Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guerrilla Warfare Ship

ComNavOps came across an old Proceedings article describing a littoral combatant vessel (1) and the proffered ship’s characteristics are fascinating to compare to the actual LCS that came out of the littoral combatant effort.  The littoral vessel was referred to as a Guerrilla Warfare Ship (GWS) and it had the following characteristics.

  • Semi-submersible to minimize radar and thermal signatures;  when submerged, only sensor arrays, guns, comms, and air intake louvers would be exposed
  • Subsurface exhausts to reduce thermal signature
  • Anechoic coating
  • Low speed propulsion pods for station keeping
  • Narrow beam UAV comm and satellite links
  • Modular
  • 60+ kt speed
  • Automatic launch of small UAVs from stowage cells (no flight deck)
  • Medium range (60 mile) anti-surface missiles
  • No exterior safety nets, lifelines, railings, masts, ladders, or hatch mechanisms to reduce radar signatures
  • Navigation aids for very near shore navigation and station keeping
  • Thermal, IR, and enhanced light optics for night operations
  • 105 mm low profile, stabilized main gun
  • 25-30 mm secondary gun(s)
  • Rocket launched depth charges to counter mini-subs and swimmers
  • 21 day endurance with vertical replenishment
  • 200 ft length, 47 ft beam, 600 tons
  • Built in sound dampening for acoustic signature reduction
  • Crew size = 20
  • Fit in an amphibious ship well deck (for transoceanic transport?)

While not explicitly spelled out, the concept of operations (CONOPS) for this vessel seemed to be one of loitering in key areas conducting very close surveillance in a semi-submerged, electromagnetically silent mode and then rising up to attack and run to the next location.  I like that the weapons and characteristics support the CONOPS rather than being a random collection of items that do not tie into the ship’s mission or are sub-optimal for the mission as is the case with the LCS and JSF.

Cover Illustration of Guerrilla Warfare Ship

It’s interesting to compare the ship’s characteristics to the LCS which is five times the displacement and almost 200 ft longer.  The GWS would have been an effective surveillance vessel and a nasty ambusher.  In fact, the GWS specs put the much larger LCS to shame. 

The idea of a small vessel without a flight deck but still capable of aerial surveillance operations via the encapsulated UAVs is fascinating.  ComNavOps believes that the Navy has gone too far in insisting on placing helos, flight decks, and hangars on every vessel larger than a rowboat.  The GWS offers an interesting and viable alternative although the recovery method for the UAVs is not spelled out.

This is one path the LCS could have gone and it would have been a much more effective one and useful one.  To be fair, though, almost any alternative to the LCS would have been more effective.  Still, what might have been … …

(1) USNI Proceedings, “A Combatant for the Littorals”, LCdr. Dave Weeks, USN(R), Nov 1999, p. 26


  1. Another option is we could buy SSKs from Germany or Japan at $400k a pop that would be perfect infiltration vehicles, can launch UAVs; *AND* can participate in conventional wars with cruise missiles (through the torpedo tubes), and also do ASW, and of course sink enemy ships.

    At this point I think an SSK with an 8,000 nm range makes a better LCS than anything the Navy has come up with! Add in some proper missile boats and call it a day.

    But don't think I am biased!


  2. 60+ knots in speed?

    That is insane. It needs to have 20 knots max speed and effecient at 12-14 knots.

  3. It sounds similar, conceptually, to the Cebrowski/Hughes Streetfighter, only with some crazy characteristics.

    It's a 60+kt, semi-submersible that can fit in a well deck but has 21 days of endurance... hmm.. riiight.

    The tiny UAVs suggested have correspondingly tiny value. There's no way one of these ships would be as effective at area surveillance as an LCS. About all these UAVs can do is point their soda straw sensor at a small area, relatively close to the ship. Fire Scout and MH-60s have far more range, and far more capable sensors.

    I'm with GAB: buy or design an inexpensive SSK instead. Type 209s are still dangerous opponents.

    Or buy cheap PCMs. Or buy less-cheap Streetfighters.

    I recently wondered if we should look back in time to the WWII U-boat. It was a semi-submersible that spent most of its time on the surface. A modern design could do the same, and only dive when the cruise missiles start flying. Perhaps, while on the surface, it could sustain higher transit and sprint speeds than an SSK, and be more useful as a patrol vessel. Maybe not worrying so much about deep diving and top-end quieting could reduce the price.

