Friday, May 6, 2016

You Can't Surge A Modern Navy

In recent years, in response to budget constraints, there has been discussion of homeporting major elements of the Navy and simply surging them, if needed.  The claimed benefits include reduced physical wear on the ships since they would remain docked most of the time, reduced manpower requirements since the ships would need nothing more than a caretaker crew, and reduced operating costs due to the reduced crew and curtailed deployments.

For purposes of this discussion, let’s set aside surge-related issues like forward presence and deterrence and just examine the surge capability, itself.  Can a modern navy even surge an idled fleet?  Let’s be clear – we’re not talking about surging a ship that’s currently between deployments and is somewhere in the non-deployed maintenance/training cycle.  Instead, we’re talking about ships that are long term idled.  This is what one line of thinking is regarding fleet size and budget.

Of course, on a practical basis, the Navy is currently partially in this condition.  Budget limitations have resulted in carriers sitting pierside for extended periods with somewhat reduced crews.  Air wings have been nearly idled with pilots barely flying enough hours to remain flight certified.  Aegis cruisers are sitting in a nebulous “modernization” state with their crews having been disbanded.

So, can we surge such a navy?

Let’s look at technology.  Aegis, the prime weapon system of the fleet, requires exquisite care by highly trained and experienced technicians.  Even so, the Aegis system has become significantly degraded, fleet wide, and the Navy has instituted one of their infamous Admiralty chaired focus groups to try to remedy the problem.  Unfortunately, Aegis is so complicated that it requires a degree of expertise to maintain that is simply not widely available in the fleet.  In the early years, Aegis was maintained by the very best of the Navy’s technicians and heavily supplemented by contractor support.  Over the years, that degree of attention and resources faded resulting in the degraded system of today. 

This phenomenon is true, to a greater or lesser degree, with any technology.  The personnel to maintain technology cannot be surged.  They either already exist for will take a year or more to train new personnel.  Whether it’s nuclear engineers, propulsion plant engineers, fire control specialists, radar operators, computer and electronics techs, or culinary specialists, the highly trained personnel needed to effectively operate and maintain technology can’t be surged out of thin air.

Let’s look at tactics.  ASW is more of an art than a science.  Knowing how an enemy sub commander thinks is just as important, or more so, than having a new sonar.  The art of ASW is a highly perishable skill that requires constant practice to maintain proficiency.  Disbanded or skeleton crews and idle ships don’t practice.  Carrier group tactics, especially the multi-carrier groups that we’ll actually fight a war with, are not being practiced now and would be neglected even more with a homeported, idled fleet.  You can’t surge tactical prowess.  Tactics are something that have to be constantly developed, refined, and practiced.

Let’s look at modernization.  Ships that are sitting idle and not anticipated to be used (they never are prior to being needed!) are far less likely to be kept modernized, especially in an era of severely constrained budgets.  Surging ships whose equipment is out of date and whose physical condition is substandard is not a recipe for success.

Let’s look at manpower.  Ships whose crews have been disbanded or are maintained by a skeleton caretaker crew are lacking the most important feature – a highly trained crew intimately familiar with the ship and its equipment.  Crews, especially in today’s technology-heavy Navy, can’t be thrown together on a moment’s notice and be combat effective.

Let’s look at aviation.  Even today we see non-deployed air wings whose monthly flying has dropped to the bare minimum necessary to remain flight certified.  Little or no tactical training is occurring.  Some reports have put the flight hours at as little as four hours per month.  In addition to the pilot’s proficiency, the maintainers must be proficient.  Again, that takes constant work on real aircraft.  It’s just not possible to surge idled aviation.  Bringing an individual pilot, mechanic, or air wing up to combat readiness takes months.  You can’t surge aviation.

Now, all of this discussion assumes a homeported fleet that exists in an idled state.  There is an alternative that could provide a constantly surge-ready fleet.

