis added)

    Page 16 : “The JHSV provides a flexible option for moving personnel and material within and between operating areas.” (bold emphasis added)

  6. leesea permalink
    April 18, 2010 8:43 pm

    ScottB

    I said “I dont’t think” and “routinely”. Bob Work is talking to a ship capablity, I am talking about operational reality. Once the JHSVs get “over there” aka into theater they are not going to be bouncing between IMHO. Do you have some first hand knowledge to the contray or what?

  7. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 17, 2010 6:38 pm

    elgatoso,

    Pakistan is also getting four F-22s, two from China and two locally produced.

  8. elgatoso permalink
    April 16, 2010 9:17 pm

    I find this in the web and look interesting
    Chinese Jiangwei II (053H3) frigates. The export versions are called the F-22. The 342 foot long Jiangwei II displaces 2,500 tons, and carries an eight cell short range (8.6 kilometers) surface-to-air missile system, two, four cell anti-ship missile systems (200 kilometers range C-803s), one four cell launcher for rocket launched anti-submarine torpedoes, a 76.2mm gun, two 30mm anti-missiles auto-cannon, and a helicopter. Top speed is 50 kilometers an hour, crew size is 170 sailors, and each ship will cost about $200 million.
    http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htsurf/articles/20100416.aspx

  9. Scott B. permalink
    April 16, 2010 3:20 pm

    leesea said : “I don’ t think the JSHV will or should be routinely crossing the ocean, its meant as an intra-theater sealift ship.”

    A couple of quotes from a recent interview with Robert Work might shed some more light on this specific topic (bold emphasis below is mine) :

    “But when we looked at it we said we wanted to have self-deployable platforms that have a lot of payload space that you can take to the fight whatever you need – SEALs, Marines, riverine squadrons. So we decided to increase the Joint High Speed Vessel program.”

    “We like their self-deployability aspects”

  10. leesea permalink
    April 16, 2010 1:50 pm

    Bill you are right that the basic design does not have all the systems and features which would make it suitable for transoceanic deployments. As you know that is an operational rqmt I have questioned for a long time. I don’ t think the JSHV will or should be routinely crossing the ocean, its meant as an intra-theater sealift ship. The WPE model is not much more than 1000 nmi at around 30 kts. Further, I suspect that the JHSVs will end up being forward deployed much of their time? WHEN they are assigned to the enhanced MPSrons (which stay forward for up to 5 yrs) we will see how the JHSVs survive? You know that goes against HSC 2000.

    What I am trying to get at is the current design needs mods. Some for basic ship defense. (I will send along some thoughts on that). The “next” version which I have tagged “navalized” needs a lot more thought to it then is currently evident. ( more wishful thinking by senior leaders???)

    There is pro/con as to whether JHSV size/speed are operational advantages, I am with Solomon the pros outweigh the cons for its INTENDED mission. What I would like to see is IF the JHSV can handle a CB90 or two? Those could be used for naval raids or picket duty.

    navark, I think there are a number of small to medium caliber weapons which can be added to the JHSVs. Will post later.

  11. Scott B. permalink
    April 16, 2010 9:43 am

    navark said : “Let’s not fool ourselves, it *is* just a fast ferry.”

    Exactly !!!

    And, even as a fast ferry, it has serious deficiencies in terms of seakeeping, which, as Bill pointed out, isn’t exactly good news for *something* that’s supposed to be routinely trans-ocean deployed.

  12. Scott B. permalink
    April 16, 2010 9:39 am

    Solomon said : “What’s going to make up that picket?”

    ABSALON of course !!!

    With something like VULCANO, which is expected to produce max. ranges comprised between 54 NM and 64 NM, ABSALON would operate well outside the range of coastal artillery.

  13. Bill permalink
    April 15, 2010 9:29 pm

    “Let’s not fool ourselves, it *is* just a fast ferry.”n smaller

    Ahem. That it is ‘just a fast ferry’ is not what I have a single issue with. The best high speed transport and even most all of the best non-USN high-speed naval platforms were fast ferry derivatives,

    But JHSV? OK..think on this one. The Hawaii Superferry versions were built with what Austal considered to be the most advanced (for them) combination of active-dynamic pitch, roll and yaw motion stabilization package there ever was. It was not near enough..not even close

    The JHSV has none of that. O h..wait..JHSV is suppposed to be routinely trans-ocean deployed. And the HSF was nothing more than an inter-island ferry.

    OK..yep..I’m confused. Whoever is watching the store..please call me. We need to talk. Your incredible magic powers far exceed my 25 years of analysing the seakeeping of JHSV vessels.

