Thursday, February 16, 2017

Modern Battleship - v.2

Let’s have a little fun today and consider what a modern battleship would be.  In particular, let’s look at how a modern battleship would be different from the iconic Iowa class.

Note: This is a significantly different slant on a modern battleship from a previous version that I offered for consideration (see, "Modern Battleship").  You might want to check that one out as a comparison.

Since WWII, missiles have replaced guns as the main naval weapon.  Long range, almost world wide surveillance has obviated the need for speed to a large degree, weapon ranges have increased from 20 miles to hundreds or a thousand miles, armor has been all but abandoned.  How do these trends impact a modern battleship design, if at all?  Let’s look at the modern battleship’s main characteristics, point by point, and see where they take us.

Main Armament.  Battleship discussions rightly start and end with the main armament.  The BB’s 16” guns set the standard for gun based destructive power – both anti-surface and land attack.  To build a modern BB without powerful guns is to build a ship that is not a BB – it might be an arsenal ship or missile barge but it won’t be a BB.  Thus, the modern BB will be armed with three triple 16” gun mounts – any less and what’s the point?

Secondary Armament.  The battleship’s secondary armament had a few functions: anti-aircraft, shore bombardment, and anti-destroyer.  Guns can no longer perform anti-aircraft, 5” guns for shore bombardment are still useful but the likelihood of a major assault requiring massive bombardment is very small, and no destroyer is likely to reach 5” gun range against a battleship.  Thus, the secondary gun requirement is much reduced.  The secondary armament would be the Navy’s standard 5”/62 gun.  I would suggest that two per side, for a total of four, would be adequate.

Strike.  A battleship’s purpose is to hit hard with overwhelming firepower.  Part of that firepower will consist of Tomahawk cruise missiles.  A pair of 32 cell VLS units, for a total of 64 missiles, would provide a significant long range strike capability.  This would be in addition to the AAW VLS requirements discussed below.

AAW.  The battleship of WWII was the Aegis cruiser of today – a mammothly powerful AAW platform bristling with 20 mm, 40 mm, and 5” guns.  Today, however, AAW is conducted with missiles, primarily.  We already have dedicated Aegis AAW ships so duplicating this capability on a battleship would be a waste.  The battleship would always operate with Aegis escorts.  Thus, the BB would be armed only with medium range ESSM and RAM missiles.  Specifically, I’d give the BB two 8-cell Mk41 VLS which could hold 64 quad-packed ESSM.  Additionally, I’d give it 6 SeaRAM launchers, each of which holds 11 RAM missiles for a total of 66 close in AAW missiles.  Finally, I’d give it 4 Phalanx CIWS mounts, two per side, for that last ditch defense.

Armor.  If armament is the first item of battleship discussion, armor is the second.  A modern battleship would have the modern day equivalent of the Iowa plus whatever modern armor improvements could be adapted such as Kevlar, composite armor, reactive armor, spaced armor, and so on.  There’s simply no point to having a powerful, expensive ship that can be easily sunk.

Speed.  The WWII Iowa was operated with the fast carriers and so it had to be fast, itself.  That would not be true with a modern BB.  A modern BB is not a carrier escort – it is a land and sea strike platform.  It would operate as the anchor of a Surface Action Group (SAG).  In that role, speed is nice but not a necessity and very high end speed serves no purpose.  No ship, no matter how fast is going to outrun a missile or aircraft.  A reasonable degree of speed is useful for rapid repositioning but 25 kts is just as effective as 30+ kts. 

Speed in WWII was also used to outpace the enemy’s surveillance cycle.  The only long range surveillance in WWII was the aircraft and they were only effective during daylight hours.  Thus, speed was used to dash in from a couple hundred miles away, during the night, to achieve an attack position before the enemy’s next surveillance cycle could begin.  Today, with radar, satellites, etc,, there is no surveillance cycle.  Surveillance is 24 hours a day and the ability to “dash in” probably no longer exists.

Therefore, the modern BB will have a speed of 25 kts and, thus, a correspondingly smaller engineering plant, smaller uptakes, and smaller exhausts, thereby consuming less internal ship’s volume.  If you want to see the effect that very high end speed has on ship’s volume, look at the LCS and note the size of the intakes and exhausts and imagine the internal volume dedicated to those ducts!

Sensors.  Not being an Aegis/Standard Missile vessel, and operating with Aegis vessels, the modern battleship has no need for Aegis/AMDR or any other high end radar suite.  Something like the TRS-4D radar in flat panel array configuration should be adequate along with EO/IR sensors.

ASW.  This is not a destroyer.  We are not going to have our BB playing tag with submarines.  That is what escorts are for.  The modern BB will have no ASW capability, at all.  The most we’ll concede is a mine-detecting sonar.

Helos.  The modern battleship will always be escorted by Aegis destroyers with helos, hangars, and flight decks.  The battleship needs only a flight deck for resupply and personnel transport purposes.  No hangar and no dedicated helos.

Stealth.  The battleship is going to be big and will be detected.  It is not worth driving up costs in an attempt to provide an unachievable degree of stealth.  The ship should have whatever degree of stealth can be achieved via simple shaping (slanting) of the superstructure.  Exotic coatings should be avoided.


There you have our modern version of a battleship – a powerful, well protected vessel that provides dominant offensive firepower on the modern battlefield.  Its mission would be to anchor surface attack groups (I say “attack” to, again, emphasize the offensive nature of the modern battleship) tasked with shore bombardment support for ground forces, anti-surface sweeps, and strikes against enemy bases, ports, airfields, etc.  A group would consist of a battleship and 5 Burke class destroyers. 

What do you think?  What does your concept of a modern battleship look like and what would its mission be?


Side note:  The one item that I’d be willing to trade off is the third 16” turret.  If an analysis of size, weight, cost, and weapons placement suggested that deletion of the third turret would result in a more affordable, better packaged ship, I’d be willing to consider that.  Specifically, I’m considering the placement of the required VLS cells.  It might be that the third gun would have to be replaced by a VLS cluster.  Hopefully, though, that would not be the case.


134 comments:

  1. Great post.

    I would suggest that rather than armor per se, look at designing the ship to take damage and still work.

    I doubt you can make a traditional keel that can take an underneath torpedo hit. Like wise heavy armor on the sides above and below the waterline can be penetrated by new armor rounds. Making spaces behind the first layer that can be lost but stop the cascading damage might be better.

    I am not a naval architect but think of a couple of inches of steel with voids behind filled with whatever will absorb and stop the follow through.

    Helps with the size, weight, engine size, fuel ranger etc.

    We need a Joshua Humphreys on this!

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    1. Armor's sole purpose is not to completely stop the incoming weapon. If that were the case, you'd be correct that no armor can stop modern torpedoes and large, supersonic missiles. However, armor serves two purposes:

      1. Stop what it can, meaning stop smaller weapons, shrapnel, and debris.

      2. MITIGATE the effects of what it can't stop. Armor depletes the kinetic energy of whatever attempts to pass through it. Consider a shell (of whatever size) that passes through a thin skin of an unarmored ship. The shell expends very little of its kinetic energy passing through the out skin and so it is free to continue on through subsequent inner compartments, causing damage to each, until it eventually runs out of kinetic energy and/or explodes (again, an exercise in kinetic energy release). Contrast that to a shell that manages to pass through an outer armor. The armor hugely depletes the shell's kinetic energy and, thus, limits the degree to which the shell can penetrate any further compartments. The shell's damage is not outright prevented but it is mitigated.

      Too many people have the mistaken notion that if armor can't stop a nuclear bomb then it is a waste. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      The same applies to under-keel torpedo explosions. I have to believe that if we applied modern shock absorbing/deflecting armor designs to naval construction we could build ships that would be able to absorb torpedo explosions with manageable damage. Consider what we've done with IED protection for small vehicles. On a relative scale, an IED is a massively larger force applied to a much smaller vehicle and yet we can deal with it. What could we do if we applied shock absorbing, slanted/redirecting shapes, layered armor, reactive armor, etc. concepts to a ship's underside? A torpedo and ship is just an IED at sea.

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    2. CNo;

      We are agreeing, I am not saying thick armor to stop anything from getting gin.

      1-2" srmor to stop shrapnel small arms hits, then use new engineering techniques to build spaces behind that will absorb the big stuff that comes in or detonates on the outer skin. Maybe filled with a material that provides absorption of the blast and is fire retardant and provides additional structural strength where there is a large hole in the outer hull (like the Cole got).

      Basically a double hull approach that is safer and more protective than a 16" armor belt maybe even in the same 6" depth.

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    3. Agreed on protection against underwater/under keel explosions. The idea of designing the hulls of capital ships to make them more damage resistant against torpedoes and mines is hardly new. All American battleships from the USS Tennessee and California to the Iowa class had an elaborate system of void and liquid loaded compartments that were intended to absorb the energy from a torpedo or mine exploding against the side of the hull, and a triple bottom to limit the damage from an explosion under the hull.

      It should be possible to employ those principles and the principles used in MRAP's and other IED/mine resistant vehicles to limit the damage from a "keel-breaker" type torpedo or influence mine that goes off under the keel.

      Anonymous also had a very interesting point about using a filler material to limit damage from hits. Back in the 1930's the French Navy, which used an underwater protection system on its battleships that was very similar that used by the USN, experimented with a foam that could be used to fill some of the compartments. The foam acted as a water exclusion material and also had the effect of slowing down and dissipating the energy from shell fragments, blast effects from a torpedo explosion and so on. Perhaps spaced armor with the gaps filled a foam like that could be used to improve damage resistance and absorb the shock from a torpedo or mine hit.

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    4. I wasn't familiar with the foam concept. Thanks for pointing that one out!

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    5. There are massive differences between an under vehicle IED and an under keel torpedo. With the IED, all you need to do is deflect the blast to the surrounding air which provides little to no resistance which allows shaping and minimal armor to be highly effective.

      In sharp contrast, and under keel torpedo cannot be simply deflected, for one the surrounding water basically provides as much if not more resistance than the bottom of the vessel. Secondly, a torpedo creates a void zone as an after effect of the explosion. It is the void that becomes the real keel breaker. Ships just aren't designed to support their entire weight with just the bow/stern holding everything up. When a torpedo explodes under a ship's keel there are actually 3 destructive events: shockwave/bubble expansion, bubble collapse, jet impact (caused by hydrodynamic forces following bubble collapse). First and third are upward forces, and second is a downward force.

      In order to handle a keel buster, the ship would have to have structural integrity rivaling pretty much any bridge in the world, in fact significantly more than any bridge because it has to support the weight in 2 separate directions. That's a LOT of weight and a lot of volume, the entire center section of the ship would effectively need to be a massive steel girder lattice from bow to stern.

      Realistically, it simply is completely impractical to design warships to survive a keel killer. The amount of space and weight required to get even close pretty much precludes the ship being useful for pretty much anything but surviving a keel killer. You are honestly probably much better off trying to sold the active protection problem vs torpedoes than trying to make the ship survive a keel killer.

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    6. I agree it is difficult, but I am saying we should think about spending some money looking at applying new techniques to make it more survivable.

      I go back to Joshua Humphreys again. No none though you could stop hogging to get a ship long enough to out sail big ships of the line. He came up with a framing system that utilized American Woods that we had plenty of and were stronger than anything the Brits could get their hands on.

      Give this to DARPA and have them give it to some Grad students as a sponsored project. For $50k each team you might get a great new idea. This is how innovation works!

