Saturday, April 6, 2013

Who’s Watching Zumwalt?

For some time now, I’ve been astounded by the lack of monitoring of the Zumwalt (DDG-1000) program by the general media.  At the equivalent stage of development the LCS had been thoroughly dissected and every hiccup in the program was analyzed in detail.  Not so for the Zumwalt which has progressed with little notice on a relative basis, despite being every bit as revolutionary as the LCS and many times more expensive on a per unit basis.  Of course, part of the reason for the lack of attention may be that the Navy hasn’t committed to buying 55 Zumwalts before the first one was built, as they did with the LCS!  Alright, so let’s focus a little attention on the Zumwalt and see what’s of interest.  In no particular order, here’s some items that deserve examination.

Wood Composite Superstructure – The upper three fourths or so of the superstructure is a wood composite material.  While I applaud the Navy for not using aluminum, I’m not sure wood composites are the answer.  It remains to be seen how it will hold up to the day to day stresses imposed by the natural and continuous motion of a ship at sea.  Will repairs be easy and can repairs be made at sea?  How will the wood composite behave in a fire?

AGS – The gun system is a giant black hole for internal ship’s volume and power.  The gun is limited to shore fire support and cannot function in an anti-ship role.  That’s a very limited use for a gun that expensive and with that kind of impact on the ship’s design.  In essence, the ship was designed around the gun, similar to how the A-10 Warthog was designed around its gun.


Zumwalt - Under the Radar?

Hull Form – The extreme tumblehome design on a ship of that size represents an unknown.  I’ve read reports that suggest the ship may have stability problems in all but very calm seas.  I’d like to believe that the Navy thoroughly investigated the hull stability before committing to the design but my faith in the Navy’s common sense is not great.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Survivability – Because of the tumblehome hull form, the waterline cross-sectional area decreases as the ship sinks.  This means that as the ship takes on water from flooding damage, the ship will have decreasing buoyancy.  This is the reverse of a conventional ship where the cross-sectional area increases.  Crew size also enters into survivability.  As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the main factor in successful damage control is crew size and the Zumwalt has a very small crew (smallest in the Navy relative to its size).  Finally, as mentioned above, the wood composite superstructure remains an unknown in a damage/fire scenario.  Overall, I’m suspicious of the survivability of the Zumwalt.

Peripheral VLS – The Mk 57 peripheral VLS cells (PVLS) are significantly bigger than the Mk 41 cells.  However, there are no weapons either extant or in development that require the larger cells, as far as I know.  If, at some point down the road, larger cells are needed, the installation of the PVLS will be proven to be a wise measure.  On the other hand, if they aren’t needed in the lifetime of the ship they will prove to be a waste of space and money.  Only time will tell.

Narrow Mission – This ship has only one mission and that is shore bombardment.  It has no significant area anti-air capability, can’t engage surface ships with its guns, and is too large and expensive to be risked in an ASW role.  This is a very big and very expensive ship to have only one function.  The cost efficiency of this platform is poor.

Those are the issues I’ll be keeping an eye on.  At the moment, because of the lack of information I don’t really have an opinion on the Zumwalt.  It may turn out to be an amazing platform heralding a revolution in naval technology or it may turn out to be a dead end side street on the naval evolutionary road.  As I said, the truly amazing aspect of the Zumwalt thus far is the near total lack of attention it’s receiving.  Bet the LCS wishes its name started with a Z!

38 comments:

  1. One of the initial concerning aspects is how large this ship will be compared to its crew size; the so called optimal manning.

    The Burke Class is about 500 ft long (depending on which Flight) with a crew complement of 148. The Zumwalt is supposed to be 600 ft long with a crew complement of about the same, 142 sailors.

    Now, I have served on the LPD 17 class ships and have witnessed the Navy's optimal manning plan in action. From what I have experienced first hand is that it is a dismal failure. All that it has done is add work and stress on the crew. Hopefully, the Navy has learned from these failures. I will be watching this program closely.

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    1. Not likely.