Rather than homeport and idle the fleet, it could be homeported but maintained with full maintenance and full crews.  The fleet would have the opportunity to conduct thorough maintenance and training without the “distraction” of actual deployments.  The ships would put to sea to conduct tactical training as needed and then immediately return for maintenance.  This would greatly reduce the wear and tear on ships and crews while maintaining the highest level of readiness.  As we’ve seen, though, given the opportunity to do exactly this, the Navy has opted to let carriers sit idle, Aegis crews have been disbanded, maintenance is being deferred or ignored, and worthwhile tactical training is almost non-existent.

Lest you think I’m advocating for this route, I’m not.  There is value in actual deployments.  Conducted properly, which the Navy is not, ships and crews on deployment get to experience real world conditions in areas that they might have to fight.  They experience the weather, sea conditions, geography, etc.  They also get face to face experience sailing and flying against potential enemies.

This was simply an examination of the concept of homeporting/surging a fleet.  Properly done, it has some advantages but it also comes with disadvantages.  However, done as the Navy and many supporters would have it, a modern Navy cannot be surged and the Navy is unintentionally proving it right now.

43 comments:

  1. Sounds a lot like the british navy of 1939 or the spanish navy of 1897. Besides that I feel it will take even longer then what you stated to get service members proficient enough to be useable in combat. Let use the army as an example, to get a private capable of maintaining and operating a M2A3 bradley takes acording to army doctrine 3 months. A far simplier platform then an aircraft or ship. In addition to that where are this crews magically going to come from? All services are seeing drawdowns and failures to meet recruitment goals. And as to the draft, won't happen, unless its a world war 3. Which by then, its to late.

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  3. "spanish navy of 1897"

    With the classification of INSURV and the multiple deployments and cross decking... I worry more and more about this. From what I've read about it, the Spanish Navy was a collection of 1/2 capable hulls...

    With our emphasis on 'presence' over combat power, I'm worried.


    As to Aegis... I wonder how much of the maintanance issue is that some of the computers that run the system date back to the Sega era of computing. Harder to find folks to train en masse. You rely more and more on institutional knowledge, but as you draw down staff, you start to lose that...

    Don't know, just wondering.

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    1. If you think about it, the USN doesn't have much presence either with the new ships. They are expensive, and thus cannot be purchased in large numbers.

      Maintenance means that you cannot deploy a high enough percentage either and likely not train the sailors very well.

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    2. Most of our ships are gas turbines now. I wonder if it would be possible and cheaper to do combined gas turbine/diesel, or just diesel depending on the need.

      Modern diesels aren't what they used to be, and can generate a ton of horsepower if need be, yet still seem simpler to maintain and are more economical than gas turbines.

      The complexity of a combined drive might take away any cost savings.

      I'll have to do some research.

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  4. My main concern with operating a "ready to sail" navy would be the risk of it being "Pearl Harboured", or "Port Arthured", or "Santiagoed".
    A fleet that can be fully manned and at sea in 12/24/36hrs is dangerously at risk against an Alpha Strike. I dont believe a carrier at sea has anything to fear from a DF21, but in port its a whole other matter.

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    1. I agree, and our Navy's port security is a joke, as this article explains: http://www.g2mil.com/shippens.htm

      It is especially stupid to homeport ships and their families within range of enemy aircraft and missiles, at places like Sasebo, Yokosuka and even Guam.

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  5. Where is the bottom once the empty shell imploded? What is the realistic fleet size and composition given the budget realities? And where does that leave national security?

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    1. You have completely missed the main point regarding fleet size. It has nothing to do with budget realities. I'd like you to think about it and tell me why you think the fleet size is shrinking and the Navy has allowed maintenance and training to decrease to alarming levels. I want readers who can think beyond the surface level. Take a shot at it! Analyze and conclude.

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  6. "Where is the bottom once the empty shell imploded? What is the realistic fleet size and composition given the budget realities? And where does that leave national security?"

    Until we get a true audit of the defense department, I don't even think we know what the is the reality of the budget.

    The defense department is behind every other government department in this.

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    1. Jim, budget has nothing to do with fleet size problems. See my preceding comment. Think a bit deeper and let me know what you think the real problem is.

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    2. This may have moved on....