    1. Smitty, I fear you're completely missing the point on this. The major point was how the ship's charcteristics supported the CONOPS/mission. Whether any particular feature is achievable or not is a side, technical issue.

      As a result of missing the main point, you're comparing the vessel against some concept of your own when it comes to littoral. For example, you state that a small UAV can't match the range or coverage of a full size helo or Fire Scout. Well, it can't. Similarly, a full size helo or Scout can't match a P-8 or E-2 but does that invalidate their use? No. It simply means that their use is limited to a particular set of specifics that [presumably] support their mission. In this CONOPS, the author appears to be looking for a limited set of aerial coverage to supplement (not bear the entire burden) the electronic coverage. Consider a WWII Gato. Despite very, very limited electronic coverage and no aerial coverage they were able to find and sink enormous amounts of enemy shipping. This CONOPS is not about monitoring vast swaths of ocean. It's about finding and staking out a small littoral area or chokepoint and ambushing whatever happens to stumble by.

      Now, would an SSK be a better fit for the CONOPS? Perhaps, depending on the full details of the CONOPS - the article provided just a glimpse. That's a valid debate but to compare the vessel to tasks that are not part of its CONOPS is not valid.

      "It's a 60+kt, semi-submersible that can fit in a well deck but has 21 days of endurance... hmm.. riiight."

      Aside from the 60 kt speed, the German U-21 was 210 ft and 650t and 29 crew with a range of around 10000 nm and weeks of endurance - almost exactly the specs of this vessel so, yes, the concept of this vessel with those specs and fitting in a well deck is at least plausible.

    2. Smitty, as far as the 60kt speed, the author cited commercial ferry-type vessels as having the required speed on small hulls. He offered no specifics but he clearly has a specific configuration in mind. Whether it's feasible, I don't know.

      Let me repeat, the main point was that the characteristics supported the CONOPS unlike the LCS and JSF, to name a few. Whether any paraticular characteristic was technically feasible is a side issue relative to the point that we need to design to the CONOPS rather than fit the CONOPS to the design. LCS never had a CONOPS and is now searching for one and, as a result, we have a class of ship that has no use.

    3. If you have a vessel with 10,000nm range and weeks of endurance, it doesn't need to fit in a well deck.

      On UAVs, I wasn't reacting to his CONOPs, I was reacting to your assertion that "the GWS specs put the much larger LCS to shame" and your (implied) equivalency between these small UAVs and aircraft that can fly off of an LCS. They aren't remotely equivalent.

      The author lists the following missions:

      This leads us to the development of a Guerrilla Warfare Ship that would address the following mission areas:

      - Littoral battlespace domination (sic!)
      - Maritime embargo
      - Precision engagement
      - Surface and subsurface surveillance and choke-point traffic - monitoring
      - Interdiction of littoral traffic
      - Commerce raiding
      - Special Forces delivery and extraction
      - Protection of the amphibious assault lines of communications, which will extend over the horizon

      I don't have a problem with these goals. I think most can be done with a new-built patrol vessel.

      Commerce raiding, SPECOPs support, "Littoral battlespace domination", precision engagment, and sub-surface surveillance can be done with an SSK.

    4. "If you have a vessel with 10,000nm range and weeks of endurance, it doesn't need to fit in a well deck."

      Perhaps not. The author simply stated that the vessel could dock in a well deck. Whether the reason for that is transportation (my speculation) or resupply or some other purpose is unknown.

      The GWS specs do put the LCS to shame - by a wide margin.

      I offered no equivalency between small UAVs and large aircraft. Small UAVs would fill a different role and perform a different mission than large aircraft. No equivalency.

      Goals, especially as the author laid out, are just vague tasks. Such a listing offers no insight as to prioritization (you can't be equally good at all things) and no thoughts on how to achieve those goals. Goals are not a CONOPS. That was the problem with the LCS. We substituted lists of vague goals for a strategically and tactically based CONOPS and wound up with a ship that was good for none of the desired goals. This brings us back, yet again, to the main point that the author did a reasonably good job of matching characteristics to a CONOPS.

      Could the goals be met by another platform? Maybe. That wasn't the point.