      In addition to all the things mentioned above don't forget the DDG-1k has very little CIWS. Not only that the Superstructure is made of gigantic wooden slabs which aren't very strong. These slabs cannot be replaced at sea a visit to a ship yard and refit are necessary.

      The ship will be obvious for dozens of miles on the ocean and is expexted to remain invisible IN THE SHIPPING LANES OF THE BUSISIEST PARTS OF THE WORLD?

      This is illogical but then thats the Navy designs MO for a while now.

      People keep talking survivability. The Navy doesn't build for that they build for peace time.

      We are in worse shape for a war that before WW2.

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    2. The Zumwalt Class is not being made with wooden slabs. They are composites. It is a balsa-cored carbon/vinyl ester "sandwich" panels. The engineers are not putting pieces of wood on the external portions of the ship exposed to the weather. The design is the balsa core is in between, hence the sandwich, the carbon fiber.

      It is easy to assume that because it is wood then it must be fire susceptible, very low thermal conductivity. Balsa wood is actually very resistant to changes in temperatures, with a operating temperature range between -414 degrees F to 315 degrees F. It can catch fire if exposed to strong oxidizers, but otherwise it does not burn but chars.

      I believe that this is an acceptable risk because the pros are that it has an extremely high strength to weight ratio, excellent fatigue resistance, good sound and thermal insulation, high impact strength and it has good moisture resistance (gets rid of the Navy's oldest nemesis...rust).

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    3. I know what they are I have also seen them implaced and how massive they are. Also talked to people who have used this material often. It doesn't hold up well a lot.

      Definately see problems when its bent over and over at sea.

      The Idea of a stealth ship the size of a battleship is stupid. It ignores the realities for PPP plays.

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    4. Let's all disagree but let's all remain respectful!

      The wood composite has not been used on this scale and in this type of application before, that I'm aware of. As such, it is an unknown and almost certainly will exhibit problems that are not currently anticipated.

      The outer layers of the composite are resin (fiberglass-ish). Resins are typically toxic and problematic in conflagrations. Also, the ability of the resin layers to withstand the continual flexing is unknown.

      Additional questions about the wood composite include the impact on the electromagnetic environment, if any (meaning the sensors and comms), the degree of ballistics protection afforded by the sandwich, and the ability to join the composite with the steel (aluminum/steel joints have been problematic for the Navy for many years).

      The wood composite may well prove to be an excellent structural material but it equally may prove to be a mistake. The reality is that no one knows at this point, hence the post pointing out that this is an aspect that bears monitoring.

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    5. Mark, you might want to take a look at the 21-Oct-12 post, Manning. It discusses optimal manning, relative crew sizes among the various classes, and makes the observation that the Zumwalt is the least manned ship in the Navy on a relative basis. Worth a read if you haven't seen it.

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    6. That is the problem with power point idea warriors.

      Refusal to admit reality. They demand revolutionary then get inferior products over what a evolutionary design could have given cheaper.

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    7. The FWD and AFT AEMS (Advanced Enclosed Mast System) of the LPD 17 Class is made with a similar composite.

      1) Radome Sections - make up the exterior surface of the structure and enclose the antennas

      The AEMS mast consists of L-Band, S-Band and X-Band radomes. The upper section and the two lowest section of the FWD mast are L-band. The middle section of the AFT mast is S-band, and the lower section of the AFT mast is not a radome section. The building blocks of the radome sections are Frequency Selective Surface (FSS) core blocks. These core blocks are a sandwich of foam cores and FSS layers which
      provides electromagnetic and structural performance.

      2) Antenna Platforms - serve to support all of the enclosed antennas and provide electromagnetic shielding between sections of the masts

      The antennas within the enclosed masts are supported by platforms located between the FSS radome sections. The antenna and associated equipment rests on a dedicated octagonal, metallic foundation in the center of the platform. The foundation is bolted to a cambered composite platform comprised of eight-faceted panels. The composite platform is a sandwich of E glass Glass Reinforced Polyester (GPR) skins on balsa cores. The platforms taper to a solid laminate at both the inner and outer extremities where it is connected to the foundation and bolting flange, respectively.