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    7. "it simply is completely impractical to design warships to survive a keel killer."

      This is a disappointing comment in the sense that essentially the exact same quote has been used throughout history to explain why man would never fly, why it was impossible to go to the moon, why we couldn't sail around the world without falling off the edge, why the horseless carriage would never replace the horse, or why any other invention or technological development would never occur. And yet, they all did happen. To believe that it is completely impractical to design a ship that can survive an under-keel explosion is no different than those who believed that it was completely impractical to design a ship that could sail into the wind or sail without sails using nothing more than a newfangled engine.

      Every new development is met with resistance, scorn, and dismissal - and, in every case, the development eventually proves itself right and the naysayers wrong. Despite this, we see no end of naysayers line up to ridicule the next development.

      There is absolutely no technical reason why we can't design a useful warship that can survive an under-keel explosion. We simply haven't wanted to make the effort, as yet.

      There's nothing wrong with pointing out the design difficulties and challenges but to conclude that the task is impossible is to miss the entire thrust of human history as regards technological development.

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    8. ats wrote "it simply is completely impractical to design warships to survive a keel killer."

      Actually, if you scroll down just a little, you will find a link to a blog post by a naval architect explaining why capital ships like battleships and fleet carriers are much more resistant to that kind of damage because of the way they are built. In essence, the bulkheads of the side protection system act as additional keels, while the armored decks act to stiffen the hull and make it much more resistant to being torn apart by major structural stresses.

      You can find the article here, if you haven’t already come across it.

      It’s worth noting that while the exact details are still highly classified, open source info suggests that modern American super carriers are built in a similar manner to a World War II American fast battleship, with a multi-layered side protection system composed of bulkheads that contain the force of a torpedo or mine exploding against the side of the hull while acting as auxiliary keels and providing additional stiffening and structural reinforcement for the hull. The carriers are also reported to have triple bottoms, much like a World War II BB, while both the hangar and flight decks are armored, which again helps stiffen the hull and makes it more resilient against shock effects and structural failure.

      The article notes that the Tirpitz once survived the equivalent of several Mk-48's going off under her keel and the USS Arkansas had an atomic bomb go off very close to the hull during the Bikini atom bomb tests, having an effect similar to a keel-breaker but on a much larger scale. The Arkansas was literally lifted out of the water by the force of the explosion. The keel was crushed and the armor plating near the stern cracked, but the hull survived more or less intact and did not break apart, even though the forces were far greater than those of a keel-breaker torpedo.

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    9. Forgot to specify that the atomic bomb test I was referencing was the second test, in which the bomb was detonated underwater. The Arkansas was the major warship moored closest at a range of 250 yards and the blast slammed right into the bottom of the hull. As noted above, the keel was crushed and the ship was pushed up into the air all the way out of the water, flipped over and slammed back down into the bottom of the lagoon, part of which had been momentarily evacuated of water due to the shock wave from the explosion.

      Nevertheless, the hull remained largely intact and did not break in two, in spite of suffering such massive structural trauma. The Arkansas was the oldest BB in the fleet and probably had the weakest hull of any BB still in service with the USN. The structural forces she endured were far greater than even the most powerful keel breaker could inflict.

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    10. Most battleships designed with re-enforced keels to facilitate ramming attacks. I haven't been able to find a definite answer for the Arkansas, looking at the bow, I would assume that's the case meaning she was most likely to survive a keel breaker attack then an Iowa.

      Further more, while I can't remember the location of the source, apparently the monitor Novogorod (aka the round, donut looking ship) of the late 1800's was more resistant to underwater mine detonations due to its unique shape.

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    11. Most battleships, before WW1 is what I meant to say.

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  2. The way I understand the concept this is meant to be a ship that's capable of soaking up the damage from a number of AShM that get through its ESSM/CIWS screen and keep fighting.

    But if I'm understanding things correctly, a big warhead (~1ton) under the keel would still be a big problem.

    If someone fielded such a warship, how difficult would it be for other nations to design an AShM or ballistic missile that would not try to hit the ship but to hit the water close to to ship and end up exploding under the ship ?

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    1. After writing the above I found an interesting post about torpedo damage and battleships:

      http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.com/topic/25012/Threat-Torpedoes-That-Go-Under-The-Keels?page=2#.WKXVrTiz41I

      It seems that on a battleship under the keel explosions are not quite as catastrophic as on a less armoured ship.

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    2. Thank you very much for that link. That's a fascinating write up. I'm going to contact the author and see if I can get some more information.

      I've searched for under-keel torpedo damage data for a long time and found very little. This is one of the more informative articles I've read.

      Again, thanks!

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    3. "design an AShM or ballistic missile that would not try to hit the ship but to hit the water close to to ship and end up exploding under the ship ?"

      That's a fascinating idea. There are two problems with it, however, that jump to mind.

      1. The geometry. Given the angle of impact on the water and the distance the missile would have to dive to clear the underside of the ship, I think it would be difficult or impossible to get the missile actually under the keel at a damaging distance. I think the missile would wind up far to deep for significant damage. Just speculating.

      2. Impact on the water. Objects traveling at supersonic or high subsonic speeds would disintegrate on impact with the water. Aircraft, for example, tend to do this when the crash in water. Studies have shown that bullets, even very high velocity ones, slow abruptly and significantly when they enter water. It seems unlikely that a missile could travel far enough underwater to position itself below a ship. Refer, again, to the geometry issue.

      In order to impact the water well clear of the ship's side and travel to a spot directly under the keel, the missile would have to impact around 50-100 ft from the ship's side (I'm totally guessing!). The travel distance from the impact point to a position directly under the keel would then be around 70 ft (basic geometry assuming a 45 deg angle of impact). That seems unlikely.

      Pure speculation on my part.

      Fascinating.

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    4. Fast objects can be made to impact the water and keep shape. However control after impact is only in a straight line. Oddly enough is the shape of the cone which makes the difference and not going into detail shaper aka bullet shaped isn't better. On average bullet speed objects could penetrate up to 30 meters of water

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  3. I'd argue for beefing up the secondary armament to a 155mm gun, with more guns.

    The reason is because there are times when you do need to fire the guns and not use the main gun (too much destructive power).

    The guns should be able to fire at the higher trajectories (like a howitzer) where needed.

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    1. "there are times"

      Well, this is unarguable argument. If we spec 6 guns, someone can always say, there might be a time we need 8 guns. If we spec 8 guns, someone can always say, there might be a time we need 10 guns. And so on. "There are times" leads to infinitely costly platforms. At some point, you have to make a judgement about likely versus possible. For instance, it's likely that 4 (or however many) guns will adequately handle 90% of scenarios. Yes, there will be that 10% where we fall short but that 10% also drives the cost beyond reason.

      I'm also looking at the trade off in space (both deck and magazine) and weight for extra guns versus space for other equipment like VLS cells. I judge it to be more beneficial to have fewer secondary guns and more "other" stuff.

      All that said, if you believe that the most likely scenarios call for 6 guns (or whatever number) as opposed to 4, I can't really argue. My main design point was that we don't need the 10 dual 5" mounts that the WWII Iowas had.

      I also have no particular problem with a 155 mm gun, if we had one that worked, versus a 5". There's not that much difference between them.

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  4. A capital ship without an organic helo det is useless. Makes little sense to not have a scout.

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    1. Useless? Why don't you try again and this time be a bit more specific about what shortcomings the lack of a helo creates. Also, before you do, you might want to carefully reread the post section that dealt with the rationale for the lack of a hangar/helo.

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    2. This is why the last actions of the Iowa-class utilized drones. A well designed drone will be significantly more useful in actual combat than a helicopter would be.

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  5. NavWeaps had this survey article of torpedo defense systems that different navies employed. It ends with a list of torpedo/mine attacks.

    http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-047.htm

    Given one or torpedoes are enough to damage a rudder or propeller, a modern battleship must have active defenses like anti-torpedo torpedos.

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    1. I agree. A modern capital ship should have an anti-torpedo defense system that includes a "hard-kill" intercept capability, something along the lines of the Russian Paket-NK or UDAV-1 systems.

      Paket-NK uses a 324mm torpedo that is designed to intercept other torpedoes. It has a secondary anti-submarine capability. UDAV-1 uses an RBU type launcher that uses decoys to draw the torpedo into a trap and then drops influence mines all around that go off when the torpedo approaches within a set distance, destroying or disabling the torpedo through shock effect. Existing RBU's can be retrofitted with similar capabilities. The RBU-6000 system even has rounds that can act as depth charges or anti-torpedo mines depending on what the target is.

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  6. Since you last posting on this, which I have re-read a few times, I have thought about this subject more, and try to logically come up with something more realistic then my last post and affordable. I also looked up past designs to see what could be modernized into something useful.

    The ship I picture that could be a "modern" battleship looks similar to the Dunkerque class armed with 16in 3x2 turret configurations. I do not feel having a third turret aft is necessary except as a redundancy. The Armor can be concentrated further without increasing weight. In addition Aft space is free up for helo capability for limited resupply or other needs. (There truly needs to be a capability developed to rearm or change out our missiles to fit mission needs, at sea.) In addition, I agree with your assessment that much reduced secondary armament is fine compared to WW2 standards along with the Anti-Air and missile loadout.

    For sensors, I was wondering if maybe some sort of some tow aerial blimp could be deployed to increase target acquisition range, hangered aft, in addition to sensors mounted directly to the ship?

    Further more, I noticed Blueback mention foam filled bulges. Currently, technological to mass produce metal foam, which reportedly offers kinetic and blast protection similar to composite armor at reduced weight. Alternatively, older ships tended to store coal or fuel on the port & starboards center to increase that protection against torpedoes for the "citadel" and for survivability purposes I see nothing wrong with, if designed properly.

    For service ability we should design a the aft superstructure in a way to be dismantled and removed dockside to service the powerplant, which in turn should be designed to be easily removed and replaced without reducing reliability as much as possible. Speed should not be a driving force in its design as was the LCS.

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    1. "I do not feel having a third turret aft is necessary"

      Just bear in mind the weight issue. The 16" turrets were massively heavy. Having two forward and none aft might produce an unacceptable weight distribution. I'm not sure. Just speculation on my part. If one wanted only two turrets, it might be better to have one forward and one aft. Of course, that negates some of the space savings. Hey, nothings easy in ship design!

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    2. "aft superstructure in a way to be dismantled "

      Bear in mind that in a true, armored battleship the decks form an armored plate, in essence. Penetrations are minimized for obvious reasons. Having a designed in "opening" into the bowels of the ship might prove a fatal design when bombs and missiles start hitting!

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    3. Removing the aft turret also creates space to carry extra fuel, some of which could be off-loaded to other ships. Indeed, some of the conversion ideas involved replacing the aft turret with aviation facilities to carry helicopters and/or Harriers. Which would also require storage tanks for aviation fuel.

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    4. Also, reasonably, you are probably looking at IEP for a battleship sized ship, which means that the engines themselves and be relatively small with just more of them allowing easier replacement.

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    5. " The 16" turrets were massively heavy. Having two forward and none aft might produce an unacceptable weight distribution."

      Sounds like he's thinking of a modern day Nelson class.

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    6. If we are dispensing with massive speed requirements, I think that we would do well to look at a turbo-electric design like some of the Standards. The benefits for compartmentalization are still valid, I think.

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    7. "Standards"

      ?? I'm missing the reference. What are they?