    5. The Death Star's specs put the LCS to shame too. Doesn't mean we can build it.

      Look back to the original LCS spec. It was much more impressive than what we ended up with. And it was a spec derived by the Navy and industry. The GWS specs lack even that level of intellectual rigor, IMHO.

      The point of the CONOPS is to outline a means to complete a mission. There may be many CONOPS that could fulfill each mission. But without knowing the missions, you can't evaluate the CONOPS.

      The author outlined:

      1. a set of missions,
      2. a CONOPS to complete the missions,
      3. a vessel spec that can implement the CONOPs.

      I don't have a problem with his missions (other than the vagueness).

      I've thought about using submersibles to implement similar CONOPS. I come back to issues of unit price and technical challenges. Rather than having a submersible guerrilla patrol ship, maybe just build a regular patrol ship and an SSK. Sometimes combining missions doesn't make sense.

      I don't think his spec, as a whole, is realistic, or even desirable. It does have some interesting ideas though.

    6. "The Death Star's specs put the LCS to shame too. Doesn't mean we can build it."

      Quite right! But wait a minute ... Wasn't the entire basis of the LCS defense fanboys that the LCS would have future capabilities of unimaginable magnificence? And now, suddenly, you want to inject a note of realism and technical achievability into an evaluation of a ship design??? C'mon, now, who was a big LCS supporter? Put your hand up. Way back in your younger, wild days you were a fanboy, weren't you? Hey, it's OK. We've all done things we're not proud of when we were young.

      Heh, heh. :) Just having some fun with you!

      However, you still aren't recognizing (or acknowledging) the main point and that was that the author linked the ship's characteristics with the CONOPS. Whether the characteristics were technically achievable is not the point. Whether another platform could fill the role is not the point. The point (he said as he continued to beat the dead horse) is that the design and CONOPS were linked and would have produced a good design for the intended use, assuming the design was technically achievable.

      The Navy can take a lesson from this as to how to conceptualize a design.

      "The GWS specs lack even that level of intellectual rigor, IMHO."

      I'm amused by this. You imply (correct me if I'm misinterpreting you) that the GWS specs are somehow less realistic than even the LCS' because they weren't derived from the Navy/industry. Well, given the wisdom and rigor that went into the LCS (and other programs) I'll gladly take specs from the GWS author or many of the ideas proffered on this forum over Navy efforts which have failed miserably on a consistent basis. Your own fleet structure, for example, is far superior to the Navy's (if not quite as good as mine! heh, heh)

    7. "I don't think his spec, as a whole, is realistic, or even desirable. It does have some interesting ideas though."

      Fair enough. That leads us to ask, what's the point of a littoral vessel to begin with? The question can only be answered in the context of an overall naval strategy which, of course, we lack. Glossing over that major shortcoming, why do we care about being in the littorals. I've opined on that in much earlier posts and concluded that there is little of interest in the littorals that's relevant to what should be our overall strategy. If we're not going to do opposed landings (which we have neither the doctrine, inclination, nor equipment to do) then we don't need to be in the littorals beyond peacetime patrol boat activities.

      So, before we can assess the LCS or GWS or Streetfighter or whatever, we need to understand how such a vessel fits into our overall naval strategy, if at all. For instance, you decry the lack of a large helo in the GWS. Well, if our overall strategy calls for plenty of helo-packing ships to operate in conjuction with the GWS then a big helo isn't needed. On the other hand, if the GWS is intended to provide wide area surveillance then a big helo (or ship launched P-8!) is necessary.

      My opinion is that the Nvy latched onto "littoral" as a means to justify new ships and that there is no compelling rationale for a littoral vessel of any kind beyond peacetime patrol boats.

      Do you have a different take on littoral necessity. Note, now, I'm not asking you to regurgitate a list of theoretical littoral tasks. I'm asking whether, in the context of a unifying naval theory, you see a need for littoral operations? Weighty stuff. This is a comment space so feel free to take up to four sentences to outline your entire naval philosophy and subsequent force structure and ship design! - I repeat my offer; if you wish to author a guest post, let me know.

    8. I liked the modularity in LCS, but was never a fanboy of the speed requirements. And building two designs for the same set of reqs always reeked of politics.