      ... but I wasn't trying to blame the budget for fleet size. Compare how much money the USN gets vs. Foreign navies. His question was 'What is the realistic fleet size given budget realities'. My point is that we have no freakin' clue because the Navy seems to spend its money so poorly. If we audited and purged the Navy could likely get alot more out of its existing budget.

      I think that the Navy has allowed maintenance and training to fall off because they have other priorities. Many of which you have covered.

      One big one is that they want new construction. They want shiny new ships. They want them because they are sexy and they allow the Navy to keep its chunk of the budget more easily.

      New construction, and the projects it creates, apparently also gives high level officers nice job opportunities post retirement.

      Maintenance gets in the way of that. Why do a modern FRAM on a frigate when you can get new LCS's from two (!) different contractors and shipyards. Why worry about its ASW module working before you buy it? You want to buy it to get that budget line item in there and keep the contractors happy.

      As to training... I'm guessing that its just the easiest place to find money for ever more expensive ship classes.

      Hell, we had the LCS double its designed original cost... for not much ship. Trying to make a new DDG or CG seems beyond us anymore without triggering a death spiral.

      So while new construction is desired, the money in the budget has to come from somewhere.

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    3. "My point is that we have no freakin' clue because the Navy seems to spend its money so poorly."

      Jim, one of the problems the current Navy leadership and readers has is that they have no knowledge of history (those who will not learn from history are ...). The Navy, and so many readers, seem to think that developing an affordable naval force structure is some sort of endeavor that's never been tried before and probably can't be done. Bilgewater!

      It's been done and history shows us how. We did it in WWII and we did it in the Reagan years. The problem is we've forgotten how.

      The way to build a fleet is to build to your actual needs. The $14B Ford is not a need. The air wing is half the Nimitz class initial air wing. We can build smaller, not bigger carriers, that can still carry and operate a full (current) air wing.

      We don't need 90+ Aegis ships. Four Aegis ships for every carrier is only 40 ships. Throw in another 10 for amphib escort and you're still only at 50.

      Let's take the money saved from not building wasteful Fords and not building every ship as an Aegis ship and let's start fleshing out the fleet with highly useful, small, dedicated ASW vessels and other specialized ships. Suddenly, the fleet numbers begin increasing, combat capability begins to increase, and we'll have extra money for increased maintenance.

      The problem is not budget. The problem is force structure. In WWII, we didn't build a Navy composed of nothing but battleships - we built mostly destroyers and cruisers and destroyer escorts. How many battleships did we build during WWII? Around 12 or so out of a fleet of several hundred ships? And yet, today, we're trying to build nothing but battleships (Aegis ships being the modern equivalent of the battleship).

      History tells us everything we need to know but we refuse to listen because we think we know better. The Gods of the Copybook Headings. Our arrogance is breathtaking.

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    4. Clues?! We have decades of clues!!!!

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    5. "Let's take the money saved from not building wasteful Fords and not building every ship as an Aegis ship and let's start fleshing out the fleet with highly useful, small, dedicated ASW vessels and other specialized ships."

      Here's one possible explanation. I hope it's wrong, but it seems to fit.

      Each community within the Navy (or group of communities - all the carrier-based aircraft communities are in favour of carriers) wants to be succeeding by getting its desired new class of ship, with all the bells, whistles, horns and organ-pipes.

      Rather than make decisions with long-term consequences that will annoy many people, and in the absence of a clear idea what the next conflict will be like, the Navy leadership can compromise by building some of all of them. They have to neglect other priorities to do this, but someone else will be in charge by the time that's a problem.

      The next conflict could be against China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, North Korea, some kind of alliance of some of these, or something that is beyond the horizon at present. There's no way to tell, especially since the actions of US politicians are so unpredictable. But these would require different resources and strategies from the USN.

      It fits, but I really hope that the admirals are not so entrapped by the worldviews that were taught them as junior and mid-ranking officers.

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    6. "... in the absence of a clear idea what the next conflict will be like..."

      "The next conflict could be against China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, North Korea, some kind of alliance of some of these ..."

      John, you're falling prey to the same sort of paralyzing overthinking that Navy leadership has succumbed to. This isn't rocket science. You design for either or both of the worst case or oddest case (unlikely).