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    8. Sorry. I'm thinking the Standard battleships; specifically the Tennessee class.

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    9. Normally the 'weather' deck wasnt the true armoured deck, it was normally 1 or 2 decks below that, covering the top of the boilers, and was joined to the top of the external armour to provide a u shaped box between the main gun turrets. The rear was normally only amoured just above the steering gear

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  7. Thoughts on equipping the battleship v.2
    All captains have been with reason paranoid about ship being torpedoed. The DOT&E is reporting the Navy is making progress with the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) System, Torpedo Warning System (TWS) and Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo (CAT) being developed to defend against incoming threat torpedoes for the CVNs, so an addition to your modern battleship v.2.

    Secondly "Strike. A battleship’s purpose is to hit hard with overwhelming firepower. Part of that firepower will consist of Tomahawk cruise missiles // would provide a significant long range strike capability."
    Do not understand the love of the Tomahawk its basically an 80s warmed over V1 and 80% + of them were shot down by Allies over England 1944/5, so presuming with modern AA systems and missiles China and Russia would have a turkey shoot of any Tomahawks. A better choice would be the ballistic Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS) or the shorter ranged GMLRS.

    http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2016/pdf/navy/2016sstd_tws_cat.pdf

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    1. "Do not understand the love of the Tomahawk"

      No one "loves" it, least of all me. It's simply the only long range naval strike weapon that exists, at the moment. What else did you expect me to spec for the task????

      Don't read more into what's stated than there is!

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    2. I think that's a little harsh. The V1 doesn't have the ground hugging capablility of the tactical tomahawk. I'm not saying its perfect, but again, its what we have right now.

      If we build this ship and make the VLS for it, we can always, in the life of the ship, design a missile or improve LRASM or Tomahawk Blck IV to be longer ranged/more survivable.

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    3. My thoughts would be a AEW&C aircraft should have no problems in finding and identifying a ground hugging Tomahawk Blk 4. The latest littoral surveillance radar, the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) being trialed on the P8A uses multi-function moving target detection and tracking with high resolution ground mapping at long range. The AAS radar can detect and track moving target in MTI mode, on shore or at sea at the same time with extremely high resolution synthetic aperture (SAR) and inverse synthetic aperture (ISAR). In SAR mode the AAS provides picture like synthetic radar imagery of both inland and ocean areas at the same time and offer fine enough resolution that targets could be further investigated and classified.
      I'm sure the equivalent Chinese and Russian radars have similar capabilities plus an IRST and can't imagine many problems in finding and tracking a 550 mph Tomahawk to even using a 50/60s era MiG 21 to shoot it down if they had any left.

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    4. "can't imagine many problems in finding and tracking a 550 mph Tomahawk"

      So maybe we should shoot two missiles, just to be safe?

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    5. I wonder how cheap we can make the Tomahawk. If we got it cheap enough with the same relative abilities why not shoot 10? It would be nice to be on the cheaper side of the price/capability curve for once.

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  8. Having the VLS packs will complicate the armor situation as compared to the Iowas. They were designed as the epitome of the "all or nothing" armor concept: a heavily armored citadel that was essentially impenetrable to armored piercing rounds at the most likely distances of engagement, with the rest of the ship lightly armored. The key observation was that armor that didn't protect the key systems (propulsion, magazines, turrets) was wasted extra weight. The armored citadel was then designed to have enough buoyancy to keep the rest of the ship afloat, even if it was full of holes.

    Since a VLS pack is full of explosives and rocket fuel (just more explosives) it would have to be treated as either part of the magazine (and thus necessitate a much larger, heavier, and more complex armored citadel), or as part of the lightly armored portion of the ship. But in that case you'd have to space them out in such a way that they "blew out" without unduly impacting your ability to steer (a ship without a nose is going to have a hard time going the direction you want) or destroy all the secondary systems on your BB.

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    1. You can't carry explosive weapons without a corresponding risk of them exploding. The only way to totally avoid the risk is to not carry any weapons in which case, what's the point of the ship?

      So, accepting the risk, the only remaining question is how best to place and armor the weapons. That's a naval architecture question that I'm not qualified to answer. My amateur solution would be to set the VLS into an armored "box" and let the VLS blow up with the bulk of the force vented upward, unrestrained, into the open air. Whether that's practical is, again, a question for naval designers.

      We solved a more challenging version of this issue with the 16" guns and their magazines. I see no reason why we can't reach a reasonable solution for the simpler VLS which has no deeply penetrating magazine and movement system.

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    2. Agreed, but by retaining the same scale of gun armament, the armored portion would have to be much bigger (and heavier) than the corresponding Iowa, sans VLS systems. Additionally, unlike the guns, the top of the VLS system has to remain entirely unarmored by definition.

      To protect the VLS systems from any real threat externally wouldn't be practical since the top has to be open. The question then becomes how much armor is needed to protect the ship from an exploding VLS box. Trying to armor 5 sides of the cube from this kind of explosion might be excessively heavy and impractical. Placing the VLS on the port and starboard sides of the armored citadel itself might allow the citadel to function as one side of the armored box, and then simply not armor the other sides. Then the system would blow out, away from the ship.

      Then the question is, how many (expensive) Tomahawks are you willing to stick in a largely unarmored box on the side of what will presumably be a fire magnet.

      Delete
    3. How many (expensive) aircraft are we willing to stick in a largely unarmored carrier which will presumably be a fire magnet?

      Hey, we can "timid" ourselves right out of the navy business or we can recognize and accept the risk, design ships to deal with that risk to the extent reasonably possible, develop operations and tactics to minimize the risk, and go about our business. You choose. There's always risk.

      Delete
    4. To be honest why would we have install vls or tomahawk missiles on a battleship? We have an overabundance of ships that are equiped that if the need arises for their use, the bb escorts can launch one. Instead of equipping tomahawk, we develop a sub calibre round for the main batterys. This is niche ship design to solve a few things well and cheaply. Further more it can be smaller then most battleships have been historically with the reductions in secondary, antiair weapons systems needed to defend the ship. I feel mission is already a major issue with most military projects today, so let's develop a simple as possible platform with just the systems it needs to perform it's required tasks.

      Delete
    5. Meant to say mission creep.

      Delete
    6. "why would we have install vls or tomahawk missiles on a battleship?"

      That's a completely valid question. Here's my rationale: the Burkes/Ticos are intended to be AAW platforms. Every VLS cell that's loaded with a Tomahawk takes away from the main mission of AAW. Loading Tomahawks on the BB allows the Burkes/Ticos to maximize their main function.

      Let me also reply by asking you, what percentage of the AAW VLS cells of the escorts would you be willing to sacrifice to Tomahawks?

      Delete
    7. I think we're talking past one another. I'm not suggesting "Well we can't protect the VLS systems so why even bother to have a ship!"

      Seems to me, if you're going to bother to put 10,000 tons of armor on a ship, you're expecting it to take hits. More importantly, that's 10,000 tons that aren't going to something else.

      Having 64 Tomahawks in VLS packs may overly complicate the armor scheme, and will definitely involve trade offs that will get in the way of the primary purpose of the ship: get in close, utilize the main armament, take hits, keep fighting. Every ton of armor that is used to protect the VLS (or the ship from the catastrophic failure of the VLS) is a ton not used to protect the main magazine and turbines. It's a functionally zero sum game. The original move towards the all or nothing approach was that you could not reasonably achieve the necessary protection across the ship. Either you bothered to armor it to the full extent of the threat, or you didn't armor it at all. Half armored area were as vulnerable as non-armored areas but also came with the added weight penalty. Further, the desire to keep those VLS cells safe may operationally hamstring the BB.

      Since the BB can't see 750nm, and is intended primarily to fight at 20-30nm, and you'll have a hard time armoring the strike VLS systems, why not just put the Tomahawks elsewhere. Either on the ship with the sensor, or a ship that isn't intending to get into knife fighting range with the enemy while carrying a sniper rifle around. The self defense VLS systems make more sense to me. Part of the layered defense that backs up the ship's core purpose, and is worth the risk if designed in intelligently (in blow out panels or some similar configuration). Deep strike against far inland targets (on your proposed platform) just doesn't seem worth the trade off in degraded armor around the core systems.

      While some would say, a ship that can't shoot at all past 30nm is useful only in a made up scenario of Marines storming the beaches, I'm not so sure. On this blog you've repeatedly raised the issue of the fragility of modern sensors. What's true of AEGIS is almost certainly also true of our competitors. What happens when everyone's wonder radars are down? Even if you've still got all of your stealth/supersonic/sea skimming anti-ship missiles you have to see the enemy. So then what? You'll have to close with and defeat an enemy that is no longer over the horizon. Heavily armored, heavily armed, ships designed to shoot only as far as they can see will then be needed.

      Delete
    8. "why not just put the Tomahawks elsewhere. Either on the ship with the sensor"

      There is no sensor for Tomahawks. They are given fixed coordinates for known points.

      If the Navy resurrects the anti-ship version of Tomahawk then, yes, there would have to be a sensor in the loop.

      Delete
    9. "Every ton of armor that is used to protect the VLS (or the ship from the catastrophic failure of the VLS) "

      You seem to be assuming that the VLS require two foot thick, solid steel, armor belts able to shrug off any possible weapon. It may be that a bit of Kevlar is adequate to reduce the threat acceptably. I have no idea what a reasonable degree of protection is. We can't armor to the point of zero risk. If the ship takes a hit from a massive missile and that hit happens to be directly on a VLS cluster - well, you're just going to have to call that a bad day.

      Also, remember that by removing 10x5" dual mounts, we'll save a lot of weight - weight that can go towards armored VLS or whatever else we want. It could be that that trade is a net positive in terms of weight savings. I have no idea.

      Delete
    10. "Deep strike against far inland targets (on your proposed platform) just doesn't seem worth the trade off in degraded armor around the core systems."

      That's fine. I disagree but that's a valid opinion. Note, though, that deep strike was one of the three core missions I listed for this vessel. Of those three missions, shore bombardment would be a less likely occurrence. Removing one of the two remaining core missions pretty much invalidates the need for a modern battleship altogether, at least as I've described the need. So, basically what you're saying is that you see no need for a modern battleship. As I said, that's fine. I count that as a valid contribution to the discussion.

      Delete
    11. Or likewise you could design them in such a way as to direct a vls detonation away from critical systems, similar to the way a main battle tank ammo storage is designed to direct cook offs away from the crew.

      Delete
    12. "... VLS ... have to space them out in such a way that they "blew out" without unduly impacting your ability to steer (a ship without a nose is going to have a hard time going the direction you want) or destroy all the secondary systems on your BB."

      Upgraded BB design studies have already been conducted that place the VLS on raised decks so as not to penetrate the main armor deck (which is not the weather deck, as someone else pointed out). What degree of armor protection the VLS were given in the various design studies, I don't know.

      Delete
  9. With the request for naval gunfire support it makes sense to bring these assault ships back. However if we play what if can we also bring back the slow monitors?

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    1. It's all about force structure. There are multiple ways to approach any task. We could provide gun support via a modern battleship or via a monitor or via a navalized MLRS "barge" or any of a number of other approaches.

      The advantage of a battleship over a monitor is that the battleship can provide several other functions, as outlined in the post, whereas a monitor does one task and one only. The flip side, of course, is cost. If we want to break the battleship into a monitor ship and then build a Tomahawk missile ship to pick up the long range strike mission and build an anti-surface warfare ship to pick up that mission then, sure, we don't need to go the battleship route. However, if you have to build three, less survivable, single function ships to replace the battleship, have you saved any money or gained any benefit? Maybe, maybe not.