      I do recognize that the author derived specs from his CONOPs. However, his CONOPS doesn't entirely justify his specs. There's nothing in his CONOPS or missions that demands a 60kt ship, for example.

      "I'll gladly take specs from the GWS author or many of the ideas proffered on this forum over Navy efforts which have failed miserably on a consistent basis."

      Like it or hate it, the LCSes are real ships. They may not've lived up to its initial, lofty billing, but they are out there.

      Has even a cursory engineering analysis gone into the GWS specs?

      He's talking about taking a catamaran, adding hydrofoils and a LOT of power, and then making the whole thing submerge. Oh, and arming it to the teeth and giving it enough endurance to last three weeks. And it all has to fit in a well dock.

      Where do the ballast tanks go? In the multihulls?

      I'm sorry, but that combo makes the LCS spec writers look like engineering geniuses, IMHO.

      The DCNS SMX-25 concept seems far more realistic, but i still struggle with the high speed requirement.

    9. IMHO, operating in the littorals is a necessity simply because that's where the people are.

      If you look at the density of human activity at sea, the VAST majority is in the littorals, for obvious reasons.

      There! Two sentences!

    10. "I do recognize that the author derived specs from his CONOPs. However, his CONOPS doesn't entirely justify his specs."

      The author is presenting what amounts to a back of the envelope concept. He makes no suggestion that the concept is a fully engineered design and yet you're begining to analyze it as such. Nothing wrong with that other than it's pointless. If the overall concept had merit, the Navy might proceed to flesh out the design and some characteristics might drop out (or not) or, knowing the Navy, a dozen new characteristics might be added!

      The speed requirement presumably comes from the ambush/run aspect of the CONOPS. Whether that is the only driving force for speed and whether that is sufficient justification is unknown but it is connected to the CONOPS.

      "He's talking about taking a catamaran, adding hydrofoils and a LOT of power, and then making the whole thing submerge. Oh, and arming it to the teeth and giving it enough endurance to last three weeks. And it all has to fit in a well dock."

      You're mocking the author and his lofty ideas and yet you and the Navy bought in hook, line, and sinker to the LCS' grandiose ideas without a momentary pause. The author's ideas at least have a realistic CONOPS backing them up and more existing technology than the LCS started with.

      For some reason, you want to jump all over this guy while simultaneously giving the LCS a free pass. When you look at the original Powerpoint slides about the LCS, the LCS was clearly the more ridiculous proposition by a wide margin.

    11. "... operating in the littorals is a necessity simply because that's where the people are."

      C'mon, now. I know you're sharper than that. Just because there are people on the beach doesn't mean the Navy has to have a ship parked in 10 feet of water. As you like to point out, bombers or Navy ships can stand hundreds of miles off and launch missiles.

      China has untold numbers of people near the shore but we don't anticipate landing soldiers on mainland China so the mere presence of people near water doesn't necessarily mean we need Navy ships in shallow Chinese waters.

      I'll repeat, the main driver of littoral operations is amphibious assaults and I've stated that I don't think there is a reasonable expectation of needing any significant amphibious assaults in the foreseeable future (Iran being a possible exception). Hence, there is no significant driver for littoral operations. We can conduct all the strikes we want from far, far offshore.

      To be fair, one might make a case for a limited need for shallow water ASW to counter chokepoint anti-shipping actions by diesel subs.

      We have to have ships in shallow water because there's people on the beach - you can do better than that. By that logic, we need to build AF airbases in shallow water and garrison soldiers in shallow water.

    12. On Naval Warfare, Milan Vego

      "Naval warfare is conducted both on the open ocean and close to the shores of the world’s continents or large islands. However,
      most major naval battles have taken place not on the open ocean but close to the shores bordering the open ocean and in adjacent seas. Likewise, the majority of losses of merchant ships, as well as submarines in both world wars have occurred near focal areas of maritime trade and at the approaches to major commercial
      ports. In the future, war at sea will be predominantly fought in the littorals. "


      "One of the major changes over the past 20 years is ever-increased political, social, economic, and military importance
      of the world’s littorals. Out of 190 member states of the UN some 150 border the sea.12 About 95 percent of the world’s population
      lives within 500 miles of the sea.13 Some 40 percent of all the world’s cities with populations of 500,000 or more are located on a coast.14 More than 80 percent of the world’s capitals are within 300 miles of the shore.15 About 60 percent of the politically significant urban areas around the world are located within
      60 miles of the coast, and 70 percent within 300 miles.16 The world’s urban population is expected to double, from the present 2.5 billion to about 5.0 billion, by 2025. By then, 60 percent of the world’s total population will live in cities, most of which will be in littoral areas. "