      The worst case is a war with China. Any other case is a lesser subset. If we design for a war with China, we can handle any other war.

      There's a case for designing for a highly unusual war that would require a completely different set of equipment, strategies, and tactics (like a war at the North Pole) but I don't see any such vastly unusual war in the foreseeable future.

      Anti-terrorism is a case of an unusual war that ought to have its own set of equipment but that equipment is generally low end, lightweight stuff like Super Tucanos and whatnot.

      If we design a force that can beat China then we can beat Russia. If we design a force that can beat China then we can beat Iran. If we design a force that can beat China then we can beat NKorea. And so on.

      So, what we need is actually quite obvious and easily foreseen.

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    7. "John, you're falling prey to the same sort of paralyzing overthinking that Navy leadership has succumbed to. This isn't rocket science. You design for either or both of the worst case or oddest case (unlikely).

      ...

      So, what we need is actually quite obvious and easily foreseen."

      Yet the people who have the staff and intelligence officers don't (or daren't) see it that way. Why might that be?

      The "daren't" is easier. Talking about China as a potential enemy seems not to be very acceptable. The reasons for that seem to include the extent to which the US is dependent on China for civilian manufacturing, so that a conflict will cause significant economic disruption. There's also the way that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, hopes to make lots of money in the Chinese media market - which can be taken from him whenever the Chinese leadership feels like it - and the way that other media organisations try to follow his lead.

      The "don't" is more complex. The US seems to think about each of its potential enemies as a separate problem, which kind of inhibits comparing them and seeing what weapons and tactics would work against all of them. There's also the problem that if several potential conflicts kick off at once, there aren't the forces to handle all of them.

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    8. "... the extent to which the US is dependent on China for civilian manufacturing ..."

      John, John! Do you see that that statement is the basis for an American economic revival? If we lost all our Chinese manufacturing jobs, where would they go? Unless we're stupid, like we were when let them go to China in the first place, the manufacturing would come back to America - an instant and overwhelming jobs creation program that would instantly alleviate all unemployment, create competition for workers (driving up wages naturally), fuel consumer spending (since everyone would have jobs), and hosts of other benefits (increased tax revenue, bigger work force, more demand for automation and engineering, etc.). We're so scared of change that we can't see the benefits.

      Forget a war, we should pull out manufacturing back without a war. How? Tariffs and tax revisions - but that's a topic for some other blog. We would cripple China and boost our economy immeasurably.

      Please don't fall into the group think mode. It's not working for us. Think analytically and form your own conclusions. That's why I do this blog - to give people the data to think critically.

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    9. "John, John! Do you see that that statement is the basis for an American economic revival?"

      Absolutely. I'm trying to describe the thinking that got the world into this state, which makes it far more obvious where the underlying causes are.

      In this case, those manufacturing jobs went to China, because it was cheaper to do the work there, and thus more profitable for the American corporations that sent the work there. Who will fight hard against it being brought back, because that will reduce their profits. They will invest some of their current profits in buying enough votes in Congress to keep it from happening.

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    10. Our political leaders need to remember that they serve the people, not the corporations. The general public would benefit greatly from a return of manufacturing. That the corporations would suffer a slight decrease in profits is irrelevant. The people need to speak.

      This is not a political blog so I won't go any further with this other than to repeat the military-relevant portion that war with China will not hurt the American economy in the long run and will, in fact, help it. There is no reason for us to fear worsening relations with China.

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    11. The problem here is that the corporations don't serve the people. They were the ones that bribed the politicians for their profits to begin with and pushed for "free trade" deals that crippled the US economy. Inequality has vastly increased since then.

      At the moment, I would have to disagree that taking a confrontational view against China. They are on the rise right now and the US is on the fall. Taking a confrontational view might hasten that.

      Personally I'd recommend talk benevolently, but build up the US economy and maintain a competent navy (which the USN is current not).

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    12. To what end? What we're doing is clearly having no effect in stopping Chinese expansionism. What you're advocating is appeasement. China will continue to solidify their South/East China Sea gains and we'll become increasingly marginalized until we're eventually pushed completely out of the area.

