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LCS Alternative Weekly

July 14, 2010

RSS Supreme (73) and USS Freedom (LCS 1) cruise in formation off the coast of Hawaii during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010 exercises.

Disguising Warships

More calls for the return of the Q-Ship, this time from a US naval officer–Lieutenant James Drennan, in the July Proceedings:

The concept of disguising warships as merchants is nothing new. Decoys, called Q-Ships, were used by Britain in World War I, and later by the United States in World War II, to combat the German U-boat threat in the Atlantic. While their success against U-boats was limited because the subs had the capability and intent to sink them, their potential for combating piracy is undeniable. If conventional warships can attract four pirate attacks in just over a year, imagine what they could accomplish if they appeared as defenseless container ships. Like moths that are burned by the flame that attracts them, pirates, who are often difficult to locate, can be drawn out into the open and neutralized.
By refitting USNS or Military Sealift Command ships (or simply using actual merchant hulls), we can bait pirates into attack, giving commanding officers clear authority to use lethal force in self-defense. The very existence of these decoy vessels can act as a deterrent, particularly after a few pirates have been “burned” by the deception. Pirates may be a little more hesitant to attack a container ship if they know it might be filled with highly trained Marines with guns instead of valuable cargo. Decoy vessels can also provide useful surveillance capabilities, since they would blend seamlessly into regular merchant traffic. They can observe the vast majority of pirate activity that occurs far from any gray-hulled warship.

Here’s hoping the pirates haven’t updated their subscription to Proceedings! Otherwise an interesting concept. New Wars previously posted on this subject:

On several occasions the pirates have mistaken navy support vessels like amphibious ships for helpless freighters, to their everlasting regret. The Royal Navy consistently uses their Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships as patrol vessels, mainly out of necessity from their shrinking resources, but they have proved surprisingly ideal for the mission. A while back I made a reference to modern Q ships, after reading this article from Marine News


Frigates versus Motherships

Lewis Page in a March post at the UK Register reveals why a merchant auxiliary vessel, essentially a mothership, would be more effective than a modern frigate in most roles, while being cheaper to build and operate:

In general, in a hypothetical battle between a Type 26 combat ship and an unarmed enemy merchant ship carrying several helicopters to the 26’s single one, the merchant ship will probably win as it can keep aircraft flying round the clock. The merchant ship can also do a better job at hunting subs, for the same reason.
The Type 26s will “support land operations”, the navy says. By this they mean it will be able to carry a small number of troops, and its helicopter – though usually it will be one designed primarily for antisubmarine work – will be able to fly over land. The ship will also be able to bombard targets ashore with its medium-calibre gun turret.

Again, though, a fleet auxiliary merchantman comes out ahead. It can carry many more troops, plus vehicles and supplies for them and several helicopters to the frigate’s one. Inshore gun bombardment isn’t a big deal: the frigate makes a superb target for any enemy shore-based batteries, which are likely to significantly outrange and out-punch it if they exist, and furthermore it has only enough shells for about ten minutes’ firing.

Here comes the cheaper part, in a fleet desperately seeking savings:

All in all, for just about any job likely or unlikely, a fleet auxiliary with a helicopter deck and aircraft suited to the task would be better, as well as being much cheaper…a fleet auxiliary actually can support operations ashore usefully, too, unlike a frigate.

Back then, I posted the following argument against building frigates for patrol work:

Because you have a vessel almost as expensive as modern guided missile warships, which are high end battleforce ships, except they are armed no better than foreign corvettes or offshore patrol vessels. Which sounds more logical, to build a few very expensive and potentially vulnerable vessels, arm them like small patrol vessels, then use them like coast guard cutters, or buy a great many patrol vessels at less cost? But the all-battleship navy can’t think in these sensible terms.

The conclusion of all this is:

  • Frigates are too expensive for use as low end escorts, their traditional role.
  • They are not very efficient in the use and support of helicopters, their primary weapon.
  • You can’t afford enough of them to make up for their lack of capability.