    13. You're equating littoral warfare with geographical location. The Navy has defined the phrase "littoral warfare" as something new (ignoring the fact that ships of all sizes have been fighting in shallow waters since time began) and something somehow special, unique, and inherently more dangerous than ever before and that this special littoral warfare required a special vessel, the LCS. Further, in order to sell the LCS concept, the Navy made the leap to say that ocean going ships could not operate in littoral waters (again ignoring the fact that they have always done so).

      My premise, which I've posted on, is that there is nothing special about littoral warfare, it requires no special ships, it's a made up bogeyman to sell Congress on the LCS, and that there is no pressing need for Navy ships to be in shallow waters of the type envisioned by the Navy's "littoral warfare" phrase. Remember, the Navy has told us that a ship with only 12 ft of draft is somehow superior to one with 24 ft.

      Further, given today's long range weapons, we can wreak just about all the destruction we wish from far offshore.

      In addition, lacking a strategy that makes amphibious assaults likely and lacking a capability to conduct amphibious assaults, there is even less reason to be in shallow waters.

      Now, there may occur combat in shallower waters but it will be for reasons entirely unrelated to anything "littoral". An example would be the naval battles around Guadalcanal in WWII. They were fought in shallower water just because that's where everyone's interests co-incided but there was nothing littoral-y special about it. Ocean-going ships fought it and no one later said that they wished they had some kind of "littoral" vessel better suited to shallow water. Of course, today we wouldn't need to enter the shallow waters of Guadalcanal. We could and would stand off hundreds of miles and launch missiles.

    14. "In the future, war at sea will be predominantly fought in the littorals."

      I suspect that nothing could be further from the truth. As a general statement, the military is backing away from near-shore operations. We're developing BAMS, P-8, LRASW, IRBMs (or we should be!), longer range SM-x SAMs, longer range carrier aircraft (to the extent one considers the F-35 longer range!), long range bombers, etc. just so we can fight from the deepest, farthest reaches.

      The only military op that requires near shore presence is an amphibious assault and I've already opined that that is highly unlikely.

      That only leaves anti-shipping (blockade) actions in shallow water chokepoints and that can be done by subs or aircraft.

      There is simply no compelling case for large naval actions in littoral waters.

      Might we have surface groups and/or carriers conduct operations in shallower water against some hapless third world country? Sure, but that hardly constitutes littoral warfare.

    15. By "formal" definition, the littorals extend from the edge of the continental shelf to shore. This includes all of the Persian Gulf, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, the Java Sea, the Malacca and Singapore Straits, and the Gulf of Thailand. It includes the southern and western parts of the South China Sea.

      That encompasses a lot of disputed territory. You're saying we are just going to stay out, fly over and transit under all of that?

      Seems very limiting. Perhaps a physical USN surface presence near the Senkaku Islands could deter a war between China and Japan one day.

      Should we not operate in the Persian Gulf anymore? The Yellow Sea to deter North Korea?

    16. Smitty, I think you enjoy arguing for its own sake. Very well ... The Navy's definition of littoral (not that they've ever actually defined it) is based not on geographical boundaries but on naval activities. They've defined the littoral as a vague area, near to shore, that contains shadowy, undefined threats, and requires a very shallow draft vessel in order to do undefined "things" that a normal ship couldn't do. If that weren't the definition, then we wouldn't have had to invent the LCS. ... ... And that's my point.

      There is no special littoral requirement. There are no tasks that require a special ship with a 12 ft draft that a ship with a 20 ft draft couldn't do. Littoral, as the Navy has defined it, is a completely fabricated concept.

      I've stated that there is little reason to operate combat naval forces in shallow water absent amphibious assaults. We may wish to conduct peacetime patrols of shallow waters but that isn't combat and doesn't require a specialied littoral combat vessel.