      It's all about having a comprehensive, cohesive force structure.

      Delete
  10. Its a possibility, if we re-create the ability to make the large naval rifles. But a monitor is by definition something you use against non peers. At least naval non peers.

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    1. Just to offer some perspective, the US Navy in WWII salvaged the old battleships from Pearl Harbor and reconditioned them to act as shore bombardment and gun support ships - essentially, monitors. They were slow and underarmored for the day (like a monitor) and they were never intended to fight naval battles in that guise although circumstances dictated otherwise, at least once. So, those old battleships were near-monitors, at least as far as their intended usage.

      History offers lots of interesting lessons, examples, and perspectives for us to learn from!

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    2. I guess this exercises best lessons is to keep your force structure varied and potent, while retaining the ability to make changes as situations demand. This is because at the end of the day the way we won in WW2 was to learn the hard lessons which invariably come with war, and apply those lessons fast for maximum results. Even if tool/ship we are using is used for a mission beyond that envisioned when it was conceptualized and produced.

      I Guess gunny sergeant said it best in the movie heart break ridge. "Adapt and overcome"

      Delete
  11. I find it interesting that almost all the comments are about the survivability of the new BB facing all these threats, old and new but very little discussion on the offensive capability and damage it would do to other ships and land targets....why are we so worried about "losing" one (already!) when a new concept BB would provide the fleet with something that packs this much punch without using CVN air-power and would make any opposing navy wonder what to do in the first place!

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    1. Your observation is on point and all the more interesting because of the emphasis in the post on offense!

      Delete
    2. I believe the reason the survivability of the platform is being discussed more is it is the most uncertain. Shooting a bullet or missile if completely in our control. And as long as the platform survives we can control how we deliver munitions.

      However, the platform has to survive and that is OUT of our control because there are existing and new things out there that could if it is not designed correctly put this pretty platform on the bottom.

      Advancing cavalry and infantry better worry about where the machine guns and tanks are or they are not much use.

      Delete
    3. I have a different take on the tendency to focus on survivability. I think we've forgotten what war is which means we've forgotten that nothing is 100% survivable in war. Decades of low intensity "combat" has conditioned us to believe that we can conduct wars without losses. It has made us timid. If we see the slightest chance of a platform being destroyed, we balk and moan. We've forgotten that there is no gain without risk. We've forgotten that the price of war is destruction. Survival and avoidance of casualties has become the main mission objective in most of our conflicts. We've forgotten that winning is supposed to be the main mission and that that is accomplished through the application of massive offensive firepower. We've forgotten how to WIN a war.

      The closely related corollary to this is that our platforms, be they aircraft or ships, have gotten so expensive that we shudder at the thought of losing even one - and rightly so. We need to seriously rethink our distribution of cost across our force structure.

      Delete
    4. I agree with you in general but on this topic discussion I believe discussion had not gotten to cost and risk aversion.

      Risk aversion can be mitigated by 2 steps. First grow some fighting Captains (your separate posts). Second, make assets less expensive and do it so they survive at least first contact with the enemy.

      The second point is what I have been talking about. Are there new ways to construct this ship so that it can survive a couple of blows, keep fighting, and not turn turtle to make a PR nightmare?

      As these methods are identified, COST has to be a major factor in the decision making. You have noted repeatedly in posts that assets are so limited because they are so expensive that we do not use them and are terrified of losing one. It also is the result of using new expensive unproven technology to solve everything.

      For this ship time to go back to simpler, cheaper, more robust, easier to build, etc.

      Think of it as an opportunity to make the A-10 of ships!!

      Delete
    5. "COST has to be a major factor in the decision making."

      Your comment is, overall, quite reasonable. I'll offer this one caution about cost. Cost is not the driving force in ship/aircraft/weapon design. Requirements (derived from operational and tactical needs) are the driving force. It does no good to have an affordable platform that has no operational or tactical utility (LCS!). Cost is "a" factor but not "the" factor. I think you get that but I'm just making it crystal clear for all readers.

      Delete
    6. "Are there new ways to construct this ship "

      This is a discussion forum so go ahead and speculate. What new ways do you see as possibilities?

      Delete
    7. My first idea was the double hull filled with ablative material. I really like someone post about the outer layer of steel being thinner (I would say 1-2") and the inner layer being thicker armor. Still way under the old 16" armor belt and could go over the entire hull/deck. I would also offset the ablative compartments with the inner ones so that you get more strength to the outer hull form for moving after hits.

      Also I would look at all electric drive now that DDG 1000 has figured out some things. I would look at pods for the screws. This would allow you to distribute the gas turbines to several smaller spaces and remove the rear end rudder/screw vulnerability. Those are just off the cuff mechanical/drive ideas to improve survivability.

      The goal here is to take at least one ASCM hit on each side and still be able to fire.

      That does bring up the vulnerability of the AEGIS radar. This needs a lot of work. If misaligned on the Port Royal made it useless, then we need a more robust system. Someone with more knowledge of that needs to chime in.

      Delete
    8. I like your ideas, at least in concept. Whether they would be practical and useful is something I'll leave to naval engineers to decide. Regardless of the specifics, your idea (and mine!) is to make more of an effort to armor ships than the Navy has done in the last few decades. What exact form that takes, I don't know.

      The combat resilience of the Aegis system is a major unanswered question. It would make a LOT of sense to take one of the Aegis cruisers that the Navy is so eager to get rid of (idiots!) and set it up for remote control and then launch a saturation attack at it and see what it can do and how much damage it can sustain and still function.

      Delete
    9. "My first idea was the double hull filled with ablative material. I really like someone post about the outer layer of steel being thinner (I would say 1-2")"

      we might have to do something like this, as well as extensive use of whatever HY is comparable to STS.

      I don't believe that we have the ability to crank out 12" armor anymore.

      Delete
  12. Gun-Range should matter !
    A 20nm range 'Land-Attack BB' ?
    16" 50-cal guns did not do much more than that.
    And that does not make for much of anything 'land-attack'. Advancing Marines would soon be out of that protection.

    Modern 155mm/6" howitzers can reach out to 30nm, readily from a shoot-&-scoot mindset. Lots of agility to find weaknesses in this BB. You'd start with the masts, comms, sensors (radar), to produce a blundering lumbering half- or fully-blind giant.

    Then modest but super-quiet diesel/fuel-cell SSK aims torpedoes to first take out the rudders and props ('Bismarck')...

    A very large trophy-item to put into the Littorals.

    In the meantime USMC is aggressively kicking options to achieve OTH-200, Over-The-Horizon from 200nm.
    Their concerns are advances in shore-defenses and by inherent geometries ever-shrinking maneuvering-room for large valuable ships. At WEST 2014 CMC Amos floated the idea of 200nm amphibious assault distance. A month later EF-21 for the first time begins to place the ARG-MEU 65nm offshore due to the littoral constraints/threats, and once the leapt out of the 6-20nm mind-set, going out further becomes conceivable - as in OTH-200.

    Unless that 16" system features a 21st-century mix of range-enhancing attributes to haul that sub-compact car-equivalent weight of the projectile much much farther, we are bound to find drone-based footage on Russia Today/Al Jazeera/etc. on how sitting 10nm from shore this 'can' was opened with low-tech, very mobile, and abundant-since-cheap land-based assets.

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    1. Almost forgot:
      ComNavOps stated " The modern battleship will always be escorted by Aegis destroyers...".

      Any (fragile) DDG-asset this close inshore ?

      Delete
    2. In terms of the 16-inch gun's range don't forget this will be a new gun with new ammo even if the engineering and overall design were the same. Better steel alloys, better powder creating a better pressure curve can add say 5-10% to performance.
      And of course there can be sabot projectiles. Instead of a rougkly 1-ton standard shell, you could have a half-ton 8 inch shell in a sabot that is still going to do a lot of damage, or a rocket assisted shell.
      They could (should) also carry tomahawks. Perhaps in a peripheral system like the Zumwalt so as not to take away turret space.

      You would then have layered ranges of firepower as the BB comes in. A first strike against radars with the tomahawks at far range (a strike joined in by escorting Burkes). Then it gets in closer and unleashes rocket assisted/Sabot rounds, and finally as the Marines are about to hit the beach, hammer it with metric tonne 16 rounds that can be anything from HE to bunker-busting APHE, to something terrifying like a thermobaric warhead to incinerate a good portion of the beach. And when the beach is secured the BB can then get as close as their draft allows and provide inland fire support.
      And of course not only will the BB have escorts and it's own massive protection, but will have navy/marine air cover, perhaps USAF B-1's hitting AAW targets, EF-18's jamming, and drones providing artillery spotting for the BB. The fragile DDG will be providing AAW with a radar system and missiles that have a very long range of their own.

      The BB is meant to take and give damage, but no naval ship operates alone to take out an island. They are part of a combined arms operation of multiple pieces. It's a big useful piece of a puzzle not the Death Star sitting of a coast

      Delete
    3. Unlike the MARINES with OTH-100-200+ on their mind in light of unarguable threat-realities inshore,
      you are willing
      - to show up with what sounds like a sizable force in the too-close-for-comfort confines of the Littorals,
      - thus give up all possibilities of tactical advances from surprise,
      - assume pricey and rare assets to risk self-sacrifice in these tight waters,
      - give up - due to now 22+nm range - any tactical advantage due to the very narrow radius of your gun-fire,
      - while on the current track of Amphib-Acquisition there just won't be any ship-to-shore capability to even bring just the small 2200-folks MEU to the shore in any plausible manner, since current ship-building plans are giving up 1.3 stature miles (!!) of badly-need USMC-reason-for-living-defining well-deck length...

      Hence the ongoing and intensifying focus from USMC on this matter. With USN-Amphib Ship-Building Plans - who needs enemies ?


      For IFS, better figure on how to fire 8" EXCALIBUR rounds off LCU-size in-your-face close-in shore-bombardment in its own shot-&-scoot mode to frustrate reverse battery. If 155mm/6" howitzers can reach 30nm, could 203mm/8" touch 40nm ? 155mm arti has been fired off LCU.

      Coming from OTH-200, these IFS-assets could be all over the place, significantly broadening the tactically-effective radius of the fire (versus e.g. the one BB)

      And, any LCU should be able to launch a series of 160+nm-range 24" diameter N-ATACMS from just outside tank-gun-, mortar-, RPG-ranges.
      for a net range of 150nm ! Versus <10nm from the BB.

      DDG-missile numbers are limited - plus no more at-sea reloading capacity these days (!) - and do not offer anything like ATACMS range... - even if DDG dared to come in as close as possible to extend their limited reach on land.

      In your universe, the whole kitchen-sink incl. CSGs, even B1s (?!) is being thrown around to make up for a 22nm-gun-limitation ?


      All this while not being able to land Marines under anything but peace-time HA/DR conditions ?!


      I would have more respect for the Marines' mission. They are in the business of doing what USN can't and certainly not US Army can.

      Hence their growing motivation to not rely on either USN or US-A to get these vital things done. 2-3 decades of 'Sleepy-Hollow' indifference to that STOM/OMFTS/Ship-to-shore USMC mind-set is a stark historic failure. It seems that concentrated focus on at long last addressing this capabilities-gap may be underfoot.

