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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thinking about "big deck carriers?" . . . James Holmes is

Interesting opinion piece from Professor Jim Homes of the Naval War College at USNI News, Opinion: History’s Costliest Fleet Auxiliary:
Carriers started off as fleet auxiliaries a century ago, scouting and screening for the battle line, before taking their place as the chief repository of U.S. Navy striking power during World War II. The CVN could trace the same trajectory followed by the battleships—from capital ship, to expensive fleet auxiliary, and into eventual obsolescence and retirement.
Why is he thinking this way?
This is a milieu populated not just by adversary cruisers and destroyers, but
Old "Silkworm" Anti-Ship Missiles
by missile-toting subs and fast patrol craft. This is also an age of land-based sea power. Extended-range fire support has come a long way since the days of Corbett and Mahan, when a fort’s guns could clear enemy vessels out of a few miles of offshore waters, and that was it. Tactical aircraft flying from airfields ashore, batteries of antiship cruise missiles, and even an exotic antiship ballistic missile are among the weaponry with which U.S. Navy defenders must now contend. This latter-day, hybrid land/sea flotilla menaces not just CVNs but all surface forces that venture within its range.
Modern Iranian Chinese C-801/2 Dispenser
Actually, it is a return to the old days, when Lord Nelson's adage "A ship's a fool to fight a fort" was the wisdom of the day.

Anti-access weapons and capability have just added to their range, as land-based powers seek to convert their "near seas" into safe, controlled space.

What does it mean if Professor Holmes is right?

I would suggest starting with building up the submarine fleet. A slew of diesel/AIP boats would be good. Or something different - submersible missile hydrofoil ships? Break out the old Tom Swift books.

I should also note that one of the original arguments for something like the Littoral Combat Ship was that it was an inexpensive asset that could be put in harm's way . . . to keep the sea lanes open among other things.

The U.S. Navy needs to be very careful to the avoid the hammer/nail approach to problem solving.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a return to the Jeune Ecole. As an amateur, CVBGs have always struck me as big juicy targets. I know the flat tops are heavily escorted making them tough nuts to crack but one has to ask what other useful things all those ships could be doing if they weren't tethered to a carrier.