      As far as I know, this has not been an issue at all for the class.

      As far as the toxicity of the composite, I am unsure. I will have to look into it. But, I do know that if it was dangerous and hazardous in fires then why would the aircraft industry use composites as widely as they do today?

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    8. Mark, various reports have stated that the mast enclosures on the LPD class do cause electromagnetic interference to the point that the Navy considered finishing the class without the enclosures. I don't know what, if anything, ever came of it.

      As far as toxicity of the resins in a fire, that's not necessarily a major problem as most things that burn are toxic in one respect or another. Firefighters are protected so it's a manageable problem. Of more concern is the degree of smoke they generate, how much the resin burns and conducts heat, whether the resin will go through a melt phase which would cause structural issues and spread hot material, and what degree the resins will smolder and re-ignite.

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    9. IIRC, Flt IIA Burkes have a crew of 323, not 148.

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  2. Why do you think a large stealth ship is stupid?

    I would say that is why they are only using it to construct the superstructure. The hull will be the typical steel that the Navy uses. I agree it will see stress out on the seas. That is why they are using it.

    I assume you know what fatigue is: cyclical loading, which is being bent over and over at sea.

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    1. Its stupid because the ships is as i said the size of a battleship. Its supposed to work off shore in the shipping lanes of the world and stay hidden......while firing 7 ft missiles from it s "gun". So yea expect everyone to know where these are. AQ, Iran, Norks, Damn sure China and Russia will have the locations of these followed through shipping contacts.

      Whats more the measures which enhance the stealth characteristics or LO of these vessels hull design and superstructure and materials lead to a less capable, more unstable, less survivable vessel. They also increase cost to build it and maintain it.

      I'm not saying people here are stupid just that the idea of a ship spewing missiles and 7ft missile-bullets at a rate of 12 per minute is going to be stealthy. Add to that a ships wake can also be tracked and reveals its presence on radar.

      The LCS, DDG-1K and host of ships are part or a group of vessels which the Navy built with the Idea they would be fighting 3rd rate enemies.

      We don't even fill up our VLS cells as it is. We are not prepared for a real Shooting War with a first rate power which no matter how you size it China has become in its own waters.

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    2. I think people need to change their expectations of what ship-based "stealth" brings to the table. It's not the same as aircraft stealth. The aim is not to be invisible. It's to reduce the effectiveness of long-range sensors, fire control radars, and missile seekers.

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  3. One big problem I have with the DDF 1000 is that they call it a destroyer.

    In one way its just a joke name and is not that important and mostly used to pretend its not a expensive ship.

    In another way its very bad since looking at construction photos of the hull it appears that they built this ship using destroyer standards for protection and watertight standards. These destroyer standards were basically set in WW2. That is no armor protection and water tightness is provided by compartmentation and redundant systems. This is fine with a relatively cheap ship of around 2,000 tons but we have kept the same standard even as destroyers have gotten larger and larger and now reach 14,000 tons and billions of dollars.

    The DDG 1000 appears to not even have a double hull and has nothing but 1/3 or 1/2 inch steel plate between the sea and important compartments. A .50 cal machine gun can punch holes through 1/2 inch steel plate. While its true that a double hull will not help much against a direct hit from a major weapon but it will help on near misses which is what its EW and CIWS systems are designed to cause. And since this is suppose to operate close to shore it means that small attack craft with small weapons would be a major danger and yet it appears to have little stop even small weapons causing major damage.

    If they are going to build 14,000 ton multi billion dollars ships they need to call them cruisers and build them to cruiser standards. Full double hull and light armor at least capable of stopping easy kills from small arms and shrapnel. Even light armor internal bulkheads to stop damage from spreading from one compartment to another.

    The USN has spent too much time without a real enemy which was able to shoot back effectively and building 14,000 ton unarmored destroyers shows that.

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    1. DJF, do you have a source for your statements about the thickness of the DDG-1000 hull?'

