Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Gods of the Naval Engagements"

Over at CDR Salamander, a little truth in poetry when guest poster URR pens (with a nod to Kipling) "Gods of the Naval Engagements".

Well, don't sit there goggling - go read it. Now.

Force level information from here. Pay attention to where the red boxes are placed. Now, consider the number of auxiliaries and amphibious ships - which, of course, are important, but are not "ships of the line" meant to engage enemy warships. Our surface warships (cruisers+destroyers+frigates+LCS) are not the 122 shown. No, the non-carrier surface warship fleet is  22+61+26+2= 111.

The 26 frigates? From here:
The guided missile frigates (FFG) bring a short range anti-air warfare (AAW) capability (provided by their Phalanx Close-In Weapon System) to the frigate mission, but they have some limitations. Designed as cost efficient surface combatants, they lack the multi-mission capability necessary for modern surface combatants faced with multiple, high-technology threats. They also offer limited capacity for growth. Despite this, the FFG 7 class is a robust platform, capable of withstanding considerable damage. This "toughness" was aptly demonstrated when USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine and USS Stark was hit by two Exocet cruise missiles. In both cases the ships survived, were repaired and returned to the fleet. USS Stark was decommissioned in May 1999.

The Surface Combatant Force Requirement Study does not define any need for a single mission ship such as the frigate and there are no frigates planned in the Navy's five-year shipbuilding plan.
How are these frigates armed?Well, that "G" at the end of FFG used to mean they had a guided missile system. Now it seems to be meaningless:
Armament: Six MK-46 torpedoes(from two triple mounts); One 76 mm (3-inch)/62 caliber MK 75 rapid fire gun; One Phalanx close-in-weapons system.
Red circle indicates location of missing missile launcher
Yep, they are de-fanged as noted by Wikipedia:
In mid-2000, the Navy removed the frigates' Mk 13 single-arm missile launchers and magazines because the primary missile, the Standard SM-1MR, became outmoded.
In some cases the removed launcher has been replaced with a 25mm cannon.

So, now, about 1/4 of the U.S. surface combatants are not really all that capable of surface warfare against an enemy who might load up even small coastal craft with anti-ship cruise missiles. Pretty much these ships ought to be useful for chasing pirates armed with small arms or doing counter-drug operations in the Caribbean.

It should also be noted that the most recent commissioning date of an FFG was in 1989 or 23 years ago. The oldest in active service was commissioned in 1983 - 29 years ago. Most of the "class of 1983" currently in service are due to be decommissioned in 2013. As noted above, there is no "frigate" replacement - those slots are to be filled by the LCS, a "multi-mission" capable ship if it ever gets its mission modules.

That's just swell.

Australia, among other countries, has found a way to keep the Perry-class a warship, as set out here.

But wait, there's more, as set out here where the headline reads, "11 ships to be decommissioned in fiscal 2013":
Fiscal 2013 decommissioning schedule
Oct. 31: frigate Crommelin.
Feb. 15: frigate Underwood.
Feb. 27: frigate Curts.
March 15: carrier Enterprise and frigate Carr.
March 22: frigate Klakring.
March 31: cruisers Cowpens, Anzio, Vicksburg and Port Royal.
Aug. 30: frigate Reuben James.
Let's see, that's 6 fewer frigates and 4 fewer cruisers. That would drop the non-carrier surface warship fleet to 101.
Of course, there are planned commissionings of new ships, the schedule of which is kindly provided by our friends in the Navy League of the United States (to which I have added the red boxes showing the commissioning of surface warships):

Let's see, that adds 1 new surface warship LCS 4 in 2013, so the combatants rise to 102. Plus one more LCS in 2014 so - 103. Then the unproven new DDG1000 class adds 2 in 2015. Up to 105.

And then?

More to follow on the discussion of "quality" over "quantity." You can start reading Bryan McGrath at Information Dissemination on Re-visiting Fleet Size now, though.

1 comment:

  1. Man! We are screwed. By that list, Eight of those ships are NOT combatants.

    So...what can an LCS do that a frigate can't?