Stealthy Cyclone PC

Going back further in times, to a 2000 Seapower magazine report concerning the launch of the last of the Cyclone class patrol craft, the Tornado, with some very special additional features:

The Navy’s 14th Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship (PC)–launched by Bollinger Shipyards–is the last of its class to be built, but is by no means the least. The Tornado, launched long after her sister ships were delivered to the Navy, features significant structural and electronic upgrades…

The Tornado’s changes to the original Cyclone structural design decrease the ship’s radar signature. The hull also was extended nine feet to accommodate a ramp for the launch and recovery of naval special warfare boats. The 360-ton ship is equipped with an integrated bridge command-and-control system, a satellite-navigation system, a forward-looking infrared system, and a surface-search radar with collision-avoidance functions. The Tornado’s weapons suite includes one 25mm MK38 chain gun, one 25mm Mk96 gun, two .50-caliber M2 and one M60 7.62mm machine guns, one 40mm Mk19 grenade launcher, and a Stinger surface-to-air missile station.

To think the Navy had a template here for constructing just the type littoral vessel for operations in the Gulf, against terrorist smugglers and pirates, yet it chose to waste an entire decade on a flawed frigate design, which has yet to reap the benefits of its huge cost. As the Army learned with its Stryker vehicles from the same era as the PC’s, one day the Navy may actually understand that to get hulls in the water you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just give us sound workable designs. Going into its third decade of service, the Cyclones have been quietly performing the littoral combat ship function without the laurels and hardly near the funding.


India’s LCS in the Water

India is building a balanced fleet of Blue Water vessels plus ships for coastal protection. Here is a report from Strategypage detailing a new class of 10 x 600 ton fast patrol boats:

Armament consists of a 30mm autocannon in a turret, two 12.7mm machine-guns and some shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. The crew of 49 live and work in air conditioned compartments. Each ship costs about $11 million, which is a very good price for a 48.9 meter/152 foot long coast guard vessel. India needs ships like this, because it has 7,500 kilometers of coastline to keep watch over.

That’s great but only 10 to patrol a 7500 km coastline? I hope they have help! Here are the specs for the Car Nicobar Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC):

  • Length-48.9 m
  • Draft-4 m
  • Displacement-600 tons
  • Speed-35 knots
  • Range-2000 miles @ 12-14 knots
  • Crew-49
  • Armament-1 x CRN-91 30 mm
    2 x 12.7 mm HMGs
    Igla SAM


Corvette’s in, Frigates out

Commenter Moahunter at the Defence Talk Forum echoes New Wars’ call for Canada to rethink its decision to replace its aging Halifax frigates with like vessels:

I missed this post, going back through the thread, it got me reading a bit on the Type 26 and some of the criticisms of it, which are also relevant to the initial concept of this thread and along the same lines of the suggestions being made regarding the Canadian navy by some critics. That being, that maybe frigates are obsolete, and that it is better to build a small navy around smaller corvette size vessels with some very simple larger support ships?

…So, Canada would build perhaps:

– 36 specialized OPV’s / corvettes, half of them ice strengthened. None of them helicopter capable.
– 6 Motherships – simple helicopter / UAV platforms / supply ships, with command and perhaps cruise missile capability.

Is that the way a modern / medium sized Navy should go?

Instead of cutbacks, you would get increases, in size and capabilities. As was pointed out in the previous post, a fairly small general purpose frigate in unable to carry as many capable helicopters as a larger mothership, and you don’t need such large vessels so close to shore to use their guns since shallow water corvettes are already so armed and also with missile too.


It’s a Mystery to Me

One of our sharp-eyed readers noticed a strange discrepancy in a Wall Street Journal article, on the planned LCS buy. D.E. Reddick wrote:

War News Update just pointed to this Wall Street Journal article and its really, really interesting graphic with especial reference to the LCS program. It’s right there in yellow and black (NOTE the NUMBERS). Just where did that last number originate from???

Littoral Combat Ship
Number Needed 55
Purchases Planned 66

Navy Weighs Ship’s Design, Along With Its Own Future

Just as quick, Scott responded:

Straight from the latest 30-year Shipbuilding Plan, page 20 :

“The Navy intends to continue procurement of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and, allowing for their 25-year service life, plans to build to its inventory total of 55 by FY 2035. A total of 66 of these ships will be procured over the 30-year period; including 17 replacements for those retiring at the end of their planned service life during this period.”

Scott also pointed to a little-covered but major event:

Austal, Lockheed submit final offers for LCS contract

Who will be the loser? I am thinking the Navy, on this deal!