      I've got a partial cross-section blueprint drawing for the Burkes which shows that the majority of the hull is 3/8" (15.3# plate) or 7/16" (17.85#) with only a few spots having 1/2" (20.4#). Also, the Burke shows a double hull or void along the bottom flat of the hull, either side of the keel. The rest of the hull is single plated on up to the deck.

      I also have a proposed cross-section drawing of the Flt III which shows a double hull from the keel all the way up to the deck using 3/8" and 7/16".

      The Burke hull construction has proven to be too light to withstand even the normal pounding from day to day sailing. Reinforcement patches have had to be added. Hopefully, the Zumwalt is built heavier than the Burke or even the proposed Flt III but I'm nowhere near confident about that!

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    2. """"DJF, do you have a source for your statements about the thickness of the DDG-1000 hull?'"""

      Sorry no.

      I have only seen the construction photos and it just looks like standard destroyer construction to me.

      Here is one photo, it looks like it has some double bottom but the rest of the hull looks like 1/2 inch steel at most. If you cut a DD from WW2 in half it would have the same basic construction. Notice how a small hole at the waterline would let in water to what appears to be a major space.

      http://www.jeffhead.com/usn21/ddg1000-construct03.jpg

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    3. DJF, the upper two decks look like they might have a narrow double hull structure. Especially the left side of the photo hints at that. Really hard to tell. What do you think?

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    4. I thought the same when I first looked but if you look to the right side you can see that its just the thickness of the framing and the hull is just one layer. Not much to protect what appears to be major spaces in a 14,000 ton multibillion dollar ship

      The only double layered sections is the center section on the bottom along with two small double hull sections at the bilge keels. Its not even a continuous double bottom, let alone double hull. The sections on the bottom that are painted light gray are part of the double bottom tanks, while the sections that are tan or red are single bottom and even a small hole at that level will cause major flooding.

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    5. Wow I knew they had made them thin skinned but jesus. Are they sure this thing can withstand shock testing?

      Maybe its time they rethink their ship building. Steel isn't the real expensive of the ship systems are. Why not have them double hulled or atleast thinker hulls?

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    6. It simply isn't practical to put enough armor on a ship to stop penetration from AP rounds. Even a 50 cal AP round can penetrate 1" steel plate. 20-25mm rounds will easily Swiss cheese it. Same thing with modern torpedoes and missiles.

      In order to put enough armor to stop these rounds, you would have to put the equiv of M1 Abrams armor on the entire surface of the ship which is simply not practical from a weight perspective. Modern designs instead rely on a compartmentalization principle to make ships survivable. Based on the various results of SinkEx actual maritime battles in the modern era, it seems to do what it is suppose to.

      As for underwater armor, you realistically cannot put enough armor underwater to handle the detonation of a modern torpedo. And direct fire munitions are incredibly ineffective below the water line, with a 50 cal ball round losing all lethality in roughly 1-2 feet. Higher velocity SLAP and AP ammunition lose lethality even quicker. There have been numerous demonstrations of projectiles into water with the most famous likely being the Myth Busters demonstration. Suffice to say, 1-2 feet of water makes you basically bullet proof.

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    7. I agree it not practical to stop major weapons with armor due to their power. But what about near misses? Our EW, chaff, CIWS, etc if they work will at best stop direct hits but to do that they will cause the weapons to explode early or off course but this does not stop the shrapnel from still hitting the ship and with no armor at all you get a cheap kill and even sink a ship with just near misses.

      And yes the 50 cal can go through 1 inch of armor but only at point blank range and hopefully we can keep the enemy far enough away to stop that but I don’t think we can hope to kill every small boat before they can at least fire a belt or two at long range. The same with underwater weapons, there are decoys and other methods that the Navy is developing but I don’t expect them to be perfect so near misses are also a danger.

      Plus we have just seen where a minesweeper ran aground and tore her bottom out, what happens when our 14,000 ton multi billion dollar destroyer runs aground, it does not even have a continuous double bottom?

      Its just that destroyer construction was developed based on lots of destroyers and lower cost . The DDG 1000 and whatever they build to follow up (new radars are suppose to require even bigger ships) are going to be few in number and very expensive so some passive defense is worth the cost in my opinion. If nothing more then to reduce the effects of near misses that our counter measures will cause. or oops navigation.