  14. navark permalink
    April 15, 2010 8:27 pm

    leesea said “These ships will become targets (like the NFAF ships), and it damn well time for the myopic blue water sailors who do NOT serve aboard this type ships the to recognize that. The USN has had problems with providing MSC & sealift ships proper escorts for decades. That is a situation the Navy must correct!”

    Therein lies the problem. There cannot be any additional armament added to these ships, except for a couple more machine guns bolted on – at this stage the fundamental design is already locked in. Nowhere does the superstructure have the requisite strength and/or stiffness to even accommodate something like a SeaRAM, let alone any serious naval gun with its associated below decks requirements. There would also need to be mechanical and electrical systems to feed these weapons, that the ship does not have the capacity to handle.

    We have not even touched upon survivability requirements (or the lack thereof), just in case whomever you would like to bang these weapons at doesn’t have the decency to not fire back.

    Let’s not fool ourselves, it *is* just a fast ferry.

  15. April 15, 2010 6:46 pm

    Changing the course of my argument but I’ve got to counter Mike on something.

    “The torpedo boat reached its ultimate evolution when it learned to dive. Not a direct lineage of course, but when the self-propelled torpedo was added to the new submarines, it became a lethal killing machine and a worthy foe to the new destroyers.”

    No Mike, the PT boat reached its zenith when it was used properly. In the confined waters of the English Channel, E-boats were a menace. In the Pacific, PT Boats, when operating in the littoral zones of the numerous islands and remember to NOT venture into open waters they were down terrifying to enemy shipping. Warships and merchants alike.

    The US Navy has made a commitment to fighting in the littoral zone. As a matter of fact if you look at diagrams of over the horizon amphibious assault, what you’ll see and what’s often ignored is the fire support picket that IS within range of shore batteries.

    What’s going to make up that picket? Burkes? Not likely. Frigates? Probably not. LCS? to what purpose they don’t have the firepower to effectively carry out that mission. That leaves a small, survivable, robust ship that is capable of putting down MAD firepower.

    The Navy isn’t (or shouldn’t be) through working this out.

    Leesa! Agreed. I totally agree. BUT. I would still love to see JHSV, despite its limitations be given a chance to perform.

  16. leesea permalink
    April 15, 2010 3:35 pm

    Solomon (againg right on) I had a chance to speak with the JHSV Ship Design Manager at HPMV, I came away with two impressions. First, the current design very much meets Joint rqmts not spefical to either Navy or Marines roles. And second that the ship probably has more capability than those who post here realize.

    It is adaptabl,e like Bob Work has suggested, into other roles. For insrance, I know for a fact that JHSVs will be part of the MPF enhabced squadrons. But it will take much work to “navalize” them as some have suggested. The pro to that belief is that the design has space and weight margins (unlike LCS-1) afterall it is based on the highly successful HSV WestPac Express design. JHSV I think will be a damn good tactical sealift ship.

    The con to changing JHSV is that every pound added decreases its payload. Which means adding cargo POL tankage for boats/ helos, adding magazines for ammo, adding shops for M&R, adding more/better boat handling gear, adding a full sized elevator; all of those mean less payload. Can it be done for sure it can (I am not as optomistic about the LCS designs).

    Now comes the real hard part. The how many naval officers recognize the significance of the JHSV is questionable, as you indicate, and using that platform in other than a benign environment MUST be addressed upfront. For starters, the USN must increase its self-defense weapons just to protect it for its current mission alone. These ships will become targets (like the NFAF ships), and it damn well time for the myopic blue water sailors who do NOT serve aboard this type ships the to recognize that. The USN has had problems with providing MSC & sealift ships proper escorts for decades. That is a situation the Navy must correct!

  17. April 15, 2010 9:42 am

    Scott said “In every case, the hidebound reactionaries who have patiently argued that warships designed with regard to a broad spectrum of real military requirements and conditions will prove more viable and effective than those optimized for maximum performance in a very narrow part of the military and environmental spectrum have been proved correct.”

    Oh! Right I see where you are coming from now. I have just given up a history degree course because (amongst other many reasons) reactionary was used as a derogatory term; there was a constant inference that anybody who held a conservative stance was automatically wrong. Even though mostly conservatism meant pragmatism.

    I do have both books you mentioned.

    As I have said here before DK Brown’s writings have shaped greatly my understanding of naval matters.

  18. Scott B. permalink
    April 15, 2010 9:24 am

    More on the Navy trying to figure out what’s life with aluminium is gonna look like @ Defense News :

    Finn-German-U.S. Project To Study Naval Shock Requirements

    “This is a research project that doesn’t include any ship design or any future surface combatant design. The goal of this project is to develop shock requirements, design methods and tools for surface ships. The new program will not be connected to any naval vessel program, but the data and results of the project will help in future ship design,” said Capt. Pekka Kannari, the head of the Finnish Naval Research Institute (FNRI).