German Gepard class fast attack craft. Photo author Darkone via Wikimedia Commons.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 18, 2010 8:28 pm

    They got hit with a little of everything including shells from battleships. On the other hand our only serious casualty was a destroyer that recieved most of it’s damage from eleven hits by American 6″ shells.

  2. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 16, 2010 6:36 pm


    General Belgrano was in fact the former USS Phoenix (CL-46), a prime suspect in the pummeling of either IJNS Yamashiro or IJNS Fuso (the two Japanese BBs present). Depending upon the interpretation of how the battle occurred, one of them was torpedoed by USN DDs and the other was sunk as a result of naval gunfire.

  3. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 16, 2010 6:14 pm

    One of those “machine gun cruisers” was of course the Belgrano.

  4. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 16, 2010 5:58 pm

    I know, I read his earlier book, South Pacific Destroyer and look forward to reading “The Battle Of Tassafaronga.” He talked about the Einstein note and diagram in the earlier book too.

    I had known that the Germans also had problems with the magnetic exploders on their torpedoes, which saved the Warspite at Narvik, but only recently learned that German subs had a problem with the depth settings of their torpedoes too. Every time the sub fired a torpedo, compressed air was vented into the boat. The torpedo was built to assume ambient air pressure was the pressure at the surface and set depth relative to this. Every time the sub fired a torpedo the ambient pressure went up and the actual depth the torpedo ran got progressively deeper. (ref: “The U-Boat Century,” Jak Mallmann Showell)

    Things have only gotten more complicated. I wonder how many thing are not going to work at crunch time.

  5. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 16, 2010 4:45 pm


    Totally concur. I have a copy of Captain Russel Crenshaw’s book “The Battle Of Tassafaronga”. He explains the RADAR and gunnery problems clearly and concisely. But the really good stuff is his comparison of USN and IJN torpedo development & -testing- programs. Even Albert Einstein makes an appearance in that story. The USN should have paid closer attention to professor Einstein rather their own in-house, so-called expertise…

  6. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 16, 2010 2:21 pm

    Actually the high rate of fire from the light cruisers guns caused a problem in that the range gate on the radar fire controls of the time ofered such a limited view that the spots started following the fall of shot and drifted off target. When the firing stopped the target was no longer in the range gate was thought to have been sunk.

    This lead us to believe they were much more effective than was actually the case, and based on misperceptions from Cape Esperance the US Navy emphasized the light cruisers and neglected destroyers’ torpedoes. Destroyers were held on a short leash, rather than being allowed to position independently and launch torpedoes before the cruisers opened fire. This did not change until late in 1943 when Mooseburger, Tip Merrill, and Burke showed the way. See battles of Vella Gulf, Empress Augusta Bay, and Cape St. George.

  7. July 16, 2010 10:47 am


    some images of real littoral combat with real littoral combat ships:


  8. Heretic permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:57 am

    re: Fencer

    Heretic, personally I would suggest the Mk 48 VLS; up to 32 ESSM for 15 tons.

    Although, admittedly, I’m not fully conversant with all the of various “flavors” of VLS available.

    I don’t think the 5″/62 would be at all useful for AAW as the Penguin missile out-ranges it.

    Sea skimming cruise missiles will *of course* outrange a 5″ gun. Penguin missiles have a range of 34+ kms (or so), and the later Naval Strike Missile has a range of 185+ kms … to say nothing of the Exocet group of sea skimmers with their 70-180 km range.

    You want a different defensive system to intercept sea skimmer cruise missiles, one that can respond in 2-3 seconds (or less, preferrably).

  9. Hudson permalink
    July 16, 2010 8:00 am


    I don’t know that a copy of “U.S. Cruisers” is of any particular advantage here. To double check your claim about the Brooklyns, all I did was google “us cruisers wwii 15 6″ guns.” Wiki posts preceding and succeeding ship classes. So all I had to do was roll through the half dozen or so ship classes. I’m sure there is valuable information and opinion in Mr. Friedman’s book–it is quoted frequently on NWs. Actually, I used to read books!

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 16, 2010 1:34 am


    I may have a bit of an advantage over you. I own a copy of Norman Friedman’s “U.S. Cruisers”. It ain’t light reading.