      So, to what end or purpose do you wish us to appease China?

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  7. The problem is senseless "presence" missions with ships burning fuel and not training or in transit. Ships should be in four stages: maintenance/refit, training/workup, 72-hour standby surge, and deployment. So fewer ships are deployed and doing little other than wearing our ships and crews, leaving some at home as fully manned, trained, and ready ships to surge when needed.

    Manning issues will become worse as our Navy seeks a goal of 25% female crews. Few outsiders realize that half of female crewmen miss deployments, usually for pregnancy issues.

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    1. Do you have any data to support your statement that half of female crew miss deployments?

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    2. Not quite the same point, but the largest branch of USN by numbers is the Bureau of medicine.
      Heres a useful listing of numbers by grade
      http://www.statista.com/statistics/239345/total-military-personnel-of-the-us-navy-by-grade/

      That site also says in 2016 FY USN had 2221 fixed wing aircraft and in 1995 it was 2675. Would need checking those numbers

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  8. Another issue with an idled fleet is what happens if they are not needed? I view it as something similar with the UK when they decided to decommission the last carrier without a new one for 10 years. Some politicians were asking the reasonable question: "if RN can go 10 years without a carrier, why after 10 years, it becomes so important again?" Wouldn't there be the same danger here with a good part of your fleet not really going anywhere or doing anything, how do justify the fleet after 5 years,10 years? I think politically it would be harder and harder to justify a big fleet that just sits idled and the logical outcome would be major cuts.

    My 2 cents....

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    1. I can't address the UK's justification for having a navy but the US justification is the need to protect the global shipping that we depend on and the need to conduct war (as the worst case) against countries (and now non-state agents) that would do us harm. The answer, then, to your question about why a carrier (or fleet) is needed if it wasn't needed in the last ten years is because we literally have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Further, the US Navy is actively engaged in patrolling the world's waterways every day so the fleet is needed on a daily basis. Many other countries (the UK included) have gotten lazy and come to depend on the US for their uninterrupted, safe, secure, global shipping. It's easy for the UK and others to question the need for a navy knowing that the US is out there doing the actual hard (and expensive) work of safeguarding the world.

      Honestly, the UK's neglect of its navy and general military force structure is lazy and insulting to the US. I recognize that the UK can't support as large a military as the US and that the UK is our staunchest ally but there is a streak of irresponsibility that you've pointed out.

      Want some actual data? The UK's defense spending as a percentage of GDP is in the neighborhood of half that of the US, around 2.2% versus around 4%.

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    2. "Another issue with an idled fleet is what happens if they are not needed?"

      As I pointed out in the post, an idled fleet should be constantly engaged in training and maintenance - basically maintaining physical and operational/tactical readiness. That's the whole idea behind a surgeable fleet. Pretty simple.

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  9. Okay absent a cohesive engagement what's more important today on a SWO Environment?.

    In the past the CIC had enabled the cohesion of information and targeting info to enable the U.S. To engage without significant losses

    Today's missiles throw a dimension into the lack of SWO training that is nous becoming apparent. His are shirt range but missiles are maybe long and medium range depending on circumstances

    So how can the navy lack a cohesive SWO policy or war gaming exercise since the navy is supposed to own the seas

    Again today's navy thinks their opponent is Japan circa 1939 meaning its adversaries are going to act as the admirals want

    How does today's underlings prepare then considering the lack of leadership and direction

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    1. "How does today's underlings prepare then considering the lack of leadership and direction"

      They can't. But that's obvious.

      I'm pretty sure I'm missing your main point. Try again?

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    2. The disadvantage of an idled fleet that is actually kept in condition to surge is that it's almost as expensive as an active fleet.

      That would not help the USN with the money problem it currently has. That seems to be not an absolute shortage of dollars, but a compulsion to spend them on new and very expensive vessels and aircraft, which sadly have far less combat or deterrence value than the ones that are being stood down to free money.

      The reason for this compulsion seems to lie in politics and the need for the Navy to dance to the tunes its political overseers play.