      The East China Sea is around 500 mi across and the South China Sea is around 800 mi x 1200 mi, depending on where you choose to measure. Hardly littoral by any naval definition. That's open ocean. The Navy's definition is probably around 20 mi from shore based on their stated operation requirements and the LCS design. The Navy didn't invent the LCS to operate 500 - 1000 mi from shore. They invented the LCS to operate 0-20 mi from shore to meet their own definition. This is pretty elementary reasoning.

      As far as staying out and flying over, that's exactly what you've consistently advocated with your stealth bomber doctrine and I agree completely, just using a different force mix.

      I know you know all this so enjoy the argument!

    17. What i'm trying to say is your definition of "littoral warfare" is not what everyone else is talking about. It's not just in shallow water, 20nm from the beach. It can be up to 200 fathoms deep, encompass large areas. Read up on it.

      You're too focused on the LCS and not on the broader concept of littoral warfare.

      IMHO, the type of ship required for littoral warfare is defined (largely) by the numbers that can be brought to bear, not by draft, though there are littorals where a 12ft draft will help

      This is why open ocean vessels are (usually) unsuitable. They are large, expensive, and thus only available in relatively small numbers. This is exactly the type of ship you don't want in congested, littoral waters.

      BTW, the threshold requirement for the LCS was actually a 20ft draft. The objective requirement was 10ft.

    18. Your "formal" definition is not the definition the Navy is using. They didn't say, hey, we need to develop a specialized ship that can operate 500-1200 miles from shore. They already had an entire fleet that could do that. The Navy latched on to a very short range definition of littoral to sell the LCS. The LCS' main selling point was, arguably, its shallow draft. Supposedly the LCS could go where no other Navy ship could (though what it would do there remains a question!).

      My definition is clearly what the Navy is using.

      As far as my focus on the LCS rather than the broader concept of littoral warfare, the LCS is the entire concept as far as the Navy is concerned. They've neither created any additional littoral vessels nor identified the need for any. They've opted not to develop a shallow water sub (SSK, presumably). They've created no special littoral warfare doctrine that I know of. In short, the Navy has zero littoral focus beyond the LCS - the LCS is the littoral, for the Navy.

      You're arguing an abstract littoral concept of your own - one not shared by the Navy. Your concept may have merit of its own but not to the Navy.

    19. "IMHO, the type of ship required for littoral warfare is defined (largely) by the numbers that can be brought to bear, not by draft, though there are littorals where a 12ft draft will help

      This is why open ocean vessels are (usually) unsuitable. They are large, expensive, and thus only available in relatively small numbers."

      I would point out that even if the entire run of 52 LCS are built, we'll still have dozens more Burkes. By your definition, the Burke, then, is the superior littoral vessel since it has greater numbers.

  4. It sounds attractive, but if wishes were horses... Just what kind of engine gives you 60kt and had the spare power to pump exhaust overboard against a pressure head? How do you avoid taking lots of water down those air intakes when semi-submerged in anything but a flat calm? At 200' x 47' and nearly submerged, a 600 ton vessel is only 10-12' in the vertical dimension; there may well not be much headroom.

    Overall, an SSK with a foldaway gun does seem a lot more plausible.

    1. John, you've missed the point. The post wasn't about whether this particular proposal is feasible or the optimum solution. The point of the post was that the author tied his ship design to a CONOPS so as to create a useful product. Whether that product is technically achievable and whether every feature is perfectly justified is irrelevant. The lesson for us and the Navy is to let CONOPS drive the design instead of producing ships and aircraft that are just random collections of functions that may or may not be useful in supporting the intended role.

  5. Mr Archimedes was obviously not asked for his advice by whoever dreamed this up.

    For a vessel of that sort of size, you need about 12 tons per inch of immersion. Lets say for the sake of argument that you want to vary the freeboard by (say) ft. That's 900 tons of water you need to take aboard - or over 30000 cu. ft of volume you need to find in a ship that's probably only got 70000 cu ft at most. In other words, nearly half the volume will be ballast tankage. Not much room for your 20 crew, huge engines for 60kts, gun magazines, C2 spaces etc etc.

    Understand Uncle Kim has some interesting semi-sub craft, but they're not designed to stooge about for any length of time, so space is less important.

    1. That should be vary freeboard by 6 feet by the way.

    2. I'm not a naval engineer so I'm out of my element here but the SS-170 class pre-Gato subs were around 260 ft and 1100t (surface) with a crew of 45 and a range of 10000-12000nm and able to completely submerge.