      This is all a bit like the old boot-camp-lessons infantry-principle that a tank is little good without Infantry, and vice versa. BB is one vulnerable 'tank' in a nasty neighborhood full of tank-traps. Sending more 'tanks' may not resolve the challenge...

      Delete
    4. In the meantime USMC is aggressively kicking options to achieve OTH-200, Over-The-Horizon from 200nm.

      That thought happens to help make the arguement for a BB relevant. A hard hitting, long ranged gun/missile platform is needed to deal with the support of the troops already ashore while the second wave makes the 400 mile trek back and forth. That first wave will be on the beach nigh going on a week before the second waves show up

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    5. Ahh, numbers ?!

      200nm ship to shore = 10-12hrs at 20kts. One dusk-to-dawn cycle.

      Plus 10-12 hrs run back empty.
      Makes for 20-24hrs cycles.

      Plus another 10-12 hrs = 30-36 hrs for the next GCE-batch if not already CSE.

      If we'd invest in those 1.3 statute-miles of well-deck we are bound to lose with e.g. LX(R,)
      wed be looking at 4-5-ship ARG-MEUs with 2-3 LCU-'trucks' hauling Connectors like LCU-F. 12-18 LCU-F on 2-3 LSD-41/21 would be good for 12-18 times 200 tons (= max. conceivable 3600-tons per Assault-Wave) in Ground Combat Element (GCE) tracked , rolling and waking assets.

      So, you'd look at a 24 hrs cycle per wave upon first landings - not a week.

      There has been some discussion on this here and elsewhere, plus in magazine-print, Whitepapers etc.

      Delete
    6. Trudy, you have a tendency to ignore facts that don't fit your narrative. For example, the vast majority of likely military targets lie within 20 miles of a coast - you've undoubtedly seen the same surveys I have. Thus, the range of a naval gun is adequate for the vast majority of scenarios. If we need to provide explosive support further inland, well, that's what artillery and aircraft are for. We don't fight with just a single platform.

      You're also inconsistent in your logic. As you painfully know full well, we have no over the horizon amphibious assault capability because we have no first wave landing craft that can operate more than a couple miles offshore. You brush past that with your pet LCU-F. That's fine. Nothing wrong with imagining a new platform - heck, that's what this post is about. However, you then utterly fail to credit a BB with an imagined enhanced gun range despite the fact that a great deal of actual experimental work has been done on exactly that and enhanced ranges are readily achievable, if we so desired. Be consistent in your logic and your overall points will be more credible.

      You deride the Burkes as fragile, which is true, without also acknowledging that they are the most sophisticated and effective AAW system ever made and are fully capable of standing in close and defending themselves.

      Trudy, you're adding noise to the conversation rather than objective analysis. If you wish to continue commenting, you need to make your comments more objective, logical, and fact based. You have much to offer but you need to up your game.

      Delete
    7. Was the assumption stated up-front that we are dealing with a new, say 40nm+range, 16" system ? Any proposed specifications ?

      From any stand-off distance of 10nm, currently you'd just have a 10nm reach inland with proven technology, suggesting limited utility of BB-2017 so far.

      Until I raised 'range', priorities of discussions here were on 'other' matters rather than the plain actual potency of the BB's signature main-battery.

      After DDG-1000 LRAP's departure, only a main-battery-development policy-reversal would suggest appetite for further big-bore/larger range developments. Three mega-cost ships, with 'signature-guns' and no 'land-attack' ammo ??
      If those ships can be hamstrung by this much based on 'cost' where would be the will for new 16" 2500+-tons (all-up) gun-system ?
      Of course, that should not keep us from pursuing interesting options.
      In that spirit, any recent public data-sets on upgrades to the old 2500-tons triple-barrel system-suite ?


      No need to repeat DDG-51's capabilities, but they are a fat and vulnerable target anywhere near a BB 10nm close inshore.


      As to 'pet' LCU-F, one new Thread - apart from one on those mid-1930s 45kts (actual !) well-armed French destroyers versus LCS-thinking - would be why there are still no plausible offerings of a 200-tons/20knots Connector by the 'big' players in early 2017 ?
      Or anyone from anywhere ?
      Still no news out of the 2014 open-door ONR RFI on 'Connectors' issued to all and sundry ??

      Within USN at least LCU-F has been around as a challenge since 2005, in public since mid-'13.
      And since basic heavy-lift USMC-needs have apparently not mattered across 30+ years of USN ship-to-shore-lift programs, you've had as many years of careers of earnest professional USMC folks off all ranks who've never even been offered the plausible technical option of Full-GCE First Wave amphibious assault.
      Good candidate for a Thread right there.


      Another one would be on casually giving up said 1.3 miles of well-deck length.
      Under 'you-read-it-here-first', LPD-17- bones-based shorty-well-deck LX-R will be the next LCS/F-35/XYZ-type major Acquisition-Scandal.

      Why ?
      Because buying mega-cost 189-foot well-deck LX-Rs to replace 440-foot well-deck LSD-41s will once and for all shut down any USMC hopes to ever organically carry any First Wave capability.

      And that will essentially reduce the Marines' actual tactically-plausible amphibious wherewithal to a rather cynical minor formality with very little future under Budget-Hawks, fit for at best HA/DR scenarios, for which thin-skinned unarmored black-bottom ship will do just fine.
      Hence some imaginative ('desperate ?') ruminating about somehow leveraging those 15knots (burst-speed) coastal-tanker-based MLPs. Next to a 22+kts LHD ??

      As you track Ship-to-Shore matters as we speak, none of this is 'noise'.
      I'd support any cranky USMC-vet getting crankier yet politically on this ugly spectacle.


      Another Thread: How many Marines would actually want to take LCAC/($55 mill. SSC into a hot Landing-Zone ? Even if they were rated for that purpose, that is...


      So, what 16" range are you hoping for ?
      And why would any adversary not place hardened infrastructure just outside that 10+-make-it-20nm (actual inland-reach) gun range ?
      Of course, to match Distributed Lethality, perhaps more of the old distributed defense C-2+-everything defense approach...?

      Delete
    8. I'm shocked Ray D hasn't jumped in on this.

      Delete
  13. A double hull was mentioned earlier, and while it would NOT replace a genuine armor belt and armored decks, it could be a very good addition, especially if it covers the entire hull, not just a double bottom. This could detonate anti-ship missiles (and lighter weapons like RPG’s) and then the inner hull would have the actual armor belt. It would also add some protection vs torpedoes or mines as they could break the outer hull and thus absorb the blast without cracking the vital inner hull. It would also of course give some extra buoyancy .

    You could also add in some last ditch active countermeasures like the Israeli Trophy and Iron Fist systems used successfully to protect tanks. While they would be less effective against something like a Brahmos missile, they could cause premature detonation or damage of an incoming missile. Think of this: A cruise missile would have to make it past the Standard missile of Burke escorts, then the ESSM of the BB, then seaRAM/CIWS and if it does so it now would get hit by the trophy-style system which if successful weakens the attack which now hits an outer hull and then what little power is left hits the armor belt of the inner hull. If all these active measures fail hit hits a steel outer hull which either detonates it before it gets to the inner hull, or at least takes out a lot of kinetic energy and then what is left hits the armor belt. That is a pretty well protected beast.

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  14. I second NICO's comment - what I find refreshing about discussions and thought experiments like this thread is the serious exploration of providing OFFENSIVE firepower, as opposed to the preponderance of defensive thinking that comes from normal Navy channels.

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  15. We forget the sheer volume of fire at cost per round big guns give. A battery of 6 M270's firing ATACMs has a longer range but that's 6 warheads of 500lbs each (3000 lbs)with a 3-4 minute reload time and at 725k each would be 4.3 million dollars For that single salvo.
    The old 16 inch Mark 7 could fire 1-ton projectiles at 2 per minute. So a 3 minute salvo from the Missouri would put 54,000 lbs of explosive on target before the M270 finished reloading.And it cost what? A 155 HE is about $450 according to the internet, since the 16 inch is 20 times larger we'll assume the cost to be 30 times more per round. That's a whopping 13,500 dollars. A lot, but cheaper than ANY guided missile or smart munition we might use.
    And remember, that is with a 70+ year old design. If the loading process could be better automated you might get 3 rpm or higher.

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    1. - GMLRS is guided.
      - Range between 10 and 160nm.
      - Plus a variety of warheads to address the given situation.
      - With two+ launchers on hand you can fire de facto continuously, assuming a stash of 2x3 reload-boxes.
      - Three crew per launcher.

      - No guidance for that 16-incher.
      - Very limited range for the initial and on-going (staffing) cost.
      - Massive systems-weight at 2500 tons first and last.
      - Plus way more folks necessary to run the gun than it takes to drive a 100,000-tons container-ship.

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    2. "Range between 10 and 160nm."

      You fail to note that the max range is only achieved at the expense of fewer rounds per launcher. The ATACMS can only fit two per launcher.

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    3. "No guidance for that 16-incher."

      Where did the notion that guidance is mandatory for all weapons come from? One of the benefits of naval guns is cheap, unguided, area bombardment. You don't need guidance when you're carving out 50 m craters!

      Guidance is like anything else - nice to have for certain tasks but hardly mandatory.

      We've forgotten that real war is pretty indiscriminate. We're going to someday rue the loss of high explosive, area bombardment.

      Delete
    4. "Plus way more folks necessary to run the gun than it takes to drive a 100,000-tons container-ship."

      What an irrelevant comparison! It takes more people to operate a 16" gun than to drive a car, too, so I guess we should be driving cars around the battlefield.

      Delete
    5. Trudy, I'm going to delete future comments from you unless you vastly improve your objectivity, balance, and logic so as to make a worthwhile contribution.

      Delete
    6. And 2x3 is a reference to the MLRS/GMLRS/HIMARS box geometry for 6 9" x 11' projectiles.

      You can carry as many of those as your craft has magazine-volume associated with each launcher. Lots of it on a 40-60,000 hull.

      Since a 12-rounds loaded MLRS incl. tracked carrier underneath it weighs in a about 25 metric tons.

      Subtract 12x 9" rounds at max 700lbs each, or 4 metric tons plus 1000lbs for the (2x3) munitions-box/cartridge you might get to 4.5 tons of weight. Leaving 20+ tons for the vehicle.

      With 8400lbs max per 12x 9" missiles - versus 5,000,000lbs per 16" turret - we could carry some 1200 boxes at 6x for 7200 guided 9" rounds just for the weight of that 16" triple turret.
      And that includes the 2x3 storage box weight.

      Or we'd carry 1350 24" ATACMS, again, guided.

      That is only counting the turret - not ammo, or crew-space for habitation etc.

      If you then add up the weight of each 16" projectile, the separate propellant-charges, by the time all is said and done, the 16 incher would seem forever behind,
      - in terms of precision - versus wasted shots -,
      - in terms of necessary 'dumb' rounds to make up for their inherent handicap.

      Yes, per round, each shot may seem cheaper. However
      - per shot,
      - plus cost of ship-structure to support each shot,
      - plus cost for man-power to get the show on the road,
      eye-watering numbers emerge.

      And there always is the too-many-eggs-in-one-BB-basket so close to shore with little room or agility to evade.

      Delete
    7. The BB idea is obviously an 'evergreen', very tempting to periodically revisit. Heck, the surviving BBs keep 'winking' at folks. Including at me a few years back, standing next to USS OLYMPIA and seeing USS NEW JERSEY across the river.