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    3. John, you're quite correct that the Navy has all the money it needs if it would spend that money wisely. Why they choose not to is, of course, the question. I don't think the answer is politics, as you suggest. That said, I don't know what the answer is.

      When the Navy's leadership considers building a new carrier (Ford) that is significantly larger and hugely more expensive than previous ones despite little increase in capabilities and with an air wing that's approaching half the size of previous wings, I honestly can't understand why they conclude that's a wise thing to do. Congress is not pressuring them to build more expensive ships. In general, Congress would rather spend less and build more ships - just the opposite of what the Navy is doing. The President is not pressuring the Navy to build that way. I just don't see any politics at play. Frankly, I'm baffled why the Navy can look at an obviously bad choice and wind up embracing it. There's a thought pattern at work among the Navy leadership that I'm missing. I can see the pattern but I don't understand the thought process behind it.

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    4. "The disadvantage of an idled fleet that is actually kept in condition to surge is that it's almost as expensive as an active fleet."

      If done properly, you're right! There would be some reduction in fuel costs, maintenance costs would decrease somewhat due to less wear, fewer and smaller overseas bases would save some money, etc. but the overall savings would not be substantial.

      Only if the fleet is truly idled (non-operational, disbanded crews, reduced training and maintenance) would there be any great savings. However, if the fleet is idled to that extent then it can't be used which leads to the question, why have a fleet?

      Good comment.

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    5. "Only if the fleet is truly idled (non-operational, disbanded crews, reduced training and maintenance) would there be any great savings. However, if the fleet is idled to that extent then it can't be used which leads to the question, why have a fleet?"


      That pretty much is what I was trying to say, you just said it a lot better!

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  10. I know many of you have forgotten this argument, but automation can go a long way to solving many of these problems. First they is the obvious , that automation reduce crew size needed for a given ship type. yes the ship will be larger, and more expensive going in, but far cheaper to maintain over their life time. Second is that automation often require less training to operated, as much of the secondary skill require to operate the ship are mechanize. And finally you don't need a many people doing grunt work like storing supplies and watching spaces. This result in the type of training require will be focus on hard core skills like tactics, seamanship, and other more intellectual things and less on physical practice that require leaving port.

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    1. Industry found that automation did not reduce jobs to any great extent. Instead, it shifted the jobs. For almost every job that was replaced by automation, another job was created servicing the automation (electricians, instrument techs, control systems engineers, etc.). So, there's actually little overall reduction in manning and there is an increase in the overall skill level required to implement and support extensive automation which actually increases costs since more skilled people demand higher pay. Thus, a ship might well be able to put to sea and operate for a period of time with a reduced crew but the shoreside implementation and support personnel requirements increase.

      Further, the reduced crew levels mean less shipboard maintenance is performed, again requiring a larger shore support group and the ship's material condition suffers. And, of course, smaller crews mean no depth in combat to replace casualties or perform damage control.

      On the plus side, automation contributes to better and more reliable data collection, monitoring, and, in some cases, operating.

      Automation is a useful tool in certain circumstances but does not result in cost savings or overall personnel reductions to any significant extent unless you're willing to accept degraded maintenance.

      These are the lessons industry has learned.

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    2. CNO, don't try and teach grandma how to suck eggs. (And yes I know how to suck eggs as Easter Eggs trees were popular when I was a kid.)

      What you claim was often true, But this was only where the factory was making things that did not require many people, or had previously upgrade with earlier types of automation.

      On the otherhand we know that from overseas, automation can and does reduce crew size. And so what if it needs a lot more of shore support, in the surge skim, the ships are normal docked most of the time anyway.

      Still that was not the subject if the post, which was can a modern navy be operated using the surge method. You correctly identify that a major problem would be keeping and maintaining skilled crews. I pointed at automation as a solution to this problem, and the problem wear on the ship caused by training at sea. Also that training people to operate the automated system is often easier to do as many of the support skill and knowledge can be program into the systems. AEGIS for example is far simplier to operate than the missile system of the 60's and 70's, likewise I am told the same is true with ASW and gun control systems. And of course propulsion, navigation, and other support can be automated successfully meaning few people to train and maintain.