  11. Hudson permalink
    July 16, 2010 1:10 am


    Yes, the three main turrets were fore not aft. Maybe the ship was berthed stern first. That trip was quite some time ago.

  12. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:36 pm


    You meant the C turret forward, not aft. The Brooklyns had the same main armament arrangement as the IJN Mogami class CLs (before they were converted into CAs).

  13. Fencer permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:16 pm

    Juramentado, While Harpoons might be a liability against pirates or terrorist in crowded sea lanes, I think that an OTH SSM is necessary for a ASuW warship. I wouldn’t exactly call my LCS design a mini-Burke as it is designed for ASUW, not AAW, but I do think that decent number of SAMs is a requirement for a modern surface combatant. Why do you think LCS needs a CIWS? A JDAM has more range than Phalanx or RAM.

    Heretic, personally I would suggest the Mk 48 VLS; up to 32 ESSM for 15 tons. I don’t think the 5″/62 would be at all useful for AAW as the Penguin missile out-ranges it.

  14. Hudson permalink
    July 15, 2010 8:58 pm


    Actually, I knew about these “machine gun” cruisers at an early age. I was asking a rhetorical question in my latest post. On a bus tour of the Philadelphia Navy Yard years ago in the Scouts, as we passed on of those ships, the tour guide opined that the third turret aft had been dropped there by a crane for temporary storage. I raised my hand and corrected the adult.

    Interesting story about the IJN battleship. In one of the big island takeovers in the Pacific, the light cruisers burned up their entire stores of 60,000 rounds in support of shore operations, I read. This earned the ship captains a reprimand from the Navy. Goes to show you can never have sufficient shore bombardment capability.

  15. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 15, 2010 7:07 pm


    Fifteen 6″/47 cal. guns were the main armament of the Brooklyn class CLs. They also mounted either eight 5″/38 cals or 5″/25 cal. DP guns. Because of the fifteen guns of the main armament and their relatively high rate of fire per barrel (8/10/12 rounds per minute), the ships of this class were known as the “Machine-gun Cruisers” (heavy cruisers at the beginning of WW-II fired only two to four rounds per barrel per minute). USS Phoenix (CL-46) is thought to have played a significant role in the sinking of one of the IJN battleships at the Battle of Surigao Straight due to her great volume of apparently accurate fire.

    Brooklyn class cruiser

  16. Hudson permalink
    July 15, 2010 6:29 pm


    Speed, I would argue, is one of the essential attributes of the Modern Age, from the monoplane races of the 1930s that led to the Spitfire et al designs for WWII aircraft, to the speed of broadband downloads and uploads of the present.

    Chuck Hill:

    You go, Sailor! When I read your Roberts class monitor post, my eyes misted over. Our Iowas are gone forever, but… If Zumwalt is gonna cost $6bil, then of course it makes sense to bring back the monitor with twin 16″ guns, assuming the Navy still has its stock of shells, some 50,000, I once read, some dating back to the 1930s!

    Away with plinky little AGS and its minuscule 155mm rounds–I don’t care how fancy they are. Did we not have light cruisers in WWII that mounted 15 6″ guns? So, away with the birdshot and let’s get busy with real gunships. Steel is cheap and air is free! Salt in some ESSM, 57mm/76mm and a few CIWS to your heart’s content. Surely, such a shore pounder could be built for less than a $bil–less than LCS itself!

    I’m singing!

  17. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 15, 2010 5:15 pm

    Re “Mike’s mythical 1,000-ton corvette may finally have been located :
    Littoral Reconnaissance Ship”

    Scott B, I know you are just pulling Mike’s chain, but I’ll take it seriously because, even though this is obviously a student project, rather than a program with backing, it is interesting.

    Looks like range is insufficient but we can’t know, because the distance to speed graph on page 23 is obviously messed up.

    Self defense is minimal. It might work to detect and counter pirates, but even then you would also need at least one manned helo.

    Why would you only want air and surface operation for six hours a day? You might have to settle for six for the UAVs, but seems 24hour unmanned surface vehicle (USV) operation looks both desirable and attainable. If I were using this ship to maintain surface surveillance over a patch of ocean, as in the case of a Coast Guard Cutter doing law enforcement, I would view the 24 hour USV availability as a good replacement for manned helos that are only up for parts of the day allowing surface contacts, particularly fast ones, to get by during the periods the helo is on deck.