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    8. ats, the purpose of armor, at least on smaller combatants, is not to stop major caliber hits but to minimize damage from a hit. Would you rather have a 20 ft hole in the side of a ship or a 5 ft hole? Would you rather have shrapnel and blast effects destroy six compartments on only three in the area of a hit? And so on...

      The value of armor on destroyer size vessels was proven repeatedly during WWII. The stories of the damage absorbed by destroyers during kamikazee attacks are amazing.

      Fletcher class destroyers were built with 1/2" armor as the minimum and 3/4" armor protecting machinery and other vital spaces with 1"-2" armor on the gun mounts. Contrast that with a modern Burke which has 1/2" as the maximum protection and only in a few spots. I don't know how the Zumwalt is being built.

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    9. SLAP and MK211 rounds will do significantly better than 1" of armor at point blank. The SLAP round is specified as min of 19mm of steel armor at 1500 yards and will often to better than that, esp with a 90 degree hit. The MK211 is almost as good.

      For near misses, you can basically ignore anything that impacts below water line from a non-waterborne projectile. The effect of entering the water will effectively disintegrate the near miss. For underwater munitions, you are primarily worried about the hydrostatic shock effects of the explosive. Thicker more rigid underwater armor can actually be more susceptible to hydrostatic effects as it largely will transmit the force internally instead of deform and absorb the force.

      For run aground events, a hard head on run aground will total out just about any ship design do to ships not being designed to support that much weight/force entirely on the keel. For side gash events, compartmentalization provides the same effect as a double hull.

      As far as bigger ships required for bigger radars, this is somewhat slight of hand. What bigger radars require is more power. Current navy ships generally have their power plant power levels sized to the size of the ship but this isn't required. You could build a burke sized ship with an additional 2 LM2500 or newer more efficient turbines without requiring a larger ship. A single LM6000 provides more than enough power for the larger radars at ~40MW.

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  4. Interesting. What is wood composite? Is it like the Trex that my backyard deck is made of?

    I thought we'd gotten away from wood and gone with iron, and then steel, because it offered better protection and did not burn. Maybe we should go back to the age of sail; after all, that is certainly greener and the fuel cost savings are immense. Heck, maybe the Zumwalt will win the Navy one of those green awards the military is giving to installations that use wind mills or solar panels.

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    1. The balsa wood is simply core filler allowing significant time and cost saving of making the actual panels. The outside/inside of the composite sandwich is resin impregnated fiber of either the glass or more likely carbon fiber variety. Like any modern cored composite the edges are monolithic resin/fiber. Given the heat resistance and dampening effects of modern resin/fiber, it the fire is strong enough and sustained enough to ignite in interior balsa, then the tower to already so fubar that it doesn't matter. At that point, any aluminum structure has already started to melt and lost so much strength as to be no better than paper, and far more dangerous than the cored composite.

      To answer ComNavOps questions of the effect of fire on the resins... The method of heat effect to the resins results in a gasification of the resin effectively leaving the carbon fiber in tact. There will generally be blistering of the carbon fiber layers but the structural integrity impacts from these events is generally less than the effect of equal heat on an aluminum structure.

      To answer some of the other questions, CFRP tends to be significantly stronger than aluminum and also has much better resilience. This is one of the driving factors to using CFRP over aluminum in the aerospace fields. It is highly unlikely that the exterior skin of the super structure will be subjected to anything close to the flexing forces applied to a commercial airliner body and wings.

      Cored and un-cored CFRP/GFRP have been used on ships for years with quite some success. For hulls using cored CFRP/GFRP is generally a bad idea as the bashing action of hitting waves eventually leads to the pulverization of the core material esp if it is foam based. However, monolithic CFRP/GFRP has held up very well in boat hulls over the years but can be quite expensive compared to cored designs (the cost is attributed both to the increased material cost of a mono design as well as the increased time required to lay down the fiber/resin and curing).