      By the way, Looking at our current history, far more USN ships have been lost for economic reasons then enemy fire. And ships that are scraped early, are more dead to the fleet than and ones that can fight until an enemy figures out how to sink them.

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    3. Well, grandma, you may be a champion egg sucker, whatever that is, but you lack some experience with and knowledge of automation.

      Unless you're talking about a ship from the early 1900's, every ship built in the last 30 years contains a fair amount of automation, already. We don't take temperatures, pressures, flows, etc. by hand - it's all automated. Pumps and valves are largely automated. Power plants are heavily automated. Sensor operation is automated. Fire control is heavily automated. I can go on but you get the idea. Our ships are already fairly automated. There's not a huge benefit left to be had unless we're willing to completely forego maintenance, damage control, combat manning, etc.

      Your statement about Aegis is absolutely false and is so proven by history. Consider the Vincennes incident. Despite an extensively, and thoroughly trained crew and a "simple" Aegis system, the crew managed to make almost every mistake possible - and this is with a highly trained crew. Imagine how much worse it would have been with an untrained surge crew, as you're suggesting.

      Consider, further, the fact that the simple Aegis system became so degraded fleet wide that the Navy had to implement one of their famous Admiral-chaired panels to try to bring the system up to operating standard. An Aegis ship captain had an article in Proceedings a few years back in which he stated that Aegis was so complex and nuanced that they didn't even know the system wasn't working! And you want us to use untrained surge crews???

      Whoever is telling you Aegis is simple is not a source you want to be listening to!

      Let's recall a simpler example. The cruiser Port Royal, with an automated navigation system and GPS, managed to run aground in broad daylight!

      The highly automated LCS ships are barely able to put to sea for more than a few days without breaking down.

      You really need to remember Navy history and actual operating experience before coming up with these theories!

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    4. Its worth knowing the detail of the USS Port Royals grounding
      "The ship's fathometer was broken. At 12:01, the Voyage Management System's (VMS — an automated navigation system) primary input at the chart table was shifted from a forward Global Positioning System to forward Ring Laser Gyro Navigation, an inertial navigator. Three times the VMS dead-reckoned the ship's location, mistakenly reporting the ship's location as 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from its actual position. The error was not noticed by watchstanders. The ship was undergoing her first sea trials.."Wikipedia
      There were some human factors as well. Obviously there is no 'automated system' for navigation like say an engineroom, but a combination of sensors which require human understanding. As they grounded just a half mile off the runway at Honululu it wasnt a place to be juggling the primary navigation system.

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  11. like for example this odd incident:

    https://news.usni.org/2016/01/21/littoral-combat-ship-uss-fort-worth-sidelined-in-singapore-with-propulsion-system-damage


    A report from the news wire Bloomberg cited a Navy memo saying the cause was likely the lack of lube oil in the combining gears.


    “During startup of the main propulsion diesel engines, lube oil was not supplied to the ship’s combining gears,” according to the memo. Running the dry gears “resulted in high temperature alarms on the port and starboard combining gears.”

    I assumed that any ship built the last few decades would have some type of automatic fail safe shut down or at least an alarm if someone attempted something that might cause major damage.

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  12. There's one other big thing about inadequate training. Training builds a certain instinct as the article hints and well, muscle memory on what to do, how to do it well.

    It also gives trainees the opportunity to think on their feet in case enemies do something different (at least free form exercises do, versus the overly scripted ones).

    That has been lost.

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    1. Excellent comment.

      To add to it, no two ships in the Navy are identical. A crew becomes intimately familiar with their ship over time and that knowledge can be critical in combat. A random surge crew can't hope to have that level of knowledge. I see this as a problem even during peacetime when the Navy is trying to do their three-crews-for-two-ships manning scheme. Of course, in peacetime, they can make mistakes due to unfamiliarity and not die but in combat ...

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  13. Surging will not work period. To many short comings, for it to a viable option. I have read every comment that has been posted and have only seen weak points in its favor, that under logical deduction, are offset by a negative side effect at best. The only way to have a Navy be combat ready is for ships to see the ocean for months at a time with full crews, not at a pier with contract maintenance teams. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

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