  18. Scott B. permalink
    July 15, 2010 4:42 pm

    Mike’s mythical 1,000-ton corvette may finally have been located :

    Littoral Reconnaissance Ship

  19. Heretic permalink
    July 15, 2010 4:42 pm

    re: Fencer

    Heretic, aside from the helicopter your LCS seems to be designed entirely for NGFS, does it have any SAMs or SSMs?

    In my post in the previous thread here I specifically mentioned putting … quote … “VLS missile cells (mixed purpose missile types) in the forward deck/hull” which can’t be done when the forward hull/deck of a trimaran is occupied by a turret gun. I’m thinking Mk 41 VLS, if you want to get into specifics. Would that count as SAMs or SSMs?


    re: x

    The Major Caliber Light Weight Gun (MCLWG) was discontinued over 30 years ago. The 5″/62 Mk 45 Mod 4 exists now, for real, on Ticonderoga class cruisers. I see no reason to advocate for a discontinued weapon rather than a real one.

    Another factor is that the 5″ gun is getting towards the upper bounds of what is “useful” for a swing-role in the anti-air/anti-surface regime. Going beyond 5″ bore the weapon becomes more dedicated to a surface rather than air role (for a variety of reasons). Having a gun which can “keep helicopters away” would seem to be (to me anyway) a useful weapon system.


    re: Juramentado

    low-viz/low-RCS really only applies from a surface-to-surface aspect. The reality is that even a moderate-sized MPA (it doesn’t have to be a Sentry or an A-50, a CN-235 would be enough), with a powerful enough surface search radar will pick you up at long range. Mind you, detection is not the same as classification, but if you are now a contact, you will definitely receive a closer inspection, and likely not by another surface ship.

    In which case … the exact same reasoning and logic will hold true for any surface vessel over 2000 tons … which incidentally comprises almost all of the USN surface fleet. However, I see no pressing “need” to make the detection and identification by hostile assets any easier than absolutely necessary … do you? I’m not talking about making the ship “improved invisibile” or something Sci-Fi. I’m merely talking about signature reduction to the point where hostile sensor performance is degraded to a useful degree (defensively speaking).

  20. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 15, 2010 4:11 pm

    Want a shore bombardment capability, how about this:


  21. Juramentado permalink
    July 15, 2010 2:41 pm

    x – Sprint speed is useful in conjunction with maneuvering against other vessels (assuming no missile exchanges), interception or interdiction (think CIT or security blockade), SOF deployments (you want to clear datum from a hostile coast soonest) or sprint-drift in the ASW mission.

    It’s absolutely true that 50kt speed matters not when facing a hard core missile engagement, which is why LCS needs a SAM capability beyond point-defense using RAM/SeaRAM. Ideally, an additional Phalanx or Goalkeeper to cover the area that the RAM launcher doesn’t.

  22. July 15, 2010 2:31 pm

    Speed isn’t as important as high endurance.

    To an aircraft doing a couple of hundred knots or a missile do even higher speeds a destroyer doing 30kts is practically standing still. Turning stern to to a missile attack may save you or it may not….

  23. Hudson permalink
    July 15, 2010 1:09 pm

    Nobody ever seems to give LCS a good word because of its speed. Speed is a valuable asset in almost any combat scenario.

    So I see the use of having a few LCS–LCS-2 seems to be the more highly regarded of the two, though currently LCS-1 is slightly better armed–to be paired with JHSV or Austal’s Multi-Role Vessel, which has a few guns.

    The idea would be to quickly establish an American presence onshore or on an island where the ships would only meet light resistence, at the worst, and could unload troops and wheels, or supplies for disaster relief.

    I have proposed other better-armed ships to fight in the littorals.

  24. Juramentado permalink
    July 15, 2010 12:40 pm

    @Heretic – low-viz/low-RCS really only applies from a surface-to-surface aspect. The reality is that even a moderate-sized MPA (it doesn’t have to be a Sentry or an A-50, a CN-235 would be enough), with a powerful enough surface search radar will pick you up at long range. Mind you, detection is not the same as classification, but if you are now a contact, you will definitely receive a closer inspection, and likely not by another surface ship.