      For something the size of a destroyer/cruiser/battleship, steel construction is still much cheaper and easier to do, but CFRP or CNRP would almost certainly result in a much stronger, longer lived hulls, but at significantly increased costs. Right now the fasterner technology isn't advanced enough to allow reasonable modularity in the construction of a hull the size of a DDG-1000 and therefore would require a single monolithic process (and the autoclaves aren't big enough for that and non-autoclave CNRP/CFRP isn't advanced enough yet).

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  5. I agree with ats on armor scheme, which I think doesn't surprise some people.

    The Burke was designed to be a much more hardened platform than previous ships. I read somewhere a long time ago, right about when the DDG-51 was commissioned, that they had Kevlar around critical areas, dual fire mains and main p-ways instead of one, NBC citadels, a couple of large AFFF tanks, etc.

    All to make the ship much more difficult to sink. But doubling or tripling hull steel on hull wouldn't double or triple survivability. It might under some circumstances be counterproductive. Look at torpedo defense structures on battleships. Unless the torpedo hit the narrow main belt of foot-thick armor, the designers went with very thin bulkheads for the rest of the hull sides. Why?

    Tests had shown that unless the armor could completely stop the blast, like a 11-14" armor belt, the armor itself would contribute to the damage mechanism of the explosion in the form of fragments. Torpedoes, unlike 16" shells or air dropped AP bombs have very thin walls around the explosive. All of the damage is dependent on the explosive gas bubble created against the ship. The steel hull would break apart, and the fragments would punch through bulkheads IF they were heavy enough. All American battleships designed during and after WWI had some form of this protection: multiple thin bulkheads with empty or liquid filled compartments in between to absorb a torpedo blast. But that would only work with unguided, side-hitting torpedoes hitting amidships. Hits at the bow and stern were weak points, as well as the props and rudders.

    By the end of WWII guided torpedoes and bombs came into service. One or two homing torpedoes detonating under the keel would cripple a ship. Guided missiles and bombs likewise showed that they could defeat heavy armor.

    I'll use the examples of the Italian battleship Roma and USN cruiser Savannah from WWII. Both were hit with German guided bombs within three days of each other. The Roma exploded catastrophically, the Savannah survived. Great damage control saved the Savannah, with some luck. Her and the Roma's armor couldn't protect them.

    I believe the deemphasis on armor was also true in the Pacific theater. Ships with alternating engine and boiler rooms survived and limped home more often; compartmentalization was a big part of it as well as trained DC teams. Armor on destroyers (1/2 to 3/4) couldn't mitigate the damage the way those other features could.

    That was why all navies moved away from heavy armor for postwar surface combatants.

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    1. WGM, is it your contention that modern ships should have only enough thickness of plating to keep out water? That armor serves absolutely no purpose?

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    2. I recently read about a type of armor being developed call "smart armor". This armor, in theory, would create a strong magnetic field around the whole platform or specific area that could destroy, melt or deflect incoming shells, missiles etc.

      Obviously, this would not require thick armor.

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    3. To an extent, it's not as valuable as it once was.

      I'm not a naval engineer or architect, just someone who has read books on naval warfare and ship design by great authors like Dulin & Garzke, Eric Brown, and Norman Friedman. They all point to the same lessons from WWII: blue water combat valued redundancy, DC, fire-fighting, and compartmentalization over armor of any significance for bombs and torpedoes. That became even more true in an age of guided weapons.

      With a ship like the Burke it has all-steel construction, and Kevlar wrapped in certain places. That and the other features I mentioned make it tougher than many other warships in service today.

      In a perfect world we'd have the Burke protected with plenty of armor. But that will be very costly to displacement.

      You stated earlier that a 1/2" plate was over 20 pounds per square foot, correct? How many square feet will a ton get us, 100? And that is a 10x10 foot area. How many square feet of the ship's sides are we looking at? By eye it looks like a 30x 300 area on a side for vitals, not superstructure, only the middle of the hull. That's 9,000 square feet. Now take that figure and divide by 100 sq. ft./ton and I get 90 tons; for one side.