  19. Mike Burleson permalink*
    April 15, 2010 9:07 am

    Concerning torpedo boats, I completely concur that the fear from them was over-blown. Some navies like France and Russia thought that you could build swarms of TB’s to substitute for capital ships. Where the small craft were effective as you mention was the need to build a counter(in other words the threat couldn’t be ignored), that directly resulted in the design and construction of torpedo boat destroyers, the modern destroyer. Here then is historical examples that the best counter for small warships is another small warship.

    The torpedo boat reached its ultimate evolution when it learned to dive. Not a direct lineage of course, but when the self-propelled torpedo was added to the new submarines, it became a lethal killing machine and a worthy foe to the new destroyers.

  20. Scott B. permalink
    April 15, 2010 8:37 am

    Solomon said : “If brush wars are the predominate type of warfare in the future then the Navy is going to have to start doing things that are uncomfortable. [snipped for brevity] Not pretty, not fancy but definitely the future.”

    Leaving aside the SYSADMIN vision of the future (which is highly disputable in itself), what makes you think that JHSV (which is nothing but a glorified High Speed Ferry with a significant price tag) is the right tool for the job ?

    As opposed to, for instance ;-)), something like an ABSALON which could accomplish any of the tasks you’ve listed (and MUCH MORE) and would cost 30% less to acquire than JHSV ?

  21. April 15, 2010 3:37 am

    I don’t know why JHSV’s are so frowned upon by the Surface Warfare Community.

    They are the future of warfare. Especially if we decide to buy Austal Multi-role Vessels…but that’s a wish, the fact is this. The JHSV is currently as valuable as frigates and probably more in demand.

    And the sky is the limit. The Navy IS moving toward mission modules and with that simple move, the JHSV becomes a warship. Perhaps not up to warship protection standards but capable of performing a multitude of missions.

    If brush wars are the predominate type of warfare in the future then the Navy is going to have to start doing things that are uncomfortable. Piracy missions? You better get ready. Logistics support for forces ashore in austere bases? You betcha. These are not glamorous missions but they (and others) are going to be the bread and butter of the future.

    Add to it the need to visit, board and inspect cargo ships to stop nuclear proliferation and arms smuggling and Frigates and Destroyers make less sense. What does work is to set a ship up at location X and have boats transit out to do the hard work. Not pretty, not fancy but definitely the future.

  22. papa legba permalink
    April 15, 2010 12:26 am

    Apologies… My previous post, edited:

    Scott B quoted Stuart Slade: “On several occasions, significant advances in weapon and propulsion technology have given the appearance of making possible an equaliser; a small, inexpensive, highly lethal warship that will drive conventional fleets from the seas.”

    Actually, the torpedo boat had a stint where that was the case, and it was only another slightly less small boat– the destroyer– that saved the battle fleet. Slade’s vision of naval history as vindication of contemporary authorities is very inaccurate. The battleship men had as much contempt for destroyers as they did torpedo boats.

    In fact, the analogy to torpedo boats in particular is damaging to Slade’s case, since there are no longer small enough to function as the torpedo boat destroyers that destroyers once were.

  23. papa legba permalink
    April 15, 2010 12:21 am

    Scott B quoted Stuart Slade: “On several occasions, significant advances in weapon and propulsion technology have given the appearance of making possible an equaliser; a small, inexpensive, highly lethal warship that will drive conventional fleets from the seas.

    Actually, the torpedo boat had a stint where that was the case, and it was only another slightly less small boat– the destroyer– that saved the battle fleet. Slade’s vision of naval history as vindication of contemporary authorities is very inaccurate. The battleship men had as much contempt for destroyers as they did torpedo boats.

    In fact, the analogy to torpedo boats in particular is damaging to Slade’s case, since they are no longer small enough to function as the torpedo boat destroyers that they once were.

  24. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 14, 2010 8:00 pm

    Yes, perhaps first it was “fireships”, but then there have been a couple of real game changers–submarines and aircraft carriers.

    Small boats are not “IT,” they have been done before.

    But each additional threat makes the picture more complex and drives up cost. They each give us new opportunities to screw up and get caught with our pants down, if we are not careful.

  25. Scott B. permalink
    April 14, 2010 5:52 pm

    x said : “Really? Gosh………..”

    I cannot resist the pleasure of quoting what my old friend Stuart Slade wrote to conclude his EXCELLENT chapter on FACs in Norman Friedman’s Navies in the Nuclear Age (p.108) :

    “On several occasions, significant advances in weapon and propulsion technology have given the appearance of making possible an equaliser; a small, inexpensive, highly lethal warship that will drive conventional fleets from the seas.

