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Sea Links

June 18, 2010
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The hospital ship USNS Mercy, the Japanese Osumi-class assault ship JDS Kunisaki and two landing craft air cushions transit through the South China Sea to Cambodia.

US Navy

ONR’s transforming ferry M/V Susitna christened.

LPD 22 San Diego officially christened.

The Disappearing Droids Of Chesapeake Bay.

Reloading VLS at Sea.

CNO Roughead Disputes China Sub Claim.

In the Navy’s Forecast, a Shrinking Attack Submarine Fleet.

*****

Warships of the World

New generation submarine for the Russian fleet.

India to commission two fast attack craft.

France makes no tech-transfer commitment yet in warship sale to Russia.

Governor General conducts Canada’s fleet review.

French Rafales on US Carrier.

Iran to build radar-evading drones operated by submarines.

Doubt thrown over future of UK submarines.

*****

New Wars at Sea

UAE ships ‘should help to fight pirates’.

Shipping lines press for armed guards on board.

Piracy incidents soar along coastal Somalia.

UK committed to strong naval presence around the Falkland Islands.

Netanyahu: Naval blockade on Gaza will not be lifted.

South China Sea Piracy on the rise: watchdog.

Midget Subs:Finding The Tiny Terrors.

*****

33 Comments leave one →
  1. elgatoso permalink
    June 22, 2010 3:51 am

    That ‘s the real Enterprise
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Enterprise
    Sorry,I couldn’t resist

  2. D. E. Reddick permalink
    June 20, 2010 9:00 pm

    Tangosix,

    I was aware of the modern HMS Enterprise, but I was more interested in a historical example of a ship with such a name so resonant with students and followers of USN ships.

    Of course, I did leave off the fact that there have been a total of FIFTEEN commissioned warships named HMS Enterprise, along with four additional non-warship vessels named Enterprise in Royal Navy service. Wikipedia covers the topic somewhat adequately in a disambigulation webpage. Hey! Maybe the Star Trek universe got the commissioning thingie wrong… ;-)

    HMS Enterprise

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

  3. June 20, 2010 7:25 pm

    Hello D.E.Reddick,

    this link will bring things right up to date:

    http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/operations-and-support/surface-fleet/hydrographic-vessels/multi-role-survey-vessels/hms-enterprise/news/

    tangosix.

  4. D. E. Reddick permalink
    June 20, 2010 4:34 pm

    Since Mike left off his usual history-oriented “From the Naval Vaults” section from this week’s “Sea Links,” then I thought that I might add something which might prove to be of some interest to readers of New Wars. We’ve all read about the USS Enterprise, of whichever particular unit that has been recently commissioned in the USN. But, what about a ship named Enterprise in another naval service? So, how about some articles relating to the RN light cruiser HMS Enterprise for a historical topic? Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived via HMS Enterprise when he inspected the Normandy invasion beaches in 1944.

    HMS Enterprise
    E Class Light Cruiser

    http://www.world-war.co.uk/index.php3
    RN Ships -> Caledon-Arethusa -> E -> Enterprise

    HMS Enterprise

    http://www.world-war.co.uk/index.php3
    Stories -> War Records -> Enterprise

    HMS Enterprise (D52)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Enterprise_(D52)

  5. Scott B. permalink
    June 20, 2010 2:03 pm

    B. Smitty said : “There is no STOVL AEW, and no STOVL EW/jammer.”

    NGJ with a stealthy pod might provide a replacement for the EA-6B (at least that’s what the USMC is hoping).

    See for instance : Stealthy Jammer Considered for F-35

    Big problem is AEW, where there isn’t much on the horizon (pun intended) at present, and certainly nothing that might come close to the Hawkeye in terms of performance.

  6. Scott B. permalink
    June 20, 2010 1:46 pm

    MatR said : “C2-(A)R is in active service, with no replacement and fast-approaching retirement date

    All C-2A(R) are undergoing a SLEP, which will allow the current 36 airframes to operate until 2027.

  7. B.Smitty permalink
    June 20, 2010 9:59 am

    MatR,

    Mike implied that all CVNs carry are Super Hornets. That’s not the case.

    OTOH, there is only one existing STOVL aircraft type (highly mediocre Harrier), and one on the drawing board (expensive F-35B). There is no STOVL AEW, and no STOVL EW/jammer.

    There is no STOVL UCAV program on the books.