      My calculations are basic math and I realize there are caveats. What I have is a conservative estimate, the length of hull needing armor will likely be longer, and the superstructure hasn't been covered, nor have any decks.

      But I added 180 tons in the blink of an eye to protect a portion of the hull from only .50 cal fire. Another inch of armor is 360 tons to the hull. We are now at 540 tons for maybe 25mm cannon fire protection.

      The Flight IIA is roughly 9,200 tons displacement. That 540 tons is already an over 5% increase that will affect the rest of the ship. Without any other changes the ship's draft is deeper, metacentric height is affected, and speed and range will suffer.

      So what would be the guesstimate for the tonnage increase directly, and indirectly, as in larger powerplant, hull structure, fuel bunkerage, etc? Like I said, I'm not an engineer, and any readers here should chime in if they can give hard numbers to these "hidden" costs. But they add up, and this is all for an extra 1.5" of armor on the hull. Any armor higher up like the bridge and 5" gun will have serious effects on stability. So the ship will need to be beamier, which again impacts speed/range.

      So for hundreds of tons of weight you have minimal protection against HMG and light cannon fire. How much more armor needs to be added to protect against 76mm or 127mm rounds?

      But if I'm right, all that armor only adds fragments to an ASM like Exocet/Harpoon exploding.

      The USN and NATO had another reason behind this postwar trend with ship armor: Soviet "carrier-killer" missiles. Their ASMs all had one ton or larger warheads designed to give a Forrestal a bad day. Any cruiser or destroyer hit with that would be even worse off. I believe that was why the focus was on layered SAMs, CIWS, passive defenses, ECM, etc.

      I know we disagree about the Cole attack, but a crude shaped charge over 400 pounds was used, possibly as high as 700. There could have been 5-7 inches of armor there (WWII heavy cruiser levels) and I don't think it would have stopped the blast from penetrating. You're correct that the hole would have been smaller, but I do not think it would have been small enough to prevent the same amount of flooding. I do believe the heavy, shattered armor fragments would have punctured many more internal bulkheads than what actually occurred. That would have, in my opinion, increased the chance of more sailors becoming casualties and more structural damage.

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    4. Mark, I've never heard of magnetic field smart armor. Do you have a reference?

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    5. Electro-magnetic armor has been talked about for future AFV development, but nothing has made it past the R&D phase.

      However, we shouldn't really look to AFV development for ship survivability. The weapon systems AFVs want to defeat are very different from those that ships want to defeat.

      Also, remember, the Mk51 PVLS adds a degree of protection over the areas it covers, as well as reducing the likelihood of catastrophic explosions by distributing and externalizing munitions.

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  6. Regarding the Zumwalt I believe it is a step in the right direction.

    The Burke design is getting stale. It is a good ship now, but should we keep building them well into the foreseeable future?

    I really like the DDG-1000's propulsion. Whenever energy-hungry weapons enter service, this ship will be better able to accommodate them. And it should require less manning and be more fuel efficient. I understand the USN decision to standardize with the LM2500 COGAG design but this concept originated when LBJ was President! We need something newer now forty-five years later. Cruise ships and the Royal Navy's Type 45 have electric drive so its a proven concept.

    The PVLS is a good thing from a damage control angle. Instead of 60 missiles with their warheads, motors, and boosters grouped tightly together, these will be spread out. A lucky hit on the VLS will now not create a volcano. We almost had that with the Stark. The Mk 57 can also hold a larger missile, in both length and width. The latest Standard for BMD has a bigger diameter and smaller fins to squeeze into a Mk 41.

    I know there have been problems with the 57mm gun on LCS. I think it has more to do with the whole LCS being deeply flawed rather than the gun itself. The 57mm is a good weapon, and with the new 3P ammunition should be good as an anti-boghammar and a last ditch CIWS.

    I'm hoping the tumblehome idea works, it has with the demonstrator in Idaho. And I wish they had gone with a revived 8" Mk 71 vice AGS. I believe they also should have had more VL cells, only 80 on such a large ship seems silly.

