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Friday, June 24, 2005

House pushes Navy to buy more ships in 2006

"Here," says Congress to the Navy, "Spend more money building ships- and we're not even sure on what kind." As reported here (Hat tip to Stygius).

I'll help - the Navy doesn't need any more huge "destroyers" (at 500+ feet the Burke class of DDG's are long- the old battleship Texas (BB35) was 573 feet long- the Ticonderoga class cruisers are 567 feet long).

Burke class destroyer:


The Navy knows this:
The Navy is working to figure out what changes are in order for its blue-water fleet, which is designed to fight a conventional enemy on the high seas. Until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Navy prepared for two major theater wars with the expectation that all other missions — from humanitarian relief to peace-keeping to counterterrorism — could be accomplished with the organizations, equipment and skills at hand.

Prepared by the Navy’s Information, Plans and Strategy staff at the Pentagon, the draft strategy acknowledges that the likelihood of major war on the high seas has significantly diminished. While maintaining the ability to conduct a major combat operation the Navy must be prepared to deal with a wider array of maritime security operations, including stability operations, the global war on terrorism (GWOT) and homeland defense.

The draft strategy anticipates a “limited number” of new requirements will take shape to fulfill these missions, and that some existing capabilities will need modification to keep them relevant in the new strategic landscape, “while other capabilities will need to be expanded in scale to meet the challenges of the post-9/11 security environment.” (source)
It needs more quick small ships to go after terrorist/pirate ships. We already own the blue water, we need some ships for the littorals.

We should not be using billion dollar ships to interdict dhows and fishing vessels. And a $3 billion dollar DDX may be too expensive to risk in ordinary operations.

The Navy needs some cheap hulls to carry war to the littorals and some platforms for support of troops ashore. Quickness, fighting power and numbers ought to be it's mantra.

The Littoral Control Ship was promising, but
LCS was originally meant for operations close to shore. But the LCS design has grown to the point where the LCS is no more capable of coastal operations than most other ships with the same displacement...The LCS will be 2,500-3,000 tons, about the size of late World War II destroyers. (source)
And yes, it's suppposed to be multi-mission because of its innovative "mission module" package:
The LCS has a large “cargo hold” that can be quickly fitted with gear to turn it into a mine clearing ship, a submarine hunter, or just about anything (anti-aircraft, shore bombardment, commando support, or even command and control.
Question: When the decision have to be made about which package will be used? And if you change your mind, where are the other modules kept and how do you install them on the fly?

LCS:

We don't need 100 ships that can't do the job they were thought up for. The once revolutionary LCS has become a classic "design by committee" ship pounded into familiar modes by a reluctant to change surface Navy.

What happened to the Cyclone class PCs? "The primary mission of these ships is coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance, an important aspect of littoral operations outlined in the Navy's strategy, "Forward...From the Sea." (source) Oh yeah -
They have limited endurance for their size, and their combat systems and ammunition allowance do not compare well with similar ships in most other navies. They are about ten times the size of their predecessors but carry about the same payload. It was belatedly discovered that they are too large for the close inshore work for which they were intended.

Smaller than most Navy vessels, at 180 feet, PCs still pack a lot of punch. With a top speed of 35 knots and two 25mm chain guns capable of pumping out a blistering 175 rounds per minute, as well as many other small arms, a would-be terrorist should think twice before trying to make a run past these guys.
If 180 feet long and a displacement of under 500 tons is "too large" why would we build even bigger ships?

Cyclone class PC:

The answer is of course in the need to keep the shipyards alive. It's a very expensive answer -especially if the product doesn't meet the Navy's real needs... And the Navy has wasted some money on some really bad ideas before:

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