    On each occasion, a clique of supporters has coalesced around the ‘new concept’, damning those who question its infallible lethality as hidebound reactionaries who are terrified that the ‘new ideas’ would upset their ivory towers.

    In every case, be it the torpedo boat, the CMB, the MTB/MGB/PT boat or the FAC-M, as experience with the new design has grown and countermeasures have been developed, natural design evolution has turned the radical new concept into a minor variant of a traditional warship type.

    In every case, the hidebound reactionaries who have patiently argued that warships designed with regard to a broad spectrum of real military requirements and conditions will prove more viable and effective than those optimized for maximum performance in a very narrow part of the military and environmental spectrum have been proved correct.

    It is probable that within a few years, new propulsion and weapons technologies will lead to a new generation of equaliser and the whole cycle will start again. History strongly suggests that such developments need to be treated with extreme caution.”

  26. April 14, 2010 5:43 pm

    Scott said “hidebound reactionaries like D.K. Brown”

    Really? Gosh………..

  27. Scott B. permalink
    April 14, 2010 4:12 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “These light and tiny craft would be maligned by today’s battleship focused navies, yet they once faced a dire threat to civilization in their day, the Nazi-manned U-boats of the vaunted Kriegsmarine, and won.”

    OK, let’s see what hidebound reactionaries like D.K. Brown or Stuart Slade may have to say on the subject :

    D.K. Brown in “Nelson to Vanguard”, p.141 :

    “Support of these craft involved setting up numerous bases for training, maintenance and operations, and a few depot ships, and it may be argued that the results did not match the effort put in.”

    Stuart Slade in “Navies in the Nuclear Age”, p.99 :

    “An objective viewpoint strongly suggests that, as in the First World War, the resources expended on these crafts were wasted and could have been more profitably employed elsewhere.”

    Case closed.

  28. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 14, 2010 4:11 pm

    You might have at least suggested the “D” version:

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

  29. Scott B. permalink
    April 14, 2010 1:30 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Finland is supplying two small missile boats for the experiments:”

    Bottom line is this :

    1) The Navy plan is something like this : let’s buy more aluminum stuff now, and we’ll figure out about structural issues and vulnerability later.

    IOW : CART BEFORE THE HORSE

    2) No streetfighter on the horizon, except perhaps in Bob Work’s intention to give JHSV a larger role, whatever this might mean.

  30. Scott B. permalink
    April 14, 2010 1:23 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Finland is supplying two small missile boats for the experiments:”

    Repost #2 from last week :

    More on the Navy trying to figure out what’s life with aluminium is gonna look like :

    FY2011 Navy Budget, pages 12-13

    High Speed Ships and Craft Engineering

    FY 2010 Plans:
    Weapon Effects Testing of Aluminum Structures (MOA – FIN-GER USA) tri lateral testing of Ship 2 of Helsinki Class Fast Missile Craft; High Speed Ships tools, guidelines, validation data sets and training: High speed human systems (trials, testing, numeric modeling, guidelines for early stage design); Light Weight Structures cooperative research with NATO partners; Light Weight Structures Shock (Helsinki Class) Shock Trial.

    FY 2011 Base Plans:
    Reliability Based Structural Design of Aluminum Ships – Helsinki Class Life Time Loads and Fatigue analyses; Composite propulsor construction and testing; Trials, testing, numeric modeling, guidelines supporting for early stage design of High Speed Ships and Craft.

  31. Scott B. permalink
    April 14, 2010 1:20 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Finland is supplying two small missile boats for the experiments:”

    Repost #1 from last week

    The keyword is indeed aluminum

    Aluminum is the link between :

    1) this : Finland working together with US and German navies on warship design

    “The aluminium hulls of the vessels are seen to provide an exceptionally good opportunity to study questions of structural ageing and the effects of weapons.”

    2) this : US Navy request raises issue about aluminum ships

    “In a little-noticed solicitation posted on a Navy website in January, the Navy said it needed better tools to predict possible cracking on aluminum-hulled ships, especially under difficult conditions at sea.”

    3) this : JHSV Gets Larger Role in U.S. Navy Plans

    “Work said the Navy now envisions buying up to 23 of the ships for its own use, in addition to five being built for the Army.”

    Basically, the new Navy plan is something like this : let’s buy more aluminum stuff now, and we’ll figure out about structural issues and vulnerability later.

    IOW : Cart Before The Horse

    Brilliant…

  32. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 14, 2010 12:56 pm

    Let’s not forget Fairmiles were also gasoline powered.

    Just what you want when people start shooing at you, you’re in a wooden boat with hundreds of gallons of gasoline. The 50 even smaller Coast Guard 83 foot patrol boats that were at Normandy were in the same situation.

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