    What bothers me is the Navy leadership made noises a decade ago that the Zumwalt could do BMD. Then a few years ago they did a sudden about-face when the Navy wanted to restart Burke production and make a Flight III. Well, which is it? And why is it so much harder to integrate the AMDR on a brand new ship instead of a design that goes back to the 1980's?

    I'd even settle for a sub-class of Zumwalts with both AGS sacrificed for AMDR and a few Mk 41 VLS for shorter weapons like ASROC and ESSM. Match that to a new larger diameter Standard and you have a powerful BMD asset for a CSG.

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    1. The DDG-1000 was going to get BMD capability effectively for free as part of the development of CG(X). When they canceled the CG(X), the integration and development planned for CG(X) went with it and as such there is no budget to do the software development and testing to get the DDG-1000 to support BMD.

      Could the DDG-1000 do BMD? sure, from an electronics and radar perspective, it should be better than the burkes. The issue is the software development and testing required. Given the current plan to only build 3 DDG-1000 that will pretty much only be used for land attack, there is little benefit for spending the money. Now if they were planning on building 30 DDG-1000s then they would certainly do it.

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  7. When the Iowa Class Battleships (USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin; BB 61, BB 62, BB 63 and BB 64, respectively) were finally decommissioned and, ultimately, stuck from the National Naval Vessel Resister, there was a void that was left unfulfilled in the Naval Fleet without a viable replacement. As Colonel Welch (He wrote a well-known case study called “A Case Study in Solving the Naval Surface Fire Support Capabilities Gap”) wrote “there is a resource gap in the Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) capabilities portfolio for the Joint Operating Concept.” In a 2006 “Report to Congress on Naval Surface Fire Support” by the Commandant of the Marine Corp to Congress, the General state that the current NSFS capabilities of the Navy are “insufficient”. The Admiralty has succumbed to the idea that aircraft and Tomahawk Missiles fill that void.

    It is a lengthy essay. The Colonel contends that the Navy, in the past, effectively fulfilled its role in NSFS, but in recent years has put it on the back burner to less military missions (like being a”Global Force for Good”, but that is another discussion). It is an interesting dissertation that argues that the DDG 1000 is a great step in the right direction in restoring the Navy in its role in providing effective NSFS to not only the Marines, but also, the Army.

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    1. It’s ironic that what kept the 8” Mk 71 from being revived during the Reagan buildup was the reactivation of the Iowas. But when the last battleship was decommissioned in the early 1990’s the “peace dividend” was in full swing and a program like that never had a chance to go into service.

      The Navy has promised since the last battleship was mothballed that they would make up for the NSFS shortfall. Everything from the Vertical Gun, land-attack Standard, and the 5” ERGM; the AGS is the latest one. I hope it works, and they have some unguided rounds for it. But it will be the first real step by the Navy to fill the void left by the 16” gun.

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  8. General question: Why are we calling 500 and 600 foot long ships with traditional cruiser functions destroyers? Seems to me the Zumwalt is a heavy cruiser and the Burke's are light cruisers. Destroyers are for anti-submarine warfare with some anti-air and anti-surface capabilities, all have helos.

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    1. You're correct that the classification of ships has been distorted. On a practical basis, though, I don't care whether the Navy wants to classify an aircraft carrier as a patrol boat, it still does what it does.

      I think there may be some reasons for the way the Navy is classifying ships and it has to do with Congress and oversight. There are laws requiring that ships of certain size and classification be nuclear powered. The Navy may be using false classifications to get around some of that. In addition, the "larger" the ship, the more examination and oversight it attracts. If the Zumwalt were classified a cruiser, I think Congress would be asking more questions about its lack of armor, lack of weaponry relative to its size, and its very limited mission set. As a "destroyer", Zumwalt attracts a bit less attention.

      On a relative technological basis, modern USN ships compare poorly to their WWII counterparts so the more the Navy can dumb down the classification, the more favorable the comparisons.

      Just speculation on my part.

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    2. I'd prefer a larger fleet of nuclear ship attack subs....

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