      But the BB discussion is indeed contextual, primarily in the available other forms of delivering this type ordinance, which was scant - never mind mega rail-road guns - when BB's first emerged with as many big-bore barrels as doable per given hull, starting likely in earnest with the UK "Dreadnoughts"; lets ask BB-historians.


      Today, for the cost of gun-system-related necessary structure to just float that massive turret-structure, and the necessary man-power, one could indeed throw a lot of 'smart' munitions with near 'surgical' precision much farther.

      E.g. MLRS is de facto 'navalized' since USMC went for the 6-tube HIMARS (MLRS-'halfling') mounted to a 6-wheeled truck.

      ATACMS (N-ATACMS) has been around for coming up on 20 years, proven in IRAQ-2, and at 3700lbs on 24” x 13’ amounts to an impressive missile, incl. leaving the atmosphere. Mach-3 speed, etc etc.

      What counter-battery to this on its final actively-controlled – unlike a ballistic missile - approach from this far away ?

      Which current USN on-board hardware does this ?

      Nothing wrong with taking advantage of economies-of-scale by piggy-backing on USA(and other clients) -production runs.
      While not anymore in the current 16th edition of USNI’s Combat Fleets, e.g, the 2005-6 issue discusses NATACMS.

      Manufacturer’s PR here: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed/data/mfc/pc/atacms-block-1a-unitary/mfc-atacms-block-1a-unitary-pc.pdf

      You’ve seen this on US Army's plans to kill ships with their ATACMS: http://breakingdefense.com/2016/10/army-atacms-missile-will-kill-ships-secdef-carter/

      Now, due to a Treaty around unexploded sub-munitions, it is being reconfigured with a 500lbs unitary warhead (https://www.military1.com/military-weapons/article/1645199014-precision-fires-milestone-for-us-army/ ) Expensive way to deliver a 500lbs warhead across 160+nm, but cheaper than risking bombers. And that range is hard to argue with.

      Perhaps the option of shorter range to get a bigger warhead ?

      As is, 500lbs is the same warhead-size as sub-sonic 70-80nm-range HARPOON.
      But at what cost-differential ?

      Initial cost was 0.9 million per ATACMS.
      Today assuming inflation-adjusted = $1.2-1.3 million. HARPOON Block-2 = $1.2-1.3 million

      Running crude numbers with N-ATACMS, 3700lbs weight Mach-3 24” x 13’ missile ‘foot-print’ should allow a stout ‘land-attack’ battery on that BB, as I already touched on, with hundreds and hundreds of N-ATACMS laying in their racks.


      HOWEVER, since we are not dealing with a massive gun-recoil, and the type is fired off USMC 6x6 trucks, therefore modest ‘land-attack’ swarm-craft of least signature, lots of mobility, agility, if not speed – i.e. hard to hit back.

      And if you do not buy that BB, but plant as many ATACMS or ‘just’ GMLRS on well-deck capable ‘Land-Attack’-craft, these can leave the Amphib way offshore, advance rapidly, expend their munitions and retreat for a reload. Could eventually all be ‘drones’.
      This has been kicked around at NAVSEA.

      So, per BB NOT bought, how many LSD-41-type long well-deck Amphibs plus well-deck-correct launcher-craft plus reloads could we get ?

      And we can use those Amphibs for all sorts of other ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’ purposes across their life-time.


      ...just brain-storming to do the same thing as ‘punching holes’.
      But across much greater stretch of coast-line, all concurrently, without much of any particularly obvious target-resolution for the adversary to expend precious coastal defense systems on.

      Delete
    8. "MLRS is de facto 'navalized'"

      There's a good bit more to navalizing then just bolting the proposed unit onto a deck. One of the major obstacles is corrosion control. Land systems are not built for constant exposure to sea water. Materials of construction have to be changed, seals have to be reworked or added, internal access to inspect and repair corrosion has to be added, and additional lubrication points need to be added.

      Further, land systems are designed to be fired from stable bases (the ground) and a ship is always in motion. An extensive gyroscopic system has to be added (again, navalized), if it isn't already present.

      The entire system needs to be added into the ship's fire control software system. The cost of integrating systems is substantial.

      The entire weapon system's electronics need to be checked for compatibility with the ship's radars, sensors, ECM, comms, and power grids. Many land systems fail at this point. The ammo needs to be checked for stability in the intense electromagnetic environment of a ship.

      If reloads are desired, an entire new magazine/reload system must be designed and built.

      Backblast against the ship's structure and surrounding fittings and sensors must be carefully considered.

      And the list goes on.

      This is not to say that a land system cannot be navalized but to glibly call a land system "de facto navalized" is to seriously underestimate the scope of navalizing.

      Many land weapon systems have attempted to make the transition to naval and failed. In fact, history suggests that attempting to navalize the MLRS (in whatever version) is more likely to fail than to succeed.

      Point of interest, the most recent, notable failed attempt to navalize a land system was the German's attempt to navalize a land gun that would have revolutionized naval warfare, or so it was claimed. I don't recall the details offhand but it failed miserably.

      Closer to home, our own attempts to navalize the 30 mm gun on the LCS have met with repeated problems which are still being worked out.

      Having said all that, I have repeatedly called for a navalized MLRS system.

      Delete
    9. 15,000tons DDG-1000 offers more 'context':
      In April 2016, the total program cost was $22.5 billion with an average cost of $7.5 billion per ship. Excluding R-&-D cost you're looking at about $4 billion each. SSB Virginia-class is reported at #2.7 billion each.

      Let's figure a modern long well-deck LSD-41/21 at $700 mill(inflation-adjusted plus new goodies), well let's argue $1 billion including 6x 150-tons ATACMS-capable 'bomb-ketches' - but no ammo yet.

      That leaves $3 billion for, say, 2300 guided 160nm-range Mach-3 N-ATACMS.

      Better make that 3 LSD-41/21 at $3billion to then buy 'only' 770 N-ATACMS to load aboard 3x (innocuous-looking) LSDs and now 18x 'Bomb-Ketches' (likely the wrong nautical reference ?!)

      A 150-tons 'Bomb-Ketch' should be able to carry 10-15 N-ATACMS. With 250+ N-ATACMS per IFS-LSD-41/21 that leaves about 4 reloads per 'Bomb Ketch'.

      18x 10xN-ATACMS = 180 discrete targets from a hard to find&hit least-signature and GO-FAST 'Bomb-Ketch'.

      From OTH-200 those can spread out along a lot of coastline to effect first virtual attrition, and then actual attrition upon the defender.
      In fact, a defense night-mare.

      And in the age of instant global news-feeds, you may not want to be seen as (unguided)pulverizing stretches of coast-line, when killing selected targets is much more acceptable.

      Remember the opening-salvo of IRAQ-2, live-broadcast, with one down-town Baghdad building collapsing while the ones next to it have their lights on...

      Delete
    10. "since we are not dealing with a massive gun-recoil, and the type is fired off USMC 6x6 trucks, therefore modest ‘land-attack’ swarm-craft"

      Your description is a bit imprecise. I'm not sure what you're proposing but I think you're suggesting place MLRS on some kind of landing craft. Again, you're vast oversimplifying the technical challenge. A landing craft is going to be constantly moving, pitching, and rolling. That would require a substantial gyroscopic mechanism integrated into the system. As with any ship, the system would have to integrated into some kind of fire control system - fire control systems are not normally part of a landing craft.

      On the other hand, in WWII, large landing ships were adapted to fire massive rocket barrages. The LCT(R) and LSM(R) were notable examples. They did not, however, provide pinpoint accuracy!

      Delete
    11. On 'navalized' MLRS:
      - USMC-certification via their 6-tube HIMARS should be a good start.

      -'Navalizing' usually means (should mean in many cases !) standing proud on deck and exposed to 'white-water' salt-water for decades. Not necessary with a sealed set of loaded launcher-boxes straight out of the USMC supply-line. Bomb-ketches can keep the launchers covered inside the superstructure until just before launch.

      - Examining the 6-tube or 12-tube 360-degrees x 70+ up moving launcher-box aiming and then reloading seems a rigor. It takes just minutes to extract spend launch-'cartridges' to then stuff a loaded 2x3 launcher-'cartridge' into the launcher.

      - Doing this aboard a 150-tons 'Bomb-Ketch' seems mostly a matter of aligning spent-cartridge stacks and fresh cartridge-stack with the launcher. Worst-case scenario is to just dump the empty cartridge-frames.

      None of this is 'casual'. But it should be very much doable fir at least an initial experiment's sake. Do one Amphib well-deck correct Bomb-Ketch for say an SH-60 budget and find out what is really wrong with the idea.

      That you can do.
      After not being able to pay for DDG-1000 LRAP main-battery-ammo, there should be some incentive to pursue 'unorthodox'
      160nm-range IFS solutions leveraging extant proven weapons-systems.

      Delete
    12. "Let's figure a modern long well-deck LSD-41/21 at $700 mill"

      The most recent LPD-17 cost around $2.5B in 2012. The Navy has standardized on this hull for future amphibs (not a wise decision but it's what they've chosen) so a modern LSD-41 is going to cost around the same - $2.5B or more.

      The LCS, built to semi-naval standards and Level 0 survivability costs around $700M with a module and GFE so a new amphib is not going to be had for $700M or even $1B.

      There's nothing wrong with speculating about new ships and costs but be sure to base your speculation on reasonable data points.

      Delete
    13. "From OTH-200 those can spread out along a lot of coastline"

      Let's maintain a balanced, overall perspective on this. Against a third world enemy, your vision of these ships spread out along a coast is doable. Against a peer/near-peer, those ships would be floating targets waiting to be sunk by enemy aircraft, subs, missile boats, land based anti-ship missiles, etc. They would need Aegis/Burke escorts which drastically drives up the cost of putting ordnance on target.

      You have a tendency to consider ideas in isolation. You need to keep the overall scenario in mind.

      Delete
    14. Taking independent metrics on naval vessel cost - not monopolist ship-builders' visions - we'd examine e.g. the 'reasonable' numbers generated via the analytics by the RAND Corporation on the staggering acceleration of ship-costs:
      - http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG484.pdf C.N.O. you have these analytics and resultant numbers on hand.

      So, following RAND's formula
      - let's start with the LSD-41 8-ship class-average construction cost of $211 million per vessel by 1992,
      - then add inflation-rate,
      - then add another cost-multiplier for 'unexpected' and builder inefficiencies,
      - then the NAVSEA PMS-450 SLEP upgrades for the class,
      - perhaps another line-item for non-structural radar-signature reduction measures
      and by 2017 you should actually see an LSD-41/21 for between $600 and $700 million.
      Or at least in a (republican) market-economics-driven reality.

      Do the numbers by yourself.
      No submissiveness to the 'Wizard of Oz'-type 'can't-question-this' oracle about 'inevitable' costs.

      Unlike experimental unproven full-of-engineering-dreams LCS, LSD-41 is a fully-understood, fully-costed-out, non-experimental, competitively-pricable, no-need-to-tinker-with-it 8-ship performer - no unknowns here.

      Like USAF's B-52, LSD-41 is an unarguable 'good-enough' proposition; B-52 will be over 90 years of age as a type by 2040-retirement.

      Let's learn from that !

      LPD-17-based LX-R will be the next LCS-type scandal !

      Delete
    15. "should actually see an LSD-41/21 for between $600 and $700 million."

      You're aware of how many defense acquisition programs were calculated to cost X and wound up cost many times more, right? Off hand, I'd say all of them!