      The German U-21 was 210 ft and 650t and 29 crew with a range of around 10000 nm - almost exactly the specs of this vessel.

      So, a 200 ft, 600 t vessel with a crew of 20, that only wants to semi-submerge seems plausible. As I said, this is not my area so maybe it wouldn't work but it sounds possible.

    3. It's nothing to do with length or displacement, but everything to do with waterplane area, freeboard and reserve buoyancy. How much freeboard does a surfaced submarine have?
      How much does a "surface ship" have?

    4. Having no idea what the actual design of the GWS is, who knows how much (or little) freeboard it would have? I would guess that GWS semi-submersible would look quite similar to a submarine. Just speculation on my part.

      Interesting that for the cover illustration, the waterplane decreases as the vessel submerges.

  6. If it looks quite similar to a submarine, it's highly unlikely to do 60 kts..........

    Look up Mr Froude and what sort of number you get if you combine 200ft length with 60kts.

    1. "If it looks quite similar to a submarine, it's highly unlikely to do 60 kts.........."

      Semi-submerged, you're undoubtedly right. On the other hand, the Navy's old Pegasus class hydrofoils could do 50 kts with the machinery in a 130 ft hull so there's no inherent reason why high speed couldn't be achieved. We don't know any of the details of the GWS design so I have no idea how the author proposed accomplishing the task beyond his reference to high speed ferries.

      As I said to B.Smitty in my replies to his comments, the point of the post is not whether any particular feature is technically achievable - it's the fact that the author tied the ship's characteristics to a CONOPS which is something the Navy has utterly failed to do and which has led to cost overruns and useless ships. We need to let CONOPS drive the design, not the other way around.


      This seems to be the basis for most of the LCS platform characteristics. Looks like a CONOPS to me, even if I don't agree with some of it. Seems consistent with what I remember from 12 years ago.

      Most peoples issues with LCS appear to be either down to the cost (more than originally envisaged) or the (current) performance of the mission modules. Some might describe that as variations in whether something is technically achievable for a budgeted price.

    3. That "report" is not a CONOPS. It's a marketing brochure that states that the LCS can do anything and everything. It doesn't have an ounce of reality in it. Even the Navy has publicly acknowledged that it developed the LCS without a legitimate CONOPS.

      Just to offer one tiny example, a real CONOPS would have addressed the MCM issue in light of the needs versus the MCM rate of advance that the LCS would be capable of (even assuming the MCM module worked which it still doesn't). That cursory analysis would have revealed that the LCS MCM couldn't support the required clearance rates and would need much greater numbers or radically different tactical methods. The report you cite describes the LCS sweeping the oceans clear in a triumph of technology, democracy, and the American way of life! It's not a concept of operations, it's a cartoon fantasy wishlist.

    4. You've got the "MCM needs" ready to hand have you? Didn't think so. There's a difference between what a "commentator" thinks is necessary and what the professionals think.

      What you describe is the subsequent operational analysis effort, which outlines the art of the possible and identifies where changes to performance / tactics may be necessary to close any gap in required performance (which may not be fully achievable).

      CONOPS and CONEMP are usually at the level shown in that NWDC document, at that stage of development. Interestingly, I still have the CONOPS documentation developed by OPNAV N76, provided at the industry day solicitations for the concept ship designs back in 2002. They still outline the logic fairly well, even if I don't (and didn't) necessarily agree with them. Never sold on the high speed bit as it both identifies you as military and still doesn't outrun an air asset.

      To return to the original issue, whether you like it or not, the CONOPS described did drive the LCS design. Space (area & volume) for modular systems? Check. High speed? Check. Ability to conduct self defence against a low threat? Check. Ability to self-deploy over transoceanic range? Check. Low AW signatures for survivability / covertness in littoral areas? Check.

      One can credibly argue that the module performances and the expectations for shipboard engineering have not yet proven possible in reality. Again - one could describe that as whether something is achievable for a budgetted price.

      Seems to me that Mr Smitty gets it. How you can continue to defend a CONOPS (for the GWS) that requires a platform that defies the laws of physics - not just engineering assessments - is beyond me.