  8. MatR permalink
    June 20, 2010 9:25 am

    @ B.Smitty, Re. aircraft list for CV.

    – F/A-18C/D and EA-18G – yes, flying, but medium capability aircraft at best
    – E-2C/D – yes, flying, advanced capability on the way
    – EA-6B – begins retirement this year, an elderly platform
    – C-2 is retired. C2-(A)R is in active service, with no replacement and fast-approaching retirement date
    – X-47 – it’ll be a sure thing when it’s in production. Most ‘X’ craft and prototypes don’t turn into end products.
    – F-35C (maybe even B) – may be cancelled, given growing USN hostility
    – Predator C “Avenger” – nice, but not a world-class fighter or fighter-bomber. Still not navalised.

    Mike’s right, pretty much. We’re counting our chickens before they’re hatched. The USN moves into the imminent future with elderly Hornets, 1980s tech Superhornets, and Advanced Hawkeye. Plus helicopters, and some rapidly exhausting, elderly legacy platforms.

    If you want a choice of new build naval FB aircraft bar Superhornet, built by the US or an ally, you’ve got Rafale and the uncertain promise of F35. That’s it, really.

    1950s CVs went to sea with diverse fleets. If there was a lemon like the Vought Cutlass, other aircraft would make up the missing capability.

  9. B.Smitty permalink
    June 19, 2010 7:40 pm

    Yes, I have wondered how much you can really save by slowing down even further. Interesting numbers.

    Also, if it costs more to lengthen the build cycle, would it cost less to shorten it? Could you shave off $1.6 billion per ship by going from a 4-year to a 3-year cycle? My guess is no.

    One possibility would be to alternate building CVNs and CVs at the same yard but on shorter timelines. However, I don’t know if you could maintain a workforce like this, especially the nuclear specialists. The more the two classes have in common, the easier this would be, I imagine.

    As far as what an ESG would look like with a CV replacing the LHA/LHD, a lot depends on the capabilities of the CV in the LPH role.

    When I was playing with numbers, I assumed we would switch to a much less expensive LPD, like one of the Enforcer variants. An ESG would have three or four to make up for the lost well deck space, vehicle square, and cargo cube of the LHA/LHD and existing LPD/LSDs.

    Another option would be to dramatically cut back the amphibious assault capability in favor of less expensive, more spacious administrative lift. However, I still think we need a “kick-the-door-down” amphibious capability.

  10. Scott B. permalink
    June 19, 2010 6:28 pm

    B. Smitty said (here) : “We would reduce the steady state number of CVNs to 6-8. (…) I really don’t know if this would be cost neutral. Lengthening the CVN build cycle might eat up any potential cost savings.”

    I believe some recent decisions made by the current SECDEF shed some light on this aspect of the problem.

    With the 4-year interval, the average procurement cost of the first 3 Ford-class CVNs was $10.1 billion per unit. Given a service life of 50 years, this 4-year interval would produce a force of 12 CVNs, and require an investment of $121 billion over 50 years.

    With the 5-year interval decided by the current SECDEF, the average procurement cost of the first 3 Ford-class CVNs became $11.7 billion per unit just because of the shift from the 4-year cycle to the 5-year cycle. Given a service life of 50 years, this 5-year interval would produce a force of 10 CVNs, and require an investment of $117 billion over 50 years.

    In other words, the shift from the 4-year cycle to the 5-year cycle is going to produce about $4 billion in savings over a 50-year period, i.e. about $80 million per year on average. And will reduce the force from 12 CVNs down to 10 CVNs.

    You’d have to consider lifecycle costs as a whole to find out the impact of such a decision, but in terms of procurement costs, it already seems to indicate that lengthening the CVN build cycle tend to eat up most of the potential savings.

  11. June 19, 2010 3:44 pm

    Hello Scott B.,

    I believe in something I call a “balanced carrier concept”.
    It is intended for the Royal Navy rather than American forces.
    In the United States,the institutional division between the blue water fleet and gator navy in terms of both roles,aircraft and ships may make such a concept seem a little alien but it reflects historical usage of British aircraft carriers:

    http://www.britains-smallwars.com/RRGP/Tanganyika.htm

    The United States Navy also has some history of using carriers in this manner:

    http://www.cna.org/documents/2796000300.pdf

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=57463&d=1221931310

    Put simply it involves balancing both the air assault and air attack capabilities of a ship.
    Both of these capabilities are complimentary.
    Accommodation,magazines,bunkerage,hangar space and flight deck area are equally useful for both roles so there are no design conflicts within the ship.
    Unlike in the Tarawa,Wasp and America (L.H.A.6) classes where the vessels dock ship lineage conflicts directly with the need for hangar and flightdeck space.