    @Fencer – you’re basically describing a mini-Burke with Harpoons. Honestly, that’s not what the Navy needs in the littorals, and that few Harpoons would be more of a liability than anything else. I would argue that LCS is a good baseline as much as any other small-combatant given that we as taxpayers have already paid for it, but it should have a combination AAW and SSM rather than a dedicated Land-Attack missile. Right now, the NLOS replacement bid is strictly the latter only. And it damn well needs CIWS to supplement the SeaRAM/RAM.

  25. July 15, 2010 12:35 pm

    Heretic matey you want one of these,

    Look at the size of hull it is plonked on………..

    Also for your consideration,

  26. Fencer permalink
    July 15, 2010 12:19 pm

    Heretic, aside from the helicopter your LCS seems to be designed entirely for NGFS, does it have any SAMs or SSMs?

    I really don’t see much of a role for any LCS-like ship, but if the US Navy wants to build one this is what I would suggest:

    3,000-3,500 tons, 35 knots, armed with 8-16 Harpoon / SLAM for long-range ASUW or land attack, 32 ESSM for AAW and close-range ASUW, 2 25 mm cannon for close defense, SeaRAM for point-defense, and a 2 helo or 3 VTUAV hanger for recce and ASW.

  27. Heretic permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:02 am

    As mentioned in the previous thread, I’m coming around to the idea of a Littoral (slash literal) Combat Ship built on a Trimaran hull which has as its primary on ship armament a pair of port and starboard 5″/62 Mk 45 Mod 4 turrets placed amidships with magazines of 680 rounds each (same as the Arleigh Burke class destroyers). The range on the 5″/62 Mk 45 Mod 4, according to the only online source I could find, is 25,880 yards (23,660 m) @ 47 degrees elevation when using conventional projectiles with the mark 67 cartridge … which is 12.775 nmi.

    Which then begs the question … is it possible to make a ship of under 3000 tons very difficult to detect beyond 8-10 nmi? I’m thinking Visby-class “type” stealthing where the signature reduction built into the design makes the ship difficult to detect beyond 8-10 nmi. That way, even if the ship can be “seen” on the horizon, it is difficult to detect or get a target lock onto it, while at the same time it can get within gun range (12.7 vs 10) and attack with surprise … using guns.

    Combine with a large aft helicopter pad and full support aviation facilities (and crew) and you’d have a very serious Littoral Combat Ship, literally built for combat of the “knife fighting” variety. Add facilities for 2 small boats, their crews and support and you’d be able to fully support VBSS and Riverine Ops.

  28. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 15, 2010 2:40 am

    D. E. Reddick, Thanks for posting that. I borrowed your link:

  29. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 14, 2010 11:26 pm

    I posted the following in Breaking News several days ago. It’s a thread about OPVs, corvettes, FACs, PCs, and similar naval and coast guard vessels that’s posted over at Besides all of the pictures, there is descriptive information about the many vessels depicted. As with Singapore’s Formidable class frigates, several of these vessel classes appear to possess favorable mixes of features when compared to the two types of LCS.

    The latest large armed ocean patrol vessels

  30. leesea permalink
    July 14, 2010 10:25 pm

    Mike IRT this comment:
    To think the Navy had a template here for constructing just the type littoral vessel for operations in the Gulf, against terrorist smugglers and pirates, yet it chose to waste an entire decade on a flawed frigate design, which has yet to reap the benefits of its huge cost.”

    I do not think the Cyclone PC is a good template for a littoral warfare ship. It is mostly an enlarged patrol boat without the capabilities needed to fight in the littorals.

    There are so many good designs with boat and aviation capabilities as well as a reasonable weapons and sensors suite. Ahh but the USN will revert to its NIH policy and ignore them. Maybe they could learn some things about buying foreign designs from the USCG?

    One must be very careful about suggesting UNARMED naval auxiliaries for littoral ops. The RFA has armed ships (not for offensive actions so much as for self defense). The USN has not gone that route unfortunately.

  31. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 14, 2010 8:03 pm

    “That’s great but only 10 to patrol a 7500 km coastline? I hope they have help!”

    The Indian Coast Guard was already a substantial force,,but since the Mumbai attack they have decided to triple it in size.