    5. Yes, I do have the Navy's stated MCM needs. They've issued various documents describing both general MCM needs and fairly specific rates of clearance. Those documents are readily available on the Internet, if you're interested. Please maintain a respectful discussion if you wish to contribute.

      What was described as a CONOPS for the LCS was nothing more than a fantasy wish list of characteristics. It was not a concept of operations. I'll repeat, the Navy has repeatedly acknowledged that they did not have a CONOPS for the LCS and that they recognize that they lack hurt the design and development of the LCS. This is not my opinion, this is the Navy's statement. Again, those statements are readily available on the Internet and have been documented from time to time in this blog.

      I am not defending the GWS CONOPS, though it has some aspects of merit. I'm not sure where you got that idea. The point of the post was to note how the author's vessel characteristics directly support his CONOPS. This is how the design process should proceed. The LCS was, conversely, was a collection of random characteristics that were not tied into a coherent CONOPS and thus we are left with a ship that is searching for a mission. Whether the GWS CONOPS was a good one for littoral warfare is not something I addressed (largely because the author presented only a small snippet of it) though, again, it has some aspects that merit consideration.

      As far as the GWS characteristics and the laws of physics, I think you may be engaging in a bit of hyperbole - nothing wrong with that! I do it myself from time to time for the sake of entertaining writing. The only characteristic that seems at all questionable is the speed and I note that the US Navy's old Pegasus class could do 50kts on the machinery in a 130 ft hull so 60kt is not exactly violating any laws of physics. Whether the GWS could have fit all the characteristics in the alloted hull space is questionable.

      I'll repeat from another comment ... The GWS characteristics, as a whole, seem much more realistic and technically achievable than the original LCS characteristics which have still not been achieved after a decade of development. The GWS might well have been a better path than the LCS!

    6. A comment was removed. All comments are welcome as long as they remain respectful.

    7. Not a boffin, I encourage you to consider switching to a blog that might be better suited to your interests and views. Think Defence and Information Dissemination might be of interest to you. Should you wish to stay and contribute, you are most welcome with the understanding that all comments will be polite and respectful.

  7. The SSK offers an off the shelf solution with room for improvement by increasing dimensions. A surface ship will be easier to detect. For this reason it must be a cheap, surviveable helicopter platform for raiding and unmanned observervation tools. On a surface vessel, it is cheaper to carry quantities of ammunition such as missiles, mines and guns to fight boats. "A ship is a fool to fight a ford." means there is certainly a mission it doesn't habe. It's about evading countermeasures and delivering numerous small strikes at low cost with little personal and no advanced hardware. The submersible feature increases sound transmission that can be detected over longer distances than radar. It should be scrapped as it requires more expensive technology to solve a self inflicted design problem.

    1. You may have misunderstood. The GWS was an old proposal from 1999. It's long since been abandoned.

  8. They are taking about the Juliet Marine GHOST arnt they ?

    sounds like another "found a cool ship" now lets shoe horn a role ?


    1. Ben, no, the article was written long before the Ghost development. I wasn't previously aware of the Ghost. Thanks for the link. The operational comparison of the Ghost vessel to aircraft is intriguing. I may have to do a post on that. Thanks!

  9. The GWS is actually how I envisaged the LCS being used, except as a secret task.

    In the day, it shows the flag , does some pirate hunting and frees up the heavy duty destroyers to focus on flash points.

    At night, it acts as a refueling/jump point for helicopters flying in from afar inserting commando teams, using helos and UAV as recon and intel, and uses the rigid hull boats to land other commando teams which have been quietly smuggled onto the LCS.

    This is probably a bit James Bond-ish, but I can also envisage several cargo ship containers loaded on board, which have been labelled as food supplies, but secretly contain dozens of Norwegian Naval Strike Missiles, or the parts for the construction of a Mark VI patrol boat, or, even better, several defence lasers+generator+ Mach 10 rail gun + Zumwalt Advanced Gun inspired shells for the 57mm gun, converting it into a long range gun with a 40 miles range.

    When the war starts, the bad guys ignore the LCS to focus on carrier groups, the LCS brings out the Naval Strike Missile package, launches 20-30 of those babies, wheels it back inside, they pull out the Laser Defence guns, (2 or 3 fit inside?), and anything the bad guys belatedly shoot back at the LCS gets fried.

    Pretty cool scenario, right? :-)