      Calculations are nice for selling projects to Congress but real data points are the only reliable measures. The closest real data points are the LPD-17 and LCS. To ignore data in favor of a theoretical calculation is to ignore reality.

      The LCS was calculated by the Navy to cost $200M and we see what happened. Examples abound. If you want to be credible, use actual data.

      Delete
    16. If you want to demonstrate the real value of the kind of ship you're proposing, explain how it fits into the overall force structure during war. In other words, how does your ship contribute to a war effort if there's not an amphibious assault in progress? Looking at likely enemies and likely military strategies, I do not see many (any) likely chances of amphibious assaults. Thus, a purpose built assault ship that has no other value is highly questionable. I have severe doubts about the validity of the entire amphibious assault fleet.

      How will your ship contribute to the overall war effort, if at all, when it's not assaulting? This question is appropriate for any amphib, not just your concept.

      Delete

    17. ComNavOpsFebruary 19, 2017 at 7:12 AM

      "Let's maintain a balanced, overall perspective on this. Against a third world enemy, your vision of these ships spread out along a coast is doable. Against a peer/near-peer, those ships would be floating targets waiting to be sunk by enemy aircraft, subs, missile boats, land based anti-ship missiles, etc. They would need Aegis/Burke escorts which drastically drives up the cost of putting ordnance on target.

      You have a tendency to consider ideas in isolation. You need to keep the overall scenario in mind."
      ---------------------------------

      This is all about a balanced integrated perspective.

      150-tons go-fast 'Bomb Ketch- BK' - who spoke of 'Landing-Craft' ? - can be designed to the radar-signature-reduction principles demonstrated in
      - 15000-tons DDG-1000,
      and many years earlier
      - 600+-tons Swedish VISBY class,
      with the latter appearing on e.g. radar the size of a coastal fishing boat.

      That means that a BK only a 1/4 its mass can be made 'smaller' yet.

      A 30-35kts BK - indeed redefining that olde nautical term - of minimal signature coming in at night from OTH-200 cannot readily be found and targeted effectively before she and 17 sister-ships appear and open their shore-bombardment fire.

      Much of that depends on coastal topography, shore-side sensor-density, undersea sensors etc.

      But with a minimal air-draft even sea-skimming missiles may 'see' her too late, and that before running into self-defenses of the advancing aggressor.

      And how many costly coastal defense missiles do you want to burn through in dense-commercial-traffic coastal waters based on radar-signatures of a catamaran-ferry, a 'Miami-Vice' type yacht etc. ?

      That is why reconsidering the BB-concept can be a revealing exercise. Punching holes needs doing. Just how, by what, at what risk, at what expense, to whom, how many times...

      Delete
    18. Perhaps the NAVY-breaking pricing-habits of a few ship-yards need reassessing along the 'new' lines of reasoning like 'draining the swamp'.

      Farm out one prototype to cost out the re-start of a 20-ship LSD-41/21 production-line versus the LPD-17 10-ship LX-R run.

      Let's talk to
      - South Korea,
      - Poland,
      - UK,
      - Germany,
      - Italy,
      - Japan,
      - Australia
      And a few more, thus sell a few more hulls to some of them to further reduce economies-of-scale, and then see what doing hull-numbers 9-29+ of this trusted 16,000-tons fully-proven Amphib really costs. We’d want a solid international competition to establish one baseline Low-through High range of actual LSD-41/21 cost.

      Stone-cold sober analytics reexamined by various international players,
      - first from amongst the competitors,
      - then independent non-builder experts observing ship-building markets.

      We do know what building ships costs.
      No more of the 'Wizard of Oz' shenanigans that are breaking this Navy, and that are ruining this Marine Corps' amphibious future.

      Delete
    19. If you want to demonstrate the real value of the kind of ship you're proposing, explain how it fits into the overall force structure during war. In other words, how does your ship contribute to a war effort if there's not an amphibious assault in progress? Looking at likely enemies and likely military strategies, I do not see many (any) likely chances of amphibious assaults. Thus, a purpose built assault ship that has no other value is highly questionable. I have severe doubts about the validity of the entire amphibious assault fleet.

      How will your ship contribute to the overall war effort, if at all, when it's not assaulting? This question is appropriate for any amphib, not just your concept.
      ---------------------------------------------

      We've kicked this around before.
      Go-Fast Gun-Boat-type BK ?
      Or
      Medium-Speed heavy-lift Connector LCU-X ?

      The latter has the most returns but can at best do 20kts.

      On the other hand, doing 35kts will not outrun rocket-motors...

      So, perhaps, it is time for a broad discussion on multi-mission-capable Connectors (again).

      And let's look for solutions, not just objections...

      Delete
    20. "Farm out one prototype"

      Few would argue with that! Unfortunately, the few who would argue are Congress. They're never going to approve overseas construction of a US Navy ship when it could be done in their constituent's home shipyard. Cost isn't even a factor in their consideration!

      Delete
    21. "And let's look for solutions, not just objections.."

      Even before we look for solutions, we need to look at need and likelihood. I see very little need or likelihood for future amphibious assaults. Consider,

      China - We're not going to invade mainland China (I hope we're not that stupid!) and the first island chain islands are not going to be assaulted and occupied. We'll just missile them to death and move on. So, no foreseeable need for amphib assaults in a war with China.

      Russia - This would be a land war around the periphery of Russia. Some degree of naval (mostly submarine) battles would occur. Air forces would be heavily involved. I see no scenario in which an amphib assault is likely.

      Iran - Presumably, we would advance through Iran's land borders. There is a small chance of an amphibious landing but it would likely be an unopposed off-loading rather than a landing and would not require assault forces. More likely, we would seize a port via an air assault for subsequent unloading. Even this seems less likely.

      NKorea - This would be a land war from south to north. There is a small chance that an amphibious assault along the coast might be worthwhile.

      So, looking at the likely enemies and reasonable scenarios, there is little need and little likelihood of amphibious assaults. Our 30+ big deck amphibious fleet seems out of balance with the need/likelihood.

      From here, we can proceed to solutions.

      Delete
    22. "So, perhaps, it is time for a broad discussion on multi-mission-capable Connectors (again). "

      No, you were talking about LPD type ships loaded with MLRS staking out coastlines, unless I totally misunderstood you.

      Your writings tend to be disconnected and jump around to the point of making hard to follow. A narrower, more concise focus in any given comment may help get your points across.

      Delete
    23. If we were to base our Fleet-planning on a given set of 'current' 'likelihoods' of engagement per given set of extant capabilities,
      then are we opening the conceptual door to questioning the legitimacy of the Nuclear Triad as well ?
      After all, how likely is it to plan first and second and third nuclear strike scenarios ?
      OHIO-Class Replacement budgets will be so big as to require a separate funding-stream beyond the usual NDAA-formalities. And right-and-left-wing Budget-Hawks will be examining such massive fiscal priorities based on the reasons offered to explain the 'Nuclear Triad'.

      Since the amphibious capability of USMC is established by charter of Congress, keeping an eye on its plausible execution is a perpetual given, as a reality-check, and to re-examine assumptions and technologies.

      If for the first time an organic capability of an ARG-MEU to both do OTH-200 if not a full-GCE First Wave is on the table, then it is time to discuss it in earnest.

      If at the same time 'shorty' well-deck ships are pushed without addressing USMC-needs, then that is worth a serious and ongoing discussion.

      Amphibs and Connectors matter in more ways than perhaps reflexively obvious from the bridge of a DDG or SSN.

      Time to stop dismissing the actual needs of USMC.

      Delete
    24. Not "disconnected" - but fast-moving, since obvious on this end.

      On competition building Amphibs:
      You can certainly offer to the world's leading ship-building competitors to bid on LSD-41/21 to then discuss the de facto take-over of a worst-sinner 'slow&sloppy&expensive' US ship-yard in keeping with market-based principles.

      Or a partnership with a majority US-owned capital-group to start up a competing venture.
      Etc. etc.

      Seeing the Navy break its back in slow motion might motivate Congress to grease the skids towards more plausible competitive market-conditions building lower-tech ships like LSDs.

      The national debt will have to be addressed one way or the other.

      Delete
    25. "Time to stop dismissing the actual needs of USMC."

      Time to define the ACTUAL needs within the geopolitical strategic landscape. Make a case for amphibious assaults in the likely contexts of China, Russia, Iran, and NK, if there is one to be made.

      Delete
    26. "... you were talking about LPD type ships loaded with MLRS staking out coastlines, unless I totally misunderstood you."

      Not quite.
      I am talking about using LSD-41 type carrying land-attack craft equipped with MLRS-type launchers and several on-board reloads,

      No LPD offshore hauling MLRS would be far enough out of harms' way and still be effective in light of the N-ATACMS' very useful but ultimately finite range.

      Using well-decks for way more than just Connectors has been practiced since LSD-1 USS ASHLAND.

      Delete
    27. "Not "disconnected" - but fast-moving, since obvious on this end."

      What may be obvious to you, as you write it, may be incomprehensible to readers. I'm just trying to help you present your ideas in the best possible light.

      Delete
    28. "Time to define the ACTUAL needs within the geopolitical strategic landscape. Make a case for amphibious assaults in the likely contexts of China, Russia, Iran, and NK, if there is one to be made."

      Again, do you see a plausible use of SSBN ?

      We have, however, had ample use for the unique amphibious focus of USMC. Keeping that tool- and skill-set sharp is essential.

      There will be no future in the idea that we
      a. let the unique USMC amphibious-mission wither
      and
      b. we'll start thinking about it again the day after we should have had a sharp-edged set of advanced amphibious tools and tactics.

      Finally, when was the last BB-centric decisive action ?

      Delete
    29. C.N.O:"... land systems are designed to be fired from stable bases (the ground) and a ship is always in motion. An extensive gyroscopic system has to be added (again, navalized), if it isn't already present."

      USMC's AVENGER 8x SAM turret fires stabilized at 35mph going cross-country. And that is a Mach-2+ 2-4 mile shot off a 4x4 truck!

      With guided munitions, the gentle motion of a sizable hull should matter little as the projectile is launched out of the unstabilized launcher and pursues its target-coordinates.
      Since GMLRS launcher-box pivots and rises upwards getting it aimed approximately should suffice. If not, there is a cheap 'integrated' gyro-system on that AVENGER 4x4.

      "The entire system needs to be added into the ship's fire control software system. The cost of integrating systems is substantial."

      Why the integration effort ?
      - ISR defines the coordinates.
      - Get transmitted to the BK/ship
      - Coordinates are fed into the targeting-computer,
      - Now GMLRS or NATACMS know where to go.
      We are just using a floating and running platform, whether off an L-ship (not proposed here my me)or a 'Bomb-Ketch'/LCU-X.

      "The entire weapon system's electronics need to be checked for compatibility with the ship's radars, sensors, ECM, comms, and power grids. Many land systems fail at this point. The ammo needs to be checked for stability in the intense electromagnetic environment of a ship."

      There is a fair bit of electro-magnetics going on amongst USMC land-assets clustered or far apart... But we'd sure want to test everything up-front before objecting the idea into oblivion,

      Furthermore how about not putting any of this on a 'ship' but a BK or LCU-X, and follow the USMC-and USA ops-manuals. Small envelopes for fast-&-conclusive compatibility-trials without blowing up a DDG...

      "If reloads are desired, an entire new magazine/reload system must be designed and built."

      Not on a Bomb-Ketch designed with that in mind from the start...