  32. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 14, 2010 5:20 pm

    tangosix wrote “I would not dismiss his (or anybody else’s) ideas out of hand,that would be intellectually bankrupt.”

    Very well put, as I too get ideas from all over. Nothing personal toward anyone here and all ideas to make a better navy and military are welcome, from a variety of sources.

  33. July 14, 2010 5:03 pm

    Hello Mike Burleson,

    I am surprised to see you quote Lewis Page.
    As an ardent advocate for large aircraft carriers and helicopters who believes surface combatants are a waste of money,his philosopy seems to be completely at odds with the corvette centric ideas which you yourself espouse.

    However,even though I disagree with many of his opinions,I would not dismiss his (or anybody else’s) ideas out of hand,that would be intellectually bankrupt.
    It is much better to debate such ideas politely as we sooften have the pleasure of doing on this blog.


  34. July 14, 2010 12:09 pm

    friends don’t let friends quote Lewis Page

    a quote I have shamelessly stolen from someone else!

  35. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 14, 2010 11:41 am

    Jed wrote “Outing Mr Page’s claptrap does nothing for your credibility”

    Unlike the average journalist, Mr Page has served in the military, specifically the RN. That doesn’t necessarily make him an expert on reform, but I do appreciate his ideas.

    The problem with placing frigates in harms way, they are so expensive there would be a natural reluctance to risk them in high threat waters. Currently in the Gulf the problems there are fairly benign but can we trust this to always be the situation? But with armed merchant ships, if they sink, you can replace them fairly quickly. But who can wait 5 years to replace a frigate, when the conflict may be over by then?

    So what you get is a warship too expensive to risk and too much overkill to be chasing wooden pirate dhows. The worst of both worlds.

    But Lewis made no mention of gunboats, monitors, or corvettes which carry frigate sized guns or better, which New Wars advocates to operate with the motherships.

    Today, frigates are too often used in operations far below their monetary worth, while patrol craft often perform way beyond their expectations. And you can afford lots of the latter to make up for any lack of capability.

  36. July 14, 2010 11:12 am

    > 36 specialized OPV’s / corvettes, half of them ice strengthened. None of them helicopter capable.
    UAV capable, probably fewer ice capable, and more capable ice breakers.
    More ships like the Danes are deploying.

  37. Juramentado permalink
    July 14, 2010 8:56 am


    Between Scott and myself, we already worked out the details on why the buy is 66 for LCS. See the comments in the Breaking News section.

  38. Jed permalink
    July 14, 2010 8:51 am

    On Mr Pages comments ref: Frigates versus ‘armed’ (?) Fleet Auxiliary:

    “the frigate makes a superb target for any enemy shore-based batteries, which are likely to significantly outrange and out-punch it if they exist”

    Mike, seeing as Lewis can’t seem to explain this, maybe you can, how is the mythical and magical Fleet Auxiliary any less of a target for land based missiles, artillery or air power ?

    How is it to defend itself against these threats when a full on military vessel apparently is only any good as a ‘target’ ???

    Outing Mr Page’s claptrap does nothing for your credibility, your way more capable of developing your own theories and arguments than he is !

    William: “I agree with you that converted merchant ship designs are the way to go for these low end roles” –

    ONLY if you can afford hulls which will ONLY be ever used for such low end roles, and absolutely NOT pushed to do more if the an unplanned for scenario should emerge. As discussed on here many times before – hulls are cheap, its weapons and sensor and C3 systems which increase the cost of naval vessels. That is why it is better to build ships which can be re-roled, or have additional kit fitted quickly as required something like the Absalon could easily carry a top-notch towed array sonar instead of it CB90E’s if required, but how would we fit our merchant based patrol unit with the required kit to be used as a open ocean ASW asset (as an example) ???

  39. William permalink
    July 14, 2010 8:14 am

    This was somebodies suggested modification of the Bay Class LSD with the well deck converted to hangar space. If you removed the 76mm guns and VLS leaving just the phalanx and 20mm guns it would be perfectly adequate for anti-piracy, anti-drug patrols and humanitarian disaster relief.

    I agree with you that converted merchant ship designs are the way to go for these low end roles – cheaper and more effective for those roles than a frigate or destroyer.

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