    Balancing a dual purpose ship means the aviation capacity must be in proportion to the size of the ground force which is carried.
    It also means the facilities needed for the air assault role should be the same size as those needed for the air assault role.
    There should also be sufficient capacity for the vessel to remain useful when operating in the air attack and air assault roles at the same time.

    It is easy to understand the concept if we look at existing “unbalanced” ships.

    The America class (L.H.A.6) carries 2,000 Marines but limited flightdeck and hangar space means this force can only be landed very slowly by the relatively small helicopter force which may be carried and ranged on deck.
    If such a ship tried to operate as a mixed role air attack/air assault ship she would have a very small ineffective and inefficient air group in both air attack and air assault roles.
    In the pure air attack role she has a barely adequate air wing.

    The Queen Elizabeth class on the other hand has aviation facilities which far exceed the needs of the relatively small ground force she can accommodate.
    While she is just adequate in the air attack role,in the air assault role she will run out of troops to land long before she runs out of helicopter capacity.
    In the mixed role both air assault and air attack capabilities would be rather limited.

    Balancing a ship is all about ratios but the following is a modest example of what might be practical.
    A carrier might have accommodation for 1,500 men in addition to it’s crew.
    In the air attack role (using Royal Navy numbers pro rata) it would have space for about 60-70 aircraft.
    The same ship in the air assault role might carry 1,200 marines in addition to a 300 strong air wing operating 30 Merlin medium helicopters.
    From just over the horizon those 30 helicopters could land 1,200 men in about an hour with equipment and supplies following on.
    In a mixed air attack/air assault role such a ship would be able to operate an adequate wing of about 30 fixed wing aircraft along with 600 marines and the helicopters to land them.
    Such a ship might look a little like the vessel illustrated here:

    http://grandlogistics.blogspot.com/2009/11/queen-elizabeth-class-aircraft-carriers.html

    I often think that working together on such a ship could have great benefits for both the Royal Navy and United States navy.
    America spends lots of money but gets little for it while Britain gets more for it’s money but is still short of cash.

    tangosix.

  12. Scott B. permalink
    June 19, 2010 2:26 pm

    Hoping that our beloved Mike B. will soon be kind enough to host an in-depth discussion on the subject of nuclear vs conventional propulsion for CATOBAR carriers, here are more reading suggestions :

    1) Defense Industry Daily offered an interesting analysis of the CVN-78 costs :

    Costing the CVN-21: A DID Primer

    2) One of the sources DID used for the aforementioned analysis was a short publications by Northrop Grumman :

    Fighting False Shibboleths : Analysis of CVN-21 costs

    3) Another interesting article on Midlife Refueling and Complex Overhaul costs for a CVN :

    CVN 70 Carl Vinson’s Mid-Life RCOH Refueling & Maintenance

    4) Ronald O’Rourke (Congressional Research Service) lastest analysis of the CVN-78 :

    Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress

  13. Scott B. permalink
    June 19, 2010 2:08 pm

    B. Smitty said : “I too have been a proponent of a medium-sized, conventional CATOBAR carrier. I’d like to see it replace the LHD/LHAs in the ESGs.”

    What sort of gators would you have in the ESGs then ?

  14. B.Smitty permalink
    June 19, 2010 10:11 am

    Scott B said, “You guys might be onto something with this CATOBAR conventional carrier proposal.

    I too have been a proponent of a medium-sized, conventional CATOBAR carrier. I’d like to see it replace the LHD/LHAs in the ESGs. It could swing-role as an LPH or a CV, depending on the mission. It wouldn’t have to be as large as a Nimitz/Ford. CVF/PA2 sized would still permit use of the full range of existing and planned carrier aircraft (including the critically important E-2D).

    8-10 CV/LPHs might let us drop the number of CVNs down to as few as 6 and still have greater worldwide carrier coverage.

  15. Scott B. permalink
    June 19, 2010 9:32 am

    @ tangosix & joe :

    You guys might be onto something with this CATOBAR conventional carrier proposal.

    Not so long ago, I posted some reading suggestions on this very subject : here

    I’ll add more links this WE, hoping that our beloved Mike B. will be kind enough to devote one (or several) of his forthcoming carrier alternatives posts to an in-depth discussion of nuclear vs conventional propulsion for CATOBAR carriers.

  16. June 18, 2010 9:56 pm

    Hello,

    Joe said:

    “If gold-plated is your worry, a 65,000 ton CATOBAR conventional carrier might be a potential answer for the USN if one ranks “construction costs” as concern #1 and “keeping AEW capability” as concern #2. It wouldn’t come without trade-offs, but would certainly rank as cheaper-to-build than a $12B Ford (which I’m no cheer-leader for) or even the final $6.5B Nimitz.”

    that was an interesting post.
    At today’s exchange rates the production cost of a 65,000 tonne Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier is less than $3,000 Million.
    Adding catapults would add hundreds of millions more to that but,if those prices you quoted are comparable,that would be more than paid back by savings on the air wing.

    A wing of 36 F18s at $45 Million each would come to $1,620 Million.
    A wing of 36 F35Bs at $150 Million each would come to $5,400 Million.
    A saving of $3,780 Million – enough to pay for the aircraft carrier*.
    Buy conventional aircraft,get the carrier for free.
    No carrier is cheaper than a free carrier,no matter how small!

    tangosix.

    *Adding in training and reserve aircraft would incrase this saving.

  17. Joe permalink
    June 18, 2010 9:29 pm

    Mike Burleson said: If the cost of giant decks is already limiting your fighter quality, why not go for economy anyway?…

    Which will it be, Mike? In many posts you laud the F-18 Super as exactly the kind of plane we need today, i.e., today’s smart weapons don’t need smart platforms to get the job done. Is a $150M F-35B going to drop bombs any better than a $45M Super Hornet? They both have a lot in common already with asthmatic 4-cylinder Mustangs when considering their performance, so you’re not gaining a world of diff with one versus the other on that point.

    Also, the decision-making process that led to the Hornet line being the sole “legacy” fighter on carriers come 2010 was destined to be years ago when the Navy/DoD decided to axe future models of the F-14, retire the A-6, and show fealty to LM & the JSF – truly an axis of procurement evil if there ever was one in Naval Aviation.

    If gold-plated is your worry, a 65,000 ton CATOBAR conventional carrier might be a potential answer for the USN if one ranks “construction costs” as concern #1 and “keeping AEW capability” as concern #2. It wouldn’t come without trade-offs, but would certainly rank as cheaper-to-build than a $12B Ford (which I’m no cheer-leader for) or even the final $6.5B Nimitz.

  18. D. E. Reddick permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:51 pm

    Actually, the original LCS may have first been in service with the RN, rather than the USN.

    Fairmile H LCS (L) Landing Craft Support

    Displacement: 84 ton (light), 116 tons (full load).
    Speed: 15 knots maximum at 2,000 rpm, 13.25 knots continuous at 1,500 rpm.
    Range: 700 nm at 12.5 knots and 4,000 gallons of fuel.
    Crew: 25.
    Two single .303 cal. Lewis machine-guns.
    One twin .5o cal. Vickers machine gun on power-operated mounting.
    Single Ordnance QF 6 pounder gun (in a tank turret, no less); NOTE that a 6 pounder is the same bore as a 57 mm cannon (as found on the modern USN LCS).

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

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordnance_QF_6_pounder

  19. D. E. Reddick permalink
    June 18, 2010 7:22 pm

    The -ORIGINAL- L C S . . .

    227 to 254 tons (light), 383 tons (full load);
    Range: 5,500 miles at 12 knots;
    Speed: 16.5 knots;
    Single 3-inch / 50 cal. gun;
    Two twin 40 mm cannon;
    Four 20 mm cannon;
    Four .50 cal. machine-guns;
    Ten rocket launchers;
    Depth charges (shown in some pictures).

    I took some information regarding the LCS(L) from a reference book regarding USN vessel types following WW-II. Otherwise, the LCS(L), its purpose, and history of development is described quite nicely in this Wikipedia entry – along with links for the type (aka LSSL). Note that it was literally intended as a littoral combatant…

    Landing Craft Support

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

  20. Scott B. permalink
    June 18, 2010 6:25 pm

    B. Smitty said : “And no, helicopters with small radars are NOT a desirable substitute.”

    And no, UAVs won’t provide a suitable replacement for the E-2 any time soon, aka technology won’t solve all our problems.

  21. B.Smitty permalink
    June 18, 2010 6:15 pm

    Scott B said in reference to the E-2, “1) For which there’s absolutely NO SUBSTITUTE available today, and NONE whatsoever on the radar screen anyway (and no, destroyer pickets are NOT a desirable substitute).

    And no, helicopters with small radars are NOT a desirable substitute.

  22. B.Smitty permalink
    June 18, 2010 6:10 pm

    Mike said, “Really thats pretty much what you have today, with the Super Hornet…

    (current)
    – F/A-18C/D
    – EA-6B/EA-18G
    – E-2C/D
    – C-2

    (future)
    – X-47
    – F-35C (maybe even B)

    (potential)
    – Predator C “Avenger”

  23. Scott B. permalink
    June 18, 2010 6:04 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Really thats pretty much what you have today, with the Super Hornet,”

    Don’t forget the E-2 Hawkeye :

    1) For which there’s absolutely NO SUBSTITUTE available today, and NONE whatsoever on the radar screen anyway (and no, destroyer pickets are NOT a desirable substitute).

    2) Which won’t be able to operate from a carrier without CATOBAR.

    The often neglected AEW aspect is a gaping hole in the entire small carrier advocacy.

  24. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 18, 2010 5:37 pm

    “small, niche aircraft carriers that can accept only one kind of plane on their decks”

    Really thats pretty much what you have today, with the Super Hornet, and what the British will have with their large decks, with few alternatives available than the F-35B, on 60,000 tons!

    If the cost of giant decks is already limiting your fighter quality, why not go for economy anyway? But we’d rather place our hopes on gold-plated mediocrity.

  25. Joe permalink
    June 18, 2010 5:14 pm

    I can see some logic in an expensive niche aircraft that can fly off of several different types of decks. However, I see little logic in having an entire fleet of small, niche aircraft carriers that can accept only one kind of plane on their decks.

  26. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 18, 2010 4:32 pm

    Joe, you see right through me! But V/STOL covers a multitude of sins with this gold-plate and mediocre platform.

  27. Joe permalink
    June 18, 2010 3:38 pm

    Mike, it’s not too hard to see why you might feel the F-35B to be the “only bright spot in a faulty program”. Without it your arguments to throw out current aircraft carrier procurement practices in favor of “Harrier Carriers” goes out the window.

  28. MatR permalink
    June 18, 2010 2:59 pm

    Re: ‘Doubt thrown over future of submarines’

    Flaming Ada! The one weapon system we in the UK make that really is the ‘tip of the spear’, unmatched by anyone but the USA, and we have to go and cancel part of it.

    I’d scrap the new carriers, new armored vehicles, General Mike Jackson’s daily baths of virgin’s blood, and possibly the British Army just to keep these things.

    Rent out the RAF as delivery boys to make some spare cash! Get them doing something useful to help out! >:[

  29. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 18, 2010 2:00 pm

    I continue to root for the F-35B. Think it the only bright spot in the whole faulty program.

  30. D. E. Reddick permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:17 pm

    Here’s a new report with rumored characteristics of Japan’s new 22DDH helicopter carrier, which may operate the V-22 Osprey and F-35B Lightning II aircraft from its large flight deck. The size of a WW-II Essex class fleet carrier, the new destroyer will be 50 percent larger than the currently commissioned Hyuga class DDHs. Besides the ubiquitous Phalanx CIWS (three of them), the new ship will carry RAM and possibly VLS missile launchers for self-defense.

    Defense-Aerospace.com: Details of New Japanese ‘Helicopter Destroyer’

    http://www.defense-aerospace.com/article-view/release/115759/new-japanese-destroyer-bigger%2C-more-capable.html

  31. Fencer permalink
    June 18, 2010 11:56 am

    Interesting that the mine-hunting UUVs can’t even return from their mission, is the LCS ever going to have successful weapon?

    The article about the new Russian submarine says “According to the estimations of Western and Russian experts, the Severodvinsk submarine will be quieter and much more powerful than the USA’s Sea Wolf”

  32. June 18, 2010 10:12 am

    I think the 7th Astute was always in doubt; it seems there is unwritten need for MoD(n) to match SSN numbers with T45s numbers. I think 7th Astute will be sacrificed for the long game of Vanguard replacement.

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