      "Backblast against the ship's structure and surrounding fittings and sensors must be carefully considered."

      Good thing then that GMLRS has been designed from the start with e.g. a pivoting mount to allow aiming the blast away from matters vulnerable. Unless of course we'd want to copy old HARPOON canister-geometries that resolved that concern 30 years ago.

      "And the list goes on".

      Delete
    30. "Not quite.
      I am talking about using LSD-41 type carrying land-attack craft equipped with MLRS-type launchers and several on-board reloads,

      No LPD offshore hauling MLRS would be far enough out of harms' way and still be effective in light of the N-ATACMS' very useful but ultimately finite range.

      Using well-decks for way more than just Connectors has been practiced since LSD-1 USS ASHLAND. "

      Ahhh. Now that's a much more coherent comment and nicely illustrates your point, whether I agree with it or not.

      Now explain a basic CONOPS. For example, how will these totally defenseless land attack craft survive under enemy surveillance and enemy controlled skies long enough to execute their attacks. Enemy AEW, aircraft, and helos would make short work of them. Do you envision "stealth" to be their only defense? Do you consider them expendable? The cycle time between salvos would be quite long if they have to return to the LPD to rearm. And so on. Present the entire picture rather than just a snapshot.

      Delete
    31. "Again, do you see a plausible use of SSBN ?"

      Don't deflect, discuss. I asked you to define a need for amphibious assault. Do so if there is one or acknowledge that the need is minimal.

      Stating that it's essential to keep the Marines sharp because they're the Marines is circular logic!

      There may well be a reasonably foreseeable need for amphibious assaults in the future. If so, elucidate it. If not, then we have to question the existence or at least the extent of the Marine organization.

      Deflecting the discussion to nuclear strategic issues is not a discussion although that's a valid topic for some other blog.

      Delete
    32. "Ahhh. Now that's a much more coherent comment and nicely illustrates your point, whether I agree with it or not.

      Now explain a basic CONOPS. For example, how will these totally defenseless land attack craft survive under enemy surveillance and enemy controlled skies long enough to execute their attacks. Enemy AEW, aircraft, and helos would make short work of them. Do you envision "stealth" to be their only defense? Do you consider them expendable? The cycle time between salvos would be quite long if they have to return to the LPD to rearm. And so on. Present the entire picture rather than just a snapshot."


      - Why 'totally defenseless' ?
      To do OTH-200 even LCU-F has 20/30mm cannons and SAM turrets; (LCU-1610's .50cal pintle-mounted MG seems quaint). Anything this exposed in hostile waters will inevitably obviously be stoutly armed with self-defenses. Goes to show how alien OTH-200 as a concept still appears to be - even though 4-stars have discussed this in public in the ship-to-shore context for several years now...

      And why the long cycle-times ?
      In that scenario outlined above, with each of 18 BKs offering 10-15 N-ATACMS, where are the delays here ?

      To open the adversary's doors, you'd start with between 180 and 270 N-ATACMS, precision-delivered. Including the multiple reloads of the 1.8-tons big 24"x13' into the launcher. Of course dedicated BK single-tube N-ATACMS-launchers might have the full missile load ready to go at once.

      With more of the 180-270 of same every 15hrs or so, assuming insisting on some clock-work salvo-cadence.

      However, you'd likely want to produce as unpredictable fires as tactically doable to have those first 180 to 270 warheads strike dedicated targets apparently at random and
      'constantly' to the adversary.

      For context, between IRAQ-1 and IRAQ-2 about 560 ATACMS were fired altogether.
      'Bomb-Ketches' delivering half that in the first few of any such 'littoral' action seems a good enough first ambition of effectiveness.

      For more context, DDG-100 offers 80 launch-cells. Useable for land-attack, its SM-6 offers a 140lbs warhead on 130-250nm range for between 3.5 and 4 million a shot.

      And as you already know, due to her 200-tons cargo-load capacity LCU-F could haul many more N-ATACMS per 20kts trip.

      In these discussions I tend to assume that folks can get engaged enough to work the matter until they are ahead of me, outlining e.g. a greater CON OPS spectrum yet than I can generate.

      Delete
    33. "Don't deflect, discuss. I asked you to define a need for amphibious assault. Do so if there is one or acknowledge that the need is minimal.

      Stating that it's essential to keep the Marines sharp because they're the Marines is circular logic!

      There may well be a reasonably foreseeable need for amphibious assaults in the future. If so, elucidate it. If not, then we have to question the existence or at least the extent of the Marine organization.

      Deflecting the discussion to nuclear strategic issues is not a discussion although that's a valid topic for some other blog."

      In an age of First and Second Island-Chains, nations with archipelagos harboring 'disagreeables' near major trading routes, rising seawater-levels beginning to change coastal mapping with associated increases in conflict-potential, Climate-change-related disruptions and displacements (e.g. also in Syria) no guarantee of availability of 'friendly/safe' port-facilities outside of NATO and a few allies elsewhere, raising this question comes somewhat unexpected.

      Again, relative distance to the topic of Amphibious Assault may be to blame as a result of several decades of very limited plausibility due to the remarkable absence of actual technical doability.
      As I heard a very prominent commentator on matters naval opine, "we can't do, so we should not think of doing it, not devote resources to that idea..." an oddly arbitrary conclusion, when it has always been only a technical challenge, not a conceptual one made superannuated by some tactical or strategic advances.

      But implicitly discarding USMC's primary mission for what ship-designers didn't produce across decades seems an odd 'deflection' with this broad doubting of the USMC Amphibious Assault tool-set, like here.

      Delete

  16. Ok, although this is pushing the envelope a bit, has you folks ever heard of the old HARP project back in the 1960's which used 16 inch naval guns? (No relation to the 1980's antenna farm loved by conspiracy theorists). It used a naval 16 inch gun in an attempt to gun launch satellites. They started with a standard length barrel and fired sabot projectiles over mach 3 to altitudes of 80km straight up. With a dramatically extended barrel it fired a shot to 180km vertical. So theoretically a modern version with a longer barrel and new technology could possibly shoot down satellites!
    web address for HARP info below.
    http://www.astronautix.com/a/abriefhistoheharpproject.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But, those results were achieved after doubling the length of the gun from 50 to 100 calibers. Though the Navy considered a 16-in/56 gun in the late-twenties and early-thirties.

      Delete
    2. What would the barrel life be on that weapon?

      You would have to frequently change the second half the barrel and there would have to be supports to keep the barrel from bending under its own mass.

      Delete
  17. I know speed wasn't a priority and we are trying to keep the cost down, but otherwise, would it be worth considering the possibility of using nuclear power to power the battleship?

    It would be expensive though and I'm not sure the price would be justified.

    - Cost to build
    - Operate
    - Maintain and half life refueling
    - Cost to de-commission

    Not sure this is worth it, but worth looking at

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally, I'm ambivalent about nuclear power. Most studies show a pretty much a wash in the comparison. The BB would be operating with conventionally powered escorts so there would still be a need for refueling.

      I could go either way.

      Delete
    2. Agree that you'd have to have nuclear powered escorts too.

      There is a precedence though for smaller nuclear ships - the Long Beach, but that would mean additional costs too for building escorts and a new class of cruisers.

      Delete
  18. What will illuminate the targets for the ESSM missiles?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm assuming this would be the Block II by the time a BB could be built. Block II has self-contained terminal guidance.

      Delete
  19. Would rapid fire be valuable?

    I wonder if the 8" Des Moines could be "scaled" to a modern 16" gun system.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICifnf63lCs

    ReplyDelete
  20. CNO, off topic, but are you aware about this?

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/politics/uss-antietam-damaged-japan/

    Another Tico cruiser ran aground.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I saw it a week or so ago. The report I read said that winds caused the ship to drag its anchor rather than a navigation error so I didn't comment on it. I don't know if there was any failure of seamanship or if it was just one of those unfortunate things that happen at sea.

      Delete
  21. " any less and what’s the point" [16 inch guns]
    The reason is why the BB sailed into history, which is small amount of explosive in the shells
    16"/50 (40.6 cm) Mark 7
    eg AP Mark 8 - 40.9 lbs. (18.55 kg)
    HC Mark 13 - 153.6 lbs. (69.67 kg)

    A launcher on a patrol boat firing Israeli Spike NLOS missiles could do almost as good or better hitting shore targets
    http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/euronaval-2014/2131-rafael-adapts-its-spike-nlos-long-range-missile-for-naval-warfare.html

    Then there are the heavier anti ship missiles. Even by 1943 a maneuvering battleship Roma, was sunk by two guided missile hits.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Reading the posts and also reflecting on the comments reminds me of another forgotten option

    This was an exercise on bringing back a Iowa class updated ship with armor and weapons. However considering weight and firepower there is also another option.

    How about a compromise Alaska class battle cruiser. Today she would match anything on the seas. With the addition of short and medium range AAW and long range anti ship weapons we have a potent stroke ship with guns and missiles

    A secondary question remains is with the high speed weapons available today who thinks an Iowa class BB can actually absorb the speed and penetrating on a ballistic missile or cruiser missile running at Mach 3.

    If we reduce the armor requirement down we still have a ship which can absorb damage and continue to fight.

    A BB at 65-70K tons or battle cruiser at 25-30k tons? An assortment of 11 inch guns would certainly outclassed anything today

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thinking about t his, do you think it would be wroth considering leaving the battleship under Marine command?

    - Marine budget would be used to operate and own this vessel
    - Marines would largely staff it

    The reason is because we want to avoid a situation like the A-10 and the USAF, where tehy won't make supporting another service a priority.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mentioned in the post that I envisioned three main missions for a modern BB: gun support, deep strike, and anti-surface. Only one of those directly supports the Marines and then only for an amphibious assault. Gun support can also be applied to Army forces already ashore via other means.

      So, having the Marines take over a BB as a means to ensure support when only a third of the missions are relevant (and probably only 5% of likely missions!) seems an excessive response to a perceived lack of support. I can understand the desire but the action is unwarranted. Besides, it's not like the Marines could sail their BB wherever they wanted. They'd still be subject to overall command and that's where the support will come from, or not.

      Delete
    2. "The reason is why the BB sailed into history, which is small amount of explosive in the shells
      16"/50 (40.6 cm) Mark 7
      eg AP Mark 8 - 40.9 lbs. (18.55 kg)
      HC Mark 13 - 153.6 lbs. (69.67 kg)"

      Small amount of explosive... yes. But if we made new we could change that.

      Also, you can't ignore the simple kinetic effect of a 2000lbs shell smacking into things. Same way that you can't ignore the weight of a missle body and explosive power of unspent fuel when figuring out the damage a missile will do.

      Delete
  24. Maybe if we want a missile base with 300+ missiles a SSBN is a better choice. If you want a BB for what is essential endurance and durability then there is only one choice. That would be a BB. Everyone missed out on the real reason BB's never truly lost their ability to command the ocean regardless of other factors. Fear, durability, and the ability to carry 900+ high impact rounds on target makes it something that even the enemy had to kill or respect.

    I choose the battleship for land attack and the SSBN for stealth and first strike.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eventually the 4 Ohio class SSGN will be replaced by 10, maybe more, Virginia Block V subs with the Virgiia Payload Module (VPM). Each Ohio SSGN can carry 154 cruise missiles. The Virginia Block V will carry only 40 missiles. That is a big difference to make up. We need to either convert more Ohio's into SSGN or maybe field a few Magazine Ships as recently